Contrary to what you might think, your artistic style is not something you discover all at once. It’s not a chest of gold you just stumble onto and dig up one day.
Your style is more like making a quilt.
It’s a patchwork of all the color palettes, linework, and drawing techniques you’ve explored, loved, and collected.
It’s a mishmash of all the artistic influences you’ve seen, admired, and absorbed.
It’s a hodgepodge of all the feelings, beliefs, and thoughts you’ve experienced, processed, and been through.
It’s all that, stitched together into one big, unique conglomeration that makes your art look like your art—that makes your artistic style.
There are four reasons why quilting is a better metaphor for artistic style than discovering a chest of gold.
1. Passive vs. Active
Stumbling upon a chest of gold is passive. It happens to you, most likely by luck. Sewing a quilt is active. You have to sit down and do the work to make it happen.
2. Immediate vs. Gradual
Discovering a chest of gold is immediate. One moment you have no treasure, the next you have all the treasure. Sewing a quilt is gradual. A quilt is patched together, piece by piece, over time.
3. Outcome vs. Process
Uncovering a chest of gold is about the outcome. The reward is the treasure. Sewing a quilt is about the process. The reward is both the quilt and the experience of making the quilt.
4. Unachievable vs. Doable
Digging up a chest of gold seems like an unachievable dream. It’s more likely to be a plotline in a fictional movie than to happen to you. Sewing a quilt is totally doable. Of course, quilting takes skill, time, and knowledge, but it’s realistic to believe you’re capable of learning how.
If we can think of developing our artistic style like stitching together an infinite quilt, we can learn to take on an active role, accept its gradual nature, enjoy the journey, and believe that we have what it takes to make it happen.
So next time you’re feeling frustrated with your art and not being able to the way you wish you could, give it a shot. Try imagining that your artistic style is an ever-growing quilt, with new squares continuously being added, patched over, and stitched together.
All you have to do is sit down and get to work on the next square.