How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

Allison Filice Allison Filice, Illustrator San Francisco

I think style is how you translate the world and mirror it back. It’s important to find what’s meaningful to you, and to play with that. What inspires you? What emotions do you want to evoke and what story do you want to tell? All of these things are at the core of developing your style. Find what feels like you, what looks like you.

For me that was done through a lot of exploration in color, art, design, and ideas. I was in the corporate world for so long that I didn’t really know what my style looked like since I had been creating for others and not myself. I had to remove the additional layers I was wearing and get back to the core me. Now when I look at the work I make, I see myself in it. There’s a common thread that has run through my work all the way back to when I was a kid, but it has evolved over time as I’ve grown. Stylistically, I’ve always had a simplistic approach, using bold colors and linework. I think my style is quite friendly and approachable while trying to explore deep ideas.

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Romina Malta Romina Malta, Illustrator Buenos Aires

I think production remains in constant development. My style doesn’t follow methodic procedures, and takes distance from the figurative. You can find it pretty volatile. One day it’s printed, another day stays in the digital or textile field. It can also be temporary, like a painted wall that will be torn down in the next few days. There are no real messages.

Tips? Illustrating without expectations is a good practice. Also, leaving things to chance. In my case, I draw/design when I feel like it. I mean, if I realize that for some reason I am lying on the sofa, almost dead, I accept the stagnation, staying there until I leave the oyster. That’s why we have to be clear from the first contact with the client. Flexibility has a limit and time isn’t only money, it can be a new project, a state of mind, sleep.

Another good practice is removing a common resource from your routine. Revisit old material, search your notebooks and external disks. Turn on your scanner. Print, paint, scribble and put all your material on a surface. If you are tired, abandoning everything works as well. At any time you can return.

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Mikey Burton Mikey Burton, Illustrator NYC

It took me 6 years before I was making work that truly felt like me. My style developed through the constraints of letterpress and screen-printing. The limitation of using just one or two colors made me more thoughtful about solving problems, and the handmade quality of the process informed my aesthetic. I made A LOT of gigposters, and looking back many of those initial designs “borrowed” heavily from other artist styles. Eventually after doing it long enough, It slowly became my own thing. There’s no short cuts here, It definitely takes a bit of commitment.

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Yelldesign Yell crew, Crafter Melbourne

I’ve always been fascinated by unusual things, and stop motion is the perfect medium to explore this. I also think short form content elevates the traditional advertising ‘a-ha’ moment, using ‘surprise’ as a key element. Almost every client asks for some sort of surprise in their video, this has influenced my animation style to become very quirky and unexpected. At yelldesign, we now do quite niche animations, and this is important as we have concentrated on this style and honed it over time. There is a temptation to go nuts and do a bit of everything, but it takes time to develop an identifiable style, and its worth investing the effort to continually refine a style you’re either good at, or simply interested in.

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Studio Muti Clinton Campbell, Illustrator Cape Town

As a studio of 10 people, we work across a broad range of constantly evolving styles and mediums. As MUTI started growing, we were able to integrate more styles into our portfolio. Currently our portfolio includes everything from digital painting, vector icons and characters, to typography and animation. Experimenting, learning from each other and mixing things up a bit is essential to keeping your portfolio fresh, and staying inspired.

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Ori Toor Ori Toor, Illustrator Tel Aviv

It’s cliche answer maybe, but I just drew all the time and explored different styles until things settled. Every time I started with a new style my thought was “this is the one” only to be abandoned shortly after. I truly believe it just happens naturally as you work through the years. But if someone has a difficult time figuring out their style I would say the method of elimination is always good. It’s easier sometimes figuring out what you hate doing instead of what you love.

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Fran Labuschagne Fran Labuschagne, Illustrator Cape Town

I’m not entirely sure how I developed my style and for a long time I didn’t even feel like I had a style. I guess it was just a matter of practice. I’ve been working as an illustrator for 4 years and over the years it just kinda morphed into what it is today.

I think personality also played a big role in the development of my style. The humoristic undertone is definitely due to my own tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I’m also quite the perfectionist, so I like perfectly round corners and geometric shapes. I try to break that up a little with organic shapes and subtle rough textures, as I have a soft side to me as well.

