Something I have struggled with for a long time (since I began a career in illustration) is figuring out what my style is. I read many a guide, took many a course and listened to every podcast I could get my hands on to try and uncover some magical nugget of knowledge about what I needed to do to find my style.
I looked for so long that I threw up my arms and gave up. ”Maybe I’ll never find it. Maybe that’s the thing.” Then I remembered someone somewhere saying something like, ”You won’t find your style, it will find you”, or ”You can’t make a style, you will discover it”. Whatever it was, I think I stopped looking because I felt I was spending too much time going down a dark alley and not seeing a light at the end of it. I’m not sure I can name the one thing that changed my perspective on what I was looking for, but came it did—eventually. It came when I stopped looking.
One day at the studio, I uncovered a tiny catalogue for Fjällräven backpacks I had picked up in one of their stores. I love me printed things! This one was a clever little piece of one sheet of paper folded into a pamphlet: 4 pages and folded inside a full sheet of info. So I took that inspiration and made my own catalogue and attempted to explain myself as a company—just as the backpack people.
Here’s Fjällräven’s pamphlet alongside mine. Should mine have had ”SINCE 1969” on it?
Here’s a page with a bit of the company’s history, philosophy and product. I haven’t put mine into words yet.
The finished product
Keep in mind, Woody (the writer, comedian, director) has been an inspiration for decades—before all this horrific business about his family matters came out. He made some wonderful films and I remember seeing them as a teen and being blown away. That’s the Woody I remember. But, seeing as I don’t really look to his work for inspiration anymore, maybe he should get the boot.
I do still like his approach of making a film a year. Sooner or later something will stick.
The inspiration combination of 70s Sesame Street, Jacques Tati and The Beatles are good enough for me!
You can probably see I have the images down for where I think I am coming from, but I have yet to write an enlightening text about my findings.
I used the studio photo from this spread and put it on the ABOUT page of my website—with some doodles on it. The selfportrait photo was just for fun. I was wearing stripes, felt french—found my Granny’s (also an inspiration) béret and there you go. Artsy-fartsy self portrait!
On the back, I made up some products to sell and left space to dream up some more.
”What did you figure out about your style, Luke?” you ask?
I think I found out what sparked my interest in making things, daydreaming and what sort of voice that style has. It’s a bit cozy— like a smart, classy, laidback Beatle; a bit safe and weird like Sesame Street, and slapstick-goofy like Tati.
I think, in those three silos, I can find the tools I need to tell my stories and make my pictures. As for the way I do that—I think that’s something Mid-Century/1960-70s plus some future think. (Maybe that’s where the Muppets come in?) I haven’t formulated it. Maybe that’s the bit of advice that did stick:
You’ll discover your style as you make what you make.