Art, to me, is a dynamic sequence - a cycle of creative action that's repeated and refined, punctuated with moments of refection. The cycle repeates with diversions, evolutions, and reinventions from time to time, and a signature style develops along the way.
Style is a desireable and recognizable visual quality that helps separate your work from all the other artwork out there. It doesn't happen overnight, it's not effortless or pure genius, it comes from working through the following stages.
4 Stages of Development:
Action: At its core, art is a verb - it's something you do. You've gotta make art to be an artist, and you've got to make a lot of art to develop any kind of style. So, start making, and try a lot of different things. The process of doing will help you figure out what you enjoy doing and narrow down where you want to go with it.
Repetition: Build on what you've been making and do more of what you like. This could mean a deep dive into your favourite subject matter or expanding your skills with certain mediums. Go for variations on a theme, repeat in a way that riffs and refines, iterating with something new each time. This process will contribute to your recognizability and help to build an audience based on common interest.
Reflection: Periodically take a break to check in with yourself and your audience to adjust and edit with intention. Considering the big picture, your recent work and whole collection, what works and what doesn't, what do you want to do more or less of? This stage is especially important if you're feeling lost, bored, or creativily blocked.
Diversion, Evolution, Reinvention: Now you've taken stock, is it time to pivot, to look with fresh back with fresh eyes, or move forward in a totally new direction? Every now and then you can start fresh, and if that feels intimidating - remember, you're not all the way back at square one, you have a wealth of experience to draw from. Don't let your own artistic history limit you, keep an open mind, and restart the cycle.
Noticing what patterns develop, what resonates with others, and what brings you the most joy or fulfilment can help define and refine your overall aesthetic and trajectory. Building a body of work and identity as an artist takes time, it's not a destination, it's a perpetual journey.
Hope that's not too cheesy or preachy for you, but I know how it goes. Being an artist is rewarding but also comes with a kind of pressure, especially when it's your career.
Gotta have a style, gotta outdo myself, gotta keep up, gotta jump all these hurdles...
So, here's some advice, for myself, or any artist reading:
You can't rush it or force it or box yourself in. Allow yourself some time, patience, and flexibility. Apply that creativity to experimenting and troubleshooting.
And you know, have fun with it, that's why you make art in the first place.
Cut yourself some slack, take breaks, and don't burn yourself out.
Keep it fun, keep it fresh, make something new or something just for you.