What's Your Style?

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on Jun 19, 2008 11:42 AM

It's easy to say "I know what I like." The dilemma of narrowing down a style is that while having a distinct style is good for marketing your work, it can feel limiting to your creativity.

But it isn't. My style is more about design than materials, more about color than technique. Geometry, symmetry and my favorite colors are my signatures and my nature. But the sky is the limit for mediums, techniques, scale, materials, applications, and even finished products, though now I focus on jewelry. (I used to make clothing!)

How about you? Do you have a style or are you still exploring, and if so, what floats your boat? When it comes to style, it comes back to what you like!



on Jun 20, 2008 12:31 AM

I don't even remotely try to pinpoint a "style".  I'm such a scatterbrain, I make whatever sounds fun at the moment, which probably doesn't look anything like something I've made before.  I've thought about registering as a self representing artist, but it asks you for photos that are typical of what you make.  How do I decide what's typical?  I'll just have to pick some things at random, I suppose.

I liked the article in one of the recent mags about how to define your style, but I'd have to think long and hard about that...




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on Jun 20, 2008 6:18 AM

 I know... it IS hard to think about pinpointing a style. One of my distractions is going to a bead show, where I am completely seduced by the variety of materials!I go with a seed bead list and come home with large metal beads and chain. Go figure.

Having a style becomes more critical if you really want to sell your work or submit it to exhibitions, where they look for a "body" of work. But for fun and ultimate creative growth, nothing beats dabbling. And who knows? Your style may ultimately emerge anyway!



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Nemeton wrote
on Jun 20, 2008 9:51 AM

 I like to experiment with lots of different materials and techniques too - my favourite way to work is just to mix everything up in one horrendous 'bead soup' and take it from there. The results may be freeform or formal, but there is almost always some random element somewhere in my work, even if only a few scattered beads, so I guess that's my 'style'!

I guess my 'signature' piece has now become my 'Garden' series of collars, peyote with a lush fringe and lots and lots of embellishments including flowers and leaves - I do like pieces where 'the devil is in the detail' and the more closely you look, the more you see...




My website: http://lynndavybeadwork.co.uk/



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on Jun 20, 2008 10:26 AM

 I loved this article!

My style is a bit eclectic. I use lots of colors but play with earthtones too. It's raw and primitive, tribal even!

Freeform and assymetrical styling is prominant with most of my work screaming 'handmade'.

I make little eveyday wearables, but a I gravitate to bold signature pieces that have to have the right wearer.


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Arachne54 wrote
on Jun 20, 2008 10:35 AM

 I loved reading that you said "...it always comes down to what I would wear myself."  I have said that so many times!  Although usually it's prefaced with, "I have to design for SOMEONE, so I design for myself."   ;-)  

 I like chunky sizes because, like many women in my age category - 60 - I've put on some weight and dainty pieces tend to get lost on me. 

 I like to use the use the semi-precious stones that are available to us through the web now - turquoise, amethyst, amber, sunstone - because of the sense of affordable luxury they impart.  Again, I feel that many women in my category - 60 and professionally employed - have some disposable income for small luxuries. 

Within the gemstone category, I like unusual stones with interesting patterns or bold colors - Sleeping Beauty turquoise, seraphanite, charoite - because I enjoy it when I wear one of my pieces and someone exclaims over an unusual stone or combination of stones.  I think my customers are also gratified to receive compliments on some piece of jewelry they have spent a little more money on.

So I design for myself and my niche market - middle-aged, employed professional women with some disposable income and an eye for quality handmade jewelry with eye-catching materials.

Dayton, OH

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Kelli@23 wrote
on Jun 20, 2008 11:06 AM
I very much appreciated your thoughts about developing a style. It's important to express one's individuality and inner voice and not get too swept up in what's popular at the moment. As I think of my favorite jewelry designs, one thing seems to be consistent with all of them. No matter what color, size, shape it may be, it will tend to blend into a very harmonious texture. The building up of different elements, say, using 12 different kinds of pearls, crystals, stones or whatever, that all echo each other in some way, either in shape, color, or texture, that create a harmonious blended texture, especially in fringes and clusters, are what make my favorites. I derive a great deal of creative satisfaction in figuring out which elements will work together. They all have to balance and make the other stuff I'm using look good. Nothing can "hog the spotlight". Even a major focal element will be worked into the design in a very balanced blended way. When I look around at how I've decorated my home, the same holds true, so I guess this is how I see things. In terms of designing for a market or a customer demographic, I find it often helps to pull out all of my finished work and try to imagine someone I know wearing it. This really helps focus the mind on the customer and many times I've surprised myself by realizing that some designs lack something or other, because so-and-so wouldn't wear it. This helps me refine my approach over time. Thanks again for the article.
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on Jun 20, 2008 11:14 AM

I think sometimes it can be easier for other people to identify your style than to see it yourself.  For example, a couple of months ago, a co-worker admired a necklace of mine and remarked that my jewelry seemed to have a sense of humor.  I had never thought of that before, but she was right--I definitely don't take myself too seriously and many of my pieces do have whimsical bits--wire coils or bright colors, for example.  I don't know that I would have ever come up with that description on my own.

Has anyone else had that experience?


