Finding your style and holding on to it.

Finding your style is probably the most emphasised thing in art school. You need to be able to use certain materials and software’s but that’s nothing if you haven’t got your own unique creative voice.

It’s daunting when you’re a teenager/young adult and there’s so much pressure on you to be unique.

Second year at university was where I really started to find my style. I had a project called ‘niche guide’ at the beginning of the year and I almost finished it however something didn’t sit right with it. The outcome was mediocre but I had lots of research and development to back it up. I would have probably got a good mark for it because it ticked all the tutors marking criteria.

At around Easter I decided to change my entire project. I remember one of my tutors asking me why I was bothering but I just needed to change it to something I was proud of. I was taking a risk because I was basically throwing away all of the research and development that I had already done and starting with a blank sketchbook. The final assessment was June so I didn’t have long to change things as well as completing all other projects.

I started experimenting with a watercolour brush pen and drawing ink. I designed a few characters to go on a tea bag packaging. They had textures and thick black lines. It was the first project at university that I was actually proud of. I have drawn hyper realistic before and this seemed so simple and almost childlike but it felt the most like me.

Kate Sharp Illustration Illustrator blog
Second year tea bag illustrations

The final year in university was mostly spent trying to fight against myself to do what I thought people wanted to see and to just do what I felt was right. It’s only when I left university that I had the freedom to start my own projects and really develop my style.

I was inspired to write about my illustration style because I recently tried a character design of mother nature. On the left is the first, quick concept sketch. The right is the more refined version that I spent a longer time on. Up until finishing the design on the right, I was really happy with it. But then I stepped back and looked at it and it wasn’t right. It doesn’t have the fluidity and the motion that my illustrations are known for.

I thought I was in the groove of my illustration and that all I needed to do was create new and exciting work. The truth is that illustration styles are constantly evolving and it’s good to try new things. But if the work doesn’t make you happy, then it’s not right.

Kate Sharp Illustrator blog Illustration
Mother Nature character illustration

This blog post serves as a reminder to not lose my voice. I will be illustrating my mother nature character again soon and it will be something that I’m proud of.

If you're struggling to find your style, you can do this! You might have already found it. One tip is to look at the pieces that you're most proud of or that you enjoyed creating the most and see if there's any common ground. Your style should be something that you love, and not something that is most palatable for other people. You will find people that connect with the way your work when you're happy.

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