Stop Trying To Find Your Style. Focus On Finding Your Voice First.
People care more about the message behind the art then the effort it took to make it.
There is a reason why my Dear Artist series on Instagram is BY FAR my most viral content, and I promise you it has nothing to do with the lettering. It's because it's literally all message.
This is why memes and chicken scratch quotes can go viral and that portrait you spent 30 hours on only got a few hundred likes. Art is meant to trigger an emotional response, and if it falls short, it will most likely be ignored in people's feed.
You can put more meaning in your work by simply drawing from your own experience. Share your likes and dislikes. Give me something I can rally behind or see myself in. If something is relatable to you, it will most likely be relatable to other people too.
Even if you are not an illustrator, and you create abstract work, tell me why you choose those colors and how you felt when you made it. If you're a photographer, talk about the emotion behind that facial expression and the way the background makes me feel like I want to be there.
I know there is a strong message in your art waiting to come out somewhere! Just make sure to find it first and stop tryin to figure out the meaning of a piece after the fact. The worst thing that can happen is that your work comes off fake AF, and you can do better with these tips.
My process for putting more meaning into my artwork
No matter what kind of art you make, it can go so much farther if you just focus on the meaning first. Instead of your turning your brain off and letting your hand go on autopilot try to put more intention into your piece before you even start the sketching process.
Choosing a subject matter to stick to, at least for a while
Before you think of a project, you want to get started on, first think about the kind of audience you want to attract with your art. Usually, an artist's demographic is a part of themselves, so that other people can relate to them. People gravitate to the kind of messages that they either see themselves in or the type of person they always wished they could become. But what the fuck does that even mean?
What kind of hobbies, struggles, and interest do you have on any given week? Whether it's your love of carb overloaded breakfast foods, or your constant struggle with social anxiety, those are the specific kinds of things that people can rally behind. But you have to stay focused on what those subjects are, you can't just make every little thing that pops in your head because it would alienate more people the attract them. Not everything you make is going to relate to everybody, and the more things you talk about, the more likely people are to leave.
But if you are like me and you focus your content on consistent messages, you are much more likely to gain a following because people know what to expect. Even better you can keep those same followers, fans, and customers longer since you are staying within that same lane of thought and attraction.
This doesn't mean you have to focus on these subjects forever, just long enough to find out you even like making them so you can better curate your Instagram. I always tell my coaching students to choose three topics and stick to it for at least 30 days consistently, then at the end of the month simply look back at your analytics and just do more of what works and more of what feels right to make.
Starting with a phrase that makes you feel something
I get so sick of lettering sometimes where I feel like everyone is just drawing the same phrases over and over again that they just totally lose their meaning. Even if you took a common phrase and put in it your own words it would make a would a difference because it came more from you then the inspiration that it came from.
Lettering artists do have an advantage I think over other illustrators because you don't have to guess what our work means. The phrase is the literal interpretation of the message which makes it more likely to resinate with others. Not to mention the fact that phrases in my experience are more commonly shared online and printed on products because it's a message people can better identify with.
So how do I come up with my own phrases? I live, work, and always have a phone in my pocket to write down any old thing that pops in my head that gives me that ah-ha moment. Sometimes I'll be inspired by something else I saw online, heard in a podcast, or just thought to myself and think, "hey that would work on a t-shirt." And that's the standard, if the phrase wouldn't work on a shirt, I don't make it, because I want my art to be the kind of message that people would be a walking billboard for.
Adding in the style that will attract my demographic
The style for me comes last, and at this point in my career is pretty consistent. I use the same color palette, Photoshop brushes, and process to make every single thing in my portfolio. This is much less about having "a consistent style" and much more about speeding up my production process by giving myself rules in how I make my art.
Once I have the phase I choose a style of lettering that best captivates that message. If the message is softer and more fragile, I might use a script, if the message is bold and full of curse words I might use a stronger serif or blackletter style. The design favors the message, not the other way around.
Then, I like to take things up a notch by adding an illustration, because let's face it people hate reading. I'd be surprised if half of you that landed on this article are even still reading it at this point.
So the next step in my drawing is what I call a visual anchor to help get your attention. Keeping in mind that my audience is 90% women, that why I draw so many women, so other women can see themselves in my work. Yes sometimes it's not always a portrait, but it's shoes, hands, or lips anything that allows you to put yourself into my art more personally.
Sign up for coaching so I can help you find your unique creative voice
Every week I talk to students helping them figure out their next move. It's not always enough to know how to grow but picking out the right topics to move forward with and how to present them to the world.
I want to make sure you are using the right platforms, and strategy that will work specifically for you. Not all artists want the same things and have their own goals that might not even align with anything I'm even talking about in this article.
That's why I want to speak to your personality for a 30-minute session so I can hear about your struggles and come up with a plan to help make this whole artists' journey way fucking easier.