How does an artist achieve his or her own distinctive art style? I actually think this is an excellent question. I’ve seen way too many artists who look just like everyone else.
Just like when I was in bands. You’ll hear one band that’s original. Then you’ll hear a dozen other bands rip them off.
So to answer this question, there’s more than one way to do it. However, this three step process is as good as any.
If you don’t really know yourself all the way through, then how do you expect to create art in your own distinctive art style? You need to be honest with yourself. What do you truly love? What do you truly hate?
List them both.
Also list what you like and dislike. Less strong words, but almost as important. List what you’re indifferent to.
Actually, that’s the most frightening word of all – indifference. If you love my work, that’s awesome. If you hate my work with a passion, that’s almost as awesome.
Seriously. I want it to generate strong feelings.
But indifference to my work? That would bum me out.
Anyways, enough about me. Let’s talk about you. How well do you know yourself?
Also, let’s include the love of your life. Let’s include the one who got away. Think of friends and family members who you’re BFFs with. What do you love about them the most?
Also the ones who drive you nuts. Why do they drive you nuts?
Know what you’ve done, what you won’t do, what you’ll no longer do, and what you really want to do.
I’m sure you can add a lot to this list. This is by no means complete. If you feel that you don’t know yourself enough, you need to spend more time introspectively.
That’s why I’ve met so many creative types do hallucinogenic drug retreats. No, I’m not saying you need to do one. I’m just explaining why they do them.
They know deep down inside that they don’t know themselves as well as they need to. So they’ll do something a little bit more edgy to peer deep down inside their souls.
There’s an old saying that the good artists borrow, the great artists steal. Know what you like. And practice it without shame.
Of course, you’ll have to know copyright laws. I’m only talking about for practice. For reals, when you’re selling your work, it has to be an original piece.
However, my original pieces have stolen from so many different artists that they look like they’re entirely original. You catch my drift?
Steal profusely, so much that nobody can tell you’ve stolen from anyone. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but the more artists you steal from, the more unique your work will start to appear.
This is especially true in music. You could tell when someone has a million influences. They sound original. Weird how it works, but that’s how it works.
I could tell you my musical influences. Tchaikovsky. Beethoven. Brahms. Wagner. Mendelssohn. Chopin. Rachmaninoff. Judas Priest. 80s Metal. 80s Pop. Certain disco songs. ABBA. Journey. HIM. Cradle of Filth. Dimmu Borgir. Prince. Queen. Deep Purple/Rainbow/Blackmore’s Night. Loreena McKinnett. Ragtime.
You see? I’m all over the place. But I know what I like.
I’ll write a list of my favorite artists someday.
UPDATE - I did. Here's my list of my top 10 artists.
Theme your entire life
You’ll get called weird by some and interesting by others. But who cares? Ignore that first set. Focus on the second set as those will be the ones who will be buying your art anyways.
Get so into your theme that you theme your entire life. The way you act. The way you dress. Decorate your whole house in your theme. Everything – do it in your theme.
You’ll see a lot of great artists wearing a “uniform.” You already know how they’d be dressed ahead of time. They wear a consistent uniform day to day and they’re easily recognizable. Salvadore Dalí is an excellent example. You’d be able to pick him out of a crowd immediately.
Once your entire life is themed…
The artwork will flow like a big ass river. You’ll be called obsessed.
Good. Best possible compliment for an artist.
Beethoven was obsessed. So was Michelangelo. All the great ones were.
Nothing worse than an artist who needs motivation to do his art. Needless to say, those artists don’t make it.
“I need to be inspired.”
No you don’t. You need to get to work.
So know yourself. Steal. And theme your entire life. Do those three things and I can assure you, you’ll start to develop your own individual style. Oh and also one more – work your ass off.
Why this matters
So the artist asks why. That’s the question the artist should always ask!
We’re art buyers. We’ve bought over six figures of art so far, from galleries, from auctions, and even straight from the artists. We can tell you which artists make it and which ones don’t.
Most get lost in the crowd. You know who doesn’t? The ones who paint from their souls, because everyone’s soul is unique. And that requires developing your own distinctive art style.