The Artistic Dilemma: Specialization versus Diversification
I have often thought about, is it important to stick to one style of work as an artist. Before I started pottery I did many types of artwork and used to wonder ‘what will be my niche’. Now that we have instagram I noticed that artists or anyone who makes the same work over and over, not experimenting much, seem to do quite well on social media. I admit I too like some accounts that are a similar style of picture over and over. For me I think its reassuring and calming to see that uniformity sometimes. It has its own aesthetic beauty and appeal.
Artists often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding whether to specialize in a particular medium or style or to diversify their art practice. Both paths present unique opportunities and challenges, and the choice between specialization and diversification depends on various factors such as personal preferences, artistic goals, and the evolving nature of the art world.
I also train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and face the same issue, I might need to learn a particular new set of skills but while I’m doing that I know other areas of my game are falling behind. But I have to learn to juggle the different aspects to keep progressing.
Repetition in art plays a significant role in creating recognition, as it establishes patterns, reinforces themes, and builds a visual language that becomes familiar to the viewer. This repetition can occur in various elements, such as shapes, colors, motifs, or techniques.
- Specialization: Mastery and Depth Specializing in a specific medium or style allows artists to delve deep into their chosen area, developing a high level of expertise and mastery. This focused approach can lead to the creation of unique works that define the artist’s signature style. Specialization may also contribute to a more recognizable brand, helping artists establish themselves within a particular niche. Moreover, the dedication to a singular form of expression enables the refinement of techniques and the exploration of profound themes. I think the key thing to remember here is, specializing shouldn’t mean no experimentation. Focusing on one area and continuing to explore and develop your ideas is essential.
- Diversification: Adaptability and Exploration On the other hand, diversifying one’s art practice offers a range of benefits. Artists who explore various mediums and styles can adapt to changing trends in the art world, remaining relevant and dynamic. Diversification fosters creativity by encouraging artists to experiment with different ideas and techniques, leading to new discoveries. Part of the fun in creating art is continuing to learn new things.
- Balancing Act: Finding Harmony Achieving a balance between specialization and diversification is an option that some artists pursue. By developing expertise in a primary medium while occasionally branching out into other areas, artists can enjoy the best of both worlds. This approach allows for the cultivation of a unique artistic identity while preventing stagnation and encouraging ongoing growth.
In my own art practice I’ve become comfortable with being in between . I love to continue to try new things and develop new themes ,but running though everything I do is a thread of sameness. I usually gravitate to only a small selection of themes. Mostly themes of childhood and my sense of place. This has never changed even when I was using very different mediums. It has taken me quite a few years to find my style with ceramics and it will continue to develop. I have certain colour and texture choices I always use in my work and that helps bring uniformity to things I make that seem opposed e.g. banksias vs robots.
The other thing to consider is what are my goals. Do I want to grow a huge social media account by making one thing that people like. Do I want to make what inspires me or do i want to only make what the public wants.
Do i want to follow my own path of investigation.
I’m very appreciative of the support I get for my art and I care about the opinions of my audience. So with this in mind I try to experiment and keep learning knowing that what I love, some other people will love too. As artists we need to trust our intuition, our creative choices got us this far so we need to keep believing in our own creative vision.