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How do artists develop a distinctive creative style?

Developing a consistent style and voice is a number one priority for most fledgling artists, designers and illustrators, so a question we regularly ask on Affinity Spotlight is: How did you develop your style? Talking from personal experience, here is what 14 creative professionals had to say on the subject.

Adrià Tormo aka Tormius

“Outsiders” and “Butterfly” created by Adrià Tormo in Affinity Designer

We love the complex and highly detailed geometric works of Spanish digital artist Tormius. His style, which he calls ‘Neoformism,’ is influenced by Formism and a combination of other art movements, including Cubism, Constructivism and Elementarism, which he interprets in his own unique way.

“I guess my geometric style came naturally. Prior to this, I tried several things to see what I liked more. I tried to learn concept art and to draw and paint in a more “traditional” way, but then I discovered the Pen Tool in its entirety; and the capabilities that vector drawing could give me. I like to control what happens on my canvas in the best possible way, and I’m a bit obsessed with perfection. I’m talking about lines that fit with each other, exact measurements, proportions, symmetry etc., and it’s something that vector drawing and geometry gave me, so little by little, I developed it further,” Tormius explains.

“I like to work in an ornate style with a lot of geometry and complexity, but I also like things that are more simple and minimalist. I try to satisfy those two parts within me in different works.”

Anna Dittman

“Laguna” created by Anna Dittman in Affinity Photo

“I think style is in constant evolution. It is bound to change as our experiences change us.”

The sheer artistry behind the ethereal illustrations of Anna Dittman is astounding. Working entirely digitally but with a traditional mindset, she rarely uses more than a few layers when creating a piece and prefers to use a limited set of brushes which mimic traditional textures and effects.

“Your style is what sets you apart. Having a cohesive voice is generally what will brand you and encourage clients to see how your work can be applied to their projects. That being said, my style does shift around here and there. Sometimes I get wrapped up in portraits, other times fuller figures. Sometimes I’ll be more experimental and abstract, other times more realistic. Sometimes I play with texture, and other times I focus on softness. I think style is in constant evolution. It is bound to change as our experiences change us.

“I used to work mainly with graphite and pencil, my goal being recreating a photo as realistically as possible. Then in my early teens, I received a tablet and discovered digital art. With more freedom to make mistakes, I loosened up and began experimenting. A lot of it had to do with getting older and becoming more experienced, but working digitally did allow a shift towards a more experimental, expressive style,” Anna reveals.

“I used to be intent on getting every detail of a portrait technically correct without telling much of a story in the process. But my favourite illustrations are those that feel lively, not static. So whether it was billowing wind or hair, airborne or underwater imagery, a paused gesture or faded texture, I began incorporating movement into my work, and nowadays, rather than just focusing on the figure, I like to make sure the piece flows entirely before getting caught up in the fine details.”

Anne Albert

“Quick Hello” created by Anne Albert in Affinity Designer

Anne Albert is a freelance illustrator who has a talent for translating complex stories into simple yet dynamic illustrations. Her style is characterised by minimalist colour selections and bold geometry and often incorporates abstract shapes, optical illusions, women and nature.

“My style is always in a process, and I worked hard to get to the point where I am now. But I don’t think I will ever be complete with finding my own voice because I am continuously learning and constantly developing as a person and an illustrator.

“Finding my style was a lot about asking myself questions like: Where do I come from? What makes me unique? What do I like? Apart from that, I have always been influenced by everything imaginable: music, nature, art, other illustrations, graphic design, etc. I can’t really tell if there is one key influence. It’s more a mixture of experiences, my personality and my interests that led me here.”

Melinda Magyar

“Make Shit Happen” created by Melinda Magyar in Affinity Designer

“There are people who make a living working in several kinds of styles and mediums, and there are people who strictly stick to one—neither way is worse than the other.”

Melinda Magyar is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Hungary. She mainly works in vector and has a passion for using vibrant, contrasting colours throughout her work.

“My current style is heavily inspired by pop art-esque elements and humour, dressed in a colourful aesthetic. I mainly create black line arts and simple colour spots under the linework.

“I pretty much worked only in black and white in my early days. Not using colour was sort of a safe zone for me, but thanks to one of my teachers, I managed to get out of that phase, and since then, colour has played a huge role in my work,” Melinda tells us.

“My early drawings were also a lot different in technique. I started with digital paintings, then I created some geometric compositions, and my current style evolved from a part-time job! I used to illustrate textbooks for children in a style similar to my current one!

“There are people who make a living working in several kinds of styles and mediums, and there are people who strictly stick to one—neither way is worse than the other. The important thing is not to stress. Your own little marks that differentiate your works eventually show over time; you only need to keep creating and keep loving the process!”

