Find Your Signature Design Style | Maja Faber | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Your Project

    • 3. What is a Signature Style

    • 4. Who Are You

    • 5. Research Artists and Styles

    • 6. Explore Colors

    • 7. Experiment and Grow

    • 8. Analyse

    • 9. 10 Words That Describe Your Style

    • 10. Join a Challenge

    • 11. Stick to it

    • 12. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

This class is made as a guide for helping you to find your signature design style. It’s for surface pattern designers, illustrators and fine artists who are interested in finding and growing your signature style.

To find your signature design style can feel challenging. If you ask most creatives how to find your signature style, they would probably mention two things - time and practice.

But this process can be more or less challenging and that’s the reason why I’ve created this class.. The class in it self won’t give you a signature style, you still need to do the work. But see it as a toolbox of exercises and tips that can help you move forward in your journey of finding your style.

The class is built up with exercises and tips that I wish that I would have gotten when I first started out. Throughout the class we will follow a workbook that I’ve created for you, included as a resource in class, that will guide you through the process and make you really think through your style choices and the way you create.

I will teach you the techniques that I’ve worked with myself to find my style and we will also talk about mindset, if you really need a signature style and why it’s good to narrow it down to one style when you first start out.

It’s a beginner friendly class where we will focus on working through the workbook and practical exercise that can help you find your style, and you don’t need any prior knowledge or experience to take this class.

By the end of this class you will have gained new perspectives on the styles you like and your own style and you’ll feel that you have a guide to help you through the process of finding your own unique signature style.


You'll find the workbook to download here in class under the "Project & Resources" tab >>>


Pinterest Board - Print & Pattern:

Pinterest Board - Color:

To learn more about me visit my website and say hello at the gram @maja_faber

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Meet Your Teacher

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Maja Faber

Surface Pattern Designer & Illustrator

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I’m Maja Faber (previously Maja Rönnbäck), a surface pattern designer & illustrator based in Stockholm, Sweden. I create artwork that I license to collaborators worldwide and I teach fellow creatives all I know about surface design and life as a creative entrepreneur. 

I share my full story of how and why I started my own business when you subscribe to my newsletter, so if you're curious - hit subscribe.

My creative journey started with me believing that I couldn’t draw and sitting at my job as a marketing manager, having this itchy feeling that I was meant to do something else with my life. 

In 2015 I found surface pattern design by a chance. I got instantly hooked and what started as a hobby soon became a dream to start my own busin... See full profile

