The day before I wrote this article, I was thinking about art styles when I suddenly had an epiphany. Although I’ve been drawing occasionally throughout my life, my personal art style only really started to come into it’s own when I made a commitment to practice regularly about four and a half years ago.
Even then, I realised that my current art style is basically a 1990s art style.
Why? Because the vast majority of things that have inspired or influenced the way I draw have come from the 1990s. One of the very earliest influences on my art style was probably watching a “making of” program for an American children’s cartoon called “Pepper Ann” on CITV back in the 1990s (and not, as I had previously thought, a cartoon called “Recess”).
In fact, my very early art style was basically an extremely simplified version of the style used in “Pepper Ann”. In fact, until sometime in 2013 or early 2014, you could still see elements of this show in my art style (mostly in how I used to draw faces). The strange thing is that I’d pretty much forgotten about this show, and yet it still influenced my art for quite a while.
But, that’s not all, the other two major early influences on my art style were both also from the 1990s. In the 1990s, “South Park” was everywhere. My parents wouldn’t let me watch it, but you’d see pictures of the characters everywhere and this had an influence on both how I drew people (for a while, when I was a kid, my cartoon characters looked like simplified blob-like versions of Eric Cartman). In fact, the way that I draw people’s eyes when they’re laughing or grimacing is still based on “South Park”.
The other major influence from the 1990s was, of course, Pokemon. I was a massive Pokemon fan back then and although I never got into drawing manga, at least half of the anime/manga-influenced parts of my art style came from watching “Pokemon” (and collecting the trading cards, playing the videogames etc..) when I was a kid.
Of course, when I started to take art more seriously, my art style was influenced by a much wider variety of things from different periods of history. But, even then, a surprising number of them came from the 1990s. For example, the way that I currently draw noses was partially inspired by Frank Kozik’s booklet art for The Offspring’s “Americana” album from 1998.
Likewise, the way that I handle colours in my art these days owes a lot to the aesthetics of the 1990s (and to a lesser extent, the 1980s). Within the past year or so, I’ve started to use a more limited palette of bolder colours that are contrasted against a dark background. This sort of thing was a lot more popular in the 1990s (and the 80s) than it is now, which is a real shame. Because it looks really cool!
In addition to all of this, I still mostly use traditional art mediums (albeit with digital editing after I scan my art). The 1990s was probably the last decade when traditional art materials reigned supreme in cartooning. Although many artists and cartoonists still use them, many more cartoonists and artists make their art digitally these days.
So, how do you find out which decade – or decades- your art style is from?
Well, it’s fairly simple really.You just look at the things that have influenced it and work out which decade most of them come from. But, more than that, it can often be a good idea to work out which decade (or decades) really fascinates you. In fact, you probably know this already.
Even if most of your influences come from things that were made in one decade, if you’re really fascinated by another decade – then there’s a good chance that you’ll include a lot of things from that decade in your art (even if you use a different style).
At the end of the day, you probably already know which decade your art style comes from. In fact, in a way, I already knew that my art style was mostly a 1990s art style. But, surprisingly, I’d never really actually quite thought about it in this way before.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