Styles: Is it better to have many or should you pick one and stick to it?

Experimenting with your style can be great for so many reasons. Whether you use it as a way to break your art block, as a way to find your artistic voice, or as a way of being indecisive :P, it always feels refreshing to draw something in a different way.

I started drawing more and more in different styles as I got older (and less afraid that the realism gods would strike me down for daring to draw one anime), and then before I knew it I had a good few styles. But then… I liked them all too much, and then I felt like I didn’t have my defining style *dramatic groan*.

I started feel like I was caught between multiple worlds. Where is the consistency in my portfolio? I thought. I swore that one look at my differing styles would send potential clients and employers running out their fear of being buried under my indecisive ways.

I had to fix it – I had to decide on one style that would rule them all. It became the subject of much of my artistic endeavors a year or two ago. I eventually kind of was able to whittle down to one semi-realistic style that I would feature throughout my portfolio, one that would be for comics, and one that would be for graphic design.

The advice I was receiving from other artists was to cut certain artworks that didn’t match the one style too. I wanted to listen but I also reeeeaally liked the artworks I was supposed to cut.

Cut to later – I send off my perfectly curated graphic design portfolio to a business that I really admired. When I got feedback I realised that the guy had seen my other stuff and actually really liked that I could draw in a lot of different styles.

Realising that your worries are pointless is a really strange feeling.

I still organise my main portfolio into my kind-of-one-style even though I always get the urge to include my other work in there. But I feel less self-conscious and obsessive with finding my signature style. I think the main points for me when I was choosing what I wanted to do were:

  • You can’t control what people are going to think of your work: Your signature style, or your many.
    Some people like artists that have a signature style, others like artists who are always drawing in different ways. Don’t let others’ opinions of certain art movements rule you. Who cares if one person says that anime isn’t anatomically realistic or a serious art form, or that another says realism is just a photocopier machine where a camera and photoshop can do a much better job. Never forget that art is subjective, art is about your own self-expression, and there is an audience for anything.
  • Having many styles can be a benefit in the commercial art world
    With different styles or the ability to mimic styles, you can fit the mold to whatever the client envisions. If you’re just doing at for fun then drawing in different styles can help in stopping you from getting bored.
  • On the other hand, many artists also make a name for themselves through their signature style.
    There are a plethora of artists that make it with their signature style. Loish, Rossdraws, ect.
  • You might want your art style to the fit sort of work you want to get or the company you want to work for.
    I feel like this advice is most applicable mostly if you have a specific goal in mind. If you’re a hobbyist of course this wouldn’t be relevant at all.
  • Another point is that it’s useless to make a fuss in the first place because many times there will be something intangible to you that is actually defining your style to others whether you like it or not. My family and friends always tell me I have a distinctive style – I’m not sure if it’s a distinctive style so much as same face syndrome but I’ll take it.

Basically, there is no definite answer on what you should do with your style. Do whatever makes you happiest or tailor your art to the specific work you want 🙂

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