Vincent Jacquin aka Small Studio

Sunny Side Festival gig poster created by Vincent Jacquin in Affinity Designer

French freelance artist Vincent Jacquin aka Small Studio has been creating bold, abstract art for various creative fields, including graphic design, illustration, self-publishing and mural design for the last 15 years.

“My work has always been shaped by the way I use colour with a limited palette. In my graffiti days, the colour charts offered only had a limited range of colours.

“At the end of my studies in graphic design, I discovered the technique of screen printing and found many similarities in the way of using colour: direct and flat tones, simple shapes… It immediately resonated with my practice of graffiti and the constraints imposed by screen printing have gradually shaped my way of conceiving images,” Vincent explains.

“Even today, though all my projects are not destined for silk-screening, this printing technique influences almost all my productions, notably by the overprinting of colours which is something central in my work.”

Maciek Łazowski

“FOMO” (fear of missing out) created by Maciek Łazowski in Affinity Designer

Maciek Łazowski is a freelance illustrator based in Warsaw, Poland. After working as an art director for several years, Maciek chose to quit his job to pursue his dream of illustrating full-time.

“I began illustrating with a very loose, doodly style. Then I started making collages and found lots of joy in cutting basic shapes and arranging them in different ways. I found a digital equivalent of this process in playing around with basic vector shapes. The more I did that, the more I moved from chaos to order. Now it takes me twice as long to finish an illustration, but I’m more satisfied with the outcome.

“Tons of artists have influenced me over the years, but for what I’m doing right now, I think I owe the most to Picasso (always), Paul Rand, mid-century modern illustration and the Polish School of Posters. They have had the greatest impact on my current work.”

Juan Castaño

Illustration created by Juan Castaño in Affinity Designer

Juan Castaño is a self-taught artist who has been illustrating digitally for the last 12 years. Inspired by Art Deco and the Russian avant-garde, his style has naturally evolved into an exciting mix of minimalist geometry, bold colours and clever use of negative space.

“I remember when I first started doing digital illustration, I would see and buy works of a minimalist style, and I thought this is what I want to do. It’s what I started drawing. Very simple works, with very simple shapes, but far removed from what I do today. I have experimented a lot, and my style has naturally evolved towards minimalism and the importance of colour. I love the power of shapes and their ability to communicate.”

Jose Ciceraro

“Vector robot” (left) and “Elemental robot” (right) created by Jose Ciceraro in Affinity Designer

“Style is ever-changing, and it’s important to try and figure out why you like/react to something and then find a way to incorporate that technique or shape into your own visual vocabulary.”

By day Jose Ciceraro is a Principal UI Artist at Insomniac Games. At night he explores character design, comic making and illustration while working in two very different styles: dynamic vector and painterly raster.

“I think for me, working in my sketchbook constantly has helped the most with my personal style. A sketchbook is a place to really cut loose and explore. I’m fortunate to work in games, and as a production artist, you have to learn to adapt and change styles often. So I would say my thirteen years as a game developer have helped me to be able to break things down aesthetically and incorporate them into my personal and professional work. I also think style is ever-changing, and it’s important to try and figure out why you like/react to something and then find a way to incorporate that technique or shape into your own visual vocabulary,” Jose explains.

“Over the last few years, I have figured out what I like making and how I like making it. This has led to me branching out in a couple of different directions. That is one of the things I am so grateful to Affinity for. It’s just so enjoyable to use. And in the same program, I can do a vector style I love and a more painterly style—without changing apps! It really is my favourite program!”

Viktorija Grachkova

“Brave Sailor” created by Viktorija Grachkova in Affinity Designer

Viktorija Grachkova is a freelance illustrator from Latvia based in Berlin. We love how she uses shapes, angles and scale to create interesting and dynamic compositions.

“I have tried a lot of different techniques and styles—just because I want to try everything. In some commercial projects, the style is dependent on the client’s preferences, but I still try to do something unusual in any case. I’ve tried different styles and techniques in my personal projects too—I’ve drawn super realistic things, abstract dynamic compositions and black and white graphic illustrations, etc., but I felt so uncomfortable because those styles just didn’t suit me, and I didn’t feel that I could draw them right. Anyhow, now, I think I’ve finally found my own style. When drawing in it, I really feel I know how to work with it better than anybody else,” Viktorija reveals.

“The illustration “Brave Sailor” was the most significant piece in developing my style. Not because of the theme or how it was made, but because of how I felt whilst drawing it. This illustration was drawn so easily and fast, and I was so confident that it looked exactly how it should. I also had a feeling that a lot of people would like it. At that moment, I was still experimenting with my style but it was whilst creating this piece that everything clicked, and I really fell in love with it.”

Sabine König

“Ocean” created by Sabine König in Affinity Designer

“For me, the creative journey is what is really exciting about art, and one should be careful not to think that one has found one’s style. It is an open-ended path.”

Sabine König is a talented illustrator and Affinity user based in Germany. Her work is instantly recognisable when it pops up on our Instagram feed and we’ve loved watching her style evolve over the last few years.

