Defining Personal Design Style
(Artwork above is created and illustrated by myself - Snarphblat Chronicles)
I went to CTN Animation Expo last weekend in LA. It was incredible to see so many talented artists. But it made feel somewhat inadequate in my field and also humbled. I started feeling down about myself, but then started to think “Hey, I have a career in this, must have a style that is specific to me, but what is it?”.
For about two months I have been trying to redesign my website. It’s been a contestant struggle for me. Asking questions to myself like “Who am I, what do I look like, what is my style?” It’s hard to represent yourself when you are so familiar.
After studying artists over the weekend, I noticed that each person had their own style. Something that fit them and they were very good at portraying. I realized that my struggle wasn’t that I didn’t have a style, it was that I was struggling to be so many.
I’ve been trying to be myself, instead of just being myself.
It always bothered me when people would say to me “I love your Style!” I would always appreciate their compliment, but deep inside I would ask myself “What is my style?”.
The past few days, I have started drawing again. Drawing my characters and objects that I enjoy. I started to study my own style. Realizing that this whole time, it’s been staring at me in the face. I went and looked at what I made last year. Again, the style was there. Complimentary color pallets, bright colors, cute characters with big eyes and textures. I realized I love simple shapes, with subtle details. I use texture and color to make it more complicated. A lot of my work is simple and clean. I have never analyzed myself before. But it’s been eye opening to study myself.
I went through a lot of my files last night, starting from the earliest to latest. I watched how my work progressed through the months and how my ideas shaped. But there were always small indicators of my style. Doing research on myself, has really helped me personally. In a way my style just comes naturally, as I am sure yours does. This process has really helped to evaluate myself and it will help to make my style even stronger.
It’s also good to be well rounded and do other types of styles. But even that can be easier, because you can just study that style and copy it. But to define your own, I believe is more of a challenge because you are so close to it. It’s like you have to mentally pull yourself away, detach yourself from your work and look at it with fresh eyes.
Clients hire you and me for our particular style. It’s the colors we use, the shapes we put together, and the way we present information, that is unique to each of us.
Take projects when your client expresses that they love your style and you can see yourself creating what they are requesting. it saves for less iterations, better communication and the client knows what to expect. Perfecting your design style will bring work and you will be recognizable to people in your network.
Style is like a niche, it’s important to create, recognize and iterate it. It’s also good to try new ones, but still incorporate yourself into it. Designing what you are naturally drawn to will make you happy and your quality of work will greatly improve.
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- rogiedraws said: Great writeup Hillary, I too have struggled with the same thing. Sure there are illustrations I make that I like, but I’ve always asked what is my style. Until recently.
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