Finding your creative style, thoughts on cultivating originality

Even before I started Smart Creative Women, I spent quite a bit of time talking to and meeting all sorts of women.  Women who have successful creative careers and women who are working very hard to make the leap into profitability with their own creative businesses. Women who want to put themselves out there in a truly original creative way.

I believe in today’s crowded and largely virtual market, standing out and cultivating your own voice is more important than ever. It is vital. The women that I see with the most success have a distinct point of view. Some of them where born with it and some have cultivated over time. I have never felt I was “born” with it and have been fascinated with the topic since I was a young girl.

So how do you cultivate a distinct style, aesthetic or point of view?

Everyone tells you that you need one but HOW exactly do you arrive at it? How do you embrace the real you and not a version of you that you might get bored or frustrated with? What type of products or services do you offer that work with you really are?

Once you find and develop your own aesthetic, how do you turn that into excellent branding and a solid online presence that reflects who you really are? Once you develop this, can it help you make life choices? I think so!

 One thing I know for sure is that we don’t need anymore cookie cutter businesses out there! We don’t need one more course that teaches you someone else’s look, style or business! You were not designed to follow a blueprint!

What I sense we need is something that involves the exploration of YOU. Exercises that you sink into. Fun exercises that challenge and bring out the best in you. Questions that dive deep into your past and your present, your influences both visually and emotionally.

This course will not focus on who is leading the course but will focus on you taking the course. It is more important than ever to develop and flex our creative muscles on a regular basis. The beauty of it is you were created with a completely original spirit. 

 Understanding and embracing your original style can help you make focused and powerful choices for a life that is designed completely by you for you. It will allow you to communicate who you really are and to celebrate what sets you apart.  

With that thought in mind that we (together) will explore

 *Capturing your creative identity through color texture and mood

*Tapping into your unique voice

*Staying current but not being a slave to trends

*Style vs. taste: Why you need both

*Taking your aesthetic to the masses

* Examine what your offer and why

*Exploring your sales pitch in a modern way

What do you think?! I guess I have been sitting on more than I realize as I write this lengthy post AND do a video! It is all bubbling up inside me! I wish I could take you all out for coffee at a lovely cafe like this one and discuss this!!


P.S. If you are in NYC for NSS or Surtex, I am planning a meet up at the Hilton Midtown (54th and 6th) lobby on Sunday evening May 19th at 6:30pm! JOIN US! A whole bunch of creative women in one spot…eep! Fun!
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  • I love this idea! I often feel like I have about three different aesthetics that don’t quite meld together and so I’m constantly switching between them. I would love some help dialing in on the one that is right or figuring out how to make them work together, which would be something truly unique. Count me in!

  • YES! YES! YES! I am exactly where you are describing! Trying to find my creative “voice” and not feeling very sure-footed. I would love some direction!!!!

  • Susan says:

    It’s about being secure within your own individuality then you wont’ feel the need to ‘follow the herd’. :o) Great vids, very helpful. Oh yes and it just has to come from within the heart.

  • Joy Uyeno says:

    You already know that I think this is a GREAT idea! I think that when people feel unsure, their tendency is to go toward things they see everyone else doing. It’s easier to follow trends than to take the risk of standing out from the crowd — but it’s always worth it. Can’t wait to see where you take this.

  • Carin Cullen says:

    This is such a great idea Monica. I’ll be there with bells on!

  • abary says:

    Am totally fascinated with this idea. I’m passionate about a few topics and find it hard to focus on one or meld them somehow into a workable plan. I’m interested to see how you develop this course (am assuming it would be online) and how I see myself actively participating. Exciting!

  • Laurie Nelson says:

    I think this would be something that I really need to hear and learn from! I find myself creating in different ways and have heard the question “What is your brand?” so this would be a great journey to go on with you Monica!

  • Heather Stillufsen says:

    Looking forward to seeing this course/plan from you, Monica. 🙂

  • Janice Brewster says:

    Very intriguing! One of my struggles is focusing my efforts and defining an identity that is fluid enough to grow with me. Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Pattie Jansen says:

    I KNOW. Enough already with the chevrons and feathers! Let’s do this. LOVE it, Monica!

    • Monica Lee says:

      Haha! Patti! I laughed when someone said a couple months ago…”I am so sick of the chalkboard look!” I saw Country Living used it for this months cover and I was just happy to see them do something outside their own box!

