Crafting a Signature Style

“A signature style is incredibly important,” they say…

Great!  Where do I get one of those?  Oh, that’s not something you can buy?  [Insert balloon deflating noise here]…

Give me a book, show me a video, and I can learn how to do that thing.  Ask me to come up with a signature style for myself, and I freeze.  How do I know what my signature style is?  I imagine if you have decided to start down an artistic journey, you may have asked yourself this same question.  That feeling of trying to define yourself through your work isn’t always easy for everyone.  It is not easy for me.   Looking at the work of successful surface pattern designers, I often find myself discouraged.  Their work is so lovely, so cohesive and expressive of their personalities.  Mine sometimes looks as if a third grader made it.  At nearly thirty, that stings a bit.  But… because I believe self deprecation only gets you nowhere, I aim to start taking steps towards finding my own style.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a work in progress.  This is not me sharing how I already developed my personal style because I still feel like I am defining it.  This is how I plan to go about doing so.  The goal is that by taking these steps, I will start to see a signature style emerge.  I’ll be sure to let you know if it works!  OR you can work right along with me and see how it turns out for you.**

Here’s how I plan to go about it…


Amazon and Barnes & Noble, just go ahead and take all my money.  I love Austin Kleon’s book “Steal Like an Artist.”  So often I feel like there is no way I can come up with something original that hasn’t been done a million times before.  If you pay attention to patterns on things, you have probably seen a certain style of flower all over everything.  Anna Rifle Bond, you amazing woman.  It seems like literally everyone with hands wants to copy your style.  One of the more important lessons in Kleon’s book is that there isn’t anything new, but as an artist, you should draw inspiration from several sources rather than just one.  Through this process you learn to create something that is unique to you.


Book List:

  • Steal Like an Artist – Austin Kleon
  • Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Color for Designers – Jim Krause (Thanks for the recommendation, Dylan M!)
  • Patterns: Inside the Design Library – Peter Koepke



Graphic Organize.

Ok, this is the teacher and visual learner coming out in me.  I guess as I start this artsy process, I should start using more artsy words like “moodboard.”  I love Pinterest, but I am also a tactile learner, so my intention is to create a physical board full of all the sources of inspiration I find through my research.  My board will include photos, names, word studies, colors, feelings, etc.  When I step back and look at the board, I want to be able to connect what it is I love about the sources I gathered so I can start to define the “me” in each of them.  I also think Wit & Delight’s Skillshare course has a lot of good information on developing your brand.

Sharpen My Skills.

I don’t believe I will be able to create a signature style without learning more about the process of surface pattern design.  I can see something in my head, but if I don’t have the skills to create that digitally, I’m stuck.  Skillshare is my best friend for this.  Right now, I am LOVING Dylan Mierzwinski’s collection of classes.  Bonnie Christine’s “Roost Tribe” is also a continual source of information for me.  I really can’t thank these women enough for sharing what they know!

Dylan M


Actually put pen to paper, so to speak, every day and make something.  Like Bonnie Christine says in one of her classes: make a point to do one thing every day that will bring you closer to your goal.  I won’t find my style if I don’t get sketching and working daily in Illustrator.  I will be sharing my #100dayproject on Instagram (@frannieandfrankie) if you want to follow along!

Now.  To get started…



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