Considering Style

Grim Mariachi

So pretty much an established “style”, now. I’ve always had a problem with this term, because to me it’s always been a marketing thing. As a branding gizmo, style is used to establish the niche to which your work can be applied. Looking at it now I see that, in a functioning industry, style is an appropriate approach to a career. It is more than a conscious decision to categorise and package oneself: In a competitive world where time is such a valuable asset, any approach that helps you to produce work as quickly as possible with as few aesthetic sacrifices as possible has to be considered. Not having to think about the form of your work as you approach a brief is more than handy – it seems to be essential. Of course, to most practitioners this is a blatant fact of life, but if you’ve come from a background in what I call “Institutional Art”, where context is absolutely everything, you might understand my position. There are so many illustrators whose work I admire, and so distinct in their own way. You fantasize that you could be their equal, each one in turn, all the while quietly denying that this is an impossibility: Each and every one has a biography, a book of influences of their very own – not only people, but biographical influences. None of the greats got to their positions by aping the work of others. Its just a question of asking of each one  “What one thing can I take away with me that I can put – at some stage – to good use?”

Grim Mariachi (Detail)

Above, a detail and, below, an animation of the layers used to establish a colour scheme. Its a delicate, panicky stage of the process because it requires a huge reliance on a kind of inspiration, in the true meaning of the word: the ability to leap the gap between what is in front of you and what you want to be in front of you.