When should I begin "specializing" in a style?



  • Hey guys, I am curious to know at what point should an artist specialize in style? I am still pretty young into my art career and find the idea a bit upsetting, I don't want to get stuck doing one style (even if its my own and I enjoy it) I feel as if this will weaken me as an artist if I become complacent in how I draw. However, I also know establishing a "brand" with your look is very important and will stand out to clients, as well as fans or your potential audience. Anyone have advice on this?



  • Hi Jack!

    Good question. I talk a lot about style and artistic vision in this video, but to answer you question specifically: style is a natural outgrowth of an artist mastering their craft.

    If you focus on getting better, and learning your foundations, and moving on from that, your style will eventually emerge. SOme day, you can start to force your style into certain directions depending on where there's opportunity or interest.

    When you are ready to go professional, you should have a style that's established and is well represented in your portfolio. If your portfolio is all over the place in regards to style, that's a huge red flag to art directors and editors that you're not ready for prime time. They need to see you consistently hitting that style in a wide range of subject matter and formats (spot illos, spreads, character design, cover illustrations, etc)

    If you have multiple styles then you need to show several examples of you working in those styles.

    As you grow and find success in getting work, then it's completely natural to explore other styles. Just look at the work of Tony Deterlizzi. Look at the difference between spiderwick, his children's picture books, Meno, and Wondla. He's all over the place, but he established himself in one style first.

    Adam Rex is another example. Look at the evolution of his work. Peter Brown too.

    I hope that helps!



  • @Jake-Parker

    Hey Jake,

    I know you are a busy man so I greatly appreciate your time over this question. It is exciting to me to see artists that are capable of nailing down multiple styles, however I definitely am going to do as you recommended and focus on (first improving my fundamentals) and eventually one style for my portfolio etc. Up until recently my styles and variety has been all over the place so I am trying to focus it a bit.

    I am going to be pushing myself to the limit this summer getting my work as good as possible. I will be at BYU for animation next semester so I will make sure my art is the best it can be in case I run into you around the area any time next year! Thanks again Jake, I appreciate your work!



  • @Jake-Parker Thanks for your reply here, I already watched your video on this which is great...but I just wanted to say this post is hugely helpful too (speaking as someone who's also been pondering stylistic choices recently..) and I think the phrase "style is a natural outgrowth of an artist mastering their craft" is going to stick with me.


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