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1. Intro: To find your signature design style can feel challenging. If you asked most creatives how to find your signature style, they will probably mention two things, time and practice. But this process can be more or less challenging, and that's the reason why I've created this class, which is a guide for helping you to find your signature style. The class in itself won't give you a signature style, you still need to do the work, but see it as a toolbox of exercises and tips that can help you move forward in a journey of finding your style. I'm Mia Favor and I'm a Service Pattern Designer from Stockholm, Sweden. A couple of years ago when I first learned service pattern design, I was so eager to find my own style. But it felt so overwhelming and I didn't know where to start or how to approach it all, that's why I created this class for you. It's built up with exercises and tips that I wish that I would have got when I first started out. Throughout the class, we will follow a workbook that I created for you, included as a resource in this class, that will guide you through the process and make you really think through your style choices and the way you create. I will teach you the techniques that I worked with myself to find my style, and we will also talk about mindset, if you really need a signature style, and whether it's good to narrow it down to one style when you first start out. This class is for all visual creatives, pattern designers, illustrators, fine artists who are interested in finding and growing your signature style. It's a beginner's friendly class where we will focus on working through the workbook and practical exercises that will help you find your style. You don't need any prior knowledge or experience to take this class. By the end of this class, you will have gain new perspectives on the styles you like and your own style, and you'll feel that you have a guide to help you through the process of finding your own unique signature style. 2. Your Project: Your project in this class, is to work through the workbook to gain new perspectives on the styles you like and the styles you are growing. To present your project in class, I want you to show me something of your artwork and describe your style in 10 words. It would be great if you also would describe your thoughts on your own style and where you're at in the process of finding your style. 3. What is a Signature Style: A signature style is the way your artwork looks and feels. I like to think of it that if someone will recognize your work without your name on it, that's when you know that you have a strong signature style. To have your own style, sets you apart from your competition, it gives you an advantage as a brand, and you probably heard before that to succeed in your business you need to be niche. It's true for your brand in general, but also for your creative style. If you're too broad, people won't know what they can expect from you, and often customers doesn't look for general, they look for something specific. If you are niche, it's much easier to draw the customers to your work. Does this mean that you need to have just one style? No, not at all, but you need to start with one style to build your brand, get noticed, and build awareness around you as a creactive. With time, you can expand both your style and your brand. But if you try to do it all at once, it will probably not only feel a bit messy for you, but also for your possible customers and your audience. I've always felt that a signature style is what is really you, you can't really fake a signature style as it comes from you. If you're style is a copy of someone else's style, it is not you, and everyone will be able to see that it's not authentic. Your style can be aimed towards a certain market if you wish, maybe you want to work specifically with fabrics, or maybe you're interested in working with the kids and baby market. This is one way to niche yourself to aim for a certain market. Your style need to be something that you're comfortable sharing and showing, a common thing in the beginning of your exploration to finding your style might be that you wish that you had a certain style, but you notice that everything you create says something else, almost as the wish that you were someone you're not. I actually feel that a signature style lives within you, but you need to grow it, explore it, and let it evolve. The two most important parts of going a signature style is practice and time. You need to do the work to explore and continuing art practice, even when you don't feel like it, and even when you don't feel inspired or motivated. When you keep at it, try to not be too judgmental against your own creativity and you will grow a signature style with time. For some this might take a couple of months and for some it might take years. Will you ever reach a goal to have your own signature style? Yes, you will, but you also need to realize that a creative style is something that grows within you and with time. While you feel is your style today probably won't look the same in a couple of years, because your creativity is in constant movement forward. But you might feel is the best work that you created at this moment, probably will feel old and not you in a couple of months or years. If you never stop evolving your style, why is it really so important to find the signature style? Well, as I mentioned before, if your goal is to have a creative business and live by your artwork, you need to treat your business like a business, and a business need to be niche. You needs to have a clear target audience, a clear message, and a strong brand. The competition nowadays is just too strong to just trying to wing it and get by, and for personal purposes a strong signature style will help you create more freely. As a creative, you probably always will struggle more or less often or not with your creative practice. That's part of the game. But if you have a signature style that you're comfortable with, it will save you from a lot of frustration and give you a confidence boost in your creativity. How will this class help you to find a signature style? Now that I mentioned that the most important parts are practice and time. Well, I myself struggled so much and felt really stressed about finding my signature style when I first started to learn pattern design, and I made this class based out of the techniques and mindsets that have helped me along the way. The things that I wish someone would have taught me back then, when I felt lost and didn't know how I should move forward with my style. If you watched this class and work through the workbook that is included as resource, it will help you as a guide through the process. By answering the questions in the