Oliver Weiss Design
Oliver Weiss Design

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Working in Different Styles

Oliver
Weiss

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BERLIN: +49-30-13896028
NYC: +1-718-213-4670

info@oweiss.com
www.oweiss.com


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INFO > Working in Different Styles


OLIVER WEISS:
Why am I Working
in Different Styles?

 
 
I
essentially work in two illustration styleswhimsical line art and mixed-media collage. Occasionally, clients ask me why I am not working in only one illustration style?

This seems to be a bit of an issue at times for art directors from the US who like to work with artists with a distinctive signature style. “We need to know what we get,” is a common thing I hear.

An unequivocal advocate for artistic expression, I have put together a few thoughts.

1) Form follows function – I am about concepts, not styles

2) Art is all about expanding, not about restricting myself

3) Working in different styles helps me survive

4) Have I always worked in more than one style?

5) So why am I not working under a variety of nick names?

6) So how do you know what you're going to get from me?

 

1) Form follows function
– I am about concepts, not styles

A
leopard cannot change its spots, and hence all the art I create has “that Oliver look” to it.

However, I am about concepts first and form second.

 


A US art director labelled me a “problem solver.” I am the guy who thinks about a suitable visual for any given topic. This isn’t about my unique way of drawing noses crooked, pointed, or round. This is, first and foremost, about attempting to conjure up (hopefully) exciting concepts.

While I am happy to follow detailed briefings for my work, in most cases it is left up to me which technique I come up with—line work or mixed ­media, or a mélange. Many a time, one approach works better for a given topic than another.

 

2) Art is all about expanding, not about restricting myself

T
o me, being an artist is all about experimenting and trying to find ways to express myself, and to communicate with an audience accordingly. I couldn’t picture myself doing only collage for the next 20 years to come—I would be getting bored of doing one and the same thing throughout. Instead, it is my hope that I will be venturing into new artistic fields that I can’t even envisage just now.


Practically all artists that have inspired me—fine artists and illustrators alike—have worked in more than one technique in their lifetime. I would be hard-pressed to have to limit my artistic expression; it would feel like having to confine myself to speaking one language only, to give up playing the piano on the side, or to stick to drawing cats and dogs, for that matter.

I have always been an artist, but I have also been professionally engaged in a great many other fields of interest. I have a degree in science for starters, and have worked in anything from engineering to programming to bonobos to phonetics to writing to editing to publishing to designing to multimedia to music and whatnot. This is where I am coming from, and I suppose it shows in my work.

It appears that illustration is the only creative profession in the US that is demanding its peers to be restraining their creativity. This isn’t so for any other creative profession I can think of. Think fine artists. Think designers. Think composers, filmmakers, actors, writers, editors, scientists …

I am amazed at the readiness of many of my US cohorts to be restricting themselves in their artistic endeavors—something that, in my experience, is quite unheard of in Europe.

When questioned, some of my colleagues will be shrugging their shoulders along the lines of “well, that’s the way it is,” while others end up admitting that they don’t understand it either, and that they wish it wasn’t so.


I have seen US artist friends bring into play their “artistic integrity” that bans them from exploring new alleys, because they are known for one specific style, and wouldn’t want to spoil their “brand.”

I feel this is backing the wrong horse. In my world, artistic integrity is about growing and maturing. Staying true to yourself, for me, means to keep adjusting your art to your current state of mind, as opposed to sticking to what you (or somebody else) thought was cool twenty years ago.

 

3) Working in different styles
helps me survive

I
believe the very least thing that you should expect from your profession, apart from personal gratification, is to have it pay your bills. In my case, offering multifaceted work allows me to supply for more than only a small handful of clients.

It seems hard to believe, but I have met seasoned US illustrators who are barely able to afford rent, which makes this a pivotal issue that I don’t think many art directors are aware of. Mind you, I am not talking about newbies entering the scene, but about household names who have built themselves a reputation over time.


So why is that? My guess is that, while their single-style work may be easily recognizable from afar, it also stays so consistently and reliably unchanging throughout the decades that AD’s, careful not to inundate their publication, tend to be reluctant to hire that artist for many pieces a year—which, unsurprisingly, translates into overall only modest income.

And things seem to be getting worse still. Young US graduates told me their teachers urged them to develop their own style before hitting the market.

Now, seriously—develop your own “style” at twenty-something? A style that you’re supposed to stick with for 50 years to come? Holy moly—that wouldn’t work for me.

 

4) Have I always worked in more than one style?
 
L
ike everybody else, I started out with one style only, with quite of bit of success at the time. A few years down the road, however, I realized that this wasn’t everything that I wanted from my life as an artist, artistically, intellectually and financially; and while I did have my set of clients that I used to work for on a regular basis, I knew that I needed to expand into new markets if I wanted to feel in-sync with my art, and make a more-than-decent living in the long run.

This is when I went to stay in Rome for a bit, back in 1993, taking the time to experiment with various techniques (including a comic strip), all of which would keep me going in the years to come. And I have been widening my possibilities ever since, and seen techniques and styles and topics and focuses coming and going. It’s not that I do it all—but these days I do work in a modest variety of signature styles.


As I continue to (hopefully) mature, work that I used to do 20 years ago, I no longer do. Of course not! Such is life, and my art is only a reflection of that.

 

5) So why am I not working under a variety of nick names?

B
een there, done that. I know a number of illustrators who do this sort of thing—and neither seem happy about it.

And why should they? Frankly, I don’t see the point of disguising myself from the public eye, and not be open as to who I am.


The publisher isn’t hiding, nor is the editor, the writer, or the art director. The ad salesman isn’t pretending to be somebody else either. So why should I be? It doesn't make any sense.

 

6) So how do you know what you're going to get from me?

I
hope you see my point that I cannot be dissuaded from pursuing my multi-style path. However, I do understand some of the concerns that an art director may have when they are unsure if they will end up receiving what they are looking for.


With me, you’ll get what you ask for—no surprises. If you want the kind of whimsical line work or collage you have seen on this web site, then that’s what you’ll get. Unless you want to be surprised, of course...

Choose any piece from the thousands of samples on my web site, and I’ll give you just that style, no bells and whistles.

However, if you’re not sure about styles or techniques, or care more about concepts, I will be happy to come up with a variety of suggestions. In the end, of course, it will always be up to you to decide which route you prefer.

Promotional Features

Every Day a New Adventure
Feature in Novum Design Magazine

Never Stop Getting Inspired
Interview with PSD Photoshop

Succeeding as a Freelance Illustrator
Interview with FreelanceSwitch

Interview with Artist Oliver Weiss
Interview with Spraygraphic

Lunch with Oliver Weiss
Interview with the Industry's Flagship Publication, 3x3 Magazine

"Kopf der Woche"
"Face of the Week" in Handelsblatt Economy Newspaper

Mit dem Oktoberfest zum Erfolg
The Guy Behind the Design

O'zeichnet is!
Interview with music supporter Magazine on Oktoberfest Award

Was macht eigentlich...
Oliver Weiss?

Portrait on Oliver Weiss

Wiesn-Gefühl fürs Sammler-Regal
Interview with Münchner Merkur on Oliver's Oktoberfest Poster Award

Pop Art Wiesn-Plakat
Interview with Oktoberfest.de Website on Oliver's Oktoberfest Poster Award

Meeting the Challenge of International Appeal
Portrait on Occasion of Oliver's Oktoberfest Poster Design Award

(c) 1989–2017 Oliver Weiss Design Up! 
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MAIL: info@oweiss.com

  BERLIN: +49-30-13896028
  NYC: +1-718-213-4670

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