Creating your Universe in Art

Artist: Yoshitaka Amano

Inevitably, a question that always comes up is “How do I find my style?”. This is something I’ve also asked to professionals over the years of my career. Every single one of them gave me a great answer, speaking with their own experiences, but all of them are different to some degree. This, of course, confused me, though none of them gave a wrong answer by any stretch. To this day, I still remember their answers in hopes that one day I can fully grasp what they meant.

Art is, ultimately, subjective. The process and interpretation, thus, are only limited by our own perceptions. Beauty is the eye of the beholder, after all. To create a style is a harder ask than creating incredibly technical paintings. As we all have individual experiences and tastes, this also means reaching what is considered “style” will never have a singular process.

Despite knowing that, there is actually one common element between almost all the answers I was given over my years. I will try my best to describe it within this blog post.
Artist: Kent Williams

Imagine every single artwork encompassing a universe. This universe runs on its own rules which may or may not share some commonalities with our own reality. As artists, we have the ability to twist and bend the fabric of the reality into what we want it to be. The canvas is as if you took a camera and took one photograph of this universe.

If you see it through those lenses, style makes complete sense. Art styles are a persistent and consistent universe in which an artist portrays their art form through. You, as an artist, must make choices upon every aspect of your universe. Each of your artwork is a different photograph upon this universe, and those shots will share the same set of rules if you have an established style.
Lilith Morrigan and Co. by Xa-Xa-Xa

Ask questions on every single stroke on the canvas. How should my characters look? What colours does this universe depict? What is the history in its creation? How do the planet’s land masses look? What types of animals live in the world? How far should the eyes be between each other? Should the humans have 4 or 5 fingers?

This is why it is incredibly difficult for an artist to fake their style. “Honesty” is a term many professionals used in their answers, and I cannot emphasize it enough. Liars eventually get caught red-handed in the act. Being honest, as an artist, will ensure your true side to show in your pieces.
This will take many, many years to achieve. Learning techniques and art theory as you get more experience only enables more rule-bending and possibilities. Art is problematic in that sense; it’s so open-ended that it’s really hard to know where to start and end.
Little Witch Academia

You might notice some of your favourite artists, over the years, changing subtle things in their work. Something I’ve always taken note of is just how an artists’ drawing of human eyes change as they get experience. This is noticeable for styles which emphasize eyes a lot such as Anime and cartoons. Even in those cases, a slight shift in the universe’s rules causes a chain reaction to compensate for that change.

However, no matter what, if the artist is honest and skilled in their approach, it somehow works every single time. Do you ever get the feeling that an artist you like just somehow “gets it”? That’s the feeling of a coherent universe.

This is not to say I endorse overthinking. I do think it ultimately comes naturally through years of experimentation. However, always ask yourself why you choose to draw and paint the way you do. Your subconscious will lead the way into your own little universe. 


Popular Posts