workbook and following the practice that I teach you in this class, you can gain new perspectives about your style and the way you want to grow it. You won't walk away from this class with a strong signature style straight away, you need to do the work and let it take time. My suggestion is to work through the class and workbook, and then it takes some time to create. After a while, you can retake the class and go through the workbook again to see how you've grown since last. Finding a signature style is a process and it's almost as you need to plant a seed and water it to let it grow. The most important thing is to keep at it, practice, create, analyze, let your style grow both actively and passively. Most importantly, don't give up and let it take time. With that said, let's dive into the workbook and my tips and tricks on how to find and grow your signature style. You can download the workbook here in class, it's a PDF that you either can feel in digitally or print out and write by hand. The workbook is made so that you'll get a clearer picture of what your style might be. Oftentimes, it isn't until we say things out loud, or write them down, that you see them clear. When you answer the questions in the workbook, you yourself needs to put it altogether and analyze your answers. What do your answer say about your style and you? I can't answer that for you, you need to do the work yourself. 4. Who Are You: The first step to finding your signature style, is to think through who you are. What do I mean with that? Well, if you know how you like to work, who you are as a person, and what you like to draw, it's easier to find your signature style. As an example, I've always been creating fast even when I was a kid. I've never been into really detailed work and long projects, my head is always spinning with ideas and I enjoy the process of seeing results quickly. Sure, I might go back and redo things in my drawings, but I'm more of a good enough person than a perfectionist. That really affects the way I create and my style. I generally like to look at more soft colors than really strong and bold colors when it comes to artwork, interiors, or any type of visual experience. I would describe myself as a happy person who has close to laughter. All of these things that you can describe about yourself, how you liked to work, what do you like to create, will affect your signature style. As I mentioned before, I actually believe that your signature style already is inside of you. You just need to let it grow. Let's open up Page 2 in the workbook and start to fill in the boxes about who you are. You don't need to overthink this, you can always do this exercise many times over again. But for now, fill in what you spontaneously feel is the answer to these questions. Whatever comes in mind, there's no right or wrong here. Just fill in some examples here so that you can see where you can fill in. But really you can answer whatever you want in this, it's all made for you to be able to get new perspectives on your style and the way you like to create. When you're finished, we can head over to the next lesson, which is a bit more practical, where we will dive into researching other artists and styles. 5. Research Artists and Styles: The next step, is to research styles and artists. Keep an open mind here to know what you like, you need to know what you don't like as well. You can research styles and artists in many different ways. Go to museums, galleries, trade shows, read books and magazines. But the easiest ways is, of course online. That's what we will do in this class. My go-to source for image inspiration, is Pinterest. To make it easy to start, start with artists within your specific field. For me, that is surface pattern designers, then you can go further and explore other artists forms, fine art, graphic design, illustrations or whatever you like. I would recommend that you create a Pinterest board filled with inspiration, I have a board that you are welcome to look at for inspiration that's called print and pattern, and are filled with over 600 images of different patterns. All designers, new designers, all patterns, graphic, soft, floral, geometric, all source of styles. Start a new board and instead of doing like me here, I've saved every pattern that I've seen that inspire me, you can be a bit more narrow and save artwork that you really liked the style in. You can use my board as a starting point. If pattern design is your art form, click on an image that you're drawn to and then continue to see what you find. Or you can of course, just start to search for different styles yourself. I love Pinterest for this reason, that it shows the images that are close match to the ones you're looking at. Is a perfect function in this case, where we will research different styles. I recommend that you use your board over time and save every image that has a style of artwork that you like. But for this exercise, we will start to save a bunch of images today. Take some time and look into what artists and styles you like. You can have in mind, that the styles that you enjoy looking at, might not be the same as the styles you enjoy creating. But don't make this stop you from saving all images that inspire you. You can always narrow down later on. When you created your board and saved a bunch of images, have a look at artists behind the work. Google them and see what else you can find that they've created. Then open up Page 3 in the workbook and name at least five artists that you like and admire. Don't think too much about this at this time so that it will stop you from moving forward. Remember, that this is a process and you can change your mind whenever you want. Let's name your five artists here and then answer, what are the top three things that you like about their styles? I know that there styles might be very different from each others, but try to narrow it down to the top three things that you like. It might be things like feminine, bold, colorful. Next, ask yourself if you can see any similarities between the different styles, write all the similarities that you see. This might be things like soft colors, florals, abstracts. Then ask yourself if there's something that you don't like about their styles, maybe you feel that the colors are too bold and that the patterns are too dense or something like that. There's no right or wrong here, of course. All of this is just to help guide you through the process of finding your signature slide. When you're finished with this exercise, we can head over to the next lesson where we will talk more about colors and exploring which colors you like. Keep adding to your board whenever you find an image on line that you like. That way, you will have a huge library of images of style that inspire you. 6. Explore Colors: The