Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Find Your Style in Illustration

There are lots of opinions on style on the internet, but I thought I would add my two cents. First of all, what is style? Style is your own unique voice that comes through in your artwork. It is why art directors will seek out your work and hire you versus another artist. They may be looking for a certain look to match the article they have to find an illustration for. In art school I had one instructor that said something about style that has stuck with me - style is the natural way that you draw, and should come naturally.

So, how do you find your own unique voice? I think style is something you discover in yourself, not something you try to copy from other artists. Copying an artist's style is fine to learn a technique, but should not be how you find your style. How I found my current style of linocut illustration was a lot of experimentation. While in school I tried many, many mediums before settling on linocut in my final year of studies. I tried painting in acrylic, ink, cut paper, silkscreen, digital, scratchboard, etching, and finally settled on linocut. I think experimenting with as many mediums as possible while in school is very healthy and will stretch and grow you as an artist. If you are not in school to learn new things, what is the point? I think your work should go through changes from your first year of school to your last year.

I didn't fully develop my style until my last year of school. I had a breakthrough in my third year during a school trip to New York. In New York, we had the opportunity to show our portfolios to various art directors and fellow professional illustrators. The portfolio I showed the art directors had a variety of styles in it and was not very consistent. At that point I was already experimenting with linocut, but wasn't very developed in it yet. One of the art directors reviewing my portfolio commented that I was obviously passionate about printmaking and should work that into my style. That was when I first seriously considered to combine printmaking and illustration. After New York I tried scratchboard, which has an etching look to it, but is a quick method of working. I also did more experiments with linocut, but didn't really delve into it until my fifth year of school.

Printmaking is a medium I naturally gravitated to. One of the printmaking methods I tried was silkscreen, and I completed my illustration projects in school using this method. But I figured out that silkscreen was too slow of a method to apply to illustration, which has tight deadlines sometimes. So I thought of trying linocut and relief printing to complete projects and found this quite enjoyable and a much faster method of working compared to silkscreen. Don't get me wrong, silkscreen is awesome and I'm not knocking it, but I think it is best to be used for projects with a longer deadline, or personal projects.

In conclusion I think to find your style you need to experiment and figure out what makes you excited about creating your art. Follow what comes naturally to you and eventually you will discover your own voice.

No comments: