General Question

auspex's avatar

How do artists develop a unique style?

Asked by auspex (124points) May 30th, 2009

Most of what we learn formally as artists is via imitation, so how does one develop a distinct style of their own? There are so many places to share artwork nowadays (Deviantart, flickr, etc.) and I feel it is hard to stand out in these large communities with so much diversity. Do you mix-and-match aspects of styles you like? Do you stick with what you know and wait for a gradual evolution?

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32 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

It’s a little of mixing and matching styles that you like, plus a good dose of your own ability, and your personal style, which is nearly impossible to fake or duplicate among artists.

As a writer, I have a personal style that people who read my stuff can pick out easily. When it comes to writing, or any of the arts, the key is: practice, practice, practice.

J0E's avatar

The more design styles you learn the more they will become familiar with you so that you are unconsciously using borrowed techniques along with a mix of your own and eventually they will add up and equal your style.

YARNLADY's avatar

I suspect it’s not so much develop as allow to come out as an experience while creating. You can learn techniques and such, but the act of creating something out of nothing is what brings out your unique approach.

My father once told me he knew he wasn’t a musician, but rather a craftsperson, because his music was a mechanical reproduction of the notes on the instrument. It sounded decent, but not great.

BadPrices's avatar

I think everyone just takes the parts they like and puts them together to make a “unique” combination.

Blondesjon's avatar

These people are right. We are all just one giant, artistic, Long Island Iced Tea.

steve6's avatar

It helps to have talent and be devoid of influence early so when you draw you develop your own style rather quickly.

Dog's avatar

@auspex Welcome to Fluther!

Your instruction via imitation is to teach you control, color and composition as well as to show different styles.

To discover your unique style is easy. Create 300 works of art in your chosen medium.

Your style will find you.

rooeytoo's avatar

In imitating the styles of the people I study, I think to myself I would rather have it this way or that way and eventually your true self emerges. Your style becomes the sum of all the parts you have borrowed and altered and combined and developed along the way.

bezdomnaya's avatar

I know that when I was painting, I tried very hard to be abstract. It never worked: I always ended up painting a specific type of people. I couldn’t get away from it and then I realized that that was my style. I think it’s really about the feeling you get when you are creating that causes you to choose one element over another.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Faulty equipment in some cases. Take the band Joy Division. Guitarist Bernard Sumner’s amp only sounded decent when it was cranked all the way up. Bassist Peter Hook wasn’t able to hear his own playing unless he limited himself to the upper register of his instrument. Singer Ian Curtis remarked that he liked the effect, and they employed it on quite a few of their songs to memorable effect.

flameboi's avatar

they hire a stylist and make them sign an exclusivity agreement…

quasi's avatar

I think a problem for a lot of artists is that they worry about having a unique style. If you make the work you want (or need) to make, it is possible to have the apperance of a personal style, but this should never be the impetus for the work. If you try to hard to define (or restrict) yourself to a certain style, it can be detrimental. While many artists make work that is recognizable as their own, it has little to do with style per say. Of course, this varies among the arts, and many people may not agree. I have come to think of style as a superficial element that can be used to enhance or subvert the content of your work, as necessary. I hope that helps.

Linda_Owl's avatar

If you paint long enough, you will develop your own style, & your style will be easy to see from one painting to the next. Of course, if an artist chooses to become an art forger, they usually do not develop a style of their own – they work, instead, on being able to exactly copy the work of other artists.

asmonet's avatar

I really wish I could answer this. GA, darling.

I keep being told I have a style. And I remain baffled.
I do what I likes. It just kind of happened.

Just work it out, as much as you can keep doing stuff, you’ll notice what you love about your style and what you don’t and it’ll develop on it’s own. If you try to copy someone else it will fail. It will fail super hard. But you know that.

It may have helped that I didn’t take an art class until six months ago.

Auspex, I didn’t show you my final! And that’s fail, cause we used to doodle all over the place back in the day. Click! :)

steve6's avatar

Unencumbered by the influence of others.

asmonet's avatar

@steve6: That’s ridiculous, art is built on by everyone. The whole deal with artists is that we’re a community of innovators – creators. We build on the past, we push further ahead. We don’t just throw out a painting devoid of any influence whatsoever. It’s impossible.

