How to develop your own style is one of the questions I get the most. How do you do it? What is involved? How do make my stuff look better?
All great questions. Keep asking them. There is a simple answer, get creating, and then create some more, as you create your vision. In other words, there is no quick path to your style.
It’s effort, steady effort. It’s like a very long journey with no endpoint. Because creating your style is never really done unless you decide to stop. You can see it in an artist’s body of work if they have kept going. They continually develop their style.
You can do it too! It takes time, and one more thing, it takes energy.
I’ve outline a few tips on how to develop your own style. I use these tips myself. If you focus your efforts, you can speed up the process.
Create a body of work
This is most important. One or two artworks, stories, or creations isn’t enough. You need many. There is no magic number, but the more the better.
So don’t content yourself with a few works and expect to have your own style. It takes time. All time really, because style development is always ongoing. As you grow, it grows.
This gives you time to develop your expression and to follow through on the rest of the tips.
Develop your skills
Your style will definitely benefit from increased technical and artistic skills. Take classes, read books, listen to experts. Learn as much as you can about the art and craft of your medium.
There really is no limit to what you can learn. So never stop learning.
Which brings us to practice.
Your style development is a function of how much you practice. Everything you learn on your own or from others needs to be trained and improved. Theoretical learning doesn’t do much good when it comes to creative expression.
It needs practice, daily, if possible.
You probably know it’s not enough to just do the same thing over and over. You won’t get a new result. You won’t get the progress you really want.
You must inject difficulty and challenge into your creative work. This will force you to work creatively to solve the problem you give yourself.
It doesn’t always need to be in the form of a giant challenge or way outside of your comfort zone. You can nibble on the edges instead. Push back your limitations little by little, as it suits you.
This is where the real growth is. Give yourself a new problem you haven’t seen to play with and solve. You will find it really helps you develop your own style.
Reach inside yourself
How many times do you turn to the internet or social media to get ideas and be inspired?
There is nothing wrong with that. I do it too. But it can never take the place of turning inward and reaching inside yourself for answers.
This is the heart and soul of style development. Expressing yourself. Not copying others. You know what you want, reach in and figure out a way to pull it out. Only you can do this part.
Look to others
Now for the other side.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We benefit from the lessons others have learned. Use them wisely.
When you see the works of others, especially those that grind you with envy, take this as an opportunity to learn. What do you like? What about it appeals to you?
Take the little bits, not the whole, just the bits. Rework, reshape, re-imagine them into your own. This will be part of your style evolution.
With enough bits from a wide variety of sources, all reworked, you have added quite a bit to your own style.
This is another way of challenging yourself. And it’s really important to do things that are unknown, that feel scary, that make you feel uneasy.
It’s not comfortable. But these are massive learning moments. So much to learn here.
You will make messes and not everything will work out as you wish, but it’s alright. We all have our messes, some of us are just so good at hiding them. Don’t be afraid of them. Use them to teach yourself.
Ask yourself questions
This is an underrated skill, but so important in our creative development.
You need new answers to your problems. The main problems we all face as creatives are how to better express ourselves, how to increase creativity, how to be more original, and how to shift perspective.
All this requires you to ask new questions.
So ask yourself everyday, these sorts of questions:
- What can I do differently?
- What new resource could I add in?
- How can I add greater originality?
- What could be improved?
- What are my real and artificial limitations?
Develop a vision
This is really important. I didn’t realize how necessary it was either. But you are likely doing it anyway without thinking too much. That’s because you know what you like and are attracted to it. So, the vision is already being created.
You can take a more active role and cultivate your vision. Consider what kind of art you really want to create, what art you want to see. How does it look to you?
Then you can set out composing it. I say compose, because for most of it, it’s the sum of many bits we’ve seen elsewhere. We patch them together, as we filter them through our own experience and put them together in an entirely new way.
There are many pieces, such as color, form, tones, emotion, subjects, and others depending on your medium of expression.
So if you haven’t started already, now is a great time to start collecting the elements of your vision. Keep searching and look for ways to add them into your work.
Style development continues
It sure would be nice if it came quickly. I feel this way too. But it takes time. In the beginning you already have hints of a style there for you.
You may not be satisfied, few of us ever are. And that is the the way it’s supposed to be. Keep working, keep trying, keep up your curiosity, and keep those questions flowing.
You won’t be disappointed!