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Experimenting to find your artistic aesthetic

How To Find Your Aesthetic


January 11, 2019

What is your artistic aesthetic or style? How do you find one? Here are 6 helpful tips on finding your style.

Having a cohesive aesthetic or style is a great way to stand out from the crowd. It’s the thing you’re known for, and an easy way for people to recognise that a piece of work is yours.

I recently started thinking more about my style and the type of art that I want to create, be it digital or traditional. And although I don’t feel that I’ve quite reached the style that I want to me known for, I do have a better idea of my aesthetic, and where I want my artistic ventures to be heading.

It wasn’t random happenstance that I found my style. Like all things, it was a process that took some work. And if you’re still trying to find some direction to your creative endeavours, here are 6 tips that really healed me hone in on what I wanted to be known for.

1. Get Inspired

The first step in finding a style or aesthetic is to look at what others are doing. Work out what you’re drawn to. Do you like bright, vibrant colours or are more muted tones more your style? Clean, smooth lines or a more expressive, painterly finish?

Working out what you like is a great starting place. You want to like the things you create, so why force yourself into styles or techniques that don’t do anything for you?

2. Look Back

When trying to determine my style, I not only thought about what I liked in other peoples art, but also what I liked within my own. Looking back through sketchbooks, Instagram, or even doodles on scrap pages can help you establish which of your works feel most like you.

Girl wearing a watercolour dress
An image from my Instagram that really spoke to me

My Instagram gave me the first inkling of direction. I loved the posts that used lots of white space and soft watercolours. Even though I still see flaws in those images, they’re the ones I liked the best.

4. Experiemnt

If looking back through previous works hasn’t sparked anything within you, try recreating the same thing in a number of styles or mediums. Maybe you just haven’t ever made something that will be in your future style.

Experimenting to find your artistic aesthetic
Experimenting to find your artistic aesthetic

Lots of artists go through experimental phases, often more than once over the course of their career. The key is to allow for this, and give yourself room to play with whatever takes your fancy. Try new mediums, techniques or approaches. Follow tutorials or takes a class. Every new thing you try will add something into your style. And if you try something and hate it… Great! You’re learning what you don’t like.

3. Create Lots

Like most things, style comes from repetition and practice. So get creating. When I was looking for my style, I drew pages and pages of doodles. Sometimes I used colour, sometimes pencil, sometimes I switched to digital and repeated the entire process.

Just don’t stop. The few times I’ve gotten frustrated and taken a “break” (read; gave up), my skills have gone backwards and I lost what little style I had. It’s obvious when you’re creating regularly. Style will naturally show through.

5. Give It Time

Style evolves over time. And you’ll probably find that your chosen aesthetic changes as you grow and develop. This is a good thing. We don’t stay the same, and neither should the art we create. Every time I learn something new, my creative ability improves a little. The knock on effect is that my art also changes. Hopefully for the better.

Take time to learn things, explore things, and alter your processes. Developing a style takes time. There are no short cuts, no cheat codes.

And finally, a bit of a bonus tip, that might not seem all that helpful…

6. Don’t Box Yourself In

So you don’t have a style yet. So what? Keep trying. Or, just accept that you like multiple things. Either you’ll eventually strike onto the aesthetic that screams you, or you won’t. Either is fine. Some artists stick to one style their entire carriers. Others, like Da Vinci, didn’t. Yet we still regard him as one of the worlds greatest artists.

The thing about art is that there are really no rules. And in a world where having a cohesive Instagram feed is the norm, don’t be afraid to break out and create in whatever style or styles that makes you happy.

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