Art VS The Artist: Personal Branding for Artists – Blaine Fuller – Medium
Art VS The Artist: Personal Branding for Artists
Making everything about yourself is often looked at as self-indulgent or narcissistic, but if your an artist, it’s integral to your success. Art is an extension of the artist, so if the artist tries to hide, they are caught in a web of contradiction.
As an artist you need to relinquish yourself from thoughts of fame being just a result of good art. Fame has to come with good art or no one will know it exists. There are exceptions to every rule (Banksy, Thomas Pynchon) but anonymity is very rare. Why make things harder on yourself by trying to be an exception? Visual content rules the internet and people want to follow people. People with opinions. A personal brand is just a person with a strong opinion that is visualized or acted out.
At the surface, looks are an important facet of differentiating yourself from the rest. Initial impressions are based on looks. It’s unavoidable. Embrace the fact that you are the head of a company that produces art. You need to represent the company. This can mean taking advantage of your god given deformity or a peculiar scar, changing your hairstyle, getting a tattoo, or shaping your facial hair or eyebrows in a bizarre fashion (Frida Kahlo) are all viable options. Secondly, you’ll want to think about the way you dress. It doesn’t all have to be outlandish either. Many masters of the arts were suit-and-tie guys and that’s completely acceptable as well. Find your ‘thing’ and stick to it.
Keeping in line with sticking to your guns, you need to be consistent not only in your physical looks, but also in your digital looks. Your social media and website are also representing your art and your business, so keep the aesthetics the same across the board on each platform.
This is not to say you can’t ever re-brand. David Bowie was famous for re-branding himself constantly and that was both in an effort to find what stuck to the wall and later, after cultivating a real fandom, exploring his own tastes. The suits might say it’s a risky move, but remember, you’re the artist and you know best. With each incarnation of David Bowie, he had a clear vision in what he was trying to attain and that’s what is really important. Each look, sound, and show was developed with clear and conscious thought behind them.
The easiest way to brand yourself is to ask yourself ‘what do I like’? If you like motorcycles, you probably already sing about motorcycles, or paint motorcycles or photograph motorcycles, so why the hell aren’t you driving a motorcycle? If you like to look like a slob and wear slippers and a robe and drink white Russians, that’s a brand, too. Just choose something.
If you like to blend in with a crowd, look totally average, act totally average, AND you like to make art that you hope other people will like, I have a hard time believing you. It’s a complete oxymoron to say you love to be in front of the camera, your face on a big screen, but hate to have people look at you in the streets or recognize you at a restaurant.
Personal branding is about storytelling. When you hear about Dostoevsky gambling away his book advances repeatedly or Sid Vicious smashing through a glass door at a hotel in San Francisco, we’re talking about legends, not their writing or music. But these legends only serve to enhance the art that these people made. Humanity can’t understand people unless they are caricatures of themselves. Every individual is a character underneath it all, so discover your character, and embrace that person. Who doesn’t want to do what they like all the time? Being reserved will get you nowhere when trying to get you and your art discovered.
People change their names in the arts frequently to find something that suits their image better and is easier to remember. Changing your name is just you taking control over what your parents dictated to you. Stay in line with having a strong opinion. It’s important when it comes time for someone to Google you and they can’t spell your name correctly.
Talk about what you want. Does your brand like to get involved with politics? Are you a funny person that likes to joke around? In Kindergarten we were tasked with defining our personal brands by spelling out our names and using adjectives for each letter in our name to describe ourselves. Use this tool and discover who you are. Have a vision and be confident about it.
is a nomadic artist currently residing in Los