I often fear I don’t have a unique style or voice in my art. It’s something that is hard to define, comes with time, and changes as your work changes over time. When artists hear they must have a unique style to sell or promote their art some argue back: “I don’t want the restriction of being subject to one style or message.”
WHO exactly said you have to have the same style? Who? Picasso was successful during his lifetime and he certainly had MULTIPLE styles and forms of artistic expression. Despite the change of style in his art there are still shared qualities in all of his work that makes it his. Let art historians and critics debate over those details. Make your art. By the virtue of your decision to create there will be similarities because all of your art has one thing in common: YOU.
I wonder if this is a larger excuse to avoid trying to sell or promote our art?
“Well, if I don’t have a unique voice, I can’t possibly offer my work for purchase, or share it with a larger audience.”
We ALL have a unique voice, but we have to make art regularly to have it consistently show in our art. And art can take a long time! This is why batching is your friend.
What is batching? Batching is when you create multiple artworks at once all following a similar theme or investigation. For example, I’m batching a series of small paintings that reflect imagery of arabic lanterns. Each composition is different but I’ve chosen to use similar colors in all of them.
When I work on the background on one of the paintings, I also go through all of the others and work on those backgrounds too. When all of the backgrounds are “done,” I then move to the next part of the paintings. It is a systemized way of making multiple artworks and allows me to make more art, more quickly. (Thank you Mr. Henry Ford! ;)).
I still choose to work on multiple projects with multiple ideas. Right now in progress I have: a self-portrait painting, a large scale mandala painting, mandala drawings, an embroidery painting, and my lantern paintings.
Each group of art is unique and different so I have the opportunity to play around with and explore new ideas. Some of my work may never get finished. And that’s okay too. What is important is that I commit to finishing some of the work I create. Especially if I wish to promote and sell my art.
Some artists express fears of being pigeon-holed by an idea. And yes, in some ways, you will be when people start to buy your art. A client buys an artwork because they like it. That generally means they will likely want more of the same. But if you have an overarching theme or idea that runs through your work, you still have plenty of room for exploration.
You should be able to generate a community of clients with versatile tastes.
For example, with my series of lanterns I could continue to investigate ideas about the Middle East, or work with travel imagery in general. They both afford me a lot of freedom. To be honest I’m loving these lanterns so much I may just paint more of them until I get sick of them. Hubby suggests I play with a new color scheme, so that may be in my future.
Showing some kind of consistency to your audience breeds trust. It allows you to build relationships with people so they enjoy learning more about you and your art. Batching allows you to create a series of artworks, which galleries do appreciate, as will your potential clients who buy from your website. It means that more than one person can have a love of your arabic lantern painting and buy one. And they may love it so much, they could come back for something personalized, or larger!
Once I’m tired of my lanterns I won’t paint them anymore. But I will have a series of paintings that show my collectors I can develop an idea and work through to completion. It also affords my clients multiple chances to purchase something they enjoy.
Often we get caught up in one idea and jump to the next. I have more to talk about with regard to my art and more to share with my community when I batch my art. And if I decide I want to paint camels, or cupcakes, or candles, I’ll batch them as well!
The funny thing is ultimately we are all creating artwork that does have a connecting thread. As I said before: we are the artist making it! But as soon as I tell an artist to stick to an idea for more than one painting I can hear stories like “but I feel limited.”
Do you feel limited because you are boxed in or because you are choosing not to fully embrace your art, mission and message as a creator?
BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you tried batching your artwork? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.