So let’s get real. Every entry-level designer, artist, or even crafting hobbyist is looking for that one thing that makes them unique, their style. At the beginning of your creative journey, you are like a kid in a candy store, everything excites you and everything is like that shiny gold-thingy that you want to touch. I know firsthand what it is like to struggle to find your style. Matter of fact, I am still a work in progress. But, one tool that has helped me tremendously on this journey is creative play. What exactly is creative play? “Play” is basically a state of mind where you give yourself enough time and space to have the freedom to experiment without the risk of failure.
I first learned this concept from graphic designer Jessica Walsh. She explains that play is where you feel challenged, focused, creative, and alive. We have all had those moments when we are completely into a certain project and almost forget about the world around us. Our mind is completely zoned in. That is Play. Not something specific to a task, but a mindset that we put ourselves in when we are completely passionate about something. It is the best state to be in when trying to create, innovate, or come up with new ideas. Hence it’s importance when trying to discover your style.
So what is my style?. Even though I am still a work in progress my main source of inspiration is drawn from the idea of joy. You know that smile you get when you see something cool for that first time or when your friend tells a really witty joke, yea that joy. That for me has always fueled by my love of pattern, travel, color, and humor. I have found whenever I am creating something those 4 words always pop into my head. I even like to call myself sometimes the colorful nomad. I love how color can be fun and uplift your mood. I also love patterns and crafts specific to certain cultures. At this moment I am really drawn to patterns found in many African cultural textiles or art.
Also, there is something beautiful in harmony. Seamlessly using pattern and color without either one overpowering each other. In this interior designed by Courtney Bishop, she uses a variety of patterns and bold colors to create a fun a quirky space. At the same time, she uses neutrals to ground these colors and patterns make this space feel inviting. A perfect example of how harmony and color play a huge role in what inspires me. As for clothing, below are a couple of images that represent my clothing style. Both are colorful, quirky, bold, and have patterns.
In order to get to this state of “Play,” there are a few conditions that need to be met. Have the confidence to fail, have plenty of time, space away from your daily demands, and most importantly have a sense of humor. So after you have met these conditions there are a few steps that I found helpful to find your style while in a state of “play”. Experiment, document, and moodboard.
In this stage do research. Find brands and artists that you love, celebrities, or influencers that inspire you. Get from behind the computer and your cell phone and go to new places, and try new things. Start a crafting project. Try going for a quick walk and allowing yourself to be present and take in the environment that can be inspiring as well.
If you know what you like but find it hard to articulate the words for it, try looking up interviews. I can not tell you the number of hours that I spent looking up articles on designers I love. I specifically paid attention to the words they use to describe their style and the reasoning behind their decisions.
By this stage, you should have a long list of different sources. Write everything down. Make folders for your screenshots, make wishlists, bookmark webpages, save images on Instagram, make word lists, save to Pinterest. Whatever system works best for you, do it. You can use more than one documenting method too. Nothing is worse than finding a design that really speaks to you and you forgot to save it. Now you are rummaging through your past browser history at 2 am trying to find something you saved over a week ago. Save yourself the trouble and document everything. When in doubt save it.
For me, I use google keep for random thoughts and notes. I use Pinterest to save any images when on my desktop computer. On my cell, I often just take screenshots that automatically get uploaded to google photos and I save images on Instagram. Within all these places I know exactly where to look when I am looking for a certain picture, quote, or project.
This is my favorite part. Take all the inspiration that you found and start connecting the dots. What colors do you see more often? Is there a particular clothing or interior style you’re drawn too? How about mood? What store do you tend to shop at? How do they describe the style of items they sell (minimalist, quirky, colorful, eclectic, etc)
These are two moodboards that I created that represent my aesthetic. The one to the left is one I created for this blog and that reflects the idea of “the colorful nomad.” The one on the left is one that I created for my wedding. Still vibrant but has a moody/ edgy vibe.
Bonus: Fall in love with the process
Great things take time. I know you’ve probably heard your mom say it a thousand times but Patience is key. The best way to fall in love with the process is to change your thought process from What is my style to What can I discover? Eventually, the pieces will come together. Take this time to really understand what you. What you like and how it affects you
To sum it all up, remember girlfriend this is a process. Experimenting things take time. Also just like seasons change so do our taste. Be ok with that. Embrace what you love now ( be honest with yourself) and remove the fear of failing or making the wrong decision. The only way you are truly going to find what you’re passionate about and what inspires you if you try a bunch of things. So have at it! You got this. I would love to know if any of you peeps tried the tips i mentioned or your personal tips for finding your style.