As far as tips go, I’d say just make as many things as you can. The more you create the easier it is to point out your own strengths and weaknesses, and over time your personality will seep through the cracks.

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Esther Goh Esther Goh, Illustrator Singapore

As with many people, I first began with crude attempts at drawing directly from references, which taught me about forms, anatomy and lighting. Over the span of a few years I had learned to paint realistically and found creative ways to compose my images. Rene Magritte and MC Escher were among my first artistic influences, so the ideas of surrealism and illusion have always stuck.

By the time I had the chance to integrate illustrations into my digital designs at my first job, at local design agency Kinetic, my style has evolved into a mashup of psychedelic colours, as seen in the project Maki-San. I also love discovering hidden details and finding humour in an image, so I guess it reflects a lot in my work.

I think illustrators can further develop their own style by broadening their minds and moving away from their current inspirations to study other types of work that they don’t normally look at, be it by traditional or contemporary artists. Also, experimenting with colours, composition, scale and perspective is another way their style can evolve.

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Henri Campeã Henri Campeã, Illustrator São Paulo

Being true to myself. Finding my style is like knowing who I am and what I like. I don’t think my style is already set, it is something fluid witch is evolving and following my life. Keeping a record of your creations gives you a great view of your evolution, like seeing old pics.

To draw themes and things that I like helps me a lot. Everything can be used as reference, and experiences overall helps to shape us and reflects on our identity. In my case (and many Brazilian kids born in 93) I loved Pokemon, tamagotchis and Turma da Mônica (a Brazilian comic). Cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life, Real Monsters, Hey Arnold!, Dexter’s Laboratory and Powderpuff Girls influenced me a lot too.

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Katie Wilson Katie Wilson, Illustrator Dunedin

It has taken me ages to feel like I have a recognisable style, and this is still something I struggle with. I often find others can see my style when I can’t. I guess the things I have found that work include trying not to worry about style too much, experimenting with different media, drawing a lot, and trying to draw as many different subjects as possible.

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Camille Charbonneau Camille Charbonneau, Student Montreal

At first, I didn’t really enjoy working on illustrations. At school, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to find a style, something that would set me apart from everybody else and it didn’t do anything but give me panic attacks. So, I took a break from illustration projects, explored different approaches and studied other illustrators’ work for a while. It’s only when I understood what I liked in an artwork that I really could develop my own aesthetic. Also, I don’t focus that much on my “style” anymore, I have learned to simply trust my intuition and to do what I think goes with the brief while still looking good.

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Yali Ziv Yali Ziv, Illustrator Tel Aviv

At a certain point in my studies I realized I’m not very interested in realistic drawing and perspective. My stronger points are shape and color. I looked for techniques that would feel natural and which I can develop while I grow as an artist. My greatest love is paper cuttings; something about it feels organic to just like holding a pencil. I love working with geometrical shapes and solid colors, and paper allows me that freedom. Even when working digitally I create a set of rules borrowed from my experience with paper cutting. I like to decide on very clear rules for the process of each work, such as a simple color palette or a composition that is based on simple shapes. As I mentioned I work with all kinds of techniques- drawing, watercolor, paper cutouts and digital illustration. I choose which technique to use according to the needs of each project and client. I think that the most important thing in an illustrations development and creation process is to truly understand your strengths and strong points and know how to use them wisely. Sometimes, our weaknesses and the things that we aren’t so good at, are the base of having a unique and individual language.

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Gonçalo Duarte Gonçalo Duarte, Featured Designer Lisbon

I’m never satisfied with the things I do and I feel like I’m always looking for more in my style but I think it’s important to look at what I’ve done in the past and try not to be dazzled by the trends.

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Sophie Cunningham Sophie Cunningham, Illustrator Edinburgh

Be yourself! Try not to compare yourself to others. Just because you love someone else’s drawing style, doesn’t mean that yours has to be like theirs to be as good. I used to avoid looking at other people’s work for a long time; partly because I felt inferior and partly because I was terrified I would subconsciously try to imitate work that I admired. Creating my Instagram account was a big step for me, as it was the first time I had properly “put myself out there” as an illustrator, but it paid off. I’ve received amazing feedback over the last couple of years which has given me much more confidence in my ability and originality. My style has developed naturally as I have become more involved in contemporary illustration online; I get a lot of inspiration from my favourite illustrators and peers, and have found that these influences have grown my style into what it is today. It’s something that has happened organically, but took a very long time. Try not to pressure yourself too much and enjoy making art until you find a way of drawing that feels like yours. There’s no quick fix, just try to enjoy the journey.

