abstract art painting

How to Find Your Art Style in 8 Easy Steps

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There’s a point in your journey as an artist where you will want to settle on an art style. When you find your art style, you make the conscious choice to leave behind the jumping from one technique to another, and hone in on creating a cohesive signature body of artwork.

This is exciting! But it can also be a bit terrifying if you don’t know if you’re ready to settle (commitment can be hard), or you are just way too in love with several art styles.

Let’s get to the root of finding your art style together. I will take your virtual hand and lead you through a few exercises that will help you to decide on an art style you want to claim for your very own.

Art Style Definition

Okay, so what even IS an art style? We all have an idea of what it is, but it’s kind of hard to define.

In fact, there’s a lot of debate in internet land about how to define an art style, so I’m going to attempt my own definition. I reserve the right to come back here and change the definition if I find something better. Got something to add? Leave a comment, please! I would love to hear your definition of art style.

An art style is simply how a piece (or body) of art looks. If you were to describe your home decor style or your style of clothing, you’d probably be able to do that. Your art style is the same. It’s all the colors, composition, brush strokes, marks, texture, form, subject matter, all work together to make one piece look similar to another piece – enough so that you can visually group them together.

You can use art periods to describe an art style, but you can also use description words for the style of art.

Wow, this is tough to explain in words.

colorful abstract art style mural on wall
Photo by Bosco Shots

Why do I Even Need an Art Style

Well, technically you don’t. If you are totally happy trying every technique, supply, and art style you see, have at it, buddy. I understand the appeal of creative experimenting.

You will want to find your art style if you want to grow as an artist. Not only to sell artwork, but because a big part of how you grow as an artist is exploring a certain technique, message, material, or subject matter beyond the experimental phase.

That journey into artistic exploration is where your best work will happen, and where you will learn the most, and consequently where people will connect the most with your work. Bringing it back to selling – this is where your work will start to be collected. Yum.

woman standing with her paintings in a studio
Photo by kath Julan

How to Find Your Art Style

Before we begin, read the following sentence out loud: Finding your art style does not mean you are required to stick with that specific style forever.

It also doesn’t mean you can’t be still dabbling on the side (that sounded dirty). You can by all means develop a style for your main body of work, and also play with all of the art techniques, materials, and styles you want to. In fact, many artists do this to ward off boredom and staleness. Our creative brains are always looking to explore new things, and this includes art styles.

So how to do this. For some people, finding an art style comes naturally, and sort of sprouts up from the work they do as they play around with their medium of choice. Others will put more intentional thought into it. With that said, here are some ideas for finding your own art style.

sketch drawing of a woman in a sketch pad
Photo by Doriana Dream

Find Your Art Style Action Steps

Study Your Work

All the work that you have made up until now can give you clues as to what you art style is!

  • Look back at as much of your artwork as you can, and take note of what you like and dislike about the pieces.
  • Do you already have an art style developing? Describe what you see and how you would explain that style to someone else.
  • Ask an artist friend or family member to explain to you what they think your style is (or is trending toward).

After you’ve gathered a few clues into your art style, you can approach your future work with more awareness.

Art Supplies Will Teach You

If you are stuck on even which art materials you want to use, I suggest starting there first. Give yourself a week of playing around with one art supply at a time, emulating what you see other artists doing. Look for the artwork that inspires you on Instagram, and create away!

By the end of a few weeks you’ll get a feel for which supplies you enjoy using, and then you can get down to finding your own art style.

If you are like me, you need someone to just tell you what to do. Assignment: Here is a list of 4 art supplies to buy, set out on your table, and work with for 2 weeks. Then come back here and comment with what you discovered you liked or disliked.

ClayClay tools

Colored PencilsColored pencil paper

WatercolorWatercolor paperBrushes

Drawing pensDrawing paper

art paint brushes
Photo by Pierre Bamin

Steal Like an Artist (But Don’t Copy)

One of the ways you can hone your own art style is something artists have been doing forever. Look at other artwork, find the work you are massively inspired by, and borrow parts of it.

By ‘borrow’ I mean this: if you see a painting in the most beautiful rust and pink colors, try those colors out yourself. And then you see another piece of art that is the coolest collage idea you’ve ever seen. Don’t copy the artworks, take what you like from them and create your own piece(s).

You may have heard of Austin Kleon and his book Steal Like an Artist, in which the concept of discovering your art style is explained fully and beautifully. Every artist must own this book.

You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them, but the sum of you is bigger than their parts. You’re a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Make Time to Play Like a Kindergartner

Big table. All the art supplies you have. Music. Go.

Create the best scenario to experiment and play with art supplies for a long time. Get yourself into a creative flow by painting a little, drawing a little, mush a blob of clay into something cool, wrap wire around a foil ball, rip paper and glue it onto cardboard. You get the idea.

The more time you can spend freely playing with art supplies, the more familiar and comfortable you will become with them, and guess what! You will naturally develop your art style. While having fun! See, finding your art style does not have to be a chore or a tedious process.

Related: How to Paint on Wood With Acrylics

woman artist sitting on floor practicing painting on a canvas with blue paint
Photo by Matthieu Jungfer 

Practice Makes Perfect

I see you rolling your eyes. But you had to know somewhere within an article on how to find your art style you would read that you must just to get to work.

Once you start to get an inkling of the art styles you are gravitating toward, probe them more. Make 5 pieces of artwork in each style you are digging.

Here, print this out and fill it in after each piece of art you make. For each piece, describe its style on the left, and use the right side to make notes about what you like, what you want to change, how it feels, etc.

art style tracker to help find your art style

After you’ve done this, take what you liked the most and continue to work with that style. Keep going… keep going….

Take a Class

Back in the day, it was hard to find any good art classes. This is because we did not have the internet back in the day. What was wrong with us? SMH

You people have access to AMAZING teachers, who will guide you through everything from the best way to use art materials, to establishing a daily art-making practice, to learning about any art technique you could possibly wish to learn.

Visit Galleries or Museums

Yes! Wandering around and looking at art irl is a phenomenal way to find your own art style. You will naturally gravitate to the works you like, and you can start to get a feel for the styles you like the looks of.

Keep a li’l notebook with you to jot down your thoughts. Or do it on your phone if you must. Sigh. Millennials.

Ooh, this is a good idea for an artist date if you are familiar with The Artist’s Way.

woman looking at art pieces hanging in a gallery
Photo by Felicia Varzari

Journal it Out

I am such a journaling nerd. Want to know why? It freaking works. You can find out SO MUCH about yourself when you journal, as long as you are honest and let that pen flow.

The Find Your Art Style Journal Prompts

  • If you want to discover your art style through the magic of journaling, try out some of these prompts: What art stops your scroll on Instagram?
  • What have you made where you remember enjoying the process?
  • What art have you made and actually kept?
  • What artists are you jealous of, or wish you had thought of the style of art they make?
  • What art styles do you print out and hang on your inspiration board, or pin on Pinterest?
  • What art supplies do you find yourself coveting the most?
  • What is your clothing style? Your decorating style?
  • What drives you to make art? Is there a message you must get out into the world, or are you motivated by beautiful colors and shapes?

Um, want another printable? Here you go! Just because I love making printables, use this bad boy to write out your answers. Take your time!

printable questions to help you find your art style

I regularly feature artists I love, working in all different styles, and I draw inspiration and ideas from all of them. Sign on up for my emails if you want art inspiration in your inbox!

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