Helik writes: Hello mam, I am in an awkward situation, my parents want me to draw more like other artists , for an ex. Live sketching , still life , real sketches , etc and they don’t even care bout my style, my father was with me but as other people converted his mind that my style isn’t the need , the need is of what other artists normally do.. but I m an artists with different interest of style like drawing more themed , feminine ,character designs , concept art. And I will go to an animation college, but I don’t know what is my style career and will it come under animation or fine arts… please clear my dilemma… and you are my soo huge inspiration that 2-3 days ago , I had a dream where you were my art teacher!! 

This is a hard one to answer because there are SO many different factors to consider.

First I’m going to talk about your specific situation then shift to a more generalized answer. For you, you are still quite young. Right now I wouldn’t worry so much about style, but learn how to do EVERYTHING you can! It sounds like your dad wants you to draw more realistically. I suggest you start working on that now because if you can master realism, it’s going to allow you to have even more control over your stylized work! Learning human anatomy is important no matter the style you’re interested in. The more you know, the more you learn to do, the more freedom you have in your own style in the end.  Being great at realism does not mean that you have to paint realistically all the time. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Picasso was absolutely amazing at realism. Yep, the guy who painted cubism was also a master of realism.

Artist Aaron Blaise, you may know him for his work on little things like Disney’s Lion King and many MANY others. We are talking about the best of the best when it comes to animation. He has animated SO many amazing things…but he doesn’t just draw stylized cartoony things. He does it all. He has to know how to draw more realistically so that he can apply that knowledge to his stylized animations. He regularly paints and draws realistic wildlife and portraits. This guys work is amazing no matter what he does.  As someone interested in animation, I really think this should be your goal.

This means you should take your dad’s advice and start working on live sketching, still life, and realistic things in addition to what you enjoy most.

The second part of this is more for fine artists. I’ve seen artists ask in art groups “what is popular to paint” or “what style sells best”. I don’t recommend painting for what sells. Every style sells, that just comes down to marketing skills. I recommend painting what you love. Your passion will show in your own work. If you are painting something that does not interest you, you won’t improve NEARLY as fast as you will if you’re drawing things you love.

I think we will all get advice from well-meaning friends throughout our career about painting what they perceive as being more “popular”. When painting a surreal landscape I had a friend suggest that the painting would probably have sold in a heartbeat if I had not included the surreal portions, that I should just paint simple landscapes. That painting sold just fine in my surreal style when I was finished. I had another friend when talking about my wildlife work tell me that I should stick to just super realistic. She felt the way I include my patterned backgrounds or elements like bubbles were gimmicky and I would sell more without them. These comments weren’t intended to be rude by any means. She was projecting what she likes and assumed that that is what everyone else would want to buy too.

What people don’t realize is that painting a style or subject that is super popular means you’re one artist in a crowd of hundreds of thousands. How are you going to stand out if you’re not creating your own style? Being different is important! We don’t need to sell our painting to everyone. We don’t need to make everyone happy. We just need to find the right audience, the right buyer for our unique art. Being different is a good thing in this field!!

That said, you should still master your technique. You should still aim to always improve. Don’t get lazy and think “meh, this is just my style” and not make every effort to improve your skills because of the style excuse. That doesn’t mean you need to paint the same subjects as everyone else, but you should aim to improve your actual technique to what other professionals do. That may mean color mixing, blending, contrast, design balance. A unique style should not be an excuse to be lazy in technique!