When I started out drawing and painting things were different. When posting to art communities back in 2002 you either did photo-manipulation or fantasy art. Never both. I believe this is still rooted in the fine art community – that an artist has to have a certain style.
This style is what?
An indicator of expertise? Let me tell you what it is…
Specializing in one style only is a guarantee for a return on investment by art dealer and art collectors.
If you do illustration for a living, this mantra has no meaning because what you do is applied art, not fine art. You might still have a chance to get into a gallery or even a museum in your lifetime. Look at Gottfried Helnwein for example, he has done that and still maintains at least 3-4 styles in artistic expression.
What many people fail to realize is that it is possible to reduce your styles, but not before you dive into the marketplace. If you do it right at the beginning, you limit your possibilities.
Another reason why style diversity is necessary is because of our technological age. We live in times where internet is mobile and looking up a name is just a fingertip away.
The internet is bliss for those with a bad long-term-memory. But when it comes to artists’ names, how many of those can you name whose work you found on websites or Facebook? I bet no more than 10 initially, which is totally normal and this number will decrease in years to come.
What stays is distinctiveness.
The artist who does skull portraits of superheroes, landscapes with Kaiju´s in it and a book cover with weird old people, might stick for a while, simply because there is no one else who does such a combination.
Another point that many fail to see is the endless possibilities. With the overwhelming showcase of work on every corner of the internet you think everything has been done before. Well, that might be the case, but combinations are endless. Very often it is the combination of things so unrelated that it will stick. Think about that and see where you can apply this to your portfolio.
I find it interesting at times to see people who really believe in ending capabilities. This is the worst mindset you can grow into. I´m sure you have been there before. But in reality, nothing ever ends. A combination of 3 things is so specific, the possibility of someone else picking up the same topics is low. And even if he or she does, the outcome would be different enough.
There are many reasons why experimenting with new styles and techniques is beneficial. Business always wants you to repeat success (as Milton Glaser puts it) but the artist in you needs experimentation to grow as an artist. And the digital art is a great playground for exactly that.
How are your experiences with this topic?
Let me know in a comment, thanks.