This post is by guest author Keith Bond. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. We've promoted this post to feature status because it provides great value to the FineArtViews community. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 75,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. This author's views are entirely his own and may not always reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.
A while ago the following comment was posted on one of the blogs I wrote:
“You say do what makes your heart sing. But I keep having people tell me to focus on one style in my art so that people will understand and remember my work better. I understand this feedback, but at the same time don’t want to get into the mundane of creating the same thing every time. Do you have any suggestions?”
Great question. But not an easy one to answer. Ultimately, only you can decide what route to take with your art. But here are a few thoughts to help you along your journey.
When I first realized that I wanted to pursue a career in art, I had no idea what direction my art would take. I tried a wide variety of things, from landscape to still life to figurative. I did charcoal drawings, pen and ink, oil, watercolor, dabbled in intaglio, played around with sculpture a bit. I’ve done everything from abstract (only a few) to realism. I’ve played around with a lot of different techniques and I have had a lot of fun experimenting.
But, I soon realized that I continued to gravitate toward the landscape. I didn’t necessarily choose this from the many options, rather, it chose me. I find the most fulfillment doing these paintings.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy experimenting and trying new things. I still do. And they occasionally find their way into the work that I show. I consider my experimentation to be research and development. I must also add that I also experiment and try new things within my narrow focus. There is so much to learn and do, that I don’t think I’ll ever get bored or find it mundane. There is still enough for me to explore for a lifetime.
I guess the point that I am getting at is that eventually I found a focus. It came naturally.
But, I also realize that not all artists are like me. We are each individuals and we each have our own muse.
I know artists whose muse is found in the realm of exploring and experimenting. Rather than eventually narrowing their focus to one area, they seem to broaden their focus to even more and more possibilities.
True, this is harder to market in the traditional way of marketing. It certainly is more difficult when a gallery or artists’ rep is trying to promote your work. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.
So, if you are one of these artists, use those qualities of curiosity/experimentation/exploration etc. as your story. These qualities become the common thread to promote when you market yourself.
Some artists think that they are this second type, until, after a long time, they realize that there really is a deeper common thread running through all the variety. Their muse is telling them something that they haven’t recognized before. This will be an “aha” moment. It is possible to create a wide variety of works/styles/subject/media that does have a common narrow focus. One that is easily marketable.
Others never find out what their muse is saying – probably because they never listen. Instead they are listening to outside voices – but that is another topic for another day.
So, in short, find what your muse is telling you. Explore, experiment, try new things, but be honest with yourself. Create the works that give you the most fulfillment and satisfaction. Look at your work and see if you can identify your voice. Create the works that are you. Be you.
If your muse tells you to focus on one thing, follow that muse because you will realize that there are endless possibilities. A narrow focus doesn’t mean lack of variety and excitement. But, if your muse tells you to keep a broader focus, then follow that path. Look for and promote the common threads. This will be your story to help others remember and recognize you.
I enjoy doing a variety of things – but I spend most of my time creating the things that I enjoy the very most. It is impossible in a lifetime to do it all. So I choose to do what is most fulfilling.
Create your most fulfilling art.
Today's post is an updated version from a few years ago, but we're republishing it again today because it's still a timely and a very relevant message. Enjoy!
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