Ten Things You Can Do Right Now to Discover Your One-of-a-kind Style
As a creative guide, I often we hear people express a deep desire to find their unique style of artistic expression, and I understand. Making art that is unmistakably your own is both satisfying and integral, but finding your own style also takes attention, patience, resourcefulness, courage and time.
To support you on this journey, I’ve put together a list of ten simple things you can do right now to unearth and nourish your one-of-a-kind creative expression. I hope you find it helpful!
1. Gather Inspiration. Always. As artists, we need to be on the hunt for new information and inspiration throughout our daily life, even in the seemingly mundane moments, and definitely not just when stepping into the studio. As you move through the world, keep an eye out for intriguing color combinations, images, shapes, and ideas, and notice (specifically) why you feel drawn to them.
2. Archive Your Inspiration. The next step is to record what inspires you through sketches, notes, and photos, so it will be handy when you really need it. More tips on Inspiration Archiving in the Finding Your Style Studio Diary.
3. Make Space to Play. Both in your life and with your art materials, giving yourself unstructured time to simply explore without any expectations is crucial to discovering new things and staying inspired. I recommend shutting down your electronic devices and other source material during your playtime. This time is just for you.
4. Notice What’s Easy. Is smooshing paint around with your fingers something you could do all day, because it’s just so fun and easy? Then do it! Remember, making art and finding your style doesn’t have to be hard. Sometimes following the path of least resistance will lead you right where you need to be.
5. Take an Inventory of Your Life. Notice what you collect, how you decorate your home, what you like to wear, where you love to travel, and what you feel passionate about. Also, ask your close friends to describe you in five words. Consider how these qualities, collections, and desires might make their way into your visual language? Writing it all down can help.
6. Mix It Up. Challenge yourself to work with new mediums, tools, and sizes on a regular basis. Try working with those colors you always avoid. Pick up a new unexpected painting tool from the hardware store, grocery store, or on your neighborhood walk. Go big or go small. Just make sure you’re breaking habits and actively moving toward the edge of what is known on a regular basis.
7. Draw From Life. I realized years ago, that drawing and sketching from life gives more life to my drawings. Instead of drawing what you think a flower looks like from your memory, grab an actual flower and work with that. I promise it’ll look more interesting, nuanced, and personal to you.
8. Trust Your “Wild and Crazy” Ideas. It’s easy to dismiss ideas that seem too “out there” or different from what you’re used to doing. But wait! How about considering these sparks of inspiration to be gifts from the universe, here to help you manifest something new and unique into the world. Trust them, follow through, and be open to where they take you. This is you at your most original.
9. Be You. Be True. I had an architect in one of my workshops feel very disheartened with all of the organic, curvy lines she was seeing in the room. She was naturally more of a linear, right-angled kind of gal. However, as soon as I encouraged her to let this part of herself onto the canvas, she painted the most wonderful, original painting. Let your personal preferences and natural ways of being lead the way, don’t shut them down!
10. Keep Showing Up. Ultimately, the only way to find your unique style is to show up over and over again to your craft and to put in the hours necessary for your style to surface. Imagine picking up a violin for the very first time. It’s not going to sound like the music that inspired you to learn this instrument in the first place. Nope. Finding your way with any form of artistic expression is a lifelong journey, one baby step after the next. Just remember the journey is where the good stuff happens, so practice patient and enjoy the ride!
Listen to the wise words of Ira Glass on the importance of doing the work!