We live in a big, big world. We all have eyes, ears, noses, tongues. You cannot help but be influenced by SOMETHING as you create. It’s arrogant to think otherwise.

steve6's avatar

I started drawing early in life 4–6 years old and have always drawn the same way, my style.

asmonet's avatar

I read that as a lack of progression.

Besides, If you’re still sketching like a four year old, you have big problems. :P

steve6's avatar

My sketches are pen and ink and are awesome.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

if you grew up in a place that didn’t put any emphasis on proper speech etiquette, you’re writing style would obviously be more rash, blunt, down and dirty. If you grew up with your parents speaking to you in nothing but a classical “thou art” manner, your writing style would be more delicate. Your style comes from where you came from.

steve6's avatar


chelseababyy's avatar

They don’t. Their style just comes to them, it’s like a gift.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

is it really though? I mean yes the base creativity seems to be innate, but particular unique style? I’m sure if Kurt Cobain grew up in a mansion and was dragged to the opera a bunch Nirvana probably wouldn’t have that gritty feel too it. It seems like your surroundings, you’re life experiences, effects one’s individual style.

steve6's avatar

Whistler had a style of his own.

augustlan's avatar

Every damn thing I make is different, with no discernible style. I wish I had a style. :(

jackfright's avatar

good question.

i typically find it occurs naturally over time. when i first started my design degree course there were already minute differences between my work and those of my classmates. by the time we graduated, you could essentially tell who did what by looking at the work alone. i suppose most unique styles begin as slight deviations either consciously or not and progress to become a part of your work identity.

taken to an extreme, this results in people who have developed styles so unique, it is instantly recognizable (i.e. burton & gondry in film) though this applies more to the more visual arts (film, fashion design, paintings, etc.) there is a specific term to describe these artists/designers but i cant seem to remember it at the moment.

the opposite end of the spectrum, you have those that make it a point to NOT have a single unique style and focus on versatility instead.

svladcjelli's avatar

I think this is like asking a writer how they develop a voice. They don’t. They write about what they love and their voice comes from that.

I think you do what you love, make what you are inspired by and your style/voice flows from that.

wundayatta's avatar

You already have a unique style. You can’t avoid it. It’s like your voice sounds different from every other voice (except maybe a sibling’s) and your face looks different from every other face (except maybe an identical twin). Whatever you do, you do it in your own unique way.

Now, what I really think you’re asking is how do you make your style stand out from all the others. You have to love what you do; be interested in your subjects; and have no pretense. If you are you to the fullest extent you can be, your style will stand out. No guarantee that others will like it, but it will stand out.

TheRocketPig's avatar

Personally, as someone who had been searching for my “own” style for quite a while, all it takes is to know what you like, and practice. All it takes is some time and a ton of experimentation. Do absolutely EVERYTHING, that you think might be interesting. Try not to filter yourself, honestly, if it doesn’t work out… you don’t have to show it to anyone. All it took for me was trial and error.

I would say that frame of mind helps push your work into a direction. I found myself working in a 50’s retroish style… so I made sure that I surrounded myself with things that helped push me along that path. (an example of this would be that I only allowed myself to listen to music from that era for about 8 months)

so in short… do what you like, and you’ll like what you do.

asmonet's avatar

Listen to @TheRocketPig, auspex. You would love him. I know this because I know he has a Pope Cat and I know you.
I need know further information.

Also, dude. @TheRocketPig: I want everything you have on your website. I love it. All of it. It makes me sad. Shame on you for bringing you my greed.

fred_in_london's avatar

Well, I guess we all know how the singers known as castrati arrived at their eunuch style…

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’m totally about to quote my english teacher from last year, but she always said this about writing. “it’s like with spaghetti sauce. you follow the recipe until you learn it, and then you add in a bunch of stuff and hope it doesn’t taste like crap.”
so um. i think after you have the technique down, you’ll have the ability to mess around with it until you have a distinguishable style.

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