Develop your own unique artistic style
Being unique is the best way to stand out in a crowd. It applies to many things including art that we create. I remember the first time that I was told that my photos were immediately recognizable from the many other photos that are posted and viewed online in photography forums. I was flattered and it was a confidence builder. It has been in the back of my mind since I started taking landscape photography seriously that I need to try to purposely create a certain style that would set my work apart but had no idea how. Today if I were asked, I think that I’d have some advice to give.
Although my advice comes from the perspective of a photographer it can apply to anyone who’s creating art in this age of social media and the seemingly endless flow of masterful work that’s being done by other artists. It’s easy to think that the effort to become as good as those that we admire is beyond our ability but it’s not something that you develop all at once. It’s like a skill that needs to be practiced to master. Music comes to mind as it’s an obvious example of how a skill is developed with practice. And so first be willing to practice.
Love what you do no matter your perceived skill level. You must enjoy what you do to be able to want to spend the time creating your art until you are proud of it, so do it for the love of it first.
I’ve been considered someone who has mastered my art by some, yet I feel that mastering my art is an always moving goal line. The more that I learn the more that I realize what I need to learn. I also feel that if one feels as if they’ve crossed that goal line and have mastered their art they’ve stifled their progress, because no matter the art form more can be learned, or skills can be honed that will develop into a personal style. If one stops trying to improve or stretch the boundaries of their art, they won’t fully develop as an artist.
In the beginning it’s natural to find someone whose style is what you perceive that you’d like to emulate. Learn their techniques but consider that the beginning of your journey. I see a lot of photographers who have learned a notable photographer’s style and techniques so well that it’s difficult to tell the difference between the two. The internet is flooded with amazing photographs that emulate popular techniques and styles, but they don’t stand out as being unique.
Learn from more than one artist and mix the techniques. Before you develop your own techniques mix and mash together techniques learned from different artists. Stretch the effects that the techniques create beyond what they did when you learned them. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I tell my students that they can’t break anything by trying something new. Just go for it. If it fails you won’t do it again, but if it works for you, you’ll incorporate it into your workflow.
Be patient because no skill happens over night. It’s true that some artists are more adept at their art than others but doing what you love shouldn’t have an urgency that creates a feeling of stress. The feeling that you should be somewhere else other than where you are creates disappointment and discouragement. You are where you are because there’s a lesson to be learned there, and once it’s learned you move forward to the next.
If all of this could be reduced to a single word, it would be “practice”. Just keep practicing our art. You will have no choice but to improve and with the experience that practicing gives you, you will also, no doubt, develop your own unique artistic style.