  • Betz White says:

    I love this idea, Monica! It’s difficult to distill one’s work into one message especially when you are someone that does several things and/or has evolved away from certain mediums/styles that have previously defined you. Ahem. Go Monica!

    • Monica Lee says:

      Hooray! Betz, I agree and being fluid is another key of success. Remaining fluid, profitable and allowing ourselves to grow. Do we completely reinvent ourselves or do be get a better “understanding” of ourselves and our style? Maybe a bit if both!

  • Lee Kellogg says:

    Moncia – perfect! I am just as excited as you are! I have seen a number of books and lessons on how to create your product and be a business person, but finding a personal style so my work doesn’t look like everything thing else out there is what is needed.

    • Monica Lee says:

      yes! I also believe that translating your personal style into your business is what is needed, not just finding it!

  • miki berman says:

    Monica!!! I have struggled with this exact topic for a while now. Ever since someone told me, “Everyone and their uncle is doing the graphic flat style” that comes from Ai– Illustrator a bit. This was kinda discouraging—I thought i was being original…So I started experimenting w/ other mediums -which is freeing and a good thing. But it’s so funny that every time i think i’m onto something new, i see something similar in the market place…It’s all been done! Lots of people seem to have a similar style, But it’s how we put our own twist/mark on our work, yes? But How??… This future course of yours sounds just like something that would benefit me greatly!!!!

    • Monica Lee says:

      THAT is exactly what we are going to explore…ok to be current, especially if you are selling things in an industry where you need to be but WHAT are you going to bring that is you? Subject matter? Color? Message…it will be fun! (Monica’s famous last words…)

  • Rebecca Fisher says:

    Monica – This is one Great Idea! It’s one thing to be a “creative”; it’s another to be able to share with people why they should add your “brand” to their busy, busy lives. I will be there – where and when?!

    • Monica Lee says:

      Ha! now that I said I am going to get it together…now to set a delivery date! Hmmm…summer, fall. Soon!

  • Kathy Davis says:

    What a great idea, Monica! If only I would have had this kind of direction years ago.. BTW, the coffee mug is lookin’ real good in your hands!!!

  • Jenn says:

    Hello Monica! I think that your interest in women artists, your creativity and your personable and outgoing personality are all great traits to be able to help others fine-tune their path. I think that you are really onto something that no one else is doing. I enjoy all your interviews so far and I think that you are excellent at asking the questions that we, as women artists, would want to ask ourselves. I wish I lived close enough to come to your get-togethers with these artists! Keep it going! You’re exactly what someone like ME needs!

  • Pat Richter says:

    Monica, I love the idea. iT IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED RIGHT NOW.

  • Wow! What a great idea! The last six month I have been searching for some type of information/course that would help me to find my “signature look” or to find your own voice in the market. So far I can’t find it. This is exactly what creative people need. Monica, please make this happen! We need this!!!!!!!!!!

  • Betty says:

    Monica, I have been on your site for a while now, Your idea sounds great. I ran my own business for 30 years and was very sucessful, had a good time and loved every minute of it. I was an independent insurance agent. I have a accounting degree, so who would have guessed. I also, love all things artesy. I oil paint, tole paint, make cards Thinking now I am going to make cards and sell them at small stores. I’am 75 and love to stay busy. The one thing I learned was to be myself, be really who you are. People can see that and will hang with you. Put the style out there that you like. I sold insurance the way I felt was the correct way, not how everyone else was selling. I’ll be watching and enjoying you. Betty

  • Shannon Crandall says:

    Fantastic, I have the style…just need to learn how to apply it to the marketplace. When and where is the question?

  • Monica, what perfect timing for this. I was so excited when I read your post and listened to your video today. I have been working on my niche market, my style and who I am recently so this ties in perfectly. Would love to have some guidance in this. Let’s do it!

  • Linda Tieu says:

    Fabulous topic and I think the journey of finding your style is huge for so many creatives. I often think that it’s a soul searching kind of journey, because it’s coming to terms with yourself and really looking within. It’s so much easier to ask someone else what they see… but that’s not always what you want to showcase in the end. It’s sort of connecting what others perceive with what you want to express, I think!

