A couple of weeks ago I posted an article entitled Between Creative and Technical, which was in response to a few emails I have received about the general struggle designers and artists encounter as they try to find their way through the field. The article was very well received by the creative community and spawned a number of wonderful comments from readers. Thanks to everyone who contributed, and I’m sure your stories helped like-minded designers out there.
So because I am a firm supporter of creative dialogue, I would like post a follow-up to the previous article and bring some attention to a few of the stories, points and ideas that came to light through the comments :) We are all in the same boat, so here we go.
“For those (including myself) who battle with this issue I’ve discovered that you can’t “find” your style. Your style will evolve over time with the more work that you produce. Like a piece of wood that starts out rough, you widdle it down with each project you create by building your strengths and discovering your weaknesses.” – Eddie Wilson
“People believe it is so important to have a unique, ground-breaking style when the REAL value is in your fundamental skill a visual thinker, regardless of the style that you dress it up with. Tools like Photoshop make it easy to throw everything possible into an image, many times giving the illusion of skill or quality, when the underlying fundamental design principles in place are very poor.
So my advice is to focus on the fundamentals and learn proper design. That alone can take decade to master, and a personal style is something that only really shines once that has been achieved. Modern designers put too much pressure on themselves to be unique and not enough on their foundations.” – Eric
“It’s a bit like people trying so hard to be unique or individual and end up being one of the crowd that seeks the same…you don’t become unique by seeking that as a goal but rather it happens accidentally as you become gripped by a vision of something you have to pursue at any cost. Then people start to recognize something unique about the flavor that life starts to take on.” – Rod Sawatsky
“Design (no matter how old you are) is art and art is a journey – a continual self exploration and demonstration of what makes each creative tick. Once I began to change my perception, my designs began changing and I actually started to enjoy designing again. I found myself like a child in mud – exploring, laughing out loud and generally getting down and dirty.” – Threadlusst
Some wonderful points and experiences in there, it’s nice to hear about the paths taken by others.
That are some very nice quotes! Especially this one:
“It’s a bit like people trying so hard to be unique or individual and end up being one of the crowd that seeks the same…”
That one can mean alot to people really seeking for the individuality, because they just won’t find it by seeking ;)
I’m starting to see a big flaw in this discussion. The goal of finding your own style runs directly into the wall of being unique. Why are we seeking to be unique? Designers are looking to be competitive, recognized as innovators in the field, wanting to influence everyone else. That is a different goal than looking for new never before seen style.
How often do you see successful designer switch his or her style? No need, they’ve met their goal. They’ve become famous and profitable.
New style is a new solution. It’s mighty overconfident to believe that one style will solve all the problems. So are you looking to be unique, or can you be more flexible and not worry about it. Just apply you skills as best and as often as possible.
I agree with Tontsa completely – the elusive ‘unique style’ designers crave is a mighty difficult thing to pin down and can (and usually will) take decades to evolve with even more exploration and development still to be undertaken after it is ‘found’. One other major contributing variable to designers/artists trying to find their own style these days is networking sites like Behance or Deviantart and the like.
These sites have the potential to push creatives onto the worldwide stage… however, the issue comes once you are standing there, ready to perform, and you realise everybody is looking at you and you are naked (bad dream really). Unfortunately, judging your own art against some pretty skilled seasoned designers can lead to creative self loathing and again, the striving for that elusive unique style to stand apart from the rest.
It becomes a little like “Look at me!” “No! Look at ME!” “Hey I was here first, look at ME!”.. so self exploration and development in a creative sense takes a back seat and an almost obsessive daily check to see how many hits you’ve got takes over.
I am guilty of this.
I think Eddie Wilson nailed it when he said “Like a piece of wood that starts out rough, you widdle it down with each project you create by building your strengths and discovering your weaknesses.”
You can’t widdle if you’re spending all night uploading & twittering ;)
So I guess it all comes down to time, effort and patience. Seems obvious but its amazing how many of us forget these integral elements of design and art when we are striving to be seen.