If you’re an artist growing your brand or art business today, you’ve probably heard about the importance of finding your own “signature style”. Or you may have heard that you need to carve out your own niche, or become known for one main style of artwork.
While I believe that concept truly is important, (read my blog post on signature style here), what happens when you want to branch out?
As artists, do we sacrifice exploration and limit our creativity for the sake of being consistent? No way!
I believe it’s not only possible to play with new mediums while staying consistent in the eyes of our audience, but essential to our growth.
In the beginning of your creative journey, it’s key to try different mediums until you settle on one (or more) that feels like you. Again, read that post I linked above for a refresher if you’re just starting out.
But say you’ve established your work, business, or style in one particular medium, and another one is calling to you. How do you approach that process when you’re trying to run an art business/studio based on your original medium? Are you going to scare your current audience away with all of that change?
As this is something I’m currently working on myself, I have a few tips for you. These tips are meant to be ideas in no particular order, and you don’t have to do them all – or any of them! Take what works, or maybe it sparks something new for you.
Create with similar subject matter, color palettes, line work style, etc.
If you’re jumping from say watercolor to oil paints, you can help ease that transition by painting similar subject matter across both mediums. Or you can stick to consistent color palettes, size of paper/canvas, etc. Basically anything that helped define your signature style in your original medium, you can stick to as closely as possible in the new medium.
Of course some methods will change and so will the look to some degree. But if you’re worried about a too stark of a difference between the two, this will help it feel gentler.
Practice in your new medium privately until you are ready to share.
If you’re trying something totally new, and it feels radically different than your previous work, you may be hesitant to share about it. That may be especially true when you are in the beginning stages and you’re not sure if you like the direction it’s going.
If it makes you more comfortable, you can simply work on this new style or process in private until you feel ready to present it to the world.
A potential issue to this is that when you do share this new amazing work to your audience, they may be more surprised than if you had been sharing the process with them. But this can be a fun way to present the work and your audience may love it!
Communicate with your audience and share your process along the way.
Another option, instead of working privately, is to share bits of the process as you explore this new medium. This has less of a surprise factor, and whether you view that as a good or bad thing is up to you.
This method keeps them in the loop, but has the potential to “confuse” your audience about what you’re all about.
So, when you do share this new work, you can also explain your process with words – not just images – so they understand why it’s a departure from your original work and that you are trying new things. Your audience/customers will probably love hearing about the behind the scenes.
Remember that this is your journey, and the right collectors or audience will find you.
My last tip here is to try to let loose and not worry too much about it. You don’t want to get so concerned with staying consistent, that you halt your growth as an artist and creative person.
If you feel incredibly passionate about trying something new, go for it! Oftentimes, I think we view anything new we create as so different from our past work. When in reality, our audience isn’t as sensitive to it as we are. In a nutshell, usually we as artists are paying much more attention to the details of our own work than others are.
But say you know this new work of yours is totally different, and you want to go all in and stop creating the past work. It may feel like starting over, but in all likelihood at least some of your current audience is going to be excited about your new direction. And if you lose some, that’s ok! Your new work will resonate with new people.
Have you ever felt pulled in a new direction and not sure how to approach it? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!