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Thread: Choosing an Illustration Style or Working Without One (career advice?)

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    Choosing an Illustration Style or Working Without One (career advice?)

    This has probably been asked here before, but if it has, I wasn't able to find it via the forum or google search bars, so here goes. Somewhat self-centered post ahead:

    As the title implies, I'm looking for feedback regarding choosing an illustration style. When I started going to school, I asked my teachers about how one should go about doing this, since my style had always been very inconsistent. They all told me, "Don't worry. Just try different things. You'll figure it out eventually." Four years later, the problem has yet to magically resolve itself.

    This leads me with a few options:

    1. Work on multiple illustration portfolios that have different styles. This is the option I'm going to try and roll with for the time being. It seems like the best compromise.

    2. Work on finding a style that I actually want to stick with instead of just ping-ponging around. This would save me a lot of time and grief. Since I have no preference, should I just choose by throwing darts at a board? Or should I just try and draw in whatever way is marketable? But wouldn't it be weird to commit to a certain way of doing things, when I have no real inclination to do so?

    3. Find a different way that's not illustration. To be honest, the idea with working with just one or a few styles is not something that appeals to me. I like creating the look and/or design of a particular piece according to what's appropriate project, rather than choosing a particular style and applying it across multiple projects. I'm primarily studying graphic design, and we get to do a lot of this-- however, graphic design is not a drawing or art oriented field like illustration is. I don't know that much about the world, but are there any fields or careers that allow you to create situation-specific aesthetics (like in graphic design) while still utilizing drawing and art (like in illustration)?

    I was talking to an adviser, and he said that fine art or an entrepreneurial route would be my only option if I wanted to work like this. I don't know if I'm cut-out for or skilled enough to strike out on my own like that though. I'd like to get second thoughts if you have them. I'm not sure that my interests are marketable. Thanks for reading (and hopefully answering too).
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  3. #2
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    Yep. I have the same problem. Working with all different media in your sketchbook can help, but I can't say I ever really solved this, I just ended up doing things that didn't require me to have a recognizable style. Things like concept art, and self-generated book projects where each book has its own style. But if you want to work as a freelance illustrator or a painter, you will need a style. You can indeed have more than one, you just have to make sure you know which style you're being hired for on each job.
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    Pick one of the styles for your illustration portfolio, and just use the rest for other projects or your own enjoyment?
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    The more you play around and have fun with different varieties and techniques and media, it will come to you. It might take a while, but the more you do of anything, you will find ways of doing things that seem natural to you.
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    Choosing a style, or not having one, is something I never really thought about. Whatever I'm doing in whatever media, it always looks like I did it. And thats not a conscious thing on my part, it's just my work looks like my work and I'm fine with that.

    I don't know. Maybe you're worrying about it too much? You've got some lovely work in your sketchbook but you seem to worry a lot about what you're doing and if it's worth showing or not. Maybe you just need to take it easier on yourself and do the work, whatever that might be, and leave thoughts about style etc to others.

    Not sure if thats any help to you but it's all I've got.
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