About style...

4 min read

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Andrew-Ross-MacLean's avatar
I took a few minutes to answer a couple questions about developing a style on tumblr. I figure I'd share it here as well...


1982original asked:

 I'm struggling to find my style and decided to ask about this to a few artists. I guess some artists chose to follow a path where they can show mostly their strengths, and this turn out to be their style. I just can't find mine, and even so, I still don't feel fine imagining doing always the same thing. Yes, I'm confused. How much of conscient decision did you put in your style (like, "I can draw this any way but I'll do this way")? Did you ever think about it?

What an important question, thanks for asking. It's also a question I think everyone asks him or herself. I'm sure it must be addressed openly like this but for whatever reason I don't see too many blogs about it... they must exist though... ok, here's mine:

 A few years ago I was drawing much more casually but still stressing over the question. At the time I was trying (and failing) to draw more like the house styles of Marvel or DC and I HATED my work. I didn't have the skill, not by a long shot.

 I noticed that I liked my work much more in the layout stage when it was just simple shapes and I realized how my approach made no sense. I was already a big fan of quirkier art like Mike Mignola and Gabriel Ba, so why was I trying to draw like Lienel Yu (Who I still enjoy by the way)?

 But the reality is you cannot just dream a new style completely formed in your mind and then set it to paper. It takes years to mold it. I add and subtract elements CONSTANTLY.

 So at that point I started to ape the style of Mignola, poorly. In terms of illustration I was a child. I didn't know anything about what paper to use, or what tools existed (I used printer paper and sharpies), and as gross as it felt to ape a style of another artist, I felt like I had no style and therefore didn't know what else to do. I was completely ignorant.

 But what I did take away from that gross feeling was I knew I needed to know more about illustration so I could create something of my own. So I made the conscious effort to absorb as much illustration as I could. I scoured the web (DeviantArt was a nice resource) for different styles. Any artists I found that I thought were even remotely skilled I followed very closely, even if it didn't meet my taste "requirements". This led to me getting new appreciations for styles I was unfamiliar with. I asked questions to learn a little about tools. Eventually I had a MUCH wider appreciation for illustration in general. I kept experimenting, adding subtracting, I drew everyday, kept feeling insecure with little victories in between.

 And I never looked back. I just keep searching and learning today. That said, my style today isn't original. Sure there are bits and pieces, elements that I employ now that were found through random experiments or moments of inspiration but these things come from somewhere. You can still see influences in my work pretty clearly I think.

 Lets wrap this up. Look (and I mean closely) at a shitload of art, illustrations, cartoons, life drawings, paintings, traditional, try a brush, try a nib, try a micron, try watercolor, try watercolor paper, try bristol, try a hard pencil, try a soft pencil, draw really fast, draw really slow, draw somewhere in between, get slick, get squiggly, get tight, get loose, adopt something fulltime, and THEN throw away something you adopted fulltime.

 Oh, and have fun. Always have fun.

© 2013 - 2022 Andrew-Ross-MacLean
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milidryn's avatar
Best advice I have had in years! Thanks for that! Gives me hope that I am not on a wrong path... just get cracking haha ;-) 

Thanks, really!