While it may seem like some artists hit the ground running and instantly have this perfectly developed sense of personal style in their art, there is usually quite a bit of time and effort they put in behind the scenes to get to that point. Many of us want to skip ahead to the point where we have a distinct and highly recognizable style, but it takes time and intention. Even so, it's not a destination we reach once and then the work is done; but rather a cyclical process that is always ongoing.
I believe that there are six distinct phases of developing an art style that most artists go through. When I look back at my own journey through fiber art, these were the experiences that I had that led me to a point where I felt I had hit my stride and found what I loved to create that was uniquely me.
The first phase of finding your style as an artist is gathering your inspiration. At this point you may already have some limited experience with the craft, or you may not have any yet. Either way, you have probably been dipping your toes into it a bit by following artists, searching on Pinterest or Instagram for styles you like, or practicing some of the basics.
The second phase is the copying and learning phase. Everyone who is developing as an artist first starts by copying- it is a natural part of the process and is essential to learning the skills and techniques that are vital to allow you to improvise and apply the skills you've learned in new ways in the future.
By phase 3, your skills have developed well past the beginner phase. You've been trying lots of different styles and patterns and are beginning to notice what you gravitate more toward and enjoy making more. You're motivated to try to create your own designs, but may still be a bit overwhelmed on how to start doing that.
In phase 4, you've developed your skills and are creating original work instead of using tutorials or copying, but it may still feel like it's missing a *you* factor. You are comfortable mixing different techniques or methods within your medium together to create something new, but want to figure out ways to make something that truly feels original and unique.
Phase 5 is such an exciting stage! You've tried different methods of making your art unique and true to you, and you finally feel like you've started to hit your stride in creating original work. Now, you're looking to create consistency and continue to lean into your style.
At this point, you've been staying in your flow creating pieces that are unique to your style for a while. However, you are possibly starting to feel burnt out, lacking motivation, or simply are starting to notice that your style has evolved and the work you're creating isn't exactly reflecting your current tastes anymore.
Which phase are you in? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
If you're feeling stuck in one phase and aren't sure how to move past it into the next in your search for finding your unique style, I wrote an in depth
guide explaining each phase of this cycle in more depth, why it's important, how to take advantage of it, and ultimately how to move past each phase and into the next with tons of examples and practical exercises you can use!
Right now this guide is only available for my Patreon "creative biz club" members. To access this PDF guide instantly (along with 3 other creative small business guides on topics like markets, workshops, and more, you can join the creative business club ($9/month). I release new patterns and guides every month along with hosting video Q&A sessions for my members!