This is often the first question people ask me! The short answer is that I am a self-taught artist. I’ve been drawing my entire life, literally since before I can remember. It was always something I enjoyed doing and invested a lot of time into, which helped me to develop my skills gradually. I took a few art classes in elementary school which taught me a lot about drawing from reference, but after that my art education was limited to school electives and lots of practice in my free time. I started drawing digitally with a mouse when I was 15 and got my first tablet when I was 16, after which I spent a sizeable portion of my free time drawing digitally, teaching myself almost everything I know about digital software and using a tablet. When I was 18, I decided to study animation after high school. At these schools, I learned to animate and apply my drawing skills to a variety of school assignments, but learning to paint digitally and developing the style I have now was something I did on my own.
I spend a lot of time on social media, and follow a lot of artists online. Seeing their work in my feed is a constant source of inspiration. I watch a lot of movies and animated films which are sources of inspiration too. The things which most often inspire me are colors or color combinations, which usually give me ideas for a drawing and motivate the drawing process. One of my biggest sources of inspiration is nature, either in real life or through photographs. I often use pictures I take myself as a starting point for an illustration or study.
When I was 15 and first developing my style, my main influences were japanese drawing styles (animé and manga), various french comic artists (particularly the work of Aurore BlackCat) and Art Nouveau (particularly Alfonse Mucha). Another huge inspiration of mine are the disney films I grew up watching, particularly The Little Mermaid. After joining DeviantArt I became very inspired by a wide range of other artwork on the site, mostly digital paintings, and I continue to be inspired by a wide range of artists whose work I follow online. Here is an influence map that gives a general idea of the different artists and people who influenced my style.
My style developed naturally from mixing different influences that I discovered when I first started drawing digitally. It wasn’t really a conscious decision I made, but rather something that appeared organically and that others noticed before I did. Looking back, drawing a lot, being self-taught, and developing my own methods of handling software helped me to find my own unique creative solutions for the art I was trying to make, and thus helped me develop my own style. For artists searching for their own style, I think it’s important to draw inspiration from the styles that inspire you most, and to draw inspiration from a variety of sources rather than just one or two. I think working intuitively is also very important: try to draw what feels good to you, instead of getting too technical or over-thinking the drawing process. This makes it easier to develop your own unique approach to drawing!
If you are curious to see my old art and websites, I upoaded a lot of my old artwork (both digital and traditional) to Google Albums, including traditional art, digital art, oekakis, and old website layouts. I also did a livestream talk with my friend Iris Compiet about our old art and creative journeys over time, which you can watch here.