One of your strongest assets is a signature style.
A recognizable style of artwork reinforces your brand recognition, makes your portfolio memorable, and will keep your customers coming back for more. You can explore a variety of styles to identify and track best-sellers, then create more artwork in that vein to increase your top-selling pieces.
Written by Cat Coquillette. Cat is a popular Society6 Artist and educator who travels the world full-time on the income generated through her art. Her work consists of bright pops of color, vibrant typography, and a blend of hand-painted brushwork and clean, vector illustrations.
Define your signature style
A signature style indicates that there is an element in your artwork that makes it recognizable as your piece and is distinguishable from any other artist. A signature style can be determined by a variety of factors. Here are a few important ones to consider…
The art medium: Are you a photographer, painter, or digital artist?
Same motif, 3 different mediums:
The subject matter: Do you tend to depict vast, surreal landscapes or do you prefer minimalist life drawing?
The style and technique: Are you into hyperrealism portraits or playful doodles?
The composition: Is your artwork 70% whitespace or do you fill in every inch of canvas?
The color palette: Do you stick primarily to monotones or do you coat your paper with a rainbow of vivid pigment?
Some notable signature styles:
Paints animals in watercolor with a flat, simplified stylistic approach and uses limited color palettes.
Creates abstract digital collages with painterly textural elements and metallic embellishments.
Benefits of a recognizable art style
Make Your Portfolio Memorable
A signature art style reinforces brand recognition and will help your artwork grow traction. You know you’ve nailed this when customers glance at a new piece in your portfolio and instantly recognize it as yours.
Customers Will Return for More
If someone purchases your work, they clearly love your style and chances are they’ll return for more. If your portfolio is filled with consistent pieces that go together, your returning customer will have plenty to choose from and purchase. This applies whether it’s a new phone case that matches their laptop sleeve or a triptych for their gallery wall.
Stand Out from the Crowd
An established and unique style also helps distinguish you from other artists, which is especially important when you’re keying into trends. When you infuse your own unique style on a popular trend, it helps your artwork stand out from the masses. This makes your art proprietary to your brand, which is vital if you’re depicting an incredibly popular motif that’s all over Society6, like mandalas or tropical leaves.
Bonus Tip: When it comes to jumping on trends, your signature style is your competitive advantage. What is your unique take?
Explore a variety of styles
If you’re just getting started with Society6, it’s a great idea to explore a variety of styles before you hone into one in particular. Not only does this exploration help you figure out what you are passionate about creating, but it’s also a great way to gauge what’s selling best.
This is the perfect time to test out a variety of styles to see what sticks. You can measure the popularity of pieces in a variety of ways– likes on social media, hearts/comments on Society6, and (most importantly) by what customers are actually purchasing.
Bonus Tip: Once you establish a style that sells well, you can tighten in and create more work in the same category.
Once you have an established style that’s gained traction and is selling well, you’re golden, right? Yes and no. We’re artists, which means in all likelihood, we’ll continue to explore styles and grow our talent. This is a great thing– branching out and embracing new techniques is what keeps our portfolios fresh.
“New additions to my portfolio are 70% what I’ve established will sell well and 30% exploring new ideas.”
Keeps your creative juices flowing
By embracing artistic freedom and trying out new styles, you’ll grow as an artist and continue along a path of creating artwork that inspires you.
Broadens your audience
When you test out new styles, motifs, and techniques, you’ll cast a wider net and appeal to a larger audience.
Helps you stay relevant and evolve with new trends
Chances are, what’s popular right this second won’t still be your #1 seller five years from now. When you allow your artistic style to evolve, your artwork has a better chance of staying relevant. This doesn’t mean you have to do a complete 180°; rather, you can keep the essence of your signature style and branch out from there.
My personal experience
My signature style is split between two types of media: hand-painted watercolor paintings and detailed digital illustrations. They don’t exactly fit together, but both styles sell well respectively. By dividing my portfolio into two distinct styles, I’ve established myself as a multi-disciplinary artist and reached a wider audience.
CatCoq Watercolor Paintings CatCoq Digital Illustrations
Remember, your signature style is the most important factor that sets you apart from everyone else and will make your work recognizable. An iconic style signifies that you’ve established yourself as an artist and recognize the strengths of your portfolio. This will allow you to build a name for yourself and you will have a consistent collection of artwork to back it up!