Master Class | Finding Your Voice
Something that new artists struggle with above so many other struggles is finding their own voice. I feel like new artists expect art to pop out of their fingertips like magic onto a page; that they'll immediately produce wonderful, unique and sellable work.
Most often, an artist begins their journey by being drawn to the work of others around them. They've curated a community that they follow, wether it be on instagram, youtube, other students at school, etc. and that will be the work that most strongly influences their own. We all begin by mimicking the work that we're most drawn to, but this creates a few problems down the road that we don't anticipate at this stage.
The first is that the work we're copying is the work of someone who has found their voice and practiced speaking in the voice for some time now. Our mimicry will fall flat, looking like a sad amateur copy, resulting in disappointment and discouragement.
The second is when we continue to pursue perfecting another persons voice, we only end up sounding or looking like them rather than coming into our own voice.
So how do you do it? How do you find your own voice? The first step is to start speaking.
Again, most artists begin by mimicking the work they're drawn to, but so many of those newer artists continue the same copying procedure in their pursuit of their craft.
Rather than continuing to copy (aka "being inspired by") someone else's work, view that work as a jumping off point for your own voice. It's like learning to sing...you begin by singing along with other songs in the car, learning the melodies and lyrics, moving on to karaoke, learning a cappella, exploring your own sounds and understanding what note ranges work well for you.
In order to develop the same unique voice with artwork, we have to go though a similar process.
Produce work, produce shitty work, produce it again.
Evaluate your work (evaluate is different that criticize). Identify the details you like and dislike about what you produce and produce something focusing on the detail you liked from your previous work. Evaluate and produce again. And again, and again and again. Continue this process for a month, creating and evaluating something every day. At the end of the month, line up your pieces with a few from the beginning, a few from the middle and a few from the end and see how your style developed, evolved and became more distinctive to you and less of the copy you started with.
Identify what makes your work unique. Are you drawn to unusual color combinations? Odd scale combinations? Unique medium combinations? As you evaluate your work, watch out for the things that stand out to you and continue to build on them and embrace them.
It's those things that you identify as being unique that will become your voice. Own them. Be proud of them. Have the courage to stand up for them.
Being an artist is like being a dumpster diver - we're looking for things that others have discarded or dismissed. We're always hunting for the shinny object poking out of the bottom of the trash heap that everyone else has missed. We shift through the debris of every day life, culture, influence and we pay attention to the things everyone else is ignoring. Find inspiration in those things, develop them, evolve and evaluate and then own the shit of it as you develop and evolve with it.