Being a creative bloke–doing design and loving fashion, like I do–I run into conversations on "style" almost daily. As is my usual, that got me to thinking on "style" and what it actually means in practice. (I say in practice because dictionary definitions are often too clinical to make any practical sense given the situation, place or time you're in)
It's my opinion that most view style as an absolute–a hard-lined definitive that allows for no flexibility or movement. We define our clothing as a style. We define our artwork as a style. We even define the foods we eat in terms of a favorite "kind". But I have a thought; Perhaps style is not the end result of what we do but how we go about the act of "doing".
For instance, in my oft talked about and cherished sneaker collection there are many "styles" of shoes so to look at them as a collection it would prove difficult to say that I have a style. However, my collection methods do give rise to the idea that I have a process to the actual collecting of said sneakers. I base my acquisitions on factors such as availability to mass audiences, the method and wardrobe with which I will wear them, the venues that I foresee myself rocking them in, and even the seasonal weather in my area. My collection is diverse, but my collection criteria is most certainly my style. For those who have seen me in my various pairs of customs, most have agreed, "Steve, that's totally your style", even given the completely different physical shapes and designs of the shoes. Why? Because it's not what I am rocking, but rather the way I consistently rock it.
Another example is my supposed design "style". In crafting my artworks for clients, I used to be quite reluctant to admit to having a style because I wanted to avoid the pigeon hole that comes from such definition. But recently (during this particular round of silly brain-bending) I've come to realize that I do tend toward a certain stylistic outcome. But the work I do varies nicely, so how is it that I have developed a style? I believe it's in the method and approach. I have a scholastic history in architectural design. My favorite genre of art and architecture bear the same names, in as much that they are a time period of particular display and structure more so than a style; Art Deco. Concentric shapes, balance, strong lines, implied visual kinetic movement from static elements, shading, color and lofty drama… all of these could describe the art or the structures of the day. The very architectural method of rendering structures, products and art produced a result that is timelessly unmistakable. In my affinity for the entire genre of Art Deco, I could never copy it if I tried. Well… I could but it would be far too evident that it was an attempt to copy. However, in personally digging Art Deco, I have a more "industrial" artistic slant to my work that is a heavy dose of "form v. function". This often leaves my design looking very minimal at times and at others somewhat opulent when the function calls for an embellishment of form, yet all with strong lines, a play on balance and a very strong lean toward shape. All very calculated in conveying message and emotion. When I stepped back for a blurry-eyed view of my work, I said "wow, I have a style", and it has little to do with the final look as many pieces look different. It was in the method.
Okay, so in all of this rambling… what am I getting at? From a both a creative and life standpoint, in our attempts to shake definition and be free of labels that hold us to any one thing, we tend to give ourselves definition and attach labels holding us to something else. We escape boxes by jumping into other boxes. If we must apply definition, pay particular attention to how we move more so than the direction we are pointing. How you move may offer flexibility in both journey and destination that a straight, aimed, defined, blocked path may not.
Steve G the RDQLUS One, out!