Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans
I was just about ten years old when I first visited the astonishing De Young Museum here in San Francisco. At the time, my family and I had just moved in from Santiago, Chile which means that we were practically tourists, eager to partake in every single activity that the Bay Area had to offer. On this particular Saturday morning, I woke up to my excited parents telling my brothers and I to get ready. Immediately, I could feel the attention on me. Perhaps this was because art was clearly already my passion, and it was easy for everyone around me to tell. In addition, I had never been to an art museum before despite knowing that I wanted to one day be a part of one. I had already earned myself an easel and upgraded to the slightly more expensive paints. The next thing on my list was being introduced to the famous artworks made by people whose footsteps I wanted to follow.
Instantly after arriving, I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed not knowing where to set my eyes. On the whitest walls I’d ever seen in my life, I could see rows and rows of beautiful paintings, nothing quite like anything I had experienced before. I quickly became mesmerized and eventually found my way around the exhibitions. This is when I began to notice a common pattern among each of the artist’s paintings. That was, that every artist appeared to have their own authentic style that made them unique and identifiable as theirs. This one artist that I saw, only used his fingers to paint rather than a paintbrush. Another used very harsh strokes to depict his subject matter, contrasting to this other one that had taken a more delicate and soft approach. Some chose to be very detailed, others the farthest thing from detailed. I even came to see a large canvas that had simply been painted white and hung up on the wall. Whaaat?!
Point was, everybody had their “thing.” What bummed me out was the realization that I didn’t. I worried that them having figured out theirs was what had primarily made them stand out and was the core reason they could make it into the museum in the first place. Their styles were all so interesting and exceptional in their own way, how was I supposed to reach their level without one? At this point, I felt doomed from all possibility of ever having my big break. Jee, I couldn’t even think of what could be mine. It seemed as though all of the styles had already been taken, which is what led me to the thought of just replicating someone else’s. But what would be the use in that? I wanted my paintings to be visibly and clearly mine, just like how people looked at an Andy Warhol and knew it was an Andy Warhol.
As I’ve grown older I’ve come to find that one’s art style comes naturally as we mature in age and discover ourselves as artists. I like to think of it as something like developing our own clothing style. To find a style that truly resonates with us, we first have to go through a bunch of trial and error in our youthful ages. You know---those catastrophic moments of fashion that you had in your teen years that make you go back and think, What in the world was I thinking going out like THAT?! But we work from those moments and realizations and make adjustments. We perhaps begin to take inspiration from our surroundings and make it fun and creative when coming up with our own twists. Eventually, we find our way into a style that we love, and it becomes so natural to us that we begin to do it subconsciously. I was in the wrong thinking that there was a limit to art styles out there. A style is like a voice in a way--just like how every single human being in a world of billions has a voice that is identifiable as theirs, every artist can have their own unique style.
As a matter of fact, I feel myself just barely starting to have my own art style now that I am almost 20 years old. I am just beginning to notice a common trend within all of my pieces. That for me is the use of vibrant color, and intriguing lines, and common subject matters. At this point, I find myself doing these things without even realizing that I am doing them. Even then, I feel as though I am constantly changing it and growing from it---further developing my way of illustrating. The truth is, there is no reason to put any pressure on it. All that needs to happen is following whatever feels right and pushing through each development confidently!