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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Research: Personal Voice

I first took this research task as being the same as finding a style, and whilst I feel they are not far from being cut from the same cloth, I do recognise their differences. Firstly I felt the need to express my view on style, and then later address voice.

Style, in my opinion, is creatives biggest lie and trap. Finding a style is an impossible target to which is never something one can seek or attain. Whilst I do believe your style is whatever feels natural, and that this will inevitably change and evolve as you grow, I also believe the whole concept of style has become a problem term made to believe that you can only be successful as an artist or illustrator if you have one. Social Media has brought about those common misconceptions in todays world, to the point young artists think they need a style to be able to create, or to be successful. I get it, people want their work to be identifiable as theirs, for people to see a piece and know who it is from, but I feel that this is somewhat down to luck, and the incredible hard work put in to marketing. Why is luck a possibility for gaining success? Well; algorithms.

When you get into the thick of it, illustrators that do, and do it with confidence, show to have a style. The reality is, they are just creating what feels right to them in the moment after many years of practise. I think a true artist will not be tied to one particular subject or style, I think the point is to explore creativity as a whole. Take on those ideas even if they are obscure to your so called style and voice.

For a long time I too believed I needed a style, and I would be lying if I said those thoughts don’t still exist today as I muddle through the million ways I can create an image. Those thoughts have prevented me in even starting the passion projects and ideas, due to thinking a style was needed in order for them to be successful. Little did I know, I had a style, and it wasn't something I could help. Style is just what happens the more you create. You don't try and force something, you just draw the way that feels comfortable. It also doesn't mean you have to keep the same style forever, and in fact I believe experimenting different techniques is key to developing. You will not have the same ideas in your 20's to those in your 30's or beyond, and you will see in your own progress how often your style can change.

Now this leads me to voice. Your style will change over time, it's just natural as you grow, but your voice may continue preaching the same message / theme throughout. Like style, this will change over time but it may still be within the same realm. You may focus on politics as a theme now, but find that later on this becomes about nature or something else that will be of interest. For me, I don't know if I have developed a voice. I would like to create work that really comes from a deep place of authenticity, but like style, I think this is a pressurised ideology that you must have in order to be successful. I also find myself caught between practice, therefore my voice is not distinct.

What I do know, is that I always try to apply some level of narrative within my work. I find this to be true across all areas of my creativity, be it in design, illustration or art. Some of my favourite pieces that I have created have come from the likes of Inktober, where during October you join the global challenge of creating each day based on a prompt.

There was also an illustration from the previous course, Graphic Fiction, that feels relevant to here as it works on self and the inspirations I draw from when style might be considered over voice.

Where I take inspiration from throughout my life definitely impacts my style and perhaps voice. I find that it is a traditional style in terms of cartooning, as seen in the classics such as Scooby doo, Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes, where the black outline is integral and the colouring is flat.

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