Updated: Feb 24
Are you a new/young/up and coming artist, illustrator or designer struggling to find your signature art style? Been there! My entire 4 years in art school I struggled and felt really stressed out about not finding my style during my time there in school. It wasn't until a year after art school that I actually "discovered" my style. I put that in quotes because I took finding my own style into my own hands and I actively took the time to define my style with intention. And you know what? So can you!
In this blog post I would love to share some tips for how you can fast forward the process of defining your signature style yourself. Because I don't want you to feel stressed about not having found your signature art style for a second longer. Your signature style isn't just going to fall into your lap. I personally think you have to actively acquire it by paying close attention to the colors you admire, your voice and the types of art that interest you the most. By really honing into the things that you love the most, combining that with the type of art you love to create and mixing in all of your experiences and unique view point you will finally land on a style all your own.
I also think that it is important to note that even when you start to feel like you are defining your signature style it isn't static. This is a never ending process. For the rest of your life you will be refining and redefining your style as you develop as a person and your skill set gets better.
5 Tips and Exercises for Defining Your Signature Style:
Define Your Signature Color Palette. Color comes really easy and naturally to us. You either love a color combination or you don't. You also probably surround yourself with specific colors or notice that you avoid certain colors. It's time to really pay attention to this and define a signature color palette. My biggest advice is to create a Pinterest board pinning all sorts of images with colors and color combinations that really really appeal to you. Once you have a board of around 40-50 images you should start to see a theme emerge. Take note of these colors and pick out a well rounded palette of 40 colors to use over and over again in your work. It doesn't mean that you have to create artwork with only these colors forever and ever, but these colors will be most recognisably you! You can check out my board here if you're curious what my favorite colors are.
Study Your Favorite Art Styles. What kind of art do you admire. As with the color exercise I invite you to create a Pinterest board with artwork from other artists that you admire. What sorts of styles are you drawn to the most. Realistic, painterly, abstract, cute. Can you see a theme with in your chosen pins? Also take the time to really study 3-5 of your favorite artists. What is it about their art that you really really admire (or don't admire.) What are your hopes and dreams for your art and career? Think also about your current skillset. What do you need to learn in order to create the art that you admire.
Test Out as Many Different Art Mediums and Styles as Possible. There is never a more important time in your career than now to really play and explore. This is why my 4 years at art school were so beneficial to me. Even though I didn't leave school with a fully fleshed out artistic style I had spent 4 years testing out countless styles, and art materials. I really learned the fundamentals of art making and also learned what I like and don't like as far as art making. Push yourself to make art everyday and test new things. Take art classes. Buy new materials. Do art challenges. Really really just have fun with it and see what you love most.
Copy Other Artists Work. Do Art Studies. We all know that it is a complete no-no to copy other artist's work but this can be a very beneficial exercise to speed up the art style exploration process. This is also only for educational purposes and should stay as a study in your sketchbook and you should never claim this work as your own and definitely never sell it. So why should you try this exercise? By copying another artist's work (either traditional or contemporary in any style) you can very quickly push yourself to start making artwork in a style that you really admire and strive to have yourself. By copying on your own time with out instruction you are also left to figuring out how art is made by yourself. Since you don't know exactly the order and technique for acquiring this artwork you have to problem solve and figure things out on your own. In turn you are most likely tweeking this style into your very own style with your own way of making art by using your own brushes and colors and textures since you most likely don't exactly know what the original artist used. It is just important to note that you should be looking at many different sources for inspiration and not just take inspiration or copy one artist too much. Make sure to look to many different teachers and artists to learn from and mix and match with your own art play and exploration plus your unique signature color palette and you should be left with an incredible starting point for a signature style!
Give Yourself Time and Grace. It's really boring to hear this but these things take time and you have to allow it to take some time as well. Just try to make as much art as you can as often as you can and one day your style will emerge and your skill set will get better and better. Be kind to yourself. This is a process that should be fun! You should be creating artwork for you first and foremost.
This process is huge and kind of daunting but it should also be really fun. I recently published a full 2 hour class on Skillshare delving even deeper into the subject and I highly suggest you check it out if you would like more instruction and help for defining your signature style. In the course I go over many examples of different art styles from many different talented artists, and go over these exercises in depth as well as show you my process for designing a signature collection. As a part of the class I also created a 20 page workbook to help you sort thorough your ideas and help you land on the time of art and career you are striving for. I am so very excited and proud of the course and hope that you will find it beneficial.
If you are a Premium member of Skillshare you can check out the class here. If you are completely new to Skillshare and would like to test out a Premium membership for a free trial you can use this link here to sign up and watch this class and well as the 1000s of other incredible creative classes as well.
Good luck on your journey to defining your signature styles. I hope to see you in class!