How I Found My Style
Hello! Thanks for the response to my first blog post which was all about how I started Bamber Prints and what I did before (you can read it here). This post has been the most requested topic - ‘How I found my style’ and I’ve been putting off writing it because the honest answer is, I’ve no idea 😅
Bamber Prints has become known for my drawing style of building up lots of small black dots into detailed animal and most lately, flower illustrations. This style of drawing is quite a recent discovery for me and you might be surprised to hear that when I first started Bamber Prints I hadn’t even started drawing in this way. It was even a surprise to me that whilst writing this blog post I discovered my first dot drawing was from 2019! Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading about my styles over the years. Let me know if you have any further questions in the comments!
• Made with Dots •
I’ve always felt like I didn’t have a personal style. I enjoyed experimenting with lots of different media and styles all through school and university (I guess that’s the point of those years). I remember feeling a little jealous of people who had a style you could instantly recognise was theirs. In Year 10 or 11 my art teacher told me that my style was very ‘graphic’ - I had no idea what she meant but that makes sense now, seeing as I went on to study Graphic Design and make a career out of it - she knew what she was talking about!
I found some old watercolour paintings - still always drawing animals
I worried at University that having no style would hinder my chances of finding work as I had a range of projects in different styles. I shouldn’t have worried, as I now realise this opened up more opportunities for me and I was contacted for a range of internships - designing beer labels to designing emails for Next, to then getting selected for the job at Abercrombie designing children’s clothes. When I started working I realised my broad style helped me, as a Graphic Designer you’re usually designing for a client so have to adapt to their ‘handwriting’ which isn’t always similar to your own.
some designs I created whilst at Abercrombie & Fitch
So, personally my style was quite broad and that was reflected in my prints and cards when I first trialed Bamber Prints in 2016. If you’ve read my previous blog you’ll know I launched this brand for a few months when I was in the UK anxiously awaiting the outcome of my visa renewal. I wanted something to keep me busy and didn’t put much thought into the overall look of the brand (bad move coming from a Graphic Designer…). I mainly used any illustrations I’d drawn personally over the years and put them onto greeting cards and art prints to sell. I’ve rooted through the archives and found some early designs -
As you can see, there wasn’t a succinct ‘style’. I loved to draw with fine liners but also loved watercolours and typography. Some of these designs make me cringe now 🙈 but I’m sharing them anyway. The only designs that have lasted from that time are my whales print, octopus print and jurassic party card (although that’s had a makeover). As I said before, I’ve always loved drawing with different media (and still do) but I usually reverted back to using fine liner. It came most naturally to me, I found it relaxing and felt confident with it. Without really thinking about it, it became my go-to ‘style’ over the years.
Then I discovered drawing with dots! I was following an artist on Instagram called Sam Larson and he used to upload lots of videos of himself drawing with dots (I can’t see as much of it on his feed now but this was around 6 years ago). I’ve since learnt the technique is called stippling. I found the videos relaxing to watch and gave it a go myself. I’ve tried to find my first drawing with dots and I think it’s this dinosaur from 2019 (which is way later than I thought!!).
For a while, I mixed this dot style with my usual fine liner drawings. It definitely took longer drawing with dots and I found when I scanned the drawings in, they lost a lot of their detail (you can even tell this from the photo above). I probably just needed a better scanner.
But in early 2019 I bought an iPad. I was living in America at the time and a lot of my co-workers were raving about an app called ProCreate. I drew a lot in my spare time so decided to invest in one (and an apple pencil - most expensive pencil ever 🥴). My plan was to watch tutorials and learn how to properly use all the brushes and create amazing, detailed paintings that no-one could believe were drawn digitally. But what really happened was I couldn’t be bothered to watch those tutorials and felt overwhelmed with all the brushes on the app so I went straight to my comfort - the fine liner pen (it’s not lost on me that I’d just paid around $500 for a pen I already owned tonnes of…).
My first ever drawing on it was a recreation of the dinosaur skull using dots. I remember the moment really well! I had just bought the iPad, literally just walked through the door, sat on the sofa and started drawing. I was amazed at how easy it was to recreate - compared to the original on paper. I was able to sketch out the drawing, then on a different layer go over it with dots. If I made a mistake, I simply undid it - no starting over or having to edit the drawing later on a computer. I was honestly amazed, I even remember gushing to my housemate about how incredible it was 😅.
one of my first dot drawings on my iPad
I think I’m quite an impatient drawer, which might come as a surprise, as people assume it takes a lot of patience drawing with dots. But how I see it, with any kind of painting you have to take time setting up your space, then waiting for layers to dry, tidying up, cleaning brushes etc. Whereas with fine liners you can start and finish the drawing in one, in a small space with no clean up. The iPad streamlined this process for me even further.
So for the next few years I spent lots of my free time drawing on my iPad. I loved that I could do it from bed or in front of the TV or in the park. It changed the game for me and allowed me to enhance and focus on the drawing style I loved most - fine liner drawings. I never did watch those tutorials and although some people may see it as a waste, I still only use two brushes on my iPad (the technical pen and HB pencil). I started moving away from drawing in lines though and focused predominantly on dots. The iPad removed the need for scanning in drawings so no detail was lost. I could create a dot drawing where you could really clearly see all the detail.
if you look closely, some of my first drawings for Bamber Prints mix dots + lines
I find it really relaxing drawing in dots and think that’s why I’ve stuck to it. The main comment I get is ‘oh but it must take you ages’, but strangely I find it quicker than other media. It’s hard to explain, but when I paint or draw with lines, I will regularly mess up and have to start over or find it takes me ages to get it looking how I want. Whereas with dots, it looks how I want it to almost straight away and then I can focus on enhancing details with layers and layers of more dots. I guess it’s this way because it comes naturally to me, whereas other people find painting comes naturally to them. I think it would actually surprise you how quickly some of my drawings take me on the iPad. I got a few questions asking about my process of drawing in dots from start to finish but will save that for another blog post where I can go into more detail. I’ve been meaning to do some more videos of my process and even maybe a live or two where I draw a small drawing from start to finish so you can see for yourself!
part of my drawing process - highlighting areas where I need more shading
When I relaunched Bamber Prints in 2020 I took more time thinking about what I wanted to offer and what I wanted the brand to look like. I decided to stick to my strengths and offer my dot drawings as prints and greeting cards. It seems to have been a good move and has become the signature style that Bamber Prints is known for. I do sometimes experiment with different media and get my paint brushes out, but I keep that work for myself and a way to switch off from work.
Bamber Prints website banner from 2022
I hope you’ve found this blog post interesting and a little insight into how I got to my dotty style. I feel like I've learnt things too - I could have sworn I'd been drawing in this style longer than 3 years. Especially as now I can't imagine picking up my pen and drawing anything else but dots 😅. If you're worrying about finding your own style, hopefully this has reassured you that you can be successful without one!
If you like my style and want to see more, view my shop here.
Or follow me on Instagram for those live drawings I’ve now promised to do 😂