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Develop Your Drawing Style Instead of Finding It

When I started to take my drawing more seriously, the endless worry about "what is my style?" and "where and how should I find my style?" accompanied it. "When will I feel like the style is done?"

All of these questions may worry you as well. The answer I found so far in my few years' long journey is - there is no time or tutorial or quiz which would find it for you.

As you can judge from the name of this blog post, I took a different approach like one of my favorite illustrators, Andy J Pizza did. I will develop my style instead of finding it. I took the liberty of taking his Skillshare class and making it a little simpler for my own usage.

If you are really new to drawing (like the last time you were holding a pencil was 10 years ago in primary school), maybe you should take it easy and develop a taste. Taste is a good thing because you already have it. Maybe it's not trained, maybe yes. Your taste is basically your style only "from the neighborhood."

Action Item:

Take a memory lane through all your favorite things and create a collection of them.

Create a Pinterest board (my favorite option) or download the pictures onto your PC or phone if you (are a psychopath) have a lot of free space in there, create a Canva board, Miro board, Figjam, cut the pictures from magazines and make a collage, or make an Instagram saved board. It doesn't matter. What matters is that you want to collect all these visuals together.

Remember, you should be picky about what comes in, but you don't want to choose only one artist/architect/animator/director/dancer. That would be copying exactly them. We want to be inspired (steal smartly).

Here's how you are going to do it:

You will create three smaller boards.

First One: 

first buidling block of your taste

Pick things that kept you alive when you were 5 - 13 years old. Or older if you fell in love with something when you were 17 (I am looking at you Ian Somerhalder).

Feel free to add:

  • Your favorite movies

  • cartoon characters

  • pictures on the ice cream truck

  • band posters

  • pictures of dino figures

  • photos of your grandma's porch

  • broken dolls

  • faces of Robert Pattinson

  • graffiti on your street

  • album covers

  • photography

  • color schemes

  • packaging of your fave strawberry milk

I took the liberty to steal personalities of my close people and prepared inspiration boards. (Alright, some of them did this on their own). This one was made by Tany:

childhood loves board

Here is mine:

childhood loves board sabee

(when kid more than anything I wanted to be a witch - the board kinda says it on its own).

Second One: 

things you want to make

Pick things you would actually love to make. You want to find something simple, then something more advanced, and then your dream state- thoughtneverwillbeabletodothis.

So in the list:

  • simple lineart drawing

  • photo with 70s vibe

  • watercolor like portrait of a dog

  • things that have vibe or thought you want to have too

  • poster Ghibli studio style

  • giant mural with several layers of colors

(Don't worry if your boards are a weird mashup. Each of us has unique memories and preferred aesthetics, and it's alright when you watched Matrix as a kid and now you want to make posters with pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows or what).

These boards are important not only for looking at the connections of your history and current taste but also for connecting your old self with the current one. It may be hard to recall what you liked as a kid, but I think it’s also worth it because isn’t it nice to refresh the mind with a little nostalgy? You can also call your mom (if you haven't in a while, this is the time, be nice to your mom and ask her what you liked as a kid.)

nostalgia illustration
Sometimes it is not AS nice to dive deep into history but...

Second board is from my talented artsy colleague Amy.

board of things you want to make

And I have pinterest board full of things I would love to make.

Third One: 

things you like but dont want to create

Now try to find pieces you really like but don't want to actually do. This helps a lot and it also happens to me - I really love the style of somebody's art but just like... don't feel like doing it. I can appreciate the beauty of hyperrealistic paintings of honey girls by Mike Dargas like this one:

Honeygirl oil painting

but that's not where my heart wants to go. I want to do silly cartoon drawings of my colleagues or me.

silly cartoon

You won't actually be doing things you don't want to. But it helps to see them as a reference of styles where you don't need to go. After some time, it's beneficial to actually try to do things you don't want to (after you are more experienced and have worked on something specific for a while...but about it later).

These boards will become part of our toolkit, same as the sentence of our motivation to learn how to draw.

Boards should be:

  • honest (no guilty pleasures!, be yourself)

  • messy (let’s not make it in the square grid)

  • fun (don’t take it too seriously)

  • curated a little (go with your gut- pick what you like, think about it for a while but don’t spend hours on one picture)

Guilty Pleasures - honesty applies here also

Don't try to make yourself like something you don't. If you only want to draw fanart of Supernatural (Cass/Dean ofc) or cute drawings of your dogs, don't try to make yourself draw super futuristic cars. Things you like have a tendency to come back in cycles. As Natalie Goldberg wrote in her masterpiece Writing Down the Bones (about writing but we can use her advice for any creative type of work):

“Every once in a while I make a list of my obsessions. Some obsessions change and there are always more. Some are thankfully forgotten. Writers end up writing about their obsessions. Things that haunt them; things they can’t forget; stories they carry in their bodies waiting to be released. I have my writing groups make lists of their obsessions so that they can see what they unconsciously (and consciously) spend their waking hours thinking about. After you write them down you can put them to good use. You have a list of things to write about. And your main obsessions have power; they are what you will come back to in your writing over and over again. And you’ll create new stories around them. So you might as well give in to them. They probably take over your life whether you want them to or not, so you ought to get them to work for you."

And she is not the only one.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not fucking cool.” Don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” It is cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic”! Why the fuck not? Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it! That whole guilty pleasure thing is full of fucking shit.

Check full article from Austin Kleon on guilty pleasures in here.

Cup of Coffee

This post includes affiliate links to products I really use and recommend to you. It costs you nothing, and I may earn a small percentage, which I will use to fulfill my caffeine addiction so that I can continue writing this blog.

Analyzing the boards

Look at the first and second board. What do they have in common? Is there a similar vibe? Colors? Repetitive patterns? Pick all the common things you can find and write them down. Why did you loved those things that much? Was it the vibe? The fun puns? What could you steal for your art from each of these boards? Why do these pieces speak to you? These are going to be the basics of your creative journey. I have put them together in this mashup:

inspiration board analysis

Take these as an inspiration. I loved Halloweentown when I was a kid. The Halloween spooky and magic were part of my world since I can remember. I didn't throw it away as "this is stuff for children"; I appreciate that I still have things I can love so deeply rooted in me. Now, I am not saying that just because you loved Jurassic Park you have to draw dinosaurs (but like why not, dinos are awesome). But you loved these things for a reason.

map illustration

This way you can actually build up your style from the beginning and not wait for THE FIND. Because let's be honest - you will only find your voice (style) by using it. But when you want to go somewhere, it helps to actually have the directions. In this case, you have directions on the map, maybe not Google Maps level, but still better than going blind, right?

Let me know how your boards are going my deers 🦌 - 🐝

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Sabee says hi,

I'm a designer, student and bunch of other stuff. I like to do things the other way but I guess I have the right... I am an artist after all. 

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