Signature Styles

I recently had someone tell me that they knew a project was mine because it was my “style”. Really? I has a style? This made me take a look at some of my past works, and I looked at sketches of upcoming projects I plan to work on. Indeed, a formation of a style is there. If you look at my Japanese Doll theme, and it continues with the Robots theme, I do have a signature look to the work. It actually came about before these works were thought of. My Journal Quilt, that was not made in time for jurying, was very much in this same vein as these recent themed works. Is it original? Well, the work is original, but is the style?

In clothing, it’s easy(ier) to say that this dress looks like Betsey Johnson, or that looks like Michael Kors. Surely a painting style can be attributed to being “after Picasso”, or “after O’Keefe”, or whoever has the closest style to your painting. It seems like my style copies so many things that I am influenced by, that I did not originally see my own style. Am I inadvertently copying the style of someone else? Who is the original artist if my style and the other artist’s style are developed independently? Is it then in the realm of who is more famous? At what point does your style become yours? Back to clothing, the recnet Project Runway winner Christian Siriano has a look that is becoming his own, but it is often still described as “Vivienne Westwood meets whoever“. The point is: when does it become his own?

After discussing this with my husband for his feedback he had 2 comments:
1. This whole thing goes back to “are there any truly original ideas anymore” and because I am influenced by what I see, by natural extension my work is going to incorporate those influences. His own work has a style that I recognize, and someone mentioned to him previously, but he does not.
2. That I should not get caught up designing to meet my “style”, but to continue to make art and let that style develop over time.

This second one is true. This got me thinking about why I am so concerned with even wanting/having a style at all, which led me to “why I make (my) art”. Oh boy, that is a topic for another post!