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Festival Network Online

Festival Network Online Newsletter Artist/Craftspeople Edition -  August 2008

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A note from the FNO newsletter editor

Greetings FNO Artists and Craftspeople,

This month, allow me to introduce artist consultant Alyson Stanfield of  This awesome article defines points to help you find your unique style as an artist.  I hope you enjoy.

Below, read about our summer commission special when you refer folks to FNO!

FNOBest wishes!

Julie Cochrane
FNO Marketing
Festival Network Online

 Find Your Style by Alyson B. Stanfield
In order to have a successful career—whatever that means to you—you must be able to define yourself and your art in a sea of untold numbers of artists. To do this, you must first find your style.

What is style?

Style is a word that is bandied about freely. But what does it mean? In her book Living With Art, Rita Gilbert writes, "style is a characteristic or group of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or coherent." She goes on to say, "Artistic style is the sum of constant, recurring or coherent traits identified with a certain individual or group."

An artist's style is not good or bad. It just IS. The execution might be criticized, the colors might be perceived as ugly, or the composition seen as weak, but the style is what it is.

Your style is a combination of the mediums, technique, and subject matter you choose. It's not just that you make contemporary quilts or that you paint landscapes. It's what you do to distinguish your work from that of other artists. Two quilt artists might each create abstract, colorful compositions using the same traditional block. If both were mature artists, however, we'd probably be able to tell one artist's work from the other. For example, a fiber artist might employ one or more of the following in creating the quilt:

    * Hand-dyed fabrics from organic dyes
    * Loose threads hanging on the surface (rather than hiding them)
    * A particular fabric that becomes a signature of sorts
    * Text written with ink on top of the quilt

In other words, she becomes known for works that contain a certain characteristic. For a painter it might be loose brush strokes, impasto, or a repeated image. Alexander Calder added primary colors + black to organic shapes for his kinetic sculptures. Cindy Sherman transforms her own image in each photograph she prints. What are you known for?

You can work in as many styles as you want, but if you have two very different bodies of work you will do twice the work marketing it. For three different styles, you should exert three times the marketing effort if you want to do it right. Each body of work that looks like a different person did it should be marketed to its own audience.

3 different styles of art = 3 different audiences = 3 times the marketing effort

Some artists choose to have a very narrowly defined style and seem to produce almost the same artwork over and over again with differences in color or scale. Adolph Gottlieb, for instance, painted his trademark "Bursts" over and over again. Some were better than others, but they all look pretty much alike. His close friend, Mark Rothko, became known for large bands of thin pigment floating on the canvas surface. The colors differ, but we know a Rothko when we see it.

You don't have to stick to one image as Gottlieb and Rothko did in their maturity. Having a style doesn't mean you must produce the same work over and over again. It simply means that you have created work that others identify with you. There isn't a higher compliment!

So . . . how do you find your style? Read the suggestions on the Art Biz Blog and, please, leave your own that would help other artists.

Alyson B. Stanfield is the author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. The book and her free weekly newsletter are available at

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