In that guide, I advised to:
pick [a designer] whose current style is already a good fit for your needs.
I even quoted Jason Cohen:
I cannot stress this enough:designers don’t morph their style to match yours.
Here’s what Jin Yang tweeted in reply:
So should you hire someone who “doesn’t have a style”? And as a designer, should you try to have one?
Well, I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with Jin Yang on this one. I fully believe you should try to have your own style.
What “style” means
But before I explain why, let me explain what I mean by “style”.
For me, “style” is first and foremost visual style. The fonts, colors, shapes, or icons you use all contribute to it. So do small things like line width, light and reflections, gradients, or shadows.
Another great example of having a style is Tim Boelaars‘ work. He specializes in clean yet complex lines of uniform thickness, and his work is instantly recognizable.
But “style” does not always have to be purely visual. Maybe your “style” also includes the medium through which you express it, like Dana Tanamachi‘s chalk work.
What’s the point?
So why should you have a style? For me, saying you need a style is just another way of saying you need a focus. There’s no way a single person can be great at everything.
So we all have to choose if we want to be average at a lot of things, or great at a few. Personally, I know that I’d much rather pick the second option.
Having a style gives you an excuse to zero in on the thing you really want to do, and obsess over it until it’s perfect.
It also means that people will choose to want to work with you because they want to work with you.
Not because you’re the cheapest, or closest, or you were available, but because they specifically like what you do. Having a style is the best way to avoid being commoditized.
Hammers & nails
But what if your style is a bad fit for a project, and you do a bad job? Or even worse, don’t get hired at all because of it?
Well, you don’t see Dana Tanamichi being hired to design web apps (as far as I know…), and you don’t see me drawing on chalkboard either.
Is that really such a bad thing?
So don’t be afraid of having a style. People will say that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, I say there’s already enough pliers, screwdrivers, and drills out there. Keep hammering!