In my study of professional artists, I’ve always made notes on why a style works. We could go on and on about how their “everything” is amazingly refined.

Something dawned on me though. I realized perhaps it was just as important to understand why a lot of artists’ work feels like it’s missing something.

I won’t sit here and act like I’m a high level professional. I still have a lot to learn after all. Knowing that, I understand the need to constantly look for the next step in an endless journey until the day I die.

What exactly is the “next-level” difference for the best artists? In the beginning of my career, I’ve always thought that their techniques were just that much better. While that isn’t wrong, I no longer believe that it’s the sole deciding factor that puts them to that level.

The one thing that every high level professional demonstrates is CONSISTENCY IN VISION.

Their understanding of every aspect of art is not fragmented. This means an artist not only needs to learn colour theory, anatomy and the other aspects of art, but they need to apply each in a way that it feels unified with each other.

A lot of artists may already know the fundamentals. Their application of those fundamentals, however, may be inconsistent to each other.

It’s not about how much an artist knows. They could be fundamentally strong. It’s the application of each aspect to fit as a whole that matters. An artist who has fully unified every aspect of art will be seen as someone who just “gets it”. This is universal throughout any style, whether it’s cartooning, Anime, realism, abstraction, or others.

When inconsistency happens, the answer may lie in adding, subtracting, or modifying what’s already there. Art has the curse of being entirely subjective, meaning the artist may have to try a myriad of things which can vary infinitely. It’s not like math where we could look at the back of the textbooks for answers to difficult questions!

What I do see is that styles tend to incorporate realism OR cartoons while removing essential aspects needed to make each work. This is most prominent with realism, as omitting certain fundamentals could take away from the impression of realism. This is most common as I’ve noticed there’s a surge in realism-hybrid styles on the internet.

It’s easy to imitate certain features from all your favourite artists and styles. In fact, every artist’s style is just a combination of other styles. It’s important, however, to make it work in an appealing manner. Consistency is always key.