Hello, good people of Blogger / art lovers! You haven't heard from me on the blog before, so a quick introduction: I'm Marissa. I graduated from CCAD last May (hard to believe it's been nearly a year) and have been working on the Creative Services team at Victoria's Secret as their illustrator for about 8 months now. I also moonlight as a freelance graphic designer. Needless to say, I've kept quite busy and haven't had much time for personal art. Which is why I thought I'd make my blog debut more discussion-based.
Let's get the ball rolling with a few thoughts about style. Let's start with how you get it.
Step 1: Go through an identity crisis. If you're in school, at some point you will likely end up in the fetal position on your floor because you think you don't have "style." You don't know who you want to be as an artist, and you don't know what the hell you're going to do about it. But this identity crisis is a rite of passage for creatives. If you never go through this stage, you'll never evolve or grow as an artist. Cherish this mental breakdown, y'hear?!
Step 2: Before you figure out what your art is, figure out who you are. I had the identity crisis in my junior year. Up until then, I was completing assignments in a purely academic style. But somewhere along the line, it got harder to solve creative problems. Making art wasn't even fun anymore because I spent more time trying to figure out what style I wanted to work in than I spent executing the art. What helped me figure out what kind of art I should be making was visually mapping out a chart of myself--my likes and dislikes, and all the things from childhood that influenced me. It helped me realize that I love all things humorous, people & animals, and pop-culture. I also made a list of artists whose work I admired (Peter de Seve, Carter Goodrich, Bobby Chiu). I realized then that everything I loved could be summed up by one word: Character. After that, I decided to base my work off of characters and incorporate humor into everything I did.
Here's my chart:
If you think you don't have style, think again. Your style has always been there. It's the way you make marks on the page with your pencil, pen, stick, whatever. It's how you lay down paint with your square brushes, your rounds, your filberts. It's your color choices. Subject matter. Where you make the light source in your compositions. I promise you that you already have it. Just do some digging.
Steal it 'til you feel it. If you still insist that you don't know what your style is, steal it. Now, I hope you didn't hear that as "go make shitty rip-offs" or "steal with malicious intent." I mean in your own private time, try doing some studies. Do you like Rockwell? Try painting a head study by him. Or anyone else you like. Chances are, by painting or drawing like someone else, you'll pick up on a new technique they did, and if you like it, you can incorporate it into your own work. And once again, please don't make shitty rip-offs. I speak for the whole art community when I say this: We're not dumb; we will know where it came from, and we'll secretly (or publicly) hate you for it.
Switch brushes. Sometimes when you're stuck, all you need to do is switch brushes. If you've been using a round all your life, pick up a square. If you like a pencil, trade it in for an ink pen, maybe even with a brush tip. Try switching medias entirely. I used to draw only in pencil, and worked very tightly and accurately. I took a watercolor class in my junior year that forced me to work more freely and not worry about erasing mistakes. Ultimately, it helped me loosen up, develop a more painterly style, and leave behind my fear of laying down color.
Make terrible art. Get the crap out of the way. Make some really lousy artwork. You have to go through the process of making things terrible before you can expect to produce anything good.
Know the basics first. This is something I feel very strongly about. I'm a firm believer in knowing how to draw something objectively and accurately before you experiment with exaggeration and stylized shapes. Before you stylize something, you still need to know the rules: how light behaves, what colors go well with each other, etc. etc. A while back, I watched this amazing video of Picasso painting. Lots of people think he just couldn't draw realistically. What they don't realize is that he painted things realistically first, and then painted over them in his stylized manner. Like him or not, he really was a master and knew what he was doing. So be a sponge. Soak up all the information and learn how to be a good representative artist first. Then you can march to the beat of your own drum.
I'm going to stop here tonight because it's getting late at night here, and there's just so much more to cover! For a future post on Style, I'd like to address a few more questions, like:
- What happens to my style when I start working for someone? Do I get to keep it? Do I have to give it up?
- Is it okay if someone asks me to work in the style of another artist?
- Is it better to have one style, or many styles?
A final note for tonight's post: I was watching Zoolander tonight and realized that finding your style is kind of like Zoolander finally being able to turn left and reveal his "Magnum" look at the end of the movie, which is the best thing he's ever done. Some of you might actually have this amazing "Aha!" moment when you find your style. The clouds will part, etc., and you will scream, "THERE IT IS!!!" For others, it will evolve a bit more slowly. But in the end, it will all lead to your very best work. It will be beautiful!
For your enjoyment, the glorious Zoolander clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx9O6q0pDAU&t=0m40s