Manchester Based Photographer, Illustrator & Designer

Individual Style?

I’ve just been looking through the lovely portfolio of Ryan McGinley. I love his work. Or what I should say I guess is that I love his style. It has beautiful analogue, grass roots, care free sort of feel to it. I enjoy the continuity in his portfolio and his achievement in a ‘trademark’ aesthetic.

What causes me an incessant amount of pondering is why I myself cannot adopt a specific style…or even a specific medium for that matter. Why do I always feel the need to move on?

Perhaps it’s a sign of my immaturity. Maybe I’ve yet to find a style that engages me sufficiently. However, I have friends who design, illustrate and photograph who seem to have adopted particular methods right from the outset of their creative endeavours. It has occurred to me however, that all of these minds were schooled in creative subjects. Have I missed out on some divine, wholly curricular method of channelling ones expression into a marketable form?

For that is my bugbear. I wish to continue earning a living through the visual arts, but I can see this being tremendously hard work given the friability of my interests. When I think of the successful photographers, designers and artists that I admire, they all have their own individual style, and they all make a living from it by allowing others to buy into the aesthetic that they have crafted.

A prime example of this is the young Kate Moross; a London based graphic designer who’s new skool, electro designs have won all manner of attention lately. I do like her work in parts, and her style must be working wonders for her bank balance at the moment. But I do not understand the mindset of sticking with the same geometric patterns or rustic hand drawn typography. That’s not a dig at all. I’d love to be able to stick with something, it’d be a hell of a lot easier to package it up, ship it out and enjoy some remuneration! But it doesn’t figure in my head. What happens when you just want to drawn in a different style for a change. I mean the client list is expecting geometric, new-wave, topshop-friendly goodness that’s recognisable and ‘on-trend’. Saying that though, I guess if she just downed poscas and started toting a Nikon, there’d still be a line of clients happy to buy into her brand. Maybe that’s the formula. Get a style down, stick with it till you’re established then see where you can take it. Maybe she just really adores triangles. They are delectably celestial shapes after all.

I suppose that unless you are happy in a specific style, it becomes a conquest of gaining acceptance and notoriety through your work, as opposed to enjoying it freely as a form of expression or entertainment. I suppose there is no lesser or greater choice but it brings up issues as to what is actually creative and what is ultimately the commodification of the arts. Surely a brick would be art were it to be crafted of individual character and recognition. Commodified as it is, it becomes ‘Bath Stone’ or ‘Yellow Stock’. Recognisable, useful, desirable, but stoic.

“Man really attains the state of complete humanity when he produces, without being forced by physical need to sell himself as a commodity.” – Che Guevara

( I’m just throwing this in to make all this waffle appear a little deeper! I don’t confess to know much about Mr. Guevara. Though I believe his identity has become quite the commodity amongst t-shirt manufacturers.)

So is it the case that these creatively schooled tearaways have achieved a better understanding of economics than I the economics scholar? I’d say certainly. I suppose that facing the realities of a creative career force one to develop a business plan (planning being the crux of the matter) rather than an increasingly overwhelming toolset. Perhaps this explains the furore of the degree show and the manic desire to exhibt, exhibit, exhibit. All very personal I’m sure.

So maybe I’m just not cut out for an individual style. Maybe I’m just not happy with matromony. I guess it comes down to either bloody loving triangles, or needing the recognition. I’d love some undeserved recognition sure, but the desire obviously hasn’t outweighed the enjoyment just yet.

[ Any reaction to, or evaluation of this bullshit is firmly encouraged. Please don’t let me get away with my own misguided, ignorant, unsubstantiated thoughts!]


2 responses

  1. well i think the question may lie in what one considers style to it something very cut and dry and very recognizable or something a little less in your face? i personally have had this debate with myself and always come to the decision that i struggle to constantly do the same thing because it becomes “boring” and my person wants to bring fresh things to the table. my creativity stream is always in flux re what it is im doing/representing, but over the years i have began to see a constant in the way i depict all of the visuals i put forward. so bottom line is the style can be found one just has to recognize that part of the “style” is variation. im going to end with a personal experience i run into all the time. people asking me “what do you specialize in?” the answer i bust out every time is ” i specialize in achieving the best results for the client.” i think you have also got it down with this…I’d love some undeserved recognition sure, but the desire obviously hasn’t outweighed the enjoyment just yet.
    stay up,

    November 12, 2008 at 4:23 am

  2. andrewlewiscampbell

    thanks for your view on things sir, it’s a wierd subject huh. Most of the time I don’t care about all this but then occasionally it rears its theological head in an effort to confusticate me! I’m glad you’ve had a similar relationship with variety though.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:13 pm

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