How to Develop Your Artistic Style
When I was young, I wanted to reach a point on the guitar like Angus Young—a point where whenever AC/DC came roaring over the airwaves, you’d immediately reach for the volume (or at least I would) because their style was so unique, you could recognize it anywhere. You knew right away what band you were listening to. Hells Bells, Back in Black, Thunderstruck: You know these songs within the first ten seconds of play. We all do.
Ultimately, I determined that style is not only inherent, but inevitable, and the reason you can pick Angus Young or Eddie Van Halen from a crowd is because you’ve heard their songs a thousand and one times. I suppose you could pick anybody’s style from a crowd when you’ve heard their song a thousand and one times—or read their book a thousand and one times—for the same reason you could detect your lover’s forehead as they come off a plane: You’ve seen it before.
And any forehead becomes detectable when you see it every day; it’s like the first ten seconds of a song. But that doesn’t mean style isn’t worth paying attention to. If anything, it’s an argument for why style is such a critical element for any artist. Your style is your hallmark. Which is why you should try to create in a way that people know immediately who composed the song or wrote the essay even when they’re just getting started with it. They should be able to tell it’s you, in other words, when all they can see is your forehead.
I was recording guitar earlier, and wanted to capture my thoughts on this as they came along. So I took the lead to one of my songs, and broke it down by each, individual influence, since influences are what comprise a style. You may find this insightful, or you may find it boring and obvious
(Also, the guitar solo starts at 2:28, if you want to just skip the theory and get right to the jam.)
As for writing, the same conclusions can be reached. Style starts with the study of others you seek to emulate. So, like learning songs on the guitar, you copy the writing of masters–tediously, and by hand. Because style is not something you develop, it’s something you direct. And only by steeping yourself in the broth of other’s stylistic success, do you finally discover a voice of your own.
PS – I posed the question to creatives on Facebook what things they have done to develop their style. Some responses include:
“My original goal, and a goal I still have, was just to get better. To master my craft. I practiced very ‘generally’ at both.
However, as I improved and was able to play or write more complicated or “specific” things, a style started to form. This style stemmed from my preferred type of art. I didn’t train to sound like Bonham, or Mark twain (not that I do)… But because I played and wrote the kinds of things I liked to hear and read, my works tended to become an amalgamation of those things.” – Will Greer
“Style is inevitable, absolutely. It’s what comes from our brains shaping everything that comes through it. It’s all been done but through each of us, it’s done a little differently. You just have to persevere through the parts of your practice where you do sound like everyone else, be it Angus Young or Stephen King, and then if you do, what comes out the other side is distinctly you.” – Christine Mooney
“Finding my own style in the arts was when my pencil became charcoal and my subject became the human body. I found the marriage of the medium and figure drawing to drive my artistic vision. The movement of the charcoal on paper helped my style evolve. And yet it continues as I’ve grown as an artist, and as a teacher. I see young artists struggle daily with self expression and how to attain this style that is true to them. There are no answers I can honestly give them as they have to seek that out on their own time. I use questioning to help them move toward that style. I remind them as a teacher reminded me in terms of visual arts, it’s about learning to see, and then it happens on paper.” – Shannon Audet
You can read the rest on the original Facebook post ==> HERE.