So I'm not entirely sure what came over me, but at about 10.30 on Friday evening I became overwhelmed with the irrational desire to update my website.
For some reason it suddenly started to massively bother me that I'd basically not updated it since I got my job two and a half years ago. Mainly because anything involving html, ftp transfers and 'backends' fills me with dread.
But I overcame that dread, and thanks to the wonderful Tristan's beautifully crafted html from back when we first built my website, (plus a couple of years more experience and patience on my part), I managed to pop some new content up there without too much stress and tears and banging my head against the desk.
So, if you're so inclined, feel free to stop by my website and see some new stuff that isn't actually new at all, because if you've been reading my blog you'll have seen it all already.
As I say - I'm not even sure why I felt so compelled to do it - I've no plans to leave my job any time soon, so I'm not in full-on self promotion mode, but I guess I'm aware that when I do freelance work, prospective clients might google me (hi!) and may judge me poorly if all that's on my website are projects which were clearly done in university.
But now that my website is updated, it's got me to thinking about something which has always given me some concern.
It's all just a bit… varied.
Some might say variety is a good thing, but I've always been concerned that I've never really found my style. And for prospective freelance clients that's also (rightly) a concern - if they commission me, they really don't know what they're going to get!
If I look at it from a positive perspective, I guess part of the reason my style has never settled is because I'm always challenging myself to try new things. Looking at it from a negative perspective, I'm a magpie. I look at things a lot, I see things I like, and I take them and build them into something new. This means that my work has never really settled into a style that is distinctly my own.
At this stage of my career, I would say that I am a confident graphic designer. I might even go as far as to describe myself as 'middleweight'. Ooh-er. I use grids and paragraph styles, I know how to build a pretty badass table in InDesign. (And much more, obviously)
I work in-house for a group of international colleges, and, at present, my graphic design 'style' is the in-house style. While I do influence the development of that style, there's no doubt that I am also good at adapting to fit what had already been built by my senior designer. I enjoy my work, and I love working in-house - not least because it forces a 'style' upon me, which means all my work with them does have an element of consistency. When I do freelance graphic design work, I am influenced by the aesthetics of the work I do in my day job, while tailoring that to meet the clients needs. I guess not having a distinctive style isn't such a worry with graphic design (at least, not at this stage in my career)… it's mainly about meeting the needs of the client. It would be nice if people hired me because they've seen my work and like it, but realistically most of my freelance work comes via word of mouth, and people just want 'a graphic designer' rather than 'Emma Charleston'.
But illustration is a different story. I do envy illustrators who have a style so distinctive that anyone who sees it can tell it's their work. Apart from some recurring themes (I love circles, and I like using the 'outline stroke' tool in illustrator), there are very few things which link all of my illustration pieces together. I wish I could settle on one 'look' and then gradually evolve that look over time, but then someone asks me to do an illustration for something and I have this amazing idea that looks like nothing I've ever done before, and ho hum, still no 'style'.
I'm still trying to work out how to get my brain to focus in one particular way, but so far that's not going particularly well. I also don't feel like I've got particularly good at any specific way of drawing yet. I guess I keep hoping that by trying lots of different things I'll stumble across something that just 'clicks' and I'll want to work in that way forever more. Is that how it goes? Or maybe that's not something to aspire to. I don't know.
Anyway, this is meandering and not particularly well written, but I have a habit of writing blog posts and then thinking I'll come back and perfect them later, and then I never do, so I'm just going to go nuts and post this one RIGHT NOW.
Now go visit my website and give me some page views so that I feel like paying the server fee is worthwhile. It made me giggle irrationally to make every instance of me saying 'my website' into a link, so I hope you'll click on at least one of them.