Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is style?

Lately, I’ve been thinking to myself how can I define style.

The dictionary defines it as:

a way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc characteristic of a particular period, place, person or movement.

So in the illustration world it would mean a way of painting characteristic of a particular person.

I agree, style is linked with who you are and I also think that most of the style comes through your pencil or brush without you even realizing it.

Some artists have different styles, true. But after taking a closer look you get to see it’s just different ways of rendering rather than completely different styles. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and there are a few artist that can really handle distinct styles.

I can only speak for myself, and in my case I just have one style. It is not planned and it’s pretty much who I am. What you see in my art is me.

Illustration is an art form, we don’t produce art entirely for ourselves and we have to meet some standards that is why we are commercial artists and not artists. But it is an art form. There are other art forms like music and acting that I often wonder how does the style translate there. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two types of art worlds:

The type where you want to show who you are and the type where you don’t.

To me painting, illustrating and music are related in the sense that with every stroke or note we are giving clues to the spectator of who we are. You express yourself through your art.

Acting is not like that. I’ve heard actors repeatedly say how they love playing roles completely different from who they really are. And when a part comes along that is similar to them, they don’t like playing it since is too close for comfort. They don’t really want to “show” who they are. So clearly even though acting is an art form, to me, it has a different purpose for the artist.

I’d love to hear what you think? Can a style be forced? Does the style appear by planning or is it rather unconscious? Do all arts have the same purpose?


John L said...

Very interesting topic. I think you can create an art style on purpose, by using certain colors or textures, but it often looks forced. It's best when your style comes naturally. But you still have to work to refine it, it's more than just throwing lines down on a page.

Style and content are both things that distinguish an artist. Not just how you draw, but what you choose to draw. In a way, that shows more of your inner self.

Sue @ Collage Picture Frames said...

Wow now there's a question, what is style...

How does anyone define their particular style I would imagine that it is constantly evolving as new techniques are learned then changed or added to so as to create a style of your own?

Cheers great post got me thinking,

Alicia Padrón said...

Hi John, that's very interesting.
I agree you do have to refine a style until it's there. Is not born that easily. But the base or structure from where to build from is within you, I think. And it's tight there form the start.
Thanks for visiting and for joining in. :o)

Hi Sue, thanks for stopping by!
True, styles can change and evolve all the time. And that's a good thing. We are constantly evolving and changing for the better. :o)

Loni Edwards said...
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Loni Edwards said...

Ack Sorry, I wanted to edit. Here's my post:

Hi Alicia! Love the post and the illo!

This would make for a great topic in the #kidlitart chat btw.

This post really got me thinking! Thanks :)

Katriona said...

Hi Alicia,

This topic really interests me, because I sometimes wish I could change my style but don't seem to be able to! TO me that suggests that it does kind of come from your subconscious and that there isn't a whole lot you can do about changing it deliberately. I would like to think that my style will evolve over time though, and not remain completely static.

I've always had an obsessive urge to tidy things up & smooth things out in my work, whether it's a sketch or a finished piece. Sometimes people have told me that they like my sketches when they're quite rough though, and that the illustrations sometimes lose something when they're finished off. This is a contradiction that I'm interested in playing around with... because at the moment I really find it impossible to leave any 'rough edges' in my work.

I plan to have a week of experimentation sometime soon to see whether I can add anything new to my style!

Eric Barclay said...

Lovely illo... welcome back, PB Junkies!

Deb said...

Great post Ali! I wanted to comment on what Katroina said because I suffer from the same syndrome :o) I am really trying to keep the freshness of my sketches in my finished artwork. I have always had the need to fix, fix, fix and then I lose the playfulness of the original sketch. And using a computer certainly doesn't help! :o) That's what I like about your style ali. the finished artwork always stays fresh and never overworked. Maybe it's your watercolor technique or your ability to just let it be. Anyway a thought provoking post to say the least!


Katriona said...

Hi Deb, thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone in this!

Alicia Padrón said...

Hi Loni. Well it might be hard to do in 140 characters or less but we can try :o)

Hi Katriona! You know I think so too. There is something so wonderful about a sketch that no matter what you do later is almost impossible to reproduce. A delicious spontaneity don't you think? It happens to me too. That's why I'm really into experimenting in printing my sketches directly on to the watercolor paper. But I think I need to invest in a large format one if I ever want to do books this way. Maybe in the future.. and if I win the lottery.. ;o) Thanks so much for your thought on this!

Hi Eric! Thank you. We are glad to be back! :o)

Hi Deb! I agree with you and Katriona and I do struggle with that many times. You are being too sweet by saying that but I really do struggle. Right now what I find works best while transferring a drawing is "redraw" instead of actually "trace" on the light table. Helps a bit. :o)

YOU ARE NOT ALONEeeee! Katriona... Hee :o)

Alicia Padrón said...
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Alicia Padrón said...
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Alicia Padrón said...
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Alicia Padrón said...

LOL! Ok.. all those comments at the end were all mine. Sorry... but my computer just froze on me and I kept on hitting enter. Haha. Ooops

roz said...

Great post, Ali. That is a question that for me is always like, "what is life"? It boggles my mind for the most part because I know we can learn and train ourselves if there is a look we want to emulate. But the key is how it feels when we do. If there is no joy, I know I'm on the wrong path. What's neat though is how we take from those influences and they translate into our own style under our hand.
For me, I know no matter what I do or how much I want my style to look like something else, it comes out the same ol' me. otherwise it feels fake and forced- real or imagined.

Alicia Padrón said...

You pointed out something valuable Rozzie and that is the enjoyment factor.

No point in doing work you don't enjoy. Absolutely no point whatsoever. I agree 100% with you :o)

Diandra Mae said...

At my very first SCBWI NY Conference I heard Tomie dePaola explain style this way: "It's the shirt you wear, the colors you paint your home, the jewelry you buy. Style is YOU!" I was sure relieved when he put it that way. I could finally quit searching for my style, and instead focus on making what I was already doing, BETTER.
Great post, Alicia.

Alicia Padrón said...

I love that Diandra! Tommie is so wise isn't he?

I just love him and I think he is right. That's why I believe it's hard to have different styles. It just sums into one that really defines you. There may be different ways of rendering or approaching an illustration but at the end it comes down to an overall style. Couldn't agree more.

Thanks for your comment Diandra! :o)