Artist Therapy 8: But I don’t have a style!

Artist Therapy is a series of posts exploring problems we artists have making, getting ready to make, and sharing our art. It is inspired by Havi Brooks’s Blogging Therapy articles.

Previously on Artist Therapy:
1.) Introductory Ideas
2.) I totally suck at art.
3.) I’ll never be good enough.
4.) I don’t have time for art.
5.) It’s too late for me to start.
6.) What do I even draw?
7.) I’m blocked.

Today’s Artist Therapy:
This might shock you, but you don’t have to have an art style. It is not a requirement. If every single artwork you make looks different, that only means that you probably have many different sources of inspiration and are comfortable with experimenting and exploring – great traits for an artist to have!

You might see all these other people with their instantly-recognizable styles and think that’s a mark of a good artist. It can be, but it’s definitely not the only one, and having a style can be limiting.

Just look at Naoko Takeguchi, creator of Sailor Moon. Nearly all her people look the same – they are interchangeable, like Barbies. She is commonly mentioned as someone who has boring character design. She’s limited herself to just one style, and has taken that style too far. And because that style has garnered her so much wealth and attention, it would be hard for her to step out of it now.

Speaking of wealth, though – and you probably already know this – having a style helps to get sales and commissions. Having a collection of art that is unified by your style (or styles) means that people who like your style will come back because they trust you to continue producing similar stuff – the stuff they like.

So, how to go about getting a style?

What I’ve learned in the year and nine months that I’ve been posting on this blog is that I actually do have an art style (maybe two), but it only became obvious after I’d been posting for a long time.

You, too, probably already have a style and just haven’t realized it yet. If you can step away for a moment and look at your art as if you’ve never seen it before, really analyze it objectively, you may be able to spot the similarities between artworks that make up a style.

Showing your work to others will help too, although you don’t have to share.

Trying to construct a style doesn’t work very well, in my opinion. I tried it a few years ago – drawing eyes like this artist and drawing hair like this artist, etc. – and I just felt like Dr. Frankenstein. Although the combination of the elements was mine, it didn’t feel very original or organic, and it was a shortcut.

One of the things about art is that it doesn’t tolerate shortcuts very well. It requires time, like any other skill. While I don’t advocate making every second of your day about art, I do support regular practice. And regular practice will show you your art style.

Good luck!



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