Friday, November 5, 2010

On Style

Cartoonist Dave Roman wrote an interesting blog post for his publisher Macmillan about his efforts to develop his own style (illustration above is by Dave and stolen by me with impunity). Dave's thoughts on finding his artistic voice remind me of John Lennon's line that life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. So's style.

Young artists copy the work of other artists they admire. Maybe you have an epiphany, as Dave did, or maybe it slowly sneaks up on you, but one day you realize that the stuff you most enjoy doing doesn't look like anyone else's. It's yours. Oh, all your old influences are still there--they're unavoidable--and of course you always try to learn and improve. But your resources become more internal than external. You figure out how to solve problems your way rather than peeking over at the paper of the kid sitting next to you.

I know of artists who don and doff other people's artistic styles easily, and make a living at it. But work that has real meaning and the power to affect other people must be authentic. You can't fake it. It has to be you. Sometimes the you you end up with isn't the one you expected or even wanted. No choice. You're stuck with yourself. Run with it.


Rebeka said...

Thank you for posting this! As a student in art and design I am finding this a relevant topic of discussion. We're trying desperately to become like others in our field while simultaneously trying to stand out from them. I have been desperately trying to find a signature style, but it's true, I was born with my own style, and it's not something I have to 'tap into', it's something I can't seem to tap OUT OF. :)

Brian Fies said...

You're welcome! I think it's a combination of "born with" and "guided into." Your style reflects your personality, but of course your personality is colored by everything you've seen, heard, read and experienced. It needs nourishment. The more interests you have and information you take in, the more resources your personality and style will have to draw on.