11 Anime & Comic Book Artists On How to Develop a Recognizable Style
Walking through any comic book store, it is easy to see certain covers and immediately know the artist. Artists like Will Eisner, Frank Miller, and Jack Kirby have very clear, iconic styles. What is the secret to developing a unique style? Is it practice? Observation? We turned to a group of comic, anime, and manga artists to ask the question: If you had to start over from scratch, how would you have approached becoming a good artist with a recognizable style?
I would have studied the craft more. Taken more art classes. Taken studio art and studied anatomy, proportion, and perspective. I did teach myself some of that stuff, but there’s something to be said for actually taking classes on the subjects. Also, I would have practiced, practiced, practiced. You learn by doing. I would also have done more art.
If I had to start from scratch, I would have had a lot of training guided by the best artists. All you need is practice and time. If you are single-minded enough, with tons of practice, you’ll become great artist. A recognizable style will come with skills that you get.
I think the foundations of art are where any artist, just starting out, needs to begin. You need to have an understanding of lighting and form because that dictates things such as line weight and coloring. You can’t break the rules until you learn them. I like the analogy of building a house. You have to have a strong foundation before you can start building on it. I think someone’s personal style comes along with their journey of learning the foundations. You’re going to see a lot of different artists that inspire you, and you should take what inspires you from that artist and apply it to your own work. Don’t go in with the mindset of “this is what I want my style to be” because everyone’s “style” is a little different.
What you think is good; I might think is bad. So, don’t worry about that. Concern yourself with getting to a professional plateau where you’re different and not being hired to draw “like that” or “like this.” Get to a place where you’re being hired to do what you do because only you can do it. Show up to your own party.
First off, I would gather the works of other artists that I admire and study their style, pick up some things about how they illustrate this or that, and then implement those into my style. Of course, your style might be in developing stages with books on figure drawing, anatomy, and light and shade; those (plus constant practice) really contribute to developing a unique style of your own… over time.
Regular, consistent work. Focusing on developing a distinct style is distracting. Style happens when you’re not looking. It’s far more important to produce work regularly. Set aside time and a schedule and commit to it. And, then, put the art where people can see it.
For me at least there’s actually a simple answer to that question: I wouldn’t do anything differently. I think there are several artists that are able to find their own style very easily and naturally — it just comes to them and it’s something they continue to develop and improve upon. However there are others, like me, who enjoy working in a wide variety of media and style, because there’s so much that interests us, so much inspiration to draw from different outlets, and so many different ways of solving the same problem. This can be inhibitive, as the range of styles doesn’t always appeal to everyone in one’s audience, which can make audience reception and growth very slow. However, offering oneself the time to experiment and try these different styles, and learn different visual languages, improves one’s skills, versatility, and well-roundedness. A personally recognizable style can take years in this case, but it will come about and be all the better for it.
Hmm, that’s a tough one…of course everyone thinks of their career mistakes and wants to do them differently, but how can you say the mistakes you made haven’t contributed to you as you are now? I think the only thing I can think of is something that all artists probably wish they’d done…more practice. Way more. And across many different styles. Personally I wish I had also learned the business side of things better when I was starting out…a recognizable style is great, but it needs to be seen out there to be recognized!
If I had to start over, I would draw as much as possible, until my style started to evolve into something that was really unique and recognizable. Then, I would go from there, sharing my work on social media.
Well, if I had to start from the very beginning, I would draw everything which inspires me. That could be my favourite artists from the Renaissance, Disney movies I grew up with or every interesting person or landscape that crossed my way. The point is that nobody is born with his own recognizable style, but born with a talent/passion. It is a procedure of learning and understanding. It takes a long time and even still continues because you never stop learning. This should not sound like a burden but more like a motivation to find yourself. In combination with the last “ingredient” (fun and passion) you are on the best way to find your own style.
If I had to start over, what I would first look at is what kind of style I would want (realistic, simplified, abstract, etc.).
Next, based on that style, I would look at what HAS to be there and how to render different objects/figures. This step would require the most thought, consideration and study — based on what I KNOW to be there, would inform what shortcuts I could take on design and what not. This is where the work is!
Last, I would create in that style as often as possible! Both to build my skills and ease with it, as well as the marketing to say that style belongs to me!