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How to Find Your Signature Style - ep. 3

Updated: Feb 17, 2023


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Hey everyone! One of the hardest things as an artist is finding a way to separate yourself from everyone else and the way that you do that is by finding your signature style. So I thought a great episode would be talking about how you would find your signature style. So let's dive in.


No matter what type of artist you are there is always pressure to find your style. Whether you're a painter, photographer, graphic artist, illustrator etc you know that when you have a certain style it's easier for people to choose you for you.


If you're lucky maybe you found your style early on or if you are like the rest of us then you probably:

-keep going back and forth between style

-are overwhelmed with choice

-nothing feels right

or

-you hate everything you’re creating


Well I'm here to tell you that finding your style takes time. You will never be able to figure out your style without creating. If you don't know what I do I create logos, branding and design websites. Let's talk about finding my logo style. When I just started my business it wasn't until I had about 15-20 logos that I created for my clients where I was able to sit back and start to see patterns in how I wanted my logos to look. The more you do the more you start to figure out how you like things done.


When it comes to finding the brand style for my business I want to say it took me about three years to really finesse and figure out what style works for me best. I tried a lot of different looks and styles and to be honest it wasn't until I took a branding course, I talked about this in episode 2, where I was really able to create a plan and nail down my style.


Something that will speed up the process when it comes to finding your style is taking this one simple action step that helped me find my style. Create a mood board. A moodboard helps you have a plan or creative direction and a solid foundation. It will help you stay on one creative path and will keep you from always wanting to following new design trends.


Here are the basic steps for creating a mood board

1. Find you brand vibe 2. Gather images

3. Find similarities

4. Create your mood board


Next I will be talking about how to create a mood board for a couple of different people first I'll talk about being a business owner looking to rebrand your business, then I'll tell you the how to create a moodboard if you're an artist then if you're a photographer. So bear with me if a topic doesn't pertain to you but it might give you some inspiration and ideas for how to create your own mood board.

If you are a business owner looking to rebrand your business:

1. Find your brand vibe

Before we start gathering images for our mood board we need a certain direction to move forward in we will do this through our brand vibe. I want you to think of 3 to 5 words that you want your ideal customer to perceive you as. Remember your brand vibe is going to be the base for all of the creative choices you make when finding your signature style.


Let's use an example. Let's say you sell rain jackets in Juneau, Alaska. Your Ideal customers are active men and women, who live in Juneau, love the outdoors, and won't let the rain keep them inside.


Your brand vibe can be Adventurous, Alaskan, and Outdoorsy. These words are going to be used as a base for our mood board. Now that we have a direction to go in let's gather our images.


2. Gather images

You can create your mood board however you like but for this example we are going to be gathering images on Pinterest. So what you are going to do next is get onto Pinterest, name your mood board the words of your brand vibe, and pin everything to you that screams Adventurous, Alaskan and Outdoorsy.


These images don't have to have anything to do with raincoats but they should make some sort of emotional connection with you whether you think it's cute, or inspirational, etc. Maybe that's a picture of people hiking on a mountain. Or a beautiful sunset over a mountain range. Or even people sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows. You should also pin graphics that love, business cards, websites, fonts. As long as it matches your brand vibe pin it. Don't even think twice about it just pin everything you like and dump it all on there.


3. Find similarities

Once everything is on your board you are going to find similarities. Maybe you noticed there's a lot of mountain images or a lot of forest photos. Or maybe you notice there's a lot of script fonts. Or theres a lot of hunter green in your images.


4. Create your mood board

Once you find all the similarities you are going to use these categories to narrow it down to 9-15 images. This can look like going from five fonts to one or two or choosing a certain kind of texture. Let's say you noticed there's a lot of forest photos in your images then just choose your favorite forest image and use that for your mood board. If you noticed a certain color scheme happening make sure to include photos that represent that as well.


 

If you're an artist:


1. Find your brand vibe

If you like to paint nature scenes maybe your brand vibe can be tranquil, serenity, natural, and peaceful.


2. Gather your images

I want you to grab your favorite pieces of work or take pictures of them and print them out or scan them onto your computer. Make sure to only use your favorite pieces. Artwork that you want to create more of. If you didn't enjoy a certain project then don't include those pieces. If you don't have a lot of artwork yet then get out there and create some artwork for fun.


Or get on Pinterest and pin art that you want to be creating. If you enjoying drawing simple line art then pin those types of images, but if you don't want to be creating any detailed line artwork then those images should be avoided.