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JojoS2 wrote
on Jun 20, 2008 12:40 PM

 "Style" can be such an ambiguous term.  My love for beading comes from the variety of forms that beads come in.  I love the way they look, feel & make me feel.  My beadwork is a reflection of me, which varies from season to season, year to year.  I can't say I have a definitive 'stlye' of my own--many times if I am composing a piece for a friend, I keep their personality & preferences in mind.  Most of the time, I need to know who I am making a piece for before I can actually make something.  If it's just for me, sometimes it depends on my mood, my eye for color/texture, or desire for simplicity or complexity.  I don't think my works can be categorized--I'm a mixture of hodge-podge beads & ideas.



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on Jun 20, 2008 1:41 PM

The excitement of designing a new piece of beaded jewelry still gives me chill bumps, however, trying to define my style throws me into a tail spin.  Style?  At this point, nothing really stands out as a definitive style.  It would be awesome to have a style and to know what it is, but, I'm clueless!  I just make what speaks to me.  Sometimes it says funky, sometimes, elegant.  As far as I am concerned, anything is possible, and the sky is the limit!  Enjoyed the article.

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MicheleC@31 wrote
on Jun 20, 2008 4:24 PM

 I describe my "style" as "eclectic whimsy" because I love mixing all kinds of beads: vintage with contemporary, organic with man-made, matte with shiny (me too)......etc.,etc.  To me, how that translates visually, changes from piece to piece. I love mixing things up but sometimes a particularly strong focal bead dictates otherwise. I guess I don't really consider myself a designer so much as an interpreter. I choose the beads to have in my collection but how they will be combined is a mystery until the piece is complete.  

I don't know if this makes sense. But I have certainly enjoyed reading the different responses and thinking of my own. Quite a challenge!


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on Jun 20, 2008 7:07 PM

Thank you Leslie for this most informative article on finding your own style. Like JoJo said, when you are making something for someone else, which is the majority of my pieces, I have to consider the person who the piece is for. She or he may tell me they like certain colors together or just surprise me.   I work with pmc and incorporate beads and cabs of all kinds in it so ' my style' is rather hard to pin point. You're right though in saying, to make something that you yourself will wear is what I strive for in my pieces. I like all sorts of elements combined into a pleasing well balanced piece whether it is a necklace, bracelet, earrings or all the above.  I have made something as a focal item and then decided later that it needed something else and then incorporated it into an entirely different idea, which changes the entire design. I guess 'my style' is whatever strikes me at the time, 'hodge podge' as someone else said earlier. I do alot of sketching now as an idea hits me. If I see something in nature or on the tv or in a magazine, I will start sketching it out and playing with it until I get it just right. I may not use it at that exact moment but store it for later use. Then when I do use it I start playing with the materials, beads, wire, pmc and soon I have a rough idea what I am looking for. I guess what I am trying to say is I can't settle down to a certain type of design but I have to explore all the possibilities, my style is a little of this and a little of that. Does that make any sense? BeBe of tucson  Cool

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DaniA3 wrote
on Jun 21, 2008 10:47 AM

 I love working with colors, mixing beads in a design. I also like using spiral & other wire patterns. I like looking out for new wire techniques which I can add to beads.


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ozbianca wrote
on Jun 21, 2008 3:57 PM

 I am told my style is very recognisable. I tend to go back to the past by the use of ceramic components and I love natural colours with a haze of patina. Natural, resembling water, air, earth and aged metals. I am not sure what that je-ne-sais-quois is that observers notice when I show some of my work. Without telling them, some of my friends know what is mine.

I am into flowing lines, curves, spiralling necklaces that resemble shells and spiralling stair cases. My nickname among fellow lampworkers is Organic Girl. Even my baroque work with intricate stitching techniques has an organic feel. Plus the fact that everything is handmade to the coiled cords of the necklaces.

Crikey. It is a good question. I know what I like, but I also know what makes me grow as an artist. And that is sometimes deliberately going off my "style" into unknown territory. So perhaps my style is experimentation, the process, not the end result. Exploration of history and concepts like time. My work usually has hidden depth and meaning - I recently made a piece called Zeitgeist where all the components were either etched or patina'd to resemble the passing of time. The exploratory surgery of technique.

This is getting really philosophical isn't it? I suspect my style is complex, multilayered - it is about materials and how I can manipulate them to show what I want to show the observer. Clay that looks like glass, glass that looks like a mineral, porcelain that looks like metal. Pushing the boundaries of the materials. Asymetry and organic feel, blending of colour such that they become one with many facets. Mixing knotting with ceramic and metal work. That is what I like - engineering.

Most of the pieces I wear are ethnic inspired, old cultures such as the mayans, native american or aboriginal cultures. The sky is indeed the limit, I suspect I might still be finding out what my style really is after almost 9 years of beading.

When I do take a commission for someone else, I think about the person a lot, what is it for, what is he or she like, how will the piece be worn, what is the event? I usually make pieces for significant life events, which tell a story. Fortunately, I hardly ever get it wrong - I guess the customers come to me as the work touches a nerve.

But wherever this journey takes me, it will be fun!

on Jun 22, 2008 12:32 AM

Wow, I'm loving reading all this!  So glad I'm not the only one that has this problem, but everyone is right in their own way.  I suppose if someone put me on the spot I'd have to say that a) I design for myself first unless I'm making it specifically for someone, b) I love designing around a focal component (ie my avatar), and c) I like mostly organized designs.  I have to challenge myself to make something freeform or even a random stringing piece.  To do something random, you'd almost have to blindfold me, because I always look for some type of pattern.

What a fun way to make you think about what's important to you.



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