Monday, April 28, 2014

The Downside of Not Having a Signature 'Look'

When you're working in any kind of design profession, there's a real benefit to having an identifiable 'look'...a signature theme that customers, clients and/or gallery owners can easily attribute to you.
That 'look' will not guarantee successful marketing of your work, but it can definitely help.
So....of course, it's something that I constantly resist.
I think that my resistance is rooted in my background as a landscape architect.
I've always approached each landscape project as a very individual undertaking, responding to what the client wants and what the site wants.  
(new pergola and fruit garden in New Vernon, NJ)
 I like to think that I bring a thoughtful design sensibility that lets me solve issues in a unique and creative way....
(new patios and plantings in Wayne, PA)
...but my approach does not necessarily create a cohesive body of work.
(new pool, plantings and changing shed in Fort Washington, PA)
That's completely fine with me,
but I'm beginning to appreciate that my resistance to developing a specific 'look' is more of an issue with my paintings and jewelry.
I began painting around two years ago....not too long, but long enough to develop certain habits that I thought were limiting my ability to grow and improve.
I asked Georganna Lenssen, my instructor at Wayne Art Center, to give me challenges that would push me in a different direction. 
I've been working on abstracts and began this painting a couple of weeks ago.
Do I like this?'s in progress, and I don't know where it might go.
Has it created a reaction?
I've been painting landscapes, and some of the people who've seen this new abstract have commented that it's "so not like me".
When I hear something like that, it makes me want to pursue abstracts with more enthusiasm because I don't like the idea of already becoming predictable.
Would landscapes and abstracts combine to make a good show in a gallery space?
Maybe not.....probably not.
That's all right.
Taking an abstract approach with my painting made me want to try something different with my jewelry.
I just finished some new necklaces that are distinctly different from my other work.
I'm thinking of these as my Galaxy pieces...they bring to mind something orbiting in space.
They're bold and shiny unlike me.
I had one of these necklaces with me when I dropped new inventory off at Portfolio, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art's gift shop this past Friday.
When I showed it to the Manager, she and her assistant paused and said, "That's so different from your other work."
Being so different was not such a good thing as I suspected it might be, and the necklace came back home with me.
I understand that when a gallery/shop has limited display space, the owner wants to create a narrative with each artist's work...something that customers can connect to on an emotional level.
Maybe having pieces like these alongside my other work might be like inserting a chapter of 'A Clockwork Orange' into 'Sense and Sensibility' just doesn't work
(for most people).... 
and that's all right.
The necklaces will be at Woodmere Art Museum this coming Saturday for Meet the Artists.
Do you live near me?
If yes, I hope you'll stop by and say hi.


  1. Interesting post as I'm struggling a bit with that 'so not like you' thing right now, too. My silver work is simple and clean-lined and I've begun to use enamel for accent. The trick is how to incorporate it. And most recently I have started watercolor - a complete departure!

    I have to decide if I am an artist because I love the process or if I am creating with the thought of selling. And if it's just for selling, that opens a whole new set of questions!

    Lots in your post to think about, absolutely :: lynn

  2. Lynn- I aim for both loving the process and creating with the intention of selling...those goals are not mutually exclusive.