In order to project a professional image as an artist, you must be able to distinguish yourself and your art from a sea of other talented artists. To do this, you must first develop your artistic style.
As most artists have come to learn, developing an artistic style all your own is easier than it sounds. It means that your work doesn’t look like your instructor’s work, but that it is also cohesive when shown together.
What is Artistic Style?
Style is a word we use freely and without much thought. But what does it mean?
In her book Living With Art, Rita Gilbert writes that “style is a characteristic or group of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or coherent.” She goes on to say, “Artistic style is the sum of constant, recurring or coherent traits identified with a certain individual or group.”
An artist’s style is not good or bad. It just IS. The execution might be criticized, the colors might be perceived as ugly, or the composition seen as weak, but the style is what it is.
Your style is a combination of the mediums, technique, and subject matter you choose. It’s not just that you make contemporary quilts or that you paint landscapes. Those are mediums and genres by themselves. No, style is that extra little thing you do to distinguish your work from that of other artists.
Two quilt artists might each create abstract, colorful compositions using the same traditional block. If both are mature artists, however, we’d probably be able to tell one artist’s work from the other. For example, a fiber artist might employ one or more of the following in creating the quilt.
- Hand-dyed fabrics from organic dyes
- Loose threads hanging on the surface (rather than hiding them)
- A particular fabric that becomes a signature of sorts
- Text written with ink on top of the quilt
In other words, she becomes known for works that contain a certain characteristic. For a painter it might be loose brushstrokes, impasto, or a repeated image. Kehinde Wiley, who painted the official portrait of President Obama, is known for his highly decorative backgrounds around his subjects. Sarah Sze brings together hundreds and thousands of found objects to create detailed multimedia landscape installations.
What are you known for?