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How did you come up with a distinctive style in your work? I am trying to figure out my own style.

People mention that my work has a distinctive look, so I assume that it does. It is extremely difficult to view my work from the third person’s point of view. But I can say this: my work look certain way, only because this is the only way I think, and because I am who I am and that is something I cannot change.
I actually don’t believe in the word “style”.  However I believe fully and deeply in “personal voice” which I learnt by studying under professors with the same/similar belief: Marshall Arisman, Thomas Woodruff, Mirko Ilic, David Sandlin and Marilyn Minter to name a few.

I often meet young illustrators who are struggling to try to “find” their style.  My advice is: style is not something you can force yourself to  “look for” or “find”. You are you, different from everyone else, and your personal voice should already be within you. Learn to let that come out in your work.

I grew up in Japan in the 1960s and 70s with comic books and TV cartoons. I naturally started drawing by imitating them. I stopped reading comics or watching anime by the early 80s, but by then I wasn’t able to get rid of my early influences and actually hating it.

After I moved to New York and started art school, my initial goal was to learn to draw and paint “like an American”. It didn’t take long to realize that din’t work. I just don’t think, paint, or use colors like Americans among other things. My instructors helped me realize it is OK to being a Japanese person who’s work had early influences of my own popular culture.

Of course, the process was not easy as it sounds here. It took me a long time, starting from learning not to hate my own work.

So, what would be more useful than coming up with superficial gimmicky style is that you go out for a soul search, although I am not to try to sound new age here.