top of page

Nix the Niche?

Collage of HR Johnson's Art in various mediums including recycled art, marker art, and digital art.

I've heard it in a variety of ways on many occasions. "The ONLY way to become successful is to pick a niche and stick to it so you can get noticed!"

There is a common notion in the art world that finding a niche or specialty is essential to success. That may be so, but I find this idea limiting and perhaps even misguided. There is undoubtfully a lot of utility in focusing on one style, medium or subject matter. This type of practice will certainly help develop one's technical skills and contribute to a cohesive body of work but it can also limit opportunities for growth or exploration and stifle creativity. It can feel restrictive and even lead to feelings of resentment that make the work nearly unbearable.

Embracing new challenges and opportunities can expand our horizons much further than locking ourselves into a narrow niche. We can increase our knowledge and skills and find new, perhaps better, ways to express ourselves creatively. Plus as Confucius is said to have said, "To learn one thing is to learn ten thousand things." There may be certain aspects of a subject that we can't grasp in one medium that become abundantly clear while utilizing another medium.

HR Johnson's hand holding a green heart sticker that has a face on it. Face shaped like Eye Heart U.

Another adage also comes to mind, "A Jack of all trades, is a master of none..." but, there is actually more to the quote. The second half is lesser known. It goes:

"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one." ~ Robert Greene 1592

By experimenting with new techniques and styles, we can discover fresh and innovative approaches that can make our art stand out and resonate with audiences in new ways. By challenging ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zones, we can grow as artists and individuals and develop a unique and authentic voice that sets us apart from others in our field. Perhaps most importantly, exploring many mediums and subjects can help prevent burnout and keep our creative energy flowing, we can keep ourselves engaged and motivated, and avoid getting stuck in a rut or feeling like we are repeating ourselves.

Fan art by HR Johnson of Carmen Sandiego running in signature red hat and trench coat.

When I'm sitting in a waiting room a good old pencil and a small sketchbook is perfect. When I want to be more free or abstract, acrylic painting is the way I go. Oils reconnect me to my foster care days. Taking a piece of discarded trash, such as a soda bottle, and turning it into flowers helps me process my own feelings and memories, and gives me hope. Markers are my comfortable go-to medium. Learning digital has opened up what I can do with my art. I enjoy drawing the female form but I don't just draw ladies all day because that would bore me. Every medium and subject I attempt teaches me; not only about the things I'm using and trying to represent, but also about myself and the world around me.

Small sketchbook open to a pencil sketch by HR Johnson of a woman with an afro and glasses on her head.

There is nothing wrong with having a niche. If there is a particular style or subject matter that one enjoys and excels at, they should keep doing what makes them happy and what works for them! I'm just saying that I don't think we as artists should let the pursuit of a niche limit our potential or prevent us from exploring new and exciting possibilities. Finding a niche to try to excel in is tempting, and may make some artists feel content and fulfilled, but it is equally valid to want to keep trying new things and exploring new mediums. Both paths can lead to growth as artists and individuals.

What do you think? Is finding a niche the only way to find success these days? OR Is it better to explore a variety of mediums and subjects? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments!

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page