Discover Your Personal Art & Design Style

design tips

by Deana Duffek

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Discover Your Personal Art & Design Style

Understanding what your personal art style is can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming. As artists, we all want to be successful and sometimes don’t treat our art with the same respect we would another job. Also as artists, we often have other jobs so making a commitment to our art can be challenging. Whether it is another job, your kids, family, or any number of things, the first thing to do in order to discover your personal style is to start dedicating time to your art. Make a date with yourself and stick to it. You wouldn’t break a date with a friend or colleague so give yourself and your art the same respect. Second, don’t take your art (or yourself) so seriously! You aren’t going to become the artist you want to be if you don’t experiment. Get silly, play, use different materials, mediums, ideas, have fun with it! We are artists after all…aren’t we supposed to be having fun? Experimentation can come in many forms. I would suggest carrying a sketch pad with you and start sketching while you wait for the kids at the doctors office or when you are on your lunch break or any other time that you can steal a minute of time. And speaking of stealing, don’t be afraid to steal ideas from other artists. Artists have all been doing it from the beginning of time. As Pablo Picasso pointed out: “Good artist borrow, great artist steal.” That quote itself was later stolen by Steve jobs.   It’s not about taking another persons work and making it your own – it’s about taking ideas and making them better. Explore local galleries, museums, read art books, watch documentaries about artists, embrace the culture and you will be amazed at what might inspire you.  The idea is that your unique style starts to stand out and becomes recognizably yours.

I have worked in the brand building business for a number of years. I think working artists should look at themselves just as any other brand. Questions to think about would be: what makes you unique? What makes you stand out among the rest and what helps build your personal art brand? When you are studying other artists and taking a look at the work being produced now, start to  identify where you may fit in. Keep a list in that sketchbook of yours and identify themes you like, or dislike. Refer to your sketches and lists when you are creating new art and see if you have a consistent theme that starts to emerge. As you start to hone in on things you like, your personality will start to shine through as well. Use it! If you are a nut for details, let your eye for detail come through in your work. If you are a bold personality let that come through as well. If you aren’t sure what your personality is like, ask your friends and family. Let them point you in the right direction. Your work should be a reflection of you!

Lastly, don’t get hung up on “selling art” maybe you will, maybe you won’t, but enjoy the process. Just as in life, it is the journey of creating that makes it fun. Take some classes, play with other artists, get involved with festivals and see what comes. Take note of local niches or trends and see if you can find a place that feels right for selling your art, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you are an artist first. Create great art and see what happens! If you build it, they will come. As they say, practice makes perfect. Continue to practice and experiment and you will see results.

As a recap, to further understand and uncover your personal art style:

1.     Commit to time with your art

2.     Lighten up! Play a little!

3.     Find inspiration in other art: sketch

4.     Create brand consistency

5.     Embrace your personality

6.     Take some classes, embrace the community

7.     Practice, practice, practice

Other reference materials you may enjoy: The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, and Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. For more information, please visit:

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