The Components of Style

26 Sep

There are many facets to the gem that is an ILLUSTRATION STYLE. An illustrator is known by his or her typical palette, compositional tendencies, and concepting habits. (Does she tend toward change of scale, or is she more of an anthropomorphism kind of girl?) Primarily, however, the way an illustrator draws and the materials she uses define her style.

Is it possible for one portfolio to contain works created in a variety of media? Your professors will probably tell you, “No.” End of story. My personal experience, however, supports a different answer.

The way an illustrator DRAWS seems to transcend CHOICE OF MEDIA. Gary Taxali is Gary Taxali, whether he’s printing on an old leather book cover or painting oils on masonite.

I’ve changed my  technique several times during my career. During those transitional phases, after getting a sketch approved I sent samples of older work done in technique ‘A’ along with newer ones in technique ‘B’. “Which do you prefer?” I asked. More often than not my A.D. would send back a handful from each category with a brief note: “I like these.” As if — get this — the medium in which I chose to work didn’t matter. Sometimes I wondered, Can he even tell a difference?

What matters, class, is that you concoct super smart ideas and execute them well. Hone your drawing style and keep it consistent; then you can paint every once in a while—or stitch a needlepoint, like Helen Dardik—instead of clicking away on your laptop every day for the rest of your professional lives.


6 Responses to “The Components of Style”

  1. Laura Dollie Terhune September 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    “The way an illustrator draws seems to transcend choice of media” – I find that it is especially true when it comes to drawings that include faces.

    Always interested to read what you’re blogging about, Violet. Hope you’re doing well!

    • violetlemay September 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

      Laura, you are so encouraging! And you’re right… faces are a biggie. (as are arms, legs, proportions, and etc). I’m grateful for your continual support. Hope all is well on your end, dear.



  2. Charla Pettingill September 27, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    This is an especially well-timed post, as I’ve been thinking about this particular topic quite often lately (I’m on the verge of overhauling my own portfolio). Thanks for sharing your experiences, as this has given me some useful points to concentrate on, especially since I alternate between (and often combine) traditional and digital media. 🙂

    • violetlemay September 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

      Ms. Charla!!! Can’t wait to see your overhauled portfolio. :o) Quite a task, isn’t it? So glad this post was helpful. Your friendship means a lot.



  3. Tyler Garrison September 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    Love this idea for a blog! I also really like that you tossed in the needlepoint at the end of this post. Gemma Corell recently posted a photo of a needlepoint illustration that I found really intriguing. Her personal style (usually through a medium of pen, ink and watercolor) still shows through regardless of the change in medium.

    Link to the picture of the aforementioned work:

    • violetlemay September 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

      Tyler, my keypad cannot produce words glorious enough to thank you for your friendship. :o) I love that you posted a link to Gemma Correll’s work, I love that you’re a dude who knows his way around a sewing machine, and I LOVE how aware you are of the goings-on in the world of illustration. You’re a good friend.

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