How to Find Your Own Illustration Style

I’ve wondered how I was going to find my own illustration style. I get bored easily because I like to try new things. So, you can imagine that I was wondering if “finding my own personal, illustration style” was an actual possibility.

I thought it difficult until the day I discovered mine. It boiled down to a combination of personal preferences that I frequented.

Finding my illustration style did not mean that I lost interest in experimenting with other techniques. Most artists embrace art because they enjoy the freedom of creativity without feeling “boxed in.”

Here’s the good news, it’s easy to find your illustration style if you do these things:

  • Maintain an Inspirational Sketchbook.  Paste other people’s inspiring art or illustrations in it, jot techniques you like, sketch or paint ideas in it, and write notes in it. Use this sketchbook to study the aspects of the illustrations that inspire you so you can practice details or effects you love. The goal is not to copy someone else’s style. The goal is to discover the aspects that — when brought together — create a unique style that makes you an individual from other illustrators. Be inventive and start something new.  Be an original.

  • Practice Drawing and Illustrating Every Day. Whether traditional, digital, or multimedia, post your art on an SCBWI profile, Instagram, blog, or portfolio website. Discover the answers to these questions: How would you post or send documents professionally? Do you know how to create a book dummy and have you done it? Do you know how to create a PDF to send out to an agent? Do you know how to create a professional, digital print of your illustrations for sale? Do you understand digital pixels, inches, and DPI? Color management? Does anything in your illustration technique, from planning to export, pose complications to your workflow? How will you sign your art; with a date, copyright, web address, or a simple signature? Posting digitally and publicly will give you a fresh perspective and digital preparation practice. Over time, you will also see your illustrations evolve.

  • Stay Educated. Always refine your work until you are satisfied. You may continue to refer to your Inspirational Sketchbook. Boldly submit your art for critiques. Attend and view classes that support your goals.

  • Enter Contests. Entering contests will force you to adhere to a deadline. It helps you to experience how well you work under pressure and you may uncover your weaknesses and dislikes. You may also win something, or frequently lose, and surprise yourself.

If you are faithful to do these things, you will develop a system of how you work and what you like to work with, which will create your style.  

The first time I thought I had discovered my style, I learned that I still was not “there” yet because even though the art was beautiful, my heart knew that the technique was not satisfying enough for me to repeat and feel joy.  You will know when you find your illustration style because you will return to the same techniques and you will feel a sense of accomplishment after completing an art piece.  You will also feel excited to create your style.  Most importantly, several of your pieces will begin to look uniform and recognizable as a staple of your work.  

And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.” -Matthew 25:20 KJV

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