Any time the word style’s brought up, we tend to think of the bold and frequently photographed. Russell Westbrook at a playoff press conference, Lewis Hamilton on a race weekend, A$AP Rocky on a tuesday, A$AP Rocky on a wednesday.
There’s a lot more to it than tie-dye sweaters and oversized jackets though. Style is about moods, movements, mannerisms — it’s a way to manifest ideas and visualize a personality. Clothes play a role, as do accessories, and as do a number of other intricacies, from the way you shake a stranger’s hand to the way you twiddle your thumbs when nervous.
Now, that might seem like an awful lot to think about in one go. Thankfully, there are steps leading into the deep end.
It starts with an idea.
And this can be tough because there are so many to choose from. But to stand out in a boundless world means creating boundaries of your own. It means resisting the urge to jump from wave to wave, and taking a stand instead. It means being a lighthouse.
The best way to explain it would be through the work of an artist — a highly acclaimed one at that. New York City based designer and illustrator, Justin Teodoro has worked with a revered list of clients, including brands such as Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, and Reebok. Yet, whether he’s designing a mural or a clothing line, his style remains unmistakably his own.
“My style is bright, bold, and energetic, with an upbeat positive vibe,”
And that’s what makes it recognizable. The pieces may feature varied subjects or serve different purposes, but they’re tied together by a host of innate characteristics that tell you who designed them. “My style is bright, bold, and energetic, with an upbeat positive vibe,” says Justin. “I try to keep that vibe and message strong throughout my work as I feel it has become a strong part of its character and personality.”
Figure out the values closest to your heart — the ones you want speaking for you when you’re otherwise engaged. Let those be the foundation to your signature style.
Original thoughts are a fairytale. Michelangelo didn’t dream up the Sistine Chapel stowed away in a dark room devoid of all sensory input. I suggest you don’t go down that route either. Instead, look around. And steal — from anywhere and everywhere you can, without remorse or reservation. It’s okay, everyone does it.
“I find inspiration everywhere, from music and film to family and friends — even what I might see on the street,” says Justin. “I like mixing my references and subjects, and I think that helps make my work interesting.”
Being perceived as unique is all about knowing how to connect the dots. Once you have your bucket of influences ready, you’ll need to piece them together.
We’re circling back to the beginning now. A medium is your tool of trade — how you choose to express yourself. It could be the way you walk, how you dress, the way you talk, or a mixture of it all. This is your style manifested into reality.
"There are a lot of voices out there so having a style of your own helps you stand out from the crowd.
As Justin took his work to the world of fashion, he quickly saw markers becoming his preferred medium. “I’ve always used markers when I drew but I think they really became my primary medium when I began to work in fashion. I felt markers could imbue my illustrations with the bold, quick, and energetic lines which I wanted.”
Find yourself a medium which feels comfortable — the one that you think would represent your style best.
And finally, some motivation.
"I think it's very important to have a signature…"
Now that you know how, you might be wondering why. Finding a signature style is quite a bit of work, as Justin testifies, “I don’t think there's an exact science to it — there's a lot of trial and error involved. It took me a few years of work, but once I found my style I knew that was it.”
Worth it? Well, look where it got him! Now you needn’t have dreams of becoming a world renowned artist, but there’s plenty still to be gained from being recognizable.
Justin adds, “I think it's very important to have a signature – there are a lot of voices out there so having a style of your own helps you stand out from the crowd.”