How To Find Your Art Style In 4 Beyoncé-Inspired Steps
What is one thing every single one of us as women have in common, regardless of age, race, or religion? ...Yes, a love of Beyoncé, but what else? We all have our own personal artistic styles!
Believe it or not, you do not have to be an outright artist to have an art style. It’s a holistic description of your mood, passion, desires—essentially, it represents your voice. These traits help define who we are and then distinguish us from other people.
Finding your art style, then, is a practice that requires more than some empty sketch pads and drawing charcoal. It’s a process that can be incorporated into your day-to-day. It ties into the clothes you wear everyday, the makeup looks you want to put on (if you want to put on any at all), the ways in which you want to curate your bedroom, and so much more. By tracking your daily patterns and focusing in on the things that bring you joy, you can define a style that is infallibly your own.
Whether you initially realize it or not, defining your art style is actually essential for self-development. The ability to walk into a room and clearly articulate what you like and do not like—what you will and will not tolerate—is a crucial part of growing up. For women especially, claiming what you desire and then being able to explain how you want it to look, sound, and feel is a powerful act. In this way, finding your art style actually transcends material possessions; it determines how you take up space.
Every New Year’s Eve, I work on a list of short and long term goals. I actually find this works a lot better than resolutions. Rather than looking at the weaknesses in my life as things to “resolve,” I set standards for new things that I want to manifest, affirm, and achieve. Last year, one of these goals was to invest more into my physical appearance. For context, my fashion has always lived at the cross-section of casual and comfort (and if I am being honest, it tends to lean towards the latter). After snagging a full-time office job however, and delving into the insane world of New York City dating, I decided it was time I spruce things up a bit.
At first, making myself over seemed daunting. I had approximately three pairs of shoes (two flip flops and a pair of boots) and all the makeup I owned could fit into my hand. I had one beige purse that I barely used and couldn’t tell you what a “gel manicure” was if you paid me. As satisfied as I was with my personality and work ethic, I knew that I wanted my outside to be a better reflection of the joy I felt inside.
To be clear, I was never ashamed of my old self. But, knowing that I wanted something different for my life and different for my looks, the first thing I needed to do was secure my style. What would I be comfortable with? What looks would make me look and feel my best? It was not until I asked myself these questions, that changes in my makeup, hair, and fashion could fall into place. In addition to determining my style, I also had to set my standards. I knew that I would be willing to start getting my nails done by a professional, but I wouldn’t ever go too bright or neon. I knew that I was ready to start wearing makeup more often, but I was only comfortable experimenting with lipstick and mascara (eyeshadow gives me instant racoon face).
Of course, all of this can still change. One of the best parts of finding your art style is finding how and when it fluctuates. According to art blogger Kelly Marie, “Your style is a combination of your techniques, color choices, compositions, subject matter, media, and more all wrapped up. Your style is what binds each of your pieces together into a unique and cohesive collection. The best part is that it continues to evolve over time. Even when you’ve found it, it starts to change.”
The “pieces” Marie refers to are not art installations that have to live in an art museum; they live on you everyday. They live on your body, in your bedroom, at your desk at work, everywhere! Knowing this, however, can make the process of refining your art style extremely intimidating. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered! If you’re looking for helpful and easy ways to define your art style, just keep on reading.
Start by looking at the styles you naturally gravitate towards—are there themes? Colors or moods you tend to repeat?
If you are looking to define your art style, the easiest place to start is with you! Maybe you can’t call your wardrobe “gothic chic,” but does an all black everything outfit make you feel the most confident? Perhaps the apartment you’re listing on AirBnb cannot be considered outrightly “bohemian,” but do you have an affinity for candles, crystals, and big windows in your space?
Writing out the stylistic patterns you already have can be a great guide for the ones you want to develop. And don’t feel compelled to adhere to any sort of label or box either—the way you feel about your style is the only opinion that matters.
Take a page out of somebody else’s book.
No one is completely original. We are all learning from one another—it’s part of the contract of life. That means, you do not have to feel insecure or embarrassed when referencing other artists’ styles. Of course, borrowing from others can tread a thin line. You do not want to completely lift someone else’s identity, but you can always look to them as a source of inspiration.
Look forward. There is always something new up ahead.
If going back in time isn’t helping you find your art style, it may be useful to try looking at new works you’ve never seen before—art that sits outside of your box. Fortunately, there are endless emerging artists to choose from.
If you don’t know where to start, try this curated list from Refinery 29 that features fifteen contemporary femme artists leaving their mark. All of these women are masters of their respectives mediums. Through their differing art styles, they are able to explore important themes like culture, identity, race, feminism, inequity while also playing with space, color, light, and form.
Style is a muscle, so exercise it!
“Practice makes perfect”—this phrase is not just a glorified cliché, it is a call to action. Believe it or not, there are exercises out there that will help you find your art style. One of them is taking an art personality test. Usually these tests involve a series of visual cues and questions that work together to find your optimal style. While the results of tests like these are not always 100 percent accurate, they are backed by enough research to get pretty close and give you a few ideas.
Stick to your own timeline.
One of the biggest misconceptions about art and honing in on an art style, is that it has to be perfect right away—you can’t show it to anyone until it’s done. But your style, just like anything else, takes time to develop. It can take months, years, decades and even then, it’s still susceptible to change. Additionally, as hard as it can be, you have to bid adieu to comparison. Other people can influence or motivate you, but constantly using someone else’s success as a barometer for your own is unhealthy and unrealistic.
Art has always been used as a way for people to communicate how they feel about the world around them. It should come as no surprise then that so many people find themselves asking, “how do I find my art style?” Not only can an art style be a form of self-expression, it can also be a form of self-car—a way to process your thoughts, sit with yourself in a meditative state, and create something beautiful.
When I’m not writing, reading, or taking in a new show or film, I’m painting. The abstract thoughts floating in my head get translated to canvas and I always feel better afterwards. Your joy may come from doodling, going to a pottery class, or even shopping for new curtains—you have so much time to explore.
Whether you are moving into a new apartment, overhauling your closet, starting a new business, or re-branding an old one, it is important to have a clear idea of your personal art style. This style does not have to adhere to any labels or codes; it just has to be authentically you. Whether you are paying homage to old artists or borrowing ideas from new, finding your style should be just as joyful and wistful as art itself.