Taking stock of my styles

So, recently I decided that I definitely do want to print again. And I need something to print. The only criteria is that it needs to be something I enjoy doing. The openness of that brief makes it very difficult to decide on what I want to print but also another very important aspect has reared its head: what is my style? What style do I want to employ in my new print designs?

It may not seem important to pin it down but I feel as though for the past twenty odd years I’ve been “jack of all styles and master of none”. In the line of my work as a graphic designer and illustrator I’ve often been required to adopt certain styles or have naturally chosen styles.

Over the last few days I’ve realised that I do now want a recognisable, definite style of my own when printing. And in order to move forward it seems important to me to look back and take stock of the kind of illustration work I’ve produced in the past.

So the style I seemed to fall naturally into for client work and also for my own creations was a very simple hand drawn black outline and solid colour fill in applications like Adobe Illustrator. I created illustration commissions for magazines and books, seen below, plus a special John Peel poster which I do hope to print one day.

Lapin and Me illustration for shop branding
Illustrations for a children’s book
Children’s book illustration
Illustration for Junior magazine
John Peel poster
Gig poster for the band Kwik Spell

The second illustration style I have employed has been a flat graphical style for screen printing. Illustrations tend to be realistic rather than stylised and the creativity lies in the concept rather than the style.

Gig poster for Geoff Farina and Chris Brokaw
Gig poster for Rock Against War event
Gig poster for Goodfest 2 event

I have also employed the classic flat graphical style for non-screen printed work such as digitally printed-on-demand homewares, tshirts and paper and card printed collaterals. It’s interesting to note that I’ve tended to create more stylised illustrations when working on these designs.

T-shirt illustration
Illustrations for promotional swatch book
Illustration for print-on-demand homewares range

Finally and more recently, I’ve developed a new style specifically for screen printed homewares which I call “digital linocut”. It’s similar to real linocut except that I don’t just cut away but add and then cut away, using a brush tool and Wacom digital drawing tablet.

Illustration for Cover Story homewares range
Illustration for Farm Yarns homewares range
Digital linocut illustrations
Screen printed fabric of dry stone wall pattern

The one thing I’ve realised, looking back over this work, is that when I came to design ranges for screen printing in 2014, I used quite a few new styles in quite a short space of time. As well as digital linocut I also created a very traditional looking pattern in a watercolour style and some city illustrations in another style.

Looking back over this work has made me more confident that I can develop new styles and that I can indeed create something for myself which is distinctive and personal.