How to Find Your Art Style

How to Find Your Art Style

When I opened RetroSupply 10+ years ago, I believed some artists held a secret to finding their style.

After teaming up with hundreds of artists, I've learned there are no secrets.

Maybe a little luck. But no secrets.

There are 5 steps I've noticed all artists and designers with strong styles follow.

Stick with me as I share a guide to discovering your own style. This guide draws on tips from top artists, famous books on creativity, and my decade of experience running RetroSupply.

Ready to dive in? Let's go!

1. Surround yourself with inspiration

Create an environment that fuels your creativity.

Make it part of your life and creative practice to curate things you love. This includes art, packaging, toys, books, and pop culture artifacts.

Here are a few places to start looking:

  • Antique stores
  • Garage sales
  • Old boxes with items from your past
  • Online auctions
  • Quirky shops you're drawn to

Check out one small section of my friend Brad Woodard of Brave the Woods workspace...

Brad Woodard of Brave the Woods' workspace

Anytime I get on a video call with Brad, I struggle not to get distracted by the inspiring artifacts on his shelves.

Each item in his studio is there because it inspires him.

Anytime Brad and I meet for coffee, we end up going to look at an antique shop. It's a habit that produces a steady stream of inspiration, ideas, and good vibes.

Whether your studio is a fancy loft with exposed brick or a corner of your bedroom — make a workspace that inspires you.

2. Make art and experiment

Create a consistent practice of creating art. A steady work output helps you experiment with different mediums, tools, and techniques. This makes it easier to see what resonates with you and find the bedrock of your style.

At this point in your journey, feel comfortable throwing stuff at the wall. Experiment. The goal is to create a wide range of work to refer to later so that you can find emerging trends and patterns.

In 2007, Chris Piascik was a full-time graphic designer. As a side project, he started a daily drawing challenge for fun.

This gave him the opportunity to create a ton of art, experiment, and keep himself accountable for putting in the work.

Chris continued his daily drawing challenge for 14 years! Today, he is an independent illustrator and teacher. His clients include Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Converse, Red Bull, Lego, and more.

Plan a schedule for creating art and stick to it. Each day you create is a brick that builds your creative style.

3. Copy Copy Copy Copy

According to Austin Kleon, the best way for artists to start developing a style is by copying the work of their creative heroes. Copying helps you understand the original artist's techniques and thoughts better.

Austin Kleon - Start Copying from Steal Like and Artist

But don't just copy work mindlessly.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about the work you make:

  • What work brought you the most joy?
  • What subjects, symbols, and aesthetics keep reappearing?
  • How did the artist use color/shape/texture?
  • What emotions or themes emerge?
  • Where did your copy stray from the original?

Use the answers to these questions to make something new. Don't just make bad copies of the original.

Copying, then diverging and transforming is key. It helps to develop an authentic voice.

Note that there is a right way and a wrong way to copy. Ethical copying is for learning/practice. Unethical copying violates intellectual property rights.

4. Commit to Something

At this point, you've surrounded yourself with inspiration. You've made a habit of creating art and of ethically copying work that inspires you.

Now it's time to commit.

Not FOREVER, but for enough time to strengthen your ability to commit to a style and see what it feels like.

Commit to an art style

I was talking to Mr. Tom Froese the other day about finding your style and he shared a great piece of advice.

If we were to look at all your work now, we'd see some themes. But, if done correctly, it would still be a bit all over the place (you're experimenting, right?).)

Now, it's time to try on the prototype of the style you're creating. Consider your influences. Think about what you've enjoyed. Also, think about what has emerged in your work from experimenting and copying.

Choose your favorite elements. Commit to using them for 30-90 days.

5. Optimize for Joy

After you've committed and created much work. You'll start to see your style emerge through volume.

More importantly, you'll begin to notice the parts of your work that bring you joy and flow. These elements are pure gold. They motivate you to keep working when you hit roadblocks.

Take a look at self-taught illustrator and teacher Ed Vill's Instagram grid...

Ed loves teaching, punk rock, and retro cartoons. Inspiration, experiments, and consistent practice led to his distinct style — and a style that is true to who he is.

Set aside time regularly, at least 60 minutes. Use it to sit with your work and think about what parts brought you joy.

This is critical. Finding the parts of your work that bring you joy will give you the fuel to push through the inevitable hard times.

“My best advice for discovering your artistic voice is to look inward rather than outward.

I have discovered many things in my own drawings by shifting my mindset from comparing my work to others to trusting my creative process and enjoying what I do.

The answers to finding your artistic voice are often within you, and it's important to cultivate self-criticism and satisfaction for your work.”



Embracing your artistic identity is an ongoing process. It can be uncomfortable.

But the results are worth it.

  • Surround yourself with things that inspire yo.
  • Make art — even on blah days.
  • Ethically copy work you love and learn from it
  • Commit to a style and see how it feels
  • Regularly evaluate what is bringing you the most joy. Make adjustments and repeat.

And most importantly, do what works for you. Take what you need from this article and discard the rest.

Stay creative!

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