We live in a world full of accessibility, oversharing and so much information at our finger tips! Through social media, we are able to look into each other’s lives, we face advertising, trends, and all kinds of messages about the people we should be and life we should live. It can be so challenging to be authentic, to stay true to yourself, what you believe and what defines you. As artists and creatives, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL because we are always seeking to develop our own unique style and voice. I don’t have all the answers but today I’ve got three of the best tips I can give for developing your own creative style!
STAY FAR AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER
I say this a lot when I give creative advice and I will say it over and over again! Social media and the internet can be a dangerous place for creatives. It can make the whole inspiration gathering process way too easy which means you will be tempted to copy what other people are doing. It can also create self doubt and get you caught in the comparison trap- where everyone else appears to be happier, more successful and better than you. The only way to keep your work authentic is to get off the computer and go looking for things in real life that inspire you! It is though this process that YOU, your unique life and the things that define you will begin to show through in your art and creativity.
PUT IT INTO ACTION: Instead of heading to Pinterest, Instagram or your favorite blogs for creative inspiration, challenge yourself to offset computer time with 1-2 hours a week out in the real world seeking inspiration! Go somewhere new, somewhere inspiring or somewhere in your routine that gets your creativity flowing!
EXPERIMENT AND EXPLORE
In my experience, you don’t just wake up one day and suddenly have a unique creative style! These things happen when you make time to do the work and YES even making art requires work. I’ve found that one of the best ways to grow and begin to find your style, is to spend a lot of time experimenting and exploring all kinds of techniques and materials. I’ve taken just about every type of art class under the sun- sculpture, assemblage art, oil painting, acrylic painting, watercolor painting, lithography, mono-printing, pottery, sewing, figure drawing, calligraphy, color theory and the list goes on! While I loved exploring all of these different things, I found many of them didn’t feel right to me. And then there were other things (hello painting) that I absolutely fell in love with. Without this spirit of exploration, I never would have discovered the process, materials and techniques that spoke to my heart and eventually became a part of my unique voice.
PUT IT INTO ACTION:
Challenge yourself to explore or experiment with something new! This could be as small as a new paint brush, new color combo or a new technique. It could also be something big like a taking a class, learning a new technique or doing something that is totally out of your comfort zone. Whatever you choose to explore, try to stay aware of the things that get you excited, that feel natural or just make you happy.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE AND PRACTICE SOME MORE
When it comes down to it, there is only one way to figure out your own creative style and that is lots of practice. I know most people don’t want to mix discipline with the creative life but I am here to tell you that treating your art process like something serious is going to result in finding your voice. As much as I’d love for this stuff to happen over night, I’m gonna be honest and tell you that it takes years, maybe even a lifetime of trial and error, of practicing, learning from that practice and refining your process to arrive at your own style. While we all have our own timeline (after 40 years of making art, I’m still a work in progress), the best thing you can do is embrace practice. The more time you make art, the better that art will be and the closer you will get to your own unique style.
PUT IT INTO ACTION:
Take a look at your schedule and try making time for practice. And by practice I don’t mean “paint a masterpiece” instead challenge yourself to create consistently even if it’s only for a short period of time. This discipline will inspire new ideas, create confidence and help define your style.