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"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul." by William E. Henley

Thursday, March 11, 2010

one style? Two styles?

reluctant hug
Originally uploaded by novadesigns by tess

My last blogpost brought up an interesting discussion for me. About having multiple styles being something that is maybe frowned upon. I almost get the feeling that if you express yourself if a less consistent way that maybe people can't see what your voice or your style is? For me I guess I have never thought anything strange about it. My mother always worked with two very different styles. Modern science fiction paintings and more traditional textile art. So I have never put much thought into what kind of conclusions people might draw when you have an eclectic style and use several different expressions for your designs.

So I wanted to throw a couple of questions out there and pick your brain. Do you feel that as a designer it's important to stick with one style and only work with that style? Or do you feel that it's important to continue to push yourself and develop new ideas and play with new expressions? What are your thoughts about it? How do you work?

What about your home and the things you surround yourself with? I know I draw a lot of inspiration from my environment. Is your home a page from IKEA or Pottery Barn? Or a mix of both?

I look forward hearing your thoughts about this.

love ~tess


  1. What a beautiful & creative work! I cannot express it in mere words.
    i think a truly creative person cannot stick to just one style just because it sells and this is also true that a creative person gets bored when he/she sticks to one style! That is what is about being creative or an artist - isn't this a sign of a good designer?!
    It is this designer designs and brings different trends in market.
    congrats for your fabulous work & all the best for your bright future!

  2. I think the question implies that in working in the same style you somehow cannot push yourself into new creative places. I disagree with that sentiment. Margaux Lange works with Barbies but she keeps reinventing herself in her work.

    It has also really branded her. But I can see how it might at some point start to feel like she's pigeon-holed herself into being the Barbie artist.

    Personally my work is all over the place because I love playing with new ideas in new styles. I sometimes get concerned that I do not have a cohesive look and that somehow makes me and my work forgettable. That makes me sad. But what would make me despondent is if I stopped trying new things because I was concerned with watering down "my brand." I suppose I could have separate shops for different things but that would be too much to keep track of for me.

    So I do what I do and I am who I am. Hopefully people say to themselves "Hey that's the lady who makes all sorts of stuff. Let's see what craziness is going to come out of her head and into her hands next."

  3. I think it is good to push yourself and go in different directions. Not that one should leave a specific direction, but just go where your brain will take you. Kind of like having your signature style, taking a little vacation from that area, then come back home.. to your signature style. Lol, does that make sense? I think most of us are diverse in everything we do. From our interior to our exterior, from the foods we eat to the music we listen to. That is why I think it is okay to be diverse in our designs. We are complex beings, it is our nature to explore, to move beyond, to think, to create. As for home designs, Eclectic Boho. A mixture of Anthropology, Pier 1 Imports, hippie, and stones everywhere!!! At this moment, a mess, I need to clean house, my yard has been my priority the past few days... eeekkkk..

  4. hi Tess :)
    explore everything!
    there is something to be said for having a distinct style people recognize. and the flip side is being trapped into that one thing forever.

    it's important, in my opinion, to peke pushing yourself, your skills, your designs, keep exploring and growing. follow your creative drive. wherever it takes you. your work doe snot need to match!

  5. You and I have talked about this before, I have always been drawn to different styles. Sometimes I make things and think they might just be too simple/modern for my shop. Other times I want to push myself and challenge myself to make something that is not the norm for me.
    Personally, I could never just stick to one idea, of theme etc, it wouldn't let me explore creatively - which is what its all about, the journey!

  6. you need to do what makes you happy with a dash of what pays the bills. as your skills develop your ideas follow and neither should be stifled. continue on with what you love and buyers will follow.

  7. I see nothing wrong in having two or several styles, as long as they feel right when you create them.

    I think I'm one of those who do have a distinctive style that is recognizable. I once studied jewelry design where I was actually forbidden to do what was natural to me and I tested out a lot of other styles. However, it was like wearing plastic high-heels when all I wanted was walking bare-foot. It almost hurt. I fought for the right to express things MY way and eventually quit. However, for years ever since, I have felt bad about my style, somehow seeing it as labeled lame, boring, non-descript.

    The interesting thing that happened, once I decided to give hell in these old ghosts and fully DO what my instinct told me to, something amazing happened: it evolved, changed, mutated and grew into something far more interesting than when I stubbornly stuck to what I felt was mine -and what was forbidden.

    So, my personal lesson (to myself): Do what feels right to just you and do it to the max. Then you can't avoid growing what you create and evolve to much higher levels, more refined designs and new and exciting places to go -all while being true to your soul.

  8. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working with multiple different styles - 2 styles, 7styles, heck, I don't care if an artist have 42 different styles they'd like to explore, so long as each and every one of those 42 styles are their own and have truly come from within them.

    It's not a matter of "if it's ok or not ok to explore something that is different from what an artist has done before" but more so whether the concepts that are being explored are their own, or are someone else's.

  9. I meant to add this as well but I just feel like, especially in the etsy community, copycatting has become so rampant and it makes me sad. Not so much that people are becoming victims of "idea theft" (which is sad in and of itself) but more so that the people that are copying, for whatever reason, don't have enough confidence in their own ideas and creative spark to explore whatever stylistic direction they are meant to take.
    Basically it comes down to, no matter what you do, so long as you're being authentic, you should have no fear of the thoughts of others and by all means, explore away.

  10. Thank you for all your comments I find this discussion very interesting.

    Nina you know I love you but please don't put words in my mouth. :o) I did not by any means try to imply that artists with one expression cannot push themselves into a new creative places! I think Karin put it really well. Thank you so much for sharing that!

    Emelia thank you for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate that and I agree with what you're saying.

    I will continue to explore and develop my work. I really enjoy making a lot of different things. Heck I even like graphic design and play with polymer clay! Who knows where that will lead me. Branching is good! Right Andes?! :o)

  11. Well, I'm no designer, and this is more like a rant (which comes several days late btw...), but my take is this:

    One person's artistic expression is often perceived as the expression of one's personality, and have multiple styles can be perceived as being having multiple personalities, which is disconcerting to some.

    People often feel uncomfortable about me, because I dress in several drastically different styles all the time: grunge, androgynous, artsy avant-garde, and super lady-proper (David Foster Wallace once described a young woman's appearance as "a very Republican-looking young lady indeed," which made me laugh; it must be how people think of me when I show up wearing "conservative clothes"). With each style being attached to a stereotypical personality and social status, people feel confused and are always shocked when they see the different "me"s. Yet I have exactly the same mannerism regardless of what I dress. I have the same thoughts, express the same values always (which only adds to the confusion, I suppose...). One reason I hate having my pictures taken or posting any of myself is that I hate being pinned down as "X," when I'm never just X, but people can't seem to resist the impulse to assume.

    While your styles differ, I see the same approach, the same eye, and the same aesthetic in all of them. True that there's an evolution, but why should we stay the same? Some people do manage not to change much over decades, but.

    It's either be yourself, or repress yourself to please others' prejudice. (Well that's really ranting I guess....)


I treasure your words and the fact that you are
taking the time to share them with me.
Please forgive me if I don't respond personally to you.
I always try but sometimes time just flies away!
love ~tess