Finding your artistic voice

Firstly, it is important to know what does the phrase “Artistic” Voice mean.  Your artistic voice is simply “The Story” or meaning behind your work.

There is several reason why it is important to find your artistic voice and here is just few basic samples.

  1. Improves your chances of succeeding in the Art World
    Though it is possible to succeed as an artist that is versatile in different styles, subject matter and narratives.  The most successful artists in the world is those that has found their niche or voice.
  2. Makes it easier for the Public to recognize your work
    It also makes you stand out from the crowd, which is especially important because artists don’t just compete with locals, but with an international art world.
  3.  Easier to market a Forte or a Niche
    See below for general tips on how you use your knowledge of your artistic voice to target your ideal art market.
How I found my “Artistic Voice”

This is my process, it can different from one artist to the other.  Some might even skip some steps or need to find answers to different questions.

Step 1:  Try Everything and Keep the Best

When you are just starting out as a beginner artist it is important not to to specialize too quickly.  You should experiment with any type of art medium, genre, style, subject matter and even narratives.

This is the only way you will know what you like or dislike.  You will also learn which medium or subject matter is your stronger point.  Last but not least, it is fundamental to learn the basics of each medium or subject matter, so that you can use it in future projects.

Step 2:  Narrow down your Interest Field

If you are someone like me who love a wide variety of art styles, genres and subject matter.  I would advice that you follow Stephen Baumann’s advice and create a Pinterest Board with a minimum of 1000 Pins with everything and anything that sparks your interest.

As I did this I realized that I have a strong leaning towards Portrait and Figures, and more specifically to feminine subject matter.  You can also do this to figure out which genre you like most, for example Realism, Fantasy, Semi-Abstract or even combinations like Fantasy Realism.

Step 3:  Decide which art world fits you best

There is many art worlds, but in South Africa there is mainly two.

High Art (Academic Art)
Commercial Art
  • Typically artworks that features in South African Artist Magazine
  • Art Competition that focus more on the Technical quality and less about content of work
  • Artworks might have meaning, but the focus is stronger on Aesthetics and Commercial Viability
  • Negative Side of the Commercial world is that there is a lot of trend following and cliches, but you don’t have to be that type of Commercial Artist.
Step 4:  Why do you create Art?

This is the most difficult question that an artist needs to answer in order to find their artistic voice.  Your answer will have a strong influence on the story behind your work, as well as who/what might be your correct target market.

One of the reasons, why it is so difficult is that we might have a fear of rejection or even negative opinions.  Your answer might be something that your art lecturers don’t approve.

You can ask for advice, but the answer to the question lies within your heart and mind.  As a positive point remember that no answer is wrong or right.  An answer like I am “Passionate about art” is fine, but a little bit superficial.  All artist is passionate about art, you need to dig deeper to find the root of why you love art.

The Second reason you might struggle is because it can be in a niche where it is difficult to find artists/art  communities that create the type of art you want to make.

But like an Artist friend, once said to me:

“If you can’t find the art you want to create, be the trendsetter and start a new movement.   Others will follow or you might be surprised who you discover along your travels.”

How to apply your knowledge of your artist voice to find your target market?

Find your Specific Art Community

  • Facebook, you can join specific Facebook Groups in your specific medium/s, subject matter or niche market
  • Instagram, you can find your community via hashtags by searching for specific artists to follow or even adding it to your posts so that they can find you.

The Reason, why this is important is so that you can be informed about art competitions/opportunities or just generally be inspired by artists that work in your specific field.

Research where your ideal target market would be

  • If for example you love painting Children or Toys, you can consider promoting your work via Kids Magazines or even Kid-Friendly Events like Expos, Fun Fairs etc.
  • Look for opportunities outside the typical art markets like Galleries, or artist magazines. Because if your ideal target market is the Mom of Three Kids, you won’t always find them in a Gallery.

Make your website Search Engine Friendly

Add typical keywords that your target market might search.  For example “Wildlife Drawing from Photos” or anything related to your niche.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Utilize your knowledge of your artistic voice to follow the path that is correct for you.  For example attend the right type of art workshops to improve your specific craft.  Enter the right type of Art Competitions or apply to the right type of Art Galleries.  When you know what is your artistic voice, your path will become clearer as you travel.  Just follow the bricks step for step and you will get to your final destination.

Sometimes the mountains might be really high, but the key is too enjoy the view when you get to the top.

Also see 10 Things I wish I knew before I became an artist