Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Painting People Sketchbook Pages

Is Your Style a Mistake? How to Find Your Style as an Artist

Caffe Trieste before the band, ink & watercolor, 7x5"
Caffe Trieste (she's saving seats with her backpack) before the band (then six people crowded around those 2 tiny tables, sitting on laps), ink & watercolor, 7x5"

Caffe Trieste was crammed with people when we went to sketch  and listen to the wonderful Randy Craig Trio—probably double the little café’s legal limit. The title of the post: “Your Style is a Mistake…” comes from a  Robert Genn quote that I noted in my journal below:

People at Trieste and Genn note
People at Trieste and Genn note

How to Find Your Style as an Artist

In an interviewRobert Genn was asked, “How does an artist find their own style?” His answer was brilliant. He said (paraphrased here) that typically what makes your style yours, what makes it unique, is the thing you do “wrong;” it is the way you break the rules intentionally or just don’t do something “correctly” that defines your style.

In other words (mine), quit hating and start embracing those wonky lines that won’t behave, that paint applied differently than those artists you aspire to emulate or the hard edges or soft focus or pale washes… Keep studying and learning and practicing, but appreciate what you can do now and cherish those quirks. (Talking to myself here!)

Randy Craig Trio guitarist, ink & watercolor
Randy Craig Trio guitarist, ink & watercolor

You don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful and neither does your art. As a matter of fact, “perfect” art (in my opinion) is boring art.

When you make mistakes, think about how you’ll do it differently next time, but also look for the bit that worked even if it’s just a small passage. For example in the sketch above, the music stand didn’t work at all, nor did the singer I cropped off on the right, but I did a much better job with the guitar this time than I did last time I sketched at Trieste.