Design Aesthetic - Moving target or clearly defined

This past weekend, the lovely Latifah (The Quilt Engineer) put out a call on Instagram asking people to name three quilters that inspired them using the hashtag #thisquilterinspiresme. I expected to be inspired by what I saw...I was and would agree with many, if not all of what was coming across my feed.

Yet, there was something else that I noticed too.  Nearly all of those mentioned had a clear design aesthetic (commanding sense of color, meticulous use of negative space, etc., etc.); you could spot their quilts from a mile away.  Yet when examining my own body of work, the same was not true.

How important is it to have a particular design aesthetic?

While it might be easier for their work to be recognized, and seems obvious that they have the ability to hosts workshops, and lectures as their style is clearly defined and marketable. It is brand-building of the simplest form, after all. Where does this leave the rest of us?

Having studied Art History in college, I know that Artists styles change through the years. They might have started as a Realist painter, then moved onto Impressionism.  Eventually, they would find or create a look all their own.  I imagine the same can be said of quilting.


Yet my ISFJ brain continues to look for answers. I wondered if those who have a particular design aesthetic feel trapped at all.  For example, what if Quilter A whose work using solids is known world-wide, all of a sudden decides to make a scrappy quilt using nothing but prints.

  • Would that quilt be easily recognizable as belonging to them?  
  • Do they make other quilts; but never shown them on social media? 
  • Would they even want to step outside their design aesthetic in the first place?

Don't get me wrong, I admire those that have a story and stick with it; and who knows maybe one day we will all find our stories. In the meantime, I am happy exploring all avenues of my own aesthetic, whether that is making pixel quilts one day, modern traditional quilts the next with some improv thrown in for good measure.

So what do you think.  In looking at your body of work, is it easily identifiable? Are you creating your own aesthetic, or are you happy with the freedom to just make what you love at a certain moment in time?