next step is to do the same thing as you did when you researched artists and styles, but now we only color in mind. I would suggest to start a new board and name it color, just like mine here. This is where I save all color inspiration that I find a line, I've linked to this board in class if you want to check it out for yourself. So start to pin images that you like the coloring. It doesn't need to be artwork, it can be whatever nature, buildings, home decor, and images that your eyes are drawn to because of the color. When you have a bunch of images with colors that you love, head over to the workbook and answer the questions on page 4, explore colors. First off, what colors are your eyes drawn to? You can name the colors or draw the colors in the circles. As an example, based on my color board, I'm drawn to soft pastels, a lot of peach and apricot, soft blue and green hues and sometimes a stronger accent color like an orange or a deep blue. I actually think it's easier to draw the colors in the circles than to try to explain the colors in words, but you do whatever suits you here. Just make sure that you analyze your board and try to really figure out what colors you are drawn to. Next, let's have a look at if there are certain color combinations that you are drawn to. To use my board as an example again, I would say that I like peach in combination with any other color. Of course there's no right or wrong answer here, remember that these questions are made to get your head thinking and analyzing, and I would suggest that you write down everything that you come up with. I like pink and peach in combination with green and blue, and I really dig the combination pink and orange and pink and red as well. The colors that I like, can and will, of course, vary with time, just as my overall style grows and evolves over time. I also think that we in general are much more influenced by trends than we might think. But just remember that there are no right or wrong here. It's all a process. The next step when it comes to colors is to describe your color style in words. This might sound a bit hard to do, but it will really help you figure out your style. Let's use my board as an example again and describe my color style based on this board. I will say that my style is soft, pastel, feminine, colorful, happy, sweet, bright, and playful. What are the words that describe your style? When you're finished with this exercise, let's head over to the next lesson where we will start to draw and practice. 7. Experiment and Grow: Now it's time to create. Have a look at the different styles that you like. They can be made with different drawing materials or just have a different look from each other. Then start to copy the styles that you've gathered in your inspiration board. Wait, did I say copy? Yes. For learning purposes, you need to copy different styles to see what you like and don't like. When you start to try to draw in certain ways, you will notice that what suits you and not. You're only copying the styles for your own personal learning purposes and you should, of course, never share anything for others to see that you have copied. Make sure that you also start to think about how you use colors in this exercise. Try to incorporate the colors that you like based on the last lesson, when you draw and practice different styles. This is a process that doesn't just take one drawing session. It takes time and practice just like finding your signature style, takes time and practice. However, you need to start somewhere. You might be surprised about how much you can learn about your own creativity when you just sit down focus and do the work, even during just one drawing session. While you draw, try to have in mind your answers from the previous exercises. Can you see a connection between how you describe yourself and the styles that you're drawing? Maybe there's a disconnection. Maybe you want to be someone as creative that you're not. For example, I always wanted to draw really cool drawings, abstract and much more mature when I started my journey on finding my signature style. But the more I created, the more I realized that that isn't me. I've always drawn a bit childlike, quirky, imaginary, fun, and simple. Maybe I will discover a more cool side of myself and my drawings in the future, but I realized after so many frustrating drawing sessions, trying to be someone that I'm not that if I just gave into what came natural to me, it would all feel so much better. No more frustration about not being able to create what I wanted to because the fact is that you might like to hang up something on your own walls, at home that is not the style that you're creating. It's natural to enjoy different creative styles. You just don't have to create in all of those styles yourself. When you practice different styles, make room for filling the styles out. Maybe you hate to draw with watercolors and love to draw digitally or maybe you're fascinated by intricate historical patterns. Whatever feels right to you, when you found something that you like, redraw over and over again. Let it take time and experiment. Maybe you start out to draw a copy of William Morris pattern and realize that you love the traditional pattern style of the arts and crafts movement. Then continue to explore that and try to, instead of copying a pattern, use it as a reference and draw. Then when you're a bit further along, you can gather a bunch of different inspiration images with a traditional pattern style and try to draw your own unique pattern in that style. The more you create and practice, the more you should aim for a completely independent style. Sure with inspiration from wherever you find inspiration from, but the shapes, colors, and strokes you draw are unique from you. 8. Analyse: Now we've reached the part of the process where we will analyze our own work, the work that you create today. First off, I've included a checklist at this page 6 of the workbook so that you can make sure that you've done the previous exercises before you continue with this one. Of course you don't need to continue all of the steps to continue with this class, but the workbook is made for you to keep in use over and over again. Maybe you haven't practiced different styles that much yet if you're watching this class in one session, and that's fine. Let's just continue with analyzing your work at this moment. These questions are meant to analyze the way you create today. Try to answer what you like about the way you draw. If we would use me a couple of years ago, when I started my journey on finding my style, as an example, I would say that I liked my color choices and I like the happy look of my patterns. What I didn't like about the way I draw, well, I wanted to draw up a cool abstract things, and that wasn't at all what came out when I started to draw. I didn't like the childlike look of my patterns, which is a bit funny because that is one of the features of my style that I absolutely loved the most today. If there was anything I like to change, yes, a lot of things, for example, that I wanted to draw more mature artwork. Try to answer these questions as thorough as you can and when you're finished, we can head over to the next lesson where you'll describe your style. 