The hardest aspect of being creative is trying to do something unique. When I first started painting I emulated the artists that inspired me the most. I tried to use my own subject matter and stayed away from things my favorite artists liked to paint, fearing that I would be seen as copying. No doubt these artists started the same way, but in the end achieved a certain look that identified them. I could view a painting by one of my favorite artists I had never seen before, and know who painted it.
My subject matter has changed over the years, each time I believe it gets closer to being more of myself. Function has certainly had an impact. As a commercial artist I must paint what can sell. People sell, and for a long time I did not like to paint people. I adopted a cartoon style for people, and now they appear in most of my work. Would I paint something that doesn't sell? Probably not, but sometimes I am surprised by what sells. Animals sell, people buy paintings they can relate to. Cats and dogs are best, but not all have to be pets, octopus and bats sell too.
No matter what the style I paint in, one thing I will always hear is what my art looks like. People in art fairs love to tell me what my art reminds them of.