Finding your voice

How do you stand out from the crowd? … artistically-speaking that is….


Well, usually that doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it never happens.  That’s ok – creating things is fun to do, whether or not you eventually become  the kind of person with exhibits in museums.  Making is satisfying all on it’s own.

But often we do want to find our own voice, create our own things, make our own look. How does that happen?

The simple answer is that no one really has their own look… well, that’s not exactly true. Many artists have their own look, but, in everyone’s art are hints of other artists.  It’s a human thing.  We imitate, mimic, copy, borrow, are inspired by, give homage to and adapt.  It’s not a bad thing, as long as we remember the debt we owe to all those others who have contributed to the sum of our artistic whole.

Ok, so before this becomes a sermon, I’ll just use a few examples from my own work.  I think I can say that I have a “voice”.  Most of my work is usually pretty recognizable.  It’s been the process of a lifetime of creating.  But recently I have been thinking a little more about what influences have helped give shape to my “voice” — who have I imitated, mimicked, copied, borrowed from, been inspired by, given homage to and adapted?

Well, that list is endless.  Here’s just a few of those I am in debt to.

One of my earliest influences was Dr. Seuss. I think you’ll recognize glimpses of his unique and amusing creatures in some of my own.

onefish3    gnorman

See – not an exact copy of course, but an eternal debt I owe to his delightful, happy weirdness that shaped my own weirdness.

As a more mature artist (and I use that term loosely), I recognize the debt I owe to ancient Egyptian and Aztec and Mayan artists – their lines and colors and details inspire me.  I’ve looked at images of the artwork of those civilizations my whole life, and it sneaks it’s way into my pieces often.

maya   aztec    tendrils2

More? Ok. I realllly dig the artists in the Art Nouveau period, and go to Lalique and Mucha and Galle and the rest when I want my own creative juices to be stirred up.

lalique   cfpoppy

mucha    midsummerDream

And the Impressionists!  Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Gaugin… love their creations, and their voices are echos in my own.

monet   meadow

vangogh   IslandSky

That’s enough I think for you to get what I’m saying….  Finding your own voice, your own look, your own expression is an admirable goal as an artist.  It is a lifelong journey.  But we get there with a little help from our friends.  That should keep us humble, thankful, respectful and willing to help and share with others.  That should make us appreciate those who give us inspiration.  Being able to recognize and acknowledge that we part of a flow of creative energy makes us bigger, not smaller, as artists and as humans.

So I’m going to keep refining my own voice.  I love the solo parts.  But I know I’m part of the chorus too, and I’m really ok with that.

About christifriesen

I am an artist because I must be. My mind wanders and my fingers follow. Just feed me a little more chocolate and I'll be fine.
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15 Responses to Finding your voice

  1. Yes, yes, yes, Christi! This is so great! It’s what I keep saying – even Picasso stole ideas from his fellow artists. I know I have a voice – I know I follow my own path, and I know that path is different from every other member of my guild. But I’m still learning to express that voice, and in doing so, I learn and am inspired by you, by my fellow guild members, by the wonderful artists who post their work and tutorials on-line and by everything I see around me. The fun and excitement is in seeing where that exploration will take me! (My Web site is out of date – no time to post pics!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you get what I’m saying Debbie, and i am delighted that you have had that same experience! Where would any of us be if we had to create in the dark, so to speak! Thanks gal for your input!


  3. Sherilyn says:

    Oh, Major Influence in my own artist journey, I always acknowledge you when I display my work. Anyone who sees it and is familiar with you can’t miss your impact on me. I love your tribute to Dr. Seuss; I think his influence on all whimsical American artists cannot be dismissed! When I went to Ventura and first saw date palms and the architecture, I felt like I was in Whoville! I have all these weird pictures that only make sense to me, because they document Whoville. For me, anyway.
    I wholeheartedly agree we should acknowledge those who inspire, instruct, and provide us grist for our creative mills. Thank you again for who you are and have been for myself and so many others!


  4. You are absolutely welcome Sherilyn! and I have really enjoyed seeing your work grow and develop and am glad that I have been a teensy part of your inspiration.
    Now I’m going to have to look at Ventura again with new eyes!! Whoville! Who knew? hee hee!


  5. Yup this was definitely a good read Christi and you are soooo true. We all take something from somewhere whether we do it consciously or not. It might be the shape of something or the colour or whatever but I’m sure we all do it to some point. You’re right – it’s fun to play, to explore, to experiment and when we find what we really love to make – well there’s no stopping us then. Hope life is treating you beautifully nanny!! 🙂


  6. Right on, Christie. Love your landscapes…never saw those before. Are they new?


  7. Debbie, thank you! I appreciate your comment (and yes! i am loving being a nanny… or as they are dubbing me “kuukuu” – yeah, that’s pronounced exactly as it sounds… apparently it’s one of the hawaiian words for grandma!)
    I figure if we are not enjoying creating, then we need to rethink what we are doing! but then i know you are having FUN gal! your art is full of joy!


  8. Alcina, thank you – those two have been created within this last year, but I have been doing little landscapes for a long time – just a little one here and there…. but i’ve in the mood to create a few more lately… i’ll have to share them once I make them, huh?


  9. Bev says:

    I really enjoyed what you said 🙂 The whole reason I tried poly clay was because of your work… but the whole reason I stopped with poly clay was because my work looked too much like yours lol I wasn’t learning how to make it my own, and that’s okay. I’m trying my hand at other things and finding inspiration from fellow artists 🙂


    • I do understand! but’s that the beauty of art, isn’t it – it’s a meandering pathway and it’s ok to take detours and sidetrips and just see where you end up! Getting inspiration from LOTS of sources is the BEST way to develop your own voice.


      • Bev says:

        Yep. I appreciate all the inspiration you gave me and I do hope to get back to poly clay in the future. My husband adored the dragons, so I’m going to have to make him a new one to take over from the one he dropped lol


  10. Diane says:

    Just found one of your books and now your blog. You, Christi, are my new best friend. I like your style, your humor, your beautiful creations and your inspirability. (I just made that up.) Poly clay has become my tactile therapy, and I think I’m ready to share it with my young art students. Thanks muchly! (Side note: the darker the chocolate, the richer my voice.) 🙂


  11. That’s wonderful, Diane! I love new best friends! ;-D and I so appreciate that you like my humor and my work – I do love sharing and it’s good for me to hear that others like what I do!
    Obviously you teach art students – is this a school program or something you do as a business? I’d love to hear more about it!
    And yeah, baby – dark, creamy chocolate is the key to creativity – spread the word. hee hee


    • mdianesmith says:

      Retired teacher. Just some art classes in an after-school program. But the kids love fun projects they can sink their teeth into (not literally, hopefully)… I don’t object to a few nuts in my chocolate, being one myself. 😉


  12. That’s wonderful – there aren’t enough art programs for school kids these days – so much of that funding has been cut, so you’re doing a great thing! email me, and i’ll donate a few books and tools for your kids!!

    Liked by 1 person

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