3. Find similarities

Is there a lot of thin line strokes? Or a lot of thick line strokes? Maybe there's a certain color palette that you're starting to see like pastel colors or there's a lot of blue and greens. Are there certain subjects that are always showing up? People? Animals? Is there a certain medium that you are always using like charcoal, or watercolor? Do you like to put shadows behind your people or are there a lot of textures that you like to use? Are you always using certain colors over and over again?


4. Create your mood board

Once you find the similarities then choose the final 9 to 15 images for your final mood board. Maybe you noticed that there's a lot of thin line strokes then choose one or two of those images and put it in the final mood board. You don't even need to use the whole piece of artwork maybe just crop out the part where the detail is. If you notice that you're always drawing people then make sure you include those images in your mood board. Keep in mind that your mood board is the creative direction for your style so you don't wanna have too many conflicting ideas. This could look like only choosing to use thin strokes in your artwork or maybe sticking to one type of medium. If you have trouble narrowing down images refer back to your brand vibe and use that as your guide.

 

If you’re a photographer:


1. Find your brand vibe

How do you want your clients to feel when they see your images? If you're a wedding photographer maybe your brand vibe is heartfelt, emotional, timeless, loving and sentimental.


1. Gather your images

You can use your own photos or pin inspiring images from other photographers. Make sure to use photos that you enjoyed taking. Leave out photography that you don't resonate with anymore or maybe some of your very early works when you were just experimenting.


2. Find similarities

Have you noticed that you like to shoot in moody lighting? Or do you love the light and airy look? Are you always photographing weddings? Portraits? Boudoir? Are there certain poses that you like to use over and over again? Do you prefer shooting candid images or structured images of people smiling into the camera? How about framing? Do you like to step back and take the whole image? Or do you like to zoom in and incorporate a lot of details? Do you like to shoot indoors more than outdoors? Can you see certain color scheme emerging?


3. Create your mood board

Once you find the similarities then choose the final 9 to 15 images for your final mood board. Make sure that your mood board makes sense and only has one style. For example, you don't want it to have both light and airy and a moody images you need to choose one over the other. Or maybe you noticed that you mainly shoot weddings then show that with your mood board. Even if you shoot other things as well it's ok to only showcase weddings in your mood board. Remember your mood board is going to be the overall guide of your signature style it doesn't need to include every little detail. If you have trouble narrowing down images refer back to your brand vibe and use that as your guide.

 

Tips for creating your mood board:

-Always refer back to your brand vibe if you are having trouble making a decision

-If you love something but it doesn't match your brand vibe get rid of it

-Have a clear color palette

-Make sure your mood board has a cohesive style, ex: don't mix detailed art with simple art


What you don't want on your mood board: -A rainbow of colors, unless rainbow is your color palette and your a preschool

-Things that don’t make sense together:

Brand:

Elegant wedding script font with a dark edgy look

Artist:

Minimalist drawings with highly detailed dot drawings

Photographer: Light and airy photos with and moody lighting


Once you have your mood board:

-Use it as a base for your brand, artwork, or photography

-Stick to it Stay away from trends and stay true to you

-Remember to stick to your brand vibe

-Refer to your mood board when making artistic choices.


If you happen to be DIYing your brand then don't forget to grab my free Brand Style Guide Canva Template at www.zsquaredstudio.com/styleguide where you can add your mood board to the template so all your branding information is all in one place that you can easily refer back to. Just screenshot your final images from Pinterest and upload them onto the template.

If you feel that you aren’t ready to create a mood board you need to keep creating. Remember it took me around three years to really figure out my style and in those three years is where I found out what I like what I didn't like what worked for me what doesn't work for me. In the beginning of my business I loved using watercolor swatches and I had a really light blue as my signature color for my branding. Now I darkened my signature blue and I love the edgy layered look. I'm always stacking text on top of blocks of color or on top of photos check out my website for an example.


Here is a recap of everything we just learned:


The Four steps to creating a mood board are 1. Find your brand vibe

2. Gather your images

3. Find similarities

4. Create your mood board


Make sure that your mood board doesn't have conflicting concepts and get rid of anything that doesn't match with your brand vibe. You want your mood board to be cohesive and have a clear color palette if possible.


Remember that your mood board is going to be the creative direction for your brand, artwork or photography so sticking to it is how you're going to stay away from trends and stay true to you.

Keep creating and doing what you love. I hope this helps! Thanks for tuning in I'll catch you next time.

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