More Thoughts On How Your Art Style Evolves

2015 Artwork Art style evolution article sketch

When you’ve found your own distinctive drawing “style”, it doesn’t mean that your drawings or paintings will all look exactly the same for the rest of your life.

If you make art often enough then, every now and then, you’ll probably start to notice that your art style will gradually change and evolve. This is a good thing, since it means that you’re both still learning and still improving as an artist.

Although I’ve probably written about this subject before, I recently saw an example of my own art style evolving slightly. So, I thought that I’d take a closer look at how this happened, in case it’s useful to you.

Anyway, a while ago, I suddenly learnt a new way to draw noses and I’ve gradually been incorporating it into some of my drawings and paintings. For some weird reason, how I draw noses seems to be the part of my art style that evolves the most often (the last time was sometime in 2013, or possibly 2014).

This is perhaps because it’s a relatively small part of a picture and yet it can make the same picture look surprisingly different. Here’s a small chart of some of the ways that I’ve drawn people’s noses over the years:

And, yes, I know that the third one on this list looks a bit like a... well, I'll leave it to your imagination. Seriously, I'm surprised that I didn't notice this back in 2013 LOL!!!!

And, yes, I know that the third one on this list looks a bit like a… well, I’ll leave it to your imagination. Seriously, I’m surprised that I didn’t notice this back in 2013 LOL!!!!

And here’s a slightly larger drawing of the new way that I draw people’s noses:

It's surprisingly simple (all you have to do is to draw three lines) and it looks slightly more realistic too.

It’s surprisingly simple (all you have to do is to draw three lines) and it looks slightly more realistic too.

So, how did I learn this? Well, it happened a few weeks ago when I was trying to make a cynical cartoon about 1990s British politics in the style of Frank Kozik’s highly stylised satirical booklet art for The Offspring’s “Americana” album, mainly because I was curious about what a British equivalent of “Americana” would have looked like.

Anyway, like most well-practiced artists, Kozik draws noses in a variety of different ways (depending on the context), but one of them caught my eye because it was so simple and yet so effective.

I was absolutely astonished that he was able to draw someone’s nose using literally nothing more than a single small curved line. So, in my political cartoon, I did the same and then I forgot about it for a while.

A couple of weeks later, when I was making some drawings that will be posted on here in a few days’ time, I suddenly remembered Kozik’s way of drawing noses. So, I tried to use it again – but, since I was already used to drawing noses in a particular way, I inadvertently combined it with the way that I used to draw noses:

In other words, I added these two lines here.

In other words, I added these two lines here.

Hey presto! My art style had evolved slightly.

Of course, this is only one of many possible ways that an artist’s personal “style” can evolve over time. However, it is important to remember that there’s a huge difference between studying a small part of another style (before incorporating it into your own unique style) and just copying another style entirely.

One of these things will add extra depth and richness to your own unique style and the other will just turn you into a pale imitation of another artist.

To use a slightly clunky similie, your art style should be like the English language. The English language is a distinctive and unique language (albeit with many variations), but it isn’t an entirely “original” language. It contains many words that were adapted and/or borrowed from Danish, Latin, French, Norse, Arabic, German etc… but at the same time, it isn’t an identical copy of any of these languages.

In other words, the only time you should copy another artist’s entire style is either when you are practicing (in order to learn which parts of it are worth incorporating into your own style) and/or if you’re trying to make fan art/parodies/pastiches etc…

This is also why, despite what I said about this subject quite a while ago in my article about fan art based on my work, I probably wouldn’t mind if someone copied a few small parts of my style – but I’d probably be extremely annoyed if someone copied my entire style (unless it’s in a parody, pastiche, one-off fan art picture etc…).

Hmmm… I guess that my views on this subject have evolved slightly too.


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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