Do I Need to Work in Another Art Style?

I recently received an email from Laura, a member of our community, concerning a recent portfolio review... "I recently had my portfolio reviewed by an art director. She liked my work but mentioned it was all in the same style, and recommended I diversify a little. After slinking away, I've been trying to break out in media and subject matter, but it's difficult to not use the style I've been developing exclusively for six or seven years. Do you have any tips on rounding out a portfolio without losing my artistic voice?" Laura, let me start out my response by saying that I'm a little dumb-founded by this art directors response. I just can't imagine looking at Brom's book and telling him "all your work is in the same style. You should consider diversifying." That would be just ridiculous. So I figure there has to be more to this conversation... I took a moment to wander over to your site, and took a look at your work to try and get a better understanding of what the AD might have been talking about. Your work is very centered around childrens illustration, primarily the girls flavor at that. I'll be straight. I don't know a lot about that market, but let's see if we can make a few assumptions.

I'm going to make the assumption that the ad you were talking to doesn't use your style in their current line of work. That is the only reason I can understand why someone would say that. Actually, that isn't true, the other reason would be when an artist is mimicking another artists style and that's a whole different issue. I will often review portfolios from folks that work in styles that are not very D&D-like in their presentation style. There certainly isn't a crime in that. The first thing I'll do in a review is ask someone who they want to work for, and why they are visiting me. That way I can ascertain if they are seeing me just because I'm available, or if they are really trying to work for me. 99% of the time I'm seeing their book because "I'm available". That's okay too. I will take a few minutes and try to speak to their work if I have any experience with the industry they are trying to work in, try to point them towards someone that might be more relevant, or suggest ways to hook up with a publisher that would be a better fit.