Everyone who has ever created anything has a style. It is a combination of everything that makes a person; their memories, feelings, likes, dislikes, and thoughts. Everyone has it and similar to how everyone’s experience is unique to them, their style is unique as well. Style is like an accent: it is always present and will mark your work no matter what medium you choose. Art being as subjective as it is, there will be people out there who do not understand or like your style, but there will also be people who are blown away by it. Having a style is not a choice that is consciously made, it is something that develops and grows over time. It can be altered but part of it can also never change. Like all other aspects of yourself, it is a piece of you and belongs to you whether you like it or not.
“There are no good or bad styles, simply a difference in tastes, context, and influences.”
Style is expression. As mentioned above, it is how you feel, experience, or perceive something. It can denote what interests you, what you focus on in your life and environments. Everyone’s focuses are different; some people are more interested in representation than expression. They wish to portray something as they view it while others wish to see or represent things through a more fantastical lens. The approach can differ from person to person, it can be slow and deliberate or quick and gestural.
Skill is often mistakenly linked with style, even though they are correlated, they sit independently next to each other. Confidence comes with knowledge, and skill simply brings the confidence needed to let your style shine through. So long as you are confident in what you are doing, you will always be seen in your work. However, distinct style is not an excuse for lacking knowledge or understanding. Polished work is something that is attained in time, but you should always be striving to achieve it. Some believe that developing a style early on is incredibly limiting, that you assign yourself to it and will stubbornly stick with it until the end. Where really, your style develops with you and the only barrier to its development is believing that you know it all and have nothing left to learn. This thinking might limit you, and it could also lead to people who don’t have similar tastes to you dismissing your work as lesser.
There are many advantages to having a distinct style, and some disadvantages. The immediate benefit is that your work is recognizably yours, no matter the medium. You will be seen in everything you create and can have a real ownership over your work. Your distinct style makes you stand out, for better or for worse. Difference isn’t always met with excitement, nevertheless it is always more rewarding to be true to yourself. The downside to this is that people may hold you rigidly to a specific way of working or you may even restrict yourself, leading to possible art-blocks. It’s important to remember during an art-block that you don’t always have to create something the same way as before, style is fluid and if you want to create something new, in a different way, you should feel free to do as you please.
Having a distinctive style can be something of a strange topic in the workplace; some believe that it is easier to be fluent in many distinct styles and others think that having a key voice is the most important aspect of being creative. While practicing a variety of styles can be good for skill development, it can also be confusing or place greater value on some specific styles over others. This preference of some styles over others further pushes the divide between interests, and in the long run can cut people off from influences that may be incredibly inspiring or potentially necessary to them.
“Art styles need to be more present in Creative Industries by shifting importance from technical skill to actual artistic development”
Collaboration is incredibly important in Creative Industries. It often helps to solve problems and helps people to grow and develop, which is why a diversity of styles is absolutely essential. Since everyone’s style is unique, it can be beneficial to have a variety of voices to complement, contrast and challenge each other and allow every artist to learn and grow. Every project is different and naturally no style will be able to work in every situation, so having a variety of strong distinct voices means that there will always be a creative and unique approach. Having many assorted styles also opens a conversation in which everyone can learn and be influenced by each other and encourage further development.
Style needs to be constantly refined and developed and everyone is at a different stage in their development. In the workplace, there needs to be an active pursuit of strong forms of expression as well as help and support to allow others to grow into their full potential. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way when it comes to style. There are no good or bad styles, simply a difference in tastes, context, and influences. Style comes in time, through practice, research, and experience, and it is important to facilitate this as much as possible.
Overall, distinctive and strong art styles need to be more present in Creative Industries which can only be achieved from shifting importance from technical skill to actual artistic development. This would also help broaden the general view of style and help remove some of the apprehension of having a distinct style early on. More emphasis should be brought on what you bring to the table and less on the quality of it.