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Aidan Ryan Aidan Ryan, Illustrator Brisbane

First things first, surround yourself with illustrators you aspire to be. For ages I was following all the illustrators who did super detailed, realistic sketches of faces/animals etc. This convinced me that I was no good at illustration. As soon as I found some like-minded doodlers, I was more motivated to illustrate. As far as developing a style, I was just drawing anything and everything. Experimenting with different directions and figuring out what I was most comfortable with. It was definitely a lot of food based doodles at the start for some reason. I found them easy to work with because they were compiled of simple shapes. For me, simple execution was key because I could focus more on fun, quirky concepts.

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Rocio Egio Rocio Egio, Illustrator Bern

My style is a mix of architecture (my first studies) the Mediterranean (where I grow up) and my enthusiastic personality. I have a playful style, I use bold geometric lines and colourful visuals influenced by my Mediterranean upbringing to shape stories to life. My style is dynamic and alive, it continues to develop with every project and experience. A tip, know your “super power”, keep working and keep getting better.

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Wildergrim Adrian du Buisson, Illustrator Perth

I think a few factors made my particular aesthetic what it is today. Growing up I was always fascinated and influenced by cartoons, so I’d watch a lot of those (I haven’t stopped) and be inspired to draw. I love sci-fi and fantasy themes, which is what a lot of my work tends to revolve around. I wandered into a designer toy shop while travelling once and I was instantly in love with the bold and graphic styles on display there. I liked that there could be so much personality in shape, colour and simplicity, and embraced that principle in my own work. Starting to use Adobe Illustrator around the same time was a real synergy.

I view my style as always in development, something I build on that evolves over time. I follow my instincts and try new ideas because that’s part of the fun, but it also allows me to offer a range of possibilities to future clients. My tips for others: Practice often. Draw what you enjoy. Recognise your own journey of improvement and don’t be so hard on yourself.

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Jon Hanlan Jon Hanlan, Illustrator NYC

For myself I developed my style naturally as time went on. You need to focus and listen to the inner compass that shows you what you’d most like to create, then practice that. Experience can be a great tool to cultivate your style. And developing yourself as a human being helps as well.

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Sam Lyne Sam Lyne, Illustrator Tasmania

I think influences from art school, peers and various children’s books growing up have definitely shaped my direction as an illustrator. I’ve always been fascinated with detail and navigating through them to discover hidden things. I had a number of children’s books back in the day that featured a lot of that. Art school was fantastic in exposing me to different ways of thinking about projects, how I might go about developing them and being surrounded by peers who work with different mediums & techniques. I can safely say I wouldn’t be where I am without my time there.

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Go Suga Go Suga, Illustrator Gold Coast

I used to draw really detailed illustrations but it was just like another illustration you would have seen elsewhere. Basically, I wasn’t my self, it was a programmed illustration which I built up from my childhood drawing and copying Japanese comic characters. I realised I needed to come with my “true” own style. So I started breaking my program down by doing totally opposite to what I would usually do when I draw. I needed to strip everything off and start focusing on being my self.

My tips would be to stay true to what you think is right. If you think you’re lost and can’t find the style then break your style/habit that you currently have. Basically, break your style down and then re-build it again with more freedom. Also don’t be afraid to be inspired by other artists work, if you like their work that means you like their work so be open-minded about it, I mean pretty much everything has been done in the past as “style” even if you don’t think you are you’re still influenced by something around you anyways. I think it’s a never ending journey though. You think you’ve got yourself a style of your own but then u get bored of doing the same thing over and over so you start to look for something different and I think this is a great thing about creating, there’s never any end to it. It’s always a work in progress. I think keep doing the style you like as long as you’re liking it and once it doesn’t interest you then it’s time to start experimenting and looking for something that does interest you.

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