I’ve never considered myself to have an illustration style. That felt like something that was reserved for “proper artists”. I’m just someone who was goofing around and had a side hobby. But recently I’ve had lots of comments from other people on “my style” saying how distinctive it is, or that they wanted something commissioned in that style. For me, that was a bit of a revelation. But going back through my work over the last few months I do have a style – you can see it just from Instagram – and it’s so exciting. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on finding and having a style, because it’s been something I’ve been thinking about a lot.
So how did I get here? The style I have now wasn’t so much developed out of a choice of a set process it’s come more from making so much over the last year and finding a way of working that I really enjoy. I guess the age old idea that the only way to find your style is to put the work in is true. You can really see the difference between what I was producing a year ago, say in my alphabet series and the images you see on my blog and Instagram now. There’s a certain quality of line and an obvious colour palette which I think is probably which ties my work together most obviously.
As I said I always wanted to have a style, growing up I would see illustrator’s whose work you could identify instantly and whose work really came together as a consistent body of pieces. Their styles not only made their work identifiable their style really added something of their own personality and character into their pieces when if they were on vastly different subjects or commissions.
However, now that I kind of have a style I want to change things up a bit. I love having something consistent and identifiable but I don’t want my work to become static. That’s part of the reason I’m doing the 10 week colour challenge I recently wrote about. I want my style to grow and evolve with me a bit more, I don’t just want to be black lines on an off-white background. So I’m thinking of playing with materials and colours, or perhaps stylising my lines more and keeping my colour palette. I want to experiment.
As I was feeling kind of hesitant about that experimentation because I don’t want to lose the style I’ve put so many hours in to create. So I went back through the work of those artists I used to, and still do, take inspiration from. I dug through their archives, and even the ones I thought of as being so distinctive have changed year on year, sometimes only subtly but they’ve certainly refined and evolved. That was such an exciting revelation. Style doesn’t have to be fixed at any point, it can change with you.
So I’m going to just keep working, and playing and hopefully the next stage of my style will creep up on me just like this one did. Also, if you see some wildly out of character pieces in the next few weeks and months know that I don’t plan on being a completely different illustrator but one who has the scope to work in a new way.