WOW!!!!  I don’t know why this popped into my head but I have so many ideas right now. You??

Let’s keep it to living artists and say you could trade places for a day.  Think about how much you’d learn and what you’d be able to apply to your career.  Just the value in seeing how that artist works, promotes themselves, do they have an assistant, is there studio a mess?  It would be priceless!  Ok, so who would it be???

Here is mine… Mark Ryden

LOVE Mark Ryden.  He’s an Art Center Alumni like me but we were not there at the same time, unfortunately.  Though maybe fortunately, because I know I would be super intimidated by his talent which would make critiques super painful.  lol.  I first learned about him after seeing his Michael Jackson ‘Dangerous’ album cover because my instructor was talking about how Mark went all out with his sketches.  So of course I ran out to ‘Tower Records’ to check out the cover. I was in awe of the detail.  If you haven’t seen it, here’s a link with lots of yummy detail about it’s creation in an interview with Mark.  

What I loved instantly about this painting was not only the incredible detail but just the incredible style of this one piece of art.  And I call it one piece of art but back then, I had the tape my friends.  If you’re old enough to remember the fold out, heck, if you’re old enough to remember pursuing a Tower Records, you may be giggling right now.  But the fold out had even more artwork within.  I’d just stare at it all in wonder.  Oh, and a fun tid-bit…The rumor for quite a long while at Art Center (where many instructors knew Mark first hand) was that he had to fight to get the original painting back and it took months and months.  Michael Jackson loved it so much that he wanted to keep it.  True?  Not sure but it’s a great story, if so :)

What Mark Ryden has is a very distinct Signature Style. Big eyed, cutie pie children and nostalgic toys surrounded by highly decorative elements with a vintage flair and a little circus thrown in.  It’s a style that became known as ‘Pop Surrealism’ and it’s a term initiated when he became popular in the early 90’s and of course a thousand and one artists have adopted the style since then.

He’s a fantastic artist but he’s also a very smart with business. He’s made a really amazing career for himself and self publishes his own books and prints with the label Porterhouse Fine Art Editions.  I have a few of his books, that I completely cherish, including this adorable but gruesome miniature book he created for his ‘Blood’ show in 2003.  Aaaand, it came with a teeny tiny book mark that is just as cute…Very Tim Burton. Ooh, yes Tim Burton.  Shoot.  My list is getting longer.     

Anyway, I’d love to just hang out in Mark Ryden’s studio, which is pretty remarkable too!!!  Check him out. He’s quite a cool cat :)  

This brings me to the point of my initial question and why I’d trade places with an artist. I’d love to see how they developed their signature style and what lead them to where they are now.

So…do YOU have a Signature Style?  If the answer is no…I have another question for you.

How many times have you been told, just keep making work and your style will come through?  I found this so frustrating and here’s why…I’ve been creating work all my life.  I’m a working artist and have been for 25 years.  But as I was starting to create in a slightly different industry I felt lost.  No one would help me and I found the confusion and loss of complete control so utterly frustrating. I just couldn’t believe that no one could offer me any guidance besides, ‘just keep making art’. UGH.

Here’s the problem I have with that…Yes, you can just keep creating art but I really love the idea of taking an active role in chasing after what you want vs. just letting something just happen.  Get where I’m going with this?   Just making art – while I enjoy it, I wanted some guidelines, some clues as to what would work BEST for me and what would help me build a strong brand. I wanted to be more of a detective so I could really figure out who I was and ‘develop’ my style, while making lots of work, instead of just letting whatever happens happen.

My solution…

I’m working to change this passive method that everyone advises because I just can’t stand the idea of another artist flailing around like I did when trying to develop my signature style.  It’s unnecessarily cruel when there are basic steps you can take to help you along the way. 

What are they? I’m so glad you asked, haha. At this very moment, I’m creating something that is absolutely perfect for an artist struggling like I was. No, can’t tell you just yet but it’s almost ready so stay tuned. I’m so excited for this!!!!