A Question of Style
You May REALLY Want an Agent!
Interview with Joseph Corsentino
A Question of StyleAsk an Artist
by Annie Rodrigue
I want to have my own unique style! How can I find it and make sure it's good and distinctive?
That's a question I get often in conventions. Somehow, when people approach me, they say that my style is recognizable and distinctive, but when I look at my work, it feels like it's going everywhere and nowhere at the same time. So chances are, you are feeling like me: not sure if you have a style at all.
Oddly enough, there are no tricks to get a style. It is something that evolves with the artist. If you've piled up your work through the years, I suggest to go take a look. You'll most likely see an evolution in execution, but if you look at style, you will probably see what influenced you through the years.
Style is really a blend of influence, inspiration and technical skill. We've all got artists we look up to, are impressed by or that influence our work. We want to emulate elements of their work to integrate it to our own. But there is a fine line that we shouldn't cross: copying to make someone else's style our own to a point where we only seem to be a clone of that artist. Remember that viewers, directors and potential clients are not looking for clones. They want something unique, something they have never seen before. So instead, try to study others' work by asking yourself WHY do you think their style is unique? Is it composition? Is it lighting/shading? Character design? Or color schemes? It can be quite a few things at the same time. By analysing your favourite artists, you might realise that the reason why you like all of them so much might be for very similar reasons (for example, they might all work with very bright colors, or maybe they all use a medium in a similar way). Chances are this is what you need to change in your own portoflio to get that unique style you are looking for.
Remember also that a style is not solely based on the way we draw characters. A lot of people will say that style is just the way we draw faces, bodies, clothing, etc. But style is really a matter of consistency and also of composition (both composition in layout, and composition with color). Character design is only a part of it, and depending on your goal as an illustrator, it might not even be important! So be sure to know first what you want to achieve as an artist or illustrator, or you might start changing or focusing on the wrong part and feel like you are going nowhere.
As for style being influenced by technical skills, this might be the frustrating part. Truth is, as you learn new things, your style will evolve along the way. You cannot possibly start doing solid character designs without knowing anything about anatomy. You also cannot design backgrounds without knowing anything about perspective. This might sound funny to read, but I stopped counting the number of times I've seen someone focus on intricate costumes and character designs when they kept hiding the characters' hands because they either hated drawing them, or just didn't know how. Start with the basics, and work your way up from there. It's true for technical skills, it is also true for style! They go hand in hand!
So I guess the answer to the question would be that there are no easy tricks to create a style. Just practice a lot, make sure to improve your skills, and style will come with time, and I guarantee you that it will become distinctive and unique!
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