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15 Jul 2012

Great Question:

I had an awesome email off a great guy and would like to share it with you. I would love to hear what other more experienced artists have to say on the subject and comments are welcome on my facebook page. I have a small idea but dont think I really know much about it at all, anyway heres the emailand my answer:

Dear God Machine,

You have helped me more in 2 posts than all the articles I've read on the
internet, thank you. I hope you keep posting about how to start up yourself.

As my title says, is one style a must in illustration world ? The reason I
ask is, I love trying out new things learning new things, styles, techniques
etc. But I noticed a long time ago that every major illustrator has a style
and that is only thing they do, I don’t see them venture outside of it (at
least not publicly).
I saw a video of Milton Glaser where he talked about creating your brand, to
gain notoriety and fame by doing one thing over and over again. Is this how
has to go, or one can just do his own thing regardless?
I really you hope you have the time to answer my email. Once again thank you
for your time, and stay cool.


Hi ****
some really good questions. I don't know any answers to things in life, I just have a very limited opinion on things and I can share these with you.

I think you should try everything, if you are a chef you would be a better chef by knowing the ins and outs of Italian cooking as well as Indian food and Chinese food, because if you are a creative chef, you could find something useful in Indian food that would help your Italian meal and so on.

I always think its best to try as many things, be it styles as an artist, meals as a chef, weapons as a soldier, wood as a carpenter, cars as a race car driver, women as a pimp and booze as a drunk...you never know what you may find/discover/learn/use.

As to making a name/style for yourself I think this is kinda true- you should stick to one thing for many reasons. 1, you may be a jack of all trades but a master at none. It pays to pick something and be obsessive about it until you are its master. No one ever became the best at everything, only the best at one thing. 2. How will people know its you? How will someone recognise your work if it looks different every time? Imagine Tom Waits sang in a voice that was unrecognizable to us- we wouldn't buy it. We love that torn concrete voice of his. Its always best to sing a song in your own voice when you have found your own voice, bu all means sing over a hip hop track or make a country and western record, but make sure its your voice over the top. We will love you for it. 3. I forget where I was going with this. Forgive me I'm old.

Brand and art are different. Most branding is by definition the "assurance of quality/identity of a product before the product is purchased". Art is "I don't know what the fuck art is and I hope I never find out"...seriously, I would rather discuss religion and politics than try and define what art is with a load of artists- it gets ugly real quick hahaha. I did hear this though about art and its a bit of a purist veiw but one that stuck in my head "art is something that has no purpose other than itself". I like that. That means t-shirts or cars or skateboards are not art- you can put art on them but its not art. I suppose in some ways in this day and age we are all branded and have become brands- but that's not a nice thing to think about so I'm going to leave that for a time when I start drinking again.

Illustrators though can earn a living by being very brilliant at being able to produce a number of styles, like editorial pieces for newspapers and magazines and these people are jaw droppingly brilliant. I think its frowned upon if you do it just to copy people for profit, but its a different area, a different part of the art city. But if its your job to do these things I see no reason to be butthurt if the article calls for "an Edward Gorey style piece" or if the editor and article asked for "a piece on van gogh" that's their job and they do it well.

If you want to be famous go blow something up or shoot the president. If you want to be successful, do what you want obsessively till you lose your mind and gain a soul. Don't listen to anyone tell you what you can or cant do, just think of your creativity as a rock the size of a mountain and your drawings as a toffee hammer and to succeed you have to smash that mountain. Get started. Dont stop...ever.

Hope that helps in some small way brother and thank you for your email.

Update: It occurs to me now that my friend here could have been asking why dont illustrators draw lots of different styles for lots of different clients. I think the answer could be that when you do that, you are not using a lot of different styles that are yours, you are using a lot of different styles that are other peoples. Most artists and illustrators spend a life time developing their own voice. It can take years and years, but when someone comes along and steals that style its very wrong. I can mimic any ones style in less than a week. And its wrong. very wrong. Stealing something in 5 mins what took someone years to develop is just bad eggs..very bad eggs. I'm all for stealing ideas (in the right way) but stealing styles is very naughty when you do it for profit. Its lazy and just very ungentlemanly. And sadly very much done.