How do you decide which style to develop?



  • Hi everyone, I have a quick question and would appreciate any input from anyone who has similar experiences. I have been trying to develop a style over the last few years and have been inspired and encouraged by @Will-Terry over that time. I was feeling confident so I sent some of my illustrations to a few publishers to start my career. They have all said the same thing "We don't have anything that suits your style at the moment, but we will keep your information on record for the future". Is this normal? Also, I have included a couple of the illustrations I sent, to hopefully get some feedback.

    Su Wukong Design Flat - WORK - Light - RGB - smallest.jpg
    Sam the shy snail illustration for keith - smallest.jpg
    Image 8c smallest.jpg
    Image 1 smallest.jpg
    Chapter-12---final smallest.png
    Final-scene-10 smallest.png

    I really want to be a children's book illustrator. Am I missing the mark and does the industry require me to change my style.

    I know you are all busy, but just wanted to ask. Thanks in advance for any time you give to this. Have a great day. Pete.



  • I can not say how the children's book industry works, but I have heard from other professional artists that having a variety of styles will open you up to more work. If you only have one style you will only be available for one sort of job. I guess it comes down to what you want to do and then sharpen that skill/style. Best of luck. BTW I really like the 2nd and 3rd pieces you posted.



  • Hi @Chip-Valecek , thank you so much for commenting and for your compliments. There has been a lot of character development behind each of these pieces. As for your response to my question; That's exactly the feeling I was getting from my responses - I will begin developing a more traditional style to compliment my current one. Thanks again. Have a great day.



  • @Peter-Jarvis First I would suggest to listen to Chris Oatleys Paper Wings podcast episodes on portfolio creation. Then you should do research on publishers you want to approach and create targeted portfolio.Theme and style should somewhat match what they are doing. I am not saying to copy style of other artists they work with. But rather if they do cute stuff dont send in realistic illustration, if they do fairy tales do not send in sci-fi. You should also be able to demonstrate that you can keep that style, so sending 5 pictures, each in different style and art director will like one of those, he will not have assurence you can keep that style. They need to be sure, you will deliver what they want and not something different.
    Just stuff I heard, dont have any personal experience :)



  • @Peter.Jarvis One thing that I noticed is that most of the images you uploaded here seem to be a bit dark in color. I'm not sure if the bright, and more colorful illustrations are more desirable by the publishers, it's just my observation. But the 1st and especially the 5th of the illustrations above seem to be going in that direction. I imagine the 2nd one in this way (without the black outlines), and I believe it could perhaps look much better.



  • Hey Peter - i was just listening to a Chiustream last night and Bobby touched on this subject - he mentioned that being a jack of all trades will lead you to being the carpenter instead of the architect on projects - become really good at one stye or a thing and you will be hired for that thing - if you are o.k. at a bunch of things then you may never be noticed because there are a lot of folks in that category...i may be expounding on what he said at this point.. but i think the point is good...pick what you want to do and become good at it and focus on it in your portfolio - if there is an illustration style in this group that you would like to stick with then go for that. Having a portfolio where everything seems to go together style-wise would show that you can be counted on to hit that style again if you were hired for it - i have heard in a few places that no one really has the luxury of taking chances on people these days - they have to know what to expect from you if you are hired for a job - to my eye the second illustration is the most successful for style/story/level of finish - nothing against the others though! It just seems the most pleasing to my eye - really nice work



  • @Jiří-Kůs That's great advice. It sounds so logical. I just didn't think about that when I started my journey to become an illustrator. I'll get my head down and work on some other styles. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Have a great day.



  • @TamaraDomuzin Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I have a few changes to make the 2nd illustration and will add "removing the black lines." to the list. I agree, I think it may make it a softer, lighter illustration. I appreciate your comments about the colours being a little dark. #1, #2 are actually for a local authors self published fantasy novel which is dark in it's subject matter. I will work on it though and see where it takes me. Thanks again for your input. Have a great day. Pete .



  • @Kevin-Longueil Firstly, thank you for your comment and taking the time to add your view. I really appreciate it. Your advice from the Chiustream is interesting as it seems to be contrary to what others on this post are saying. I love Booby Chui and his work and have signed up to Schoolism this week, as well as SVS, to develop a deeper knowledge of illustration, painting and art. I just need to more understand about styles and, like you said - concentrate on mastering one style, or create what pleases the publishers. Your advice gives me more to ponder on. And, thank you for your compliments. It's really helps to build my confidence. Have a great day. Pete.



  • Peter, I also struggle with wondering if my style will be suited to Children's book illustration. Since that is my only goal as an illustrator I want to be marketable. As for the question of more than one style. I have heard Jake and Will and also Chris Oatley and others recommend only having one style. More than one can work as long as the two styles are completely different and you show on your portfolio that you know how to keep them separate. An art director is going to want to see that you won't wander into a different style during a project. If you go look at some of your favorite illustrators work, I think you won't find many who produce in more than one style.
    If you are like me, it is hard to choose and also hard to know what is going to be most marketable and yet still comfortable and fun for you to stick with over the long run. I think the best advice I have heard from the pros on style is just to practice getting better and style will follow. Hope this helps. I am no expert certainly but I have also been in your shoes.



  • @PollySweet Thank you for your reply. Great advice. Maybe you're right. Just two styles which are completely different. I am very like you Polly, I am having issues choosing which direction to take my art in. The creative mind, huh!? I have followed @Will-Terry and @Jake-Parker for many years, their advice and have seen they have unique styles. And all the advice I have received on here has been great. I'm still a little confused, but you're right - concentrate on the art and a style will emerge. Thanks again for adding your thoughts. Have a great day. Pete.



  • Peter: I am in the same boat as you. Except you're farther along in your second style or children's book illustration style. I came to SVS to help develop that, and while many of the courses help with the thinking behind creating this type of work... not as many cover how to get there physically. Yes they talk about shape work, but if you're kind of alien to drawing that way in the first place, it's a leap.

    It's the same leap if I were to ask someone whose only drawn in a cartoony, child like manner to suddenly do my kind of exaggerated realism. I'm a portrait artist first, and I have a tendency to think in terms of likenesses and how to achieve that. Translating that to a much more simplistic style, even one based in a lot of forethought is hard for me. I know art is universal and what applies in one style can also be used in another, that is to say the laws of light, perspective, emotion, etc...

    I am not struggling in that respect.

    For me it's choosing which style to spend more time in, as we know practice makes perfect. If I stop doing one style over another, I know the other style suffers. I think in the end I have to commit to one style for a period of time, and then return to the style I prefer for more personal reasons. While I enjoy children's book illustration greatly. I don't have delusions of it being so natural to me as the style I prefer to do when I pick up a pencil to draw. But that doesn't mean I don't intend to sponge as much from my SVS subscription as I can.

    I love this place and the people, and it's very inspiring and full of creativity. The nuggets are here for anyone to find, and you don't have to dig very far... good luck with your work.


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