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  1. #1
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    To specialise or not to specialise?

    It seems a common advice for people thinking about going into art as a business is to specialise, work on a very distinctive style, find a niche, and stick to that. While it probably makes it much easier from the clients' point of view to be able to associate an artist with a singular style, I'm wondering if this "specialisation" is not limiting from the viewpoint of your personal development as an artist.

    So, as a question to the pros: do you really restrict yourself to one specific style, or is that only a facade to present to clients? If you do continue to experiment in new directions, how do you deal with this in relation to your "official" style?

    I hope this question makes sense, I'm afraid I can't explain it very well...

    Cheers!


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  3. #2
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    Hi,
    personnaly I just can't draw something that has no connexion with my personality.
    As an artist, you are called because of your special identity, I would even say that's all you really have...If you kill it, you'll only be a "maker", maybe making money faster, but being quickly forgotten.
    So it depends on your ambition.
    Hope it'll help a bit.
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  4. #3
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    I think if you do one thing and one thing only, you're limiting yourself. but at the same time, if you do too many things, you're spread too thin and you're the proverbial "jack of all trades (and master of none)". I think the latter is what results from a broad college education, and I personally think that if you can choose a specialization during your schooling, do it. But even then, branch out to other things that are related to that specialization. If you can find a style, do it. But also explore some spin-offs of that style.. push your style and abilities to further develop and expand whatever it is that you specialize in.

    I majored in Graphic Design and specialized in 3D graphics. But I also kept up with my drawing abilities, I got into concept art, etc. And I still got in enough general graphic design classes to be a capeable graphic designer. Alot of people I went to school with never specialized in anything and just did the broad Graphic Design degree path. They studied a whole bunch of crap that is all graphic design-related, but too far spread out to really combine into one solid background in a particular field. Talking one class in package design, one class in web design, one class in photography, one class in illustration, and one class in 3D modeling doesn't make you into much of anything. Taking 3 classes in web design, a class in Flash animation, and a class in programming makes you a web designer.

    I'm of the belief that you don't want to pigeon-hole yourself into something that turns you into a one-career-path person, but you also don't want to know just a little about a dozen areas. And I apply the same belief to how I create my art. I have some particular areas of interest and specialization, and I push myself to excel in those areas. Working in 50 different styles doesn't really benefit anyone.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by helix7
    I think if you do one thing and one thing only, you're limiting yourself. but at the same time, if you do too many things, you're spread too thin and you're the proverbial "jack of all trades (and master of none)".
    Proverbs are little help, though; there is also the proverbial one-trick-pony, and the proverbial Renaissance man.

    I was more thinking of feeling "drawn" to several different things, rather than just messing around in all directions. Perhaps someone could become better at a certain thing if they did not also spend time on something else, but if one feels drawn to both? I may be wrong but I have the feeling that sometimes the message is "stick to one signature gimmick so as to make yourself easier to classify in your clients' database"...

  6. #5
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    Just a note. Specialize doesn't mean you can do what you do best and can't do anything else.

    Specialize means you're better at certain aspects of your trade, but you'll still be able to pull off other aspects (with some difficulty and a little more time) if you need to pull those tricks out from your magic hat. So don't let terminologies handicap you. The industry takes no prisoners. Having a style and a direction/specialization is good. If you're good enough to make a living off your specialization then yes go ahead.

    But reality check...not many of us are going to be good enough to specialize too much and get paid well for it, if your style is too far ahead of its time...or just not what the current trend is, then you're selling yourself short....money is money.
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  7. #6
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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    So if you build an online portfolio, do you put examples of everything you think you can do well enough, or only one type of work?

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silly
    Thanks for the replies so far.

    So if you build an online portfolio, do you put examples of everything you think you can do well enough, or only one type of work?
    I don't know you, Silly, but...

    If a young person is asking this, I usually assume that it's not so much that they have different styles, rather it's that they are still trying to find their style. There are only a few profesional illustrators that have truley different styles. If that is you, then make it VERY clear in your portfolio that you have mastered both styles and that you know the difference between them.

    I don't think a consistency of style needs to be limiting. Subject matter, moods, and ideas are constantly changing. And it doesn't mean that your style can't evolve. Look at the careers of Leo and Diane Dillon, I don't think they had different styles along the way, but their work today looks very different than it did tens years ago, and then again tens years before that.

  9. #8
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    Im no pro, but I think that you should be vary flexable in your styles yet, have your own
    "As you may have noticed, Im not all here my self..."

    Give me some love! JARheads SKETCHBOOK of DOOM!

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