By definition style is a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting. To me style is a definition of who you are as an artist. Many things help shape that definition such as where you studied your craft, which artists inspire you the most as well as what constitutes art in your eyes.
Growing up I’ve met all types of artists:
- The Carbon Copy: someone who mirrors their work so closely to someone else that it’s hard to tell the two artists apart.
- The Shape Shifter: the artist has spent so much time searching for their own style by mimicking others that they can’t help but shift into different identities in each piece they do.
- The Non-Believer: this person just lacks confidence in their ability to embrace their own work. They believe that they should follow the path of someone else in order to find their own style.
- The Old Dirty Bastard: he truly believes there is no father to his style. Says things like “I’m the only who creates work like this. I’m an innovator.” In actuality there many people who are very similar to you.
- The Vanguard: One who absorbs the knowledge of those before them and leads the pack. Not by reinventing the wheel but by merging what they’ve learned into something that defines who they are.
The thing about style, in order to find your own you have to play the role of some of the personas listed above. In the end, like most art related philosophies, it comes down to confidence. Do you believe in yourself enough to trust your own instinct on what is art?
Personally I’ve followed many comic book artist on my artistic journey because that’s the medium I grew up around. John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Arthur Adams, Joe Madureira & Jim Lee are some of the artists who have influenced and dominated my studies growing as a kid artist. I looked to them because at the time, this is all I knew and I felt they were the best in the business. And in order for me to achieve success I needed to be more like them.
In reality I just didn’t think my work was strong enough. I was self-conscious about my style. But over time I’ve become more comfortable with it for better or worst. Either way it’s me. When you see my work you know that Pope Phoenix created that piece. That is what you want. Instant recognition. No label or copyright needed. That is what style is. Its basically your brand, your logo, your calling card.
I ask you, what is your style? Who were your influences? What’s holding you back from embracing your style completely and utterly? Have you branched out from what you’ve seen and defined yourself as a Vanguard?