Finding Your Distinctive Artistic Vision

2013 Artwork Vision Thing Sketch

Introduction – What is your artistic vision?

This isn’t really an article about developing your own art style (I’ve already written about that), this is an article about all of the things that surround your art style.

I am, of course, talking about your distinctive artistic vision. Although this obviously includes your own drawing/painting style, it also covers a lot more things too.

In many ways, your artistic vision is fairly similar to the role of a director in shaping a film. Whilst a director might make films based on a variety of different scripts from different people, many directors still have a recognisable and distinctive “vision”.

Even though the location, story and cast may be very different in each of their films, you can still often tell who directed each film (this is probably much more the case with some directors like Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Tim Burton, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Satoshi Kon etc….)

Your artistic vision covers a huge range of things which, when put together, mark a piece of art as being distinctly yours – even when you’re drawing or painting things which you wouldn’t normally draw or paint.

Whilst your art style may be a fairly widely-used and well-established one which many other people might also use (eg: classic American comic book art, anime/manga-style art etc…), your own distinctive artistic vision can shine through in lots of other ways. It can include composition, colour choices, lighting, background details, the emotions your art evokes, perspective, editing and a whole host of other things which, when combined, are uniquely yours.

To give you some personal examples, my artistic vision includes: gloominess, checkerboard floors,lots of purple and black, saturated/bold colours, sunsets, palm trees, solitary characters, cityscapes, afterimages/neon colours, flames, old buildings, cynicism, naive optimism, ankhs, the night, the ocean, dystopic futures, pillars and a whole bunch of other stuff.

In many ways, your own artistic vision is something which functions as a whole and can’t really be split up into an easily readable list. It reminds me a lot of this description of the Tao from the Tao Te Ching: ” The tao that can be described is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be spoken is not the eternal Name.

In other words, your artistic vision covers a lot of things and it is constantly evolving. Yes, it will change over time, but at the same time it will still be recognisable.

After all, people will probably still be able to see traces of your earlier artistic vision in your later works because your later artistic vision will have grown out of your earlier artistic vision.

Ok, so how do I find one of these?

1) Practice: Remember that I mentioned that your artistic vision evolves constantly. Well, it can’t really evolve very much if you only produce one or two things. In order for anything to evolve, it needs to have many different “generations”.

So, if you keep producing art as regularly as you can, then you’ll probably see your own distinctive artistic vision begin to emerge a lot more quickly than if you only produce art very occasionally.

2) Find cool things and incorporate them into your art: This is the most important (and fun) part of finding your own artistic vision. All you have to do is to look at all of your favourite films, comics, videogames, objects, clothes, albums etc… and work out what parts of these things make them so cool. Once you’ve done that, then incorporate these things into your art. Chances are, you’re probably already doing this subconsciously anyway…

This works best for general things which can’t be copyrighted (eg: beaches, sunsets, cities, ancient symbols etc…) but if your list of cool things includes things which are covered by copyright (eg: building designs, logos, character designs), then try to create suitably altered versions of them which evoke the original thing (or rely on the same basic concept) but also look different enough to be considered original

For example, my favourite fictitious building is the Tyrell building from Ridley Scott’s excellent “Blade Runner”. It is the perfect addition to any futuristic cityscape and, over thirty years later, it still looks amazingly futuristic and cool.

However, it isn’t something that I can just copy into my sci-fi drawings. So, instead, I take the basic concept of a futuristic pyramid-shaped buliding and create my own ideas for buildings which are a similar shape, but are clearly very different from the Tyrell building.

This isn't the Tyrell building.

This isn’t the Tyrell building.

There are two reasons why finding cool things and finding a way to incorporate them into your art will help you to find your own unique creative vision. Firstly, you will probably end up finding a unique mixture of things. Secondly, what you personally consider to be “cool” will probably be at least very slightly different from what other people consider to be “cool”.

3) Emotions: When you produce something which fits in with your own artistic vision, then you will probably feel satisfied by it. You’ll look at it and think “Yes, I made this!” You might even start daydreaming about how it will inspire other artists in the future.

But, whatever you feel, you will feel something. Even if it’s just a fairly neutral feeling of “this is one of my drawings”, then you’re still going in the right direction.

However, if producing your drawing, paintings or comics feels more like a cold, emotionless academic exercise, then that can be a sign that you’ve still got to develop your own vision. This is because your artistic vision comes from what makes you a unique person and from your own unique preferences, it will resonate with you on an emotional level (at least very slightly) when you see it.

Likewise, introspection and daydreaming can really help you to find your own artistic vision too. After all, if you don’t know yourself very well and don’t have at least a vaguely clear idea of who you are or what the landscape of your imagination looks like, then how can you reflect yourself in your art?

4) It just kind of happens: For all the advice in this article, your artistic vision is something which will develop organically of it’s own accord over a period of time. This is why this article is titled “finding your distinctive artistic vision” rather than “creating your distinctive artistic vision”. Your artistic vision is pretty much it’s own thing which can almost have a will of it’s own and often works on an almost subconscious level.

If you practice a lot, immerse yourself in things that you find cool and pay attention to your emotions and imagination, then it will gradually reveal itself to you. But don’t expect to suddenly find it in just five minutes. Or five days. Or five weeks. Or five months. Or even sometimes five years….


Once you’ve found your own artistic vision, congratulate yourself and rock out to “Vision Thing” (this song is slightly NSFW, so make sure you’re in more informal settings before rocking out to it).

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

2 comments on “Finding Your Distinctive Artistic Vision

  1. […] “Finding Your Distinctive Artistic Vision” “Six Basic Tips For Writing Thriller Stories” […]

  2. […] backgrounds will probably eventually end up becoming part of your art style and your artistic vision too. Seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of tropical beaches, cyberpunk cityscapes, […]

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