A note from the FNO
Greetings FNO Artists and Craftspeople,
This month, allow me to introduce artist consultant Alyson Stanfield of
awesome article defines points to help you find your unique style as an
artist. I hope you enjoy.
read about our summer commission special when you refer folks to FNO!
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
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
* A particular fabric that becomes a signature of
* 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
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
weekly newsletter are available at ArtBizCoach.com
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