  • Sadee Schilling says:

    Sounds amazing, Monica! I think this question is certainly one that very few people are addressing because it’s such a personal process and difficult to teach, I’m sure. But if anyone can teach it, I have a feeling it would be you! 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Ann-Margaret Arnold says:

    I LOVE the sound of this, Monica!! Thank you, thank you…yes, we need more originality!! It is so important for us to let our own heart shine through in all that we do. I often chat with friends/other artists about how so much of what we see begins to look alike. Looking forward to seeing what you create! 🙂

  • Robin Sample says:

    Well, where do I sign up?! This is exactly the kind of questions I’ve been looking for some answers to. I have a pretty good idea what I’m “not”…but I feel like I need someone to prod me about specifics and help me hone in on my voice.
    I absolutely don’t want to mimic anyone else…I want to be me, but I also want to have a “me” that’s marketable.
    I can’t wait…!

    • Monica Lee says:

      Oh Hooray!! Isn’t that something when you not what you r are not but are hesitant to embrace who you are?!

  • Rosie Martinez-Dekker says:

    Great idea Monica!Sounds like fun also! Looking forward to it! Would love to help you promoting the course it here in The Netherlands. x

  • lyna dawn says:

    Monica- I am so impressed with how you are doing just this–with so many interview shows out there–and many for creative people, you have been consistent in bringing something fresh and new and pertinent . Although I am a faux finisher -working with clients in there homes and businesses, I am always striving to bring a bit of me into each look….Would love to be involved in this …..

  • Shayla LaFreniere says:

    As someone who has also reinvented herself many times I really appreciate you putting this out there and offering this in the future.

    I am pretty clear on my aesthetic now but I do wish there had been something out there for me a long time ago. I’ve always been great at helping others find their aesthetic but when it came to my own I felt drawn in so many different directions that it took me a long to get where I am today.

    I also loved when you said that the Golden Nugget to success is within ourselves, so true!

  • April Heather Art says:

    I really think this is incredibly valuable. I could die a happy woman if I never see another chevron….

  • Kat says:

    I think this is important!! Having a sense of your own style, voice etc is so important in the sea of sameness!!

  • Meghan Irene says:

    Monica, I am SO excited about this course!! This is going to be extremely valuable and crucial for me to participate in. Thank you so much for doing this. I can’t wait!! 😀

  • Sarah Summers says:

    count me in! I’m very interested in doing this course..

  • Eryn J. Carlisle says:

    This sounds fantastic! I’ve been thinking A LOT about this topic recently and feel I haven’t quite figured out my “voice” and “creative identity” – it’s forming, but I’m not there yet. I look forward to this course!

  • Debi Sementelli says:

    You have hit the nail on the creative head! I have a need for this and I have no doubt tons of other creative women do as well. This is something I would take time for and spend money on. And that says a lot! Excited to hear more.

  • Megan Carty says:

    Oh boy! I’ve been battling with my style for a couple years. I just can’t settle on one “look” and I’m having the worst trouble with it. The sales in my shop reflect this. (all over the place and not consistent). Lately it’s just been making me so depressed to be honest. When you love art and like all kinds of media and styles it can be hard to “just do what you love.” Because you have to 1. like doing it. 2. sell the work because people want it. My work has been all over the place because I get torn between wanting to “do what I love” and wanting to make what people will buy. Balancing this reality is hard. I’m looking forward to this course and your findings…I’ll be sitting up straight with my listening ears on and pencils sharpened!!!

  • Lisa Loria says:

    This totally resonates with me. Other than Whimsy, i don’t know my style at all. After 15 years of painting murals…basically painting WHATEVER my client wanted in every style imaginable…it is no wonder I am confused. Onto mixed media assemblage utilizing only vintage one of a kind material and now wanting to return to to painting/sculpting/illustration that I can license. It is kind of hard to define oneself after having to “morph” over and over again for so many years. Looking forward to more input from you regarding this subject.

  • i have just found your site. i really love your voice and what you have to say. i am not sure if this program you are talking about is already listed here, (i can’t seem to figure out what i should be navigating to) but i love this idea. i know my own personal style, but i don’t know how to portray it or embody it outside of my head for my brand. i wonder if this would be a good course for me? 😀 will be reading more of your site! very lovely.

  • Margaret Applin says:

    Monica, I just found your site this weekend and personally thank you for your interviews, enthusiasm and mission. This topic connected with me on a high level as I have been on a smaller scale mission to encourage people to create their own personal imagery to give them a starting place to develop their personal style in their artwork. I was lucky enough to have filmed a 90-minute DVD for ClothPaperScissors (Interweave) magazine in November 2012 that was just released this past June. I shared all my techniques that I use to create my own personal imagery in the hopes of inspiring others. Now that I am on a path for licensing, your video about identifying personal style takes my desire to the next level. Thank you for all your inspiration.

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