More Thoughts About “Hidden” Influences On Your Art Style

2015 Artwork wordless novels influence sketch

I know that I’ve written about this subject before, but I recently had another weird experience when I discovered an influence on my art style that I didn’t even know about.

Even though this article is basically just a short ramble about my own art, I hope that there will be something here that will be interesting and/or useful to you.

To give you a bit of background, I got interested in making black and white drawings late last year and – within a fairly short amount of time – I’d kind of come up with my own way of doing this.

Basically, my rule for black & white drawings is that a drawing should have a good balance of dark areas and light areas. So, most of my black & white pictures tend to look a bit like this:

"City Rain" By C. A. Brown

“City Rain” By C. A. Brown

So, imagine my surprise a few months ago when I was looking at Wikipedia and happened to notice that the featured article for that day was about a genre that I’d never even heard of before called “Wordless Novels“. Basically, a wordless novel is a type of “serious” picture book that was popular in the early 20th century.

They were also a precursor to modern graphic novels and, from what I’ve read about them on the internet, the storytelling style in many of these novels was heavily inspired by the silent films of the time.

Anyway, one of the first things I noticed was that the high-contrast artwork from these books bore a striking similarity to my own black and white drawings.

Seriously, these old artists took a fairly similar approach to colour that I do. And I didn’t even know about it until after I’d already made quite a few black and white drawings!

Of course, my methods differed quite a bit from the ones that wordless novel artists used back in the 1910s and 1920s, since they created their art using woodcut prints rather than with pens and paintbrushes. Even so, I was shocked by the similarities between my own drawings and these old prints from almost a century ago.

Ok, there’s probably a logical explanation for this and I probably learnt how to use this style because I’d seen similar things in comics before. It’s likely that the people who made these comics may well have been inspired by people who had been inspired by looking at old wordless novels.

But, still, the idea that there was an influence on my art style that I didn’t know about absolutely fascinated me.

And this is probably one of the reasons why it’s always a good idea to look at lots of art and comics if you are an artist. Not only will you find new things to be inspired by, but you may also discover things that you’ve never even heard of that are somehow similar to your own work.

Even if you’ve developed what you think is a highly unique art style, then it’s very likely that you will find something that is similar to it for the simple reason that no-one creates art in a vacuum. Every piece of art that you like will probably have at least some kind of influence on your own art – even if you don’t notice it.


Sorry about the short article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂

2 comments on “More Thoughts About “Hidden” Influences On Your Art Style

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