“I would say that my current style has evolved from my love of lines, and round, flowing shapes. In addition, working digitally has opened up completely new avenues for me. I used to have another style that was more graphic and abstract, also more colourful. At the moment, I am trying to bring these two styles closer together. It’s an ongoing process, and I never know exactly where I’ll end up. For me, the creative journey is what is really exciting about art, and one should be careful not to think that one has found one’s style. It is an open-ended path.”

Javier Ramirez aka Sr. Reny

“Cat” created by Javier Ramirez in Affinity Designer

Javier Ramirez is a Spanish illustrator and designer who works under the pseudonym, Sr Reny. Before going freelance, he worked in advertising agencies as a graphic designer for a number of years.

“I think that personal style is something that develops continuously throughout your professional career. Each project I do—and some are often very different from others—has something that lasts with me and that I apply unconsciously in the following ones. The result of all of these little things allows your personal style to appear,” Javier explains.

“I believe that in the last few years, my work has naturally evolved. In the past, I was very much influenced by design and used more geometric shapes, which in my opinion, removed naturalness and made my works more rigid and cold. Over time, my work has evolved to be more expressive and little by little, I’m adopting a more loose technique. I think that is the direction my work is taking.”

Yo Az

“Totem” created by Yo Az in Affinity Designer

There are few people with such a distinctive style as Yo Az. With mind-bending geometrics and acute attention to detail, you can get lost in one of his illustrations for hours.

“I have always been amazed by detailed and complex drawings. I like to take my time to observe an artwork and discover new elements that are less obvious (unseen) at first glance. This led me to start working in a detailed style.

“Maybe another reason is that I never really had drawing lessons. So I guess I wanted to do more and to develop more elements to my work to hide that, and then it developed into my style.”

Kevin House

Isometric, graphic and photo-realistic illustrations created by Kevin House in Affinity Designer

“One thing that makes me a bit different, I suppose, is that I don’t really stick to one specific style. Life is too interesting, and projects are too varied to stay in one visual comfort zone.”

Kevin House is a digital illustrator and logo designer based in Victoria BC. He has over 30 years of experience in the design and illustration industry and has been working freelance since 2006 producing unique, creative solutions to all types of businesses and small to mid-sized design studios around the world.

“One thing that makes me a bit different, I suppose, is that I don’t really stick to one specific style. Life is too interesting, and projects are too varied to stay in one ‘visual comfort zone’. I like to mix it up, to keep things fresh and I enjoy the challenge that comes with that. There are certain commonalities that do occur or crossover in some of my work, but I don’t intentionally set out to stay on any particular path style-wise. Having said that, I am recognised somewhat for my isometric work, but again, even within that, I would argue there are varying stylistic differences.”

Kenny Spicer

“Big Wheel Baggers” created by Kenny Spicer in Affinity Designer

Kenny Spicer is an illustrator based in North Carolina who is most known for his automotive art.

“I think every artist is constantly evolving their style—trying new ways to do what they do every day and trying new paths to get the same results. I know I am always trying new shading styles, and most importantly, ways to speed things up. Being able to become more efficient with time is definitely important. I admire the artists that get to spend weeks on a design, but that’s not even in my stratosphere. One thing that I have had to evolve on is time.

“This year, I plan to work on more of my own projects. I want to spend time creating something that I like and that I’m interested in and explore new creative ways to do things. I am always looking to learn new techniques. If you’re not learning, you’re falling behind. This is something that is so important in this industry. I also plan to get back to the roots of drawing with more pencil sketches and bring back some of that process to keep things fresh. Sketching and painting on the iPad and computer can get repetitive, so it’s good to mix it up a bit.”


Everyone approaches this process in their own unique way, but there is one commonality in the answers we received—it’s all about you: what you enjoy making and how you like creating it.

• Ask yourself questions such as: What am I drawn to? What do I like making? What techniques do I enjoy most? How can I explore and merge these interests? Discovering the answers to these questions will help you grow and develop as an artist.

• Don’t feel afraid to experiment with lots of different styles and techniques. You’ll learn something about yourself, even if it’s what you don’t like or what doesn’t work for you. Eventually you’ll find things that resonate and that you want to incorporate into your work.

• Enjoy the process and don’t get too caught up on the end result. When you enjoy drawing in a certain way, it often ends up becoming your style. It also relieves you from the pressure of completing a project and instead draws you into the process of creating it, which can often lead to the best results.

• Keep learning and evolving—your style is bound to change and grow as your experiences influence you and you learn new techniques and ways of working. This will help you keep things fresh and continue to enjoy the process.

• Developing a personal style takes time; it isn’t something that happens overnight. The designers and illustrators we interviewed have put in countless hours of work to get to where they are today. Perseverance and patience is key—keep creating work that you love and enjoy making, and your style will shine through over time.