The Surface Pattern Design course I have recently undertaken has really got me thinking about what my design style is, or rather, what it will be, since I don't really feel like I've found my style yet. So how do you work out your style?
I think there are three main elements to this:
1. Working out what you like
The first step is to figure out what you like and don't like. This goes for any aesthetic or creative thing that you do, whether it's photography, painting, drawing, house-decorating or writing. I found PinInterest a really good tool for creating a visual moodboard of designs that appealed to me (although I must admit, it's a little addictive!).
I also think it's useful to put down in words what you like about certain styles. Here are the key words that I would use to describe styles I like and that I would eventually like my own designs to be described as:
BEAUTIFUL - MODERN - COLOURFUL - HAPPY
2. Evaluating your own techniques
This is the harder part. There might be other's styles who you want to emulate, but they work in different media. You can have a go at that medium and see if it suits you, but maybe you'll realise it's not your thing or that you have other skills and techniques that you love that you want to utilise in your designs. When you're starting out on a creative path, I think it's important to have a go at lots of things and see what you like.
Over the past year, you'll have seen on my blog that I have experimented with painting, collage, printing, pencils, pens, pastels, lino-cutting, printing techniques and digital illustration to name just a few things. The irony is that through all this experimentation (and equipping my studio with various tools and media), I have now discovered that what I like best (alongside photography which is a long-held passion for me) is simply working with either a black pen or black ink with a fine brush.
This revelation came to me recently on holiday in Italy where I spent a LOT of time with my sketchbook and pen drawing all the beautiful plants surrounding the property we were staying in. I had a go with some coloured paints too, but really didn't feel that comfortable with them and didn't like what I was producing with them.
As to my actual drawing style - two key styles emerged from my sketches in Italy:
Simple outline drawings in fine pen:
Silhouettes in ink:
I started to be able to visualise how these drawings could work well layered with photography of similar subject matter.
The final step is to take the techniques and themes that you enjoy working with and start experimenting with making designs from them, all the while keeping in mind the key words that you want your work to reflect.
Here's a couple of designs I made from my photographs and sketches taken while in Italy.
|"Bird & Trees - Mist" - I like the idea of this printed on a silk cushion|
|"Purple Flowers" - I think this could look good as a journal cover|
Hmm, I quite like these. Is this my style emerging? I could also develop some of the drawn motifs separately from the photographic backgrounds, for example for co-ordinating designs.
This process makes me think about the type of products that my designs might suit. Because I love the idea of using abstract photography as a backdrop to my work, it may be the case that I'm better off focusing on placement designs, for example cushions, scarfs and clothing such as silk dresses, where the design fills the whole space and doesn't need to be in a technical repeat. This is an interesting discovery for me, because many of the designs I am drawn to are very bold, simple repeats. But this isn't to say that I won't also experiment with repeats. I'll just have to see what works best with the designs I create.
This is just the beginning of my journey to find my style. I'm hoping with more practice and experimentation, my signature style will start to emerge. But I guess it's a journey that never ends!