9. 10 Words That Describe Your Style: One great exercise that you can do over and over again with time is to describe your style with 10 words. So let's open up page 7 in the workbook. First off, describe the style of your inspiration board, the style of the artists that you like in the left column. Let's say that I have words like bold, graphic, abstracts, soft, feminine, colorful, organic, whimsical, fun and happy. Try to come up with all 10 words. It will make your mind stretch a bit to really look for how to describe a style. Then describe the way you draw your own style at this moment with 10 words in the right column. So for this example, let's say that I write words like vibrant, happy, playful, fun, childlike, colorful, soft, feminine pastel and quirky. Then try to figure out if you think that there is a difference in the styles you like and your own style at this moment. Maybe you have completely different words, or maybe some of the words might be the same in both columns. If you do have some words that are the same, that's a really good starting point to grow your own style. Then you know that those features of the style is both something you like in other artists work and is a description of what you create. It might be that those words that are the same is the base of your style and maybe the features that you should explore and grow even more. But if you don't have any words that are the same in both columns, no worries. All of these questions is made for you to really think through your style, what you like, what your style might be, and how you want to grow it. So the reason why I feel that this exercise is so good is because it makes me really think through style. It makes me analyze what I like by describing the style in 10 words and lets me see if there is a lot or a little conflict between the styles I like and the style I have at the moment. To create a strong signature style, I would say that it's good to know how to describe your style and then enhance those features that you decided is a part of your style. If that makes sense. 10. Join a Challenge: The next exercise that I will give you a tip about in this class is to start or join a challenge. You don't need to show your work to participate in challenge. You can do it all by yourself. But the good thing with showing your work during the challenge is that by getting some feedback, you will grow quicker as an artist. Then if you would just continue to be in your own hand, if that makes sense. So a good practice to get a structure workflow when you grow your style is to join a challenge. Because, as I mentioned before, the two most important parts of finding your signature style is time and practice. If you join a challenge, it might be easier to continue to create even on the days when you really don't feel like it. Because that's what you need to do, to stick to it. But we will talk more about that in the next lesson. If you go to page 8 in the workbook, I've left some room here for you to brainstorm a challenge. You can just join a challenge on, for example, Instagram, there are so many good ones, or you can create your own. If you want to create your own, I would suggest that you commit at least 30 days of creating, so you could brainstorm 30 ideas for topics or drawings here that will make it easier to move forward with your challenge and not get stuck in the middle of it because you don't know what to create. So you can make a plan for your challenge here in the workbook if you wish. 11. Stick to it: Now we have worked through the workbook and I hope that you got some clarity or at least ideas of styles and how to find your own style. I thought that it would be appropriate to talk a little bit about mindset in this class as well. As I mentioned earlier in class, it takes time and practice to find your signature style. But not only that, it takes courage, determination, and consistency. It's not always easy to be a beginner, many times we want to rush things and just be an expert from start but there's a reason why it's the saying that you need to spend 10,000 hours at something before you get really good at it. It's partly the time spent practicing, which will make you better and better at your craft but it's also that the most skills is a process to build up. You need to learn, practice, explore, mature, fail, try again, succeed, and then do it all over again. For every time you go through this partly challenging thing called a creative process, you'll grow. Sometimes growth can go quickly but oftentimes, you need to let the process have its way and move you forward, and maybe most important of all, you need to stick to it. Keep showing up, do the work, even when you don't feel like it and be consistent. As creatives, most of us have fears, even the most famous and the most experienced ones. In the process of finding your style, you might feel like you suck, like you'll never be as good as someone, that there's no point of continuing with your craft because you don't move forward anyway. Maybe you're questioning if you really want to do this forever, be an artist or designer. If you don't know if you want to do this forever, there's really no point of spending all this time trying. Maybe you feel that you can't have just one style. All of these fears are real and not strange at all but if you let your fears takeover, you might just give up. Try to think of finding your style as a fun and exciting process and it's best if you can just be comfortable with letting it take its time and grow. 12. Final Thoughts: That's all for this class. I hope that you found this class useful, inspiring and motivating, and that you see it as a guide for helping you to find your signature design style. Is not a solution, you still need to do the work. But with this class, I wanted to give you some tools and mindsets that hopefully can help you through the process. Thank you so much for watching, if you liked this class hit the follow button by my name here below. If you have any questions at all, please ask them on the community page, and feel free to leave a review to let me know if you enjoyed this class. I would love to hear your thoughts. Make sure that you share your project here in class, and if you want to chat about your project on Instagram, feel free to tag me with Maja Faber. Thanks again for watching.