Does a Signature Style make a difference for the artist?
Your signature style is crucial in helping you rise above the noise in the contemporary art market.
That is what I’ve learned in the course of my artist career.
In 2008, while participating in the Art Fair at Travancore Art Gallery I ran into an acquaintance who had formerly served as the Principal of the prestigious Delhi Art College.
Himself an artist, I mentioned to him that 2 of my works were also on display and wanted him to see them. At this show, the organizers did not allow the artist’s name to be placed with the art work because they wanted each participating artist to be viewed only by the work, not the name.
Imagine my surprise when he told me that he had already seen the artworks.
The ultimate compliment that followed was his saying that my style was distinctive and he would recognize a Kusum Shukla painting anywhere.
My style had changed a bit over the decade of our acquaintanceship and he mentioned that there was a new maturity in my work.
Every artist has their own Signature Style that develops throughout their lifetime as the artist grows both as a person as well as a creator who is on a quest to find his or her own unique way of expression.
In our journey of life, we have new experiences, gain confidence through them and expand our knowledge that ultimately finds expression on the canvas or other chosen medium.
While the artist might feel that their style has changed, the viewer who has seen the artworks over time would always recognize the artist.
That happened again when I was submitting my works for the EASA exhibition and the curator was a lady whom I had met about a decade earlier at another Group show where she had been invited by the organizers for the Opening Day and had shown her my works. It was a brief meeting and I wasn’t sure if she would have remembered me.
This time, it was my daughter who was pleasantly surprised when she called the curator about a few logistic details over the phone.
The curator not only remembered me but recognized the art!
She went a step further to tell my daughter that she recognized my Signature Style right away from the images and was keen to meet me again after all these years.
This is the ultimate compliment an artist can receive because in a world full of artists and new ones being created every year, a signature style is the only chance that an artist has to stand out from the noise in a crowded art market and make a name for themselves.
It’s the quality that will help them survive if they are not able to get the patronage of an art gallery or do not want to bend towards commercial demands and protect their sacred originality.
Signature Style means any aspect of the artist’s practice that makes their works recognizable. This includes themes, choice of subject matter and the artist’s approach to the subject, material used and technique.
In my case, the works were recognized based on the strokes of the palette knives (I don’t use brushes), the colour schemes and the names of the paintings that reflect my Muse.
Like any other skill, the artist has to stay contemporary and continue to experiment and take risks to take their skill to the next level.
That is when the artist’s style starts to change as they bring more of themselves into the works. The artist may feel that the style has changed when in fact, their distinct style is still there but has found expression in a new way on canvas that others who are at a distance recognize even after decades.