26 May 2012

[art] Is Your Signature Style Killing Your Art?

2830.Being an aspiring artist, I read ere and oft about the importance of finding your individual "voice", mostly expressed as distilling a signature style that can make your work recognizable and then developing that personal m├ętier. This is marketed as a laudable goal on the way to becoming an accomplished artist and, to the beginner and the aspirant, makes some sense.

Eugenia Loli, however, prefers not to:
In my opinion, “finding your personal style” is ARTISTIC DEATH. It doesn’t show maturation, it shows old age. The artist, unable to think differently anymore. The artist, stuck in seeing the world in one way. The artist, doing art for art’s sake without further exploration. The artist, becomes single-dimensional, no matter how complex his artwork is.
She makes a good case in very few words. At least it deserves some consideration, I think: the idea of doing one thing in a certain way for so long that it becomes second nature seems to imply a lack of further development so prima-facie obvious that it requires no proving.

However, I think there is some advantage to having a signature style to go-to, where you can let your inspiration just flow onto the page without thinking about some new way of doing something. Eugenia makes a good point, complete with chewy food for thought, but I think I'll probably stand somewhere between the extremes. I don't think any tool is worth ignoring or disregarding, and I regard a signature style as a tool in the tool box.

Perhaps a third way to think of this is to be ready to lay down your 'personal' style, to keep a watchful eye on what one does as an artist, and if the idea of sameness creeps in to your work, and it becomes more of a chore than a joy, then it's time to do something different for a while. Put away your signature style for a while and come back to it when you're refreshed. What you've found out in the meantime will feed back into that style, and make it more fleshed out, more deep and interesting.

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