When you are talking to someone face to face, or when you are writing a blog such as this one, or when you are making eye contact and smiling at someone at the book store, you are communicating. The particular way in which your message is encoded and delivered is your style.
The most obvious style of communication is the spoken word, however there are barriers with that method. Such as languages, interpretations, subtext, etc.
The better, deeper, method of communication is thru art. Not just the fine arts you hang on the wall, but all mediums. Through music or dance, books, or blogs, paintings or NFTs the world will be better from our creativity the arts can cross barriers. However, how do you know which method works best for your type of message? If you wanted to decorate your kitchen you would not benefit from starting a podcast.
Here are just a few steps in how to find your own creative style and the utilize the best method of communicating your message.
What is on the other side of Yes?
1) Say Yes to Everything (within reason)
Now, I'm not saying you say yes to EVERYTHING. If someone asks you to rob a zoo, you should prolly call the cops. It might be a weird first step, but we are creatures of habit getting in our own ways of creativity. Saying "I can't," or "I don't know how," are just lame mental barriers for your creative self.
Within reason say yes to things. Break those barriers you put up and allow the "new" to permeate your life. If you always listen to metal, try some jazz. If you always lift weights and someone asks you to go to Yoga class, SAY YES! You never know what is on the other side of Yes.
2) Do Your Research
Google is a wonderful tool that allows you to search terms you may not know and fill it in for you. Don’t close your mind to anything. Again say yes! You are in the exploration stage of finding your style. If you stop at the first one you could be missing out on something else.
Read articles, search images, take your time and be thorough. When you are shopping for shoes, you tend not to buy the first pair you try on. Further within that metaphor, shop for tennis shoes, tap shoes, ballet shoes, Crocs, sandals, black shoes, ones with & without shoelaces. Tony Horton always said "Variety is the spice of life." So season the hell outta life with it.
3) Cyber-Stalk your favorites
Let's not get creepy or anything, but the Information Age of today has an abundant amount of people sharing their creative style. During your research phase dive deeper and research the artists who you fancy. Follow them. Study their works online and their social media accounts.
The prolific artists do not live or work in a vacuum. Weak are the days of galleries, producers, managers, or representatives of the creative person. We all represent ourselves. Showcasing what we can do, and inspiring others to do so as well.
So, finding their little piece of the internet is easy. Watch their videos, follow their career and learn from them. In this you have the ability to cherry pick the aspects of their style you are drawn to at that point. Use it as a fountain spring of inspiration.
4) Use what you learn
When expressing your own style you compel an amalgamation of a tens of thousands of different things you have experienced, learned, loved, time of day, and so on into existence. Hopefully the previous steps have added to that fingerprint we are calling your artistic style.
If you haven't already, start taking what you have learned and copy it. Try recreating it. It's ok to copy in the beginning. It allows you to practice with reference. For example: take your most favorite font, print each letter on a piece of paper, and trace it. It sounds boring for sure, but to really swim in the waters of nuance you have to put those floaties on and jump. Not that that is what you need to do, unless you want to become a master in the typography design realm.
Its ok to copy in the beginning. It allows you to practice with reference.
If you like Todd McFarlane's inking style then copy it, practice it. He has a fantastic style with big blotches of black shadows and sexy linework.
5) Add your own attitude
After practicing from things that are already done, try to do the same thing with a different medium. For example: if you are using pen and ink to replicate an Albrecht Durer piece, go one step further and try adding watercolor. Or if you can create guitar riffs from Dad Rock bands, throw in some lyrics from R & B. Just shifting the use of media might set you onto an entirely different path than where you thought you were headed. Trying new methods opens your mind to your creative limits.
Now the Something Extra!
Throughout this process you will realize what is constant within all your efforts, and what is just there by proxy. You have been practicing, copying and pushing the limits of your creative comfort zones. The step now is to dive a little deeper and get to know the craft further. Looking for online classes or an art mentor. Some aspect of reflection.
Classes of any kind are a collection of similar minded people that are in the same boat you are. With the desire to learn. Having others review and critique your work, and style will keep you motivated and creative. So look for avenues for peer reviews. Shows, social media, reaching out to other artists, etc. are all great ways to close the communication loop with feedback.
Learn to listen with open ears. There is a difference between constructive criticism, and people just being ass-hats. Not every person you share your work with will have the refined vocabulary to communicate what they feel. The constructive criticism can be actually constructive if you are open to what is being said.
Everyone has an opinion, and one person might say they like pink while another person says pink is for girls. They are not attacking you as a person. Unless you are specifically asking what could be done to make it better, people will tell you what THEY want. Don't take it personally.
The entire process may take years or months if you are truly dedicated, and have a bit under your creative belt. You will continue to grow as a person and so should your work. Embrace the journey and all it entails. Mistakes included. There will be enough of those and they should not deter you from being the expressive artist you need to be. When you put time into your craft it will get better.
So keep at it and stay consistent! If this is what you really want, the style will find you when you are ready. You got this!
If you never create a beautiful world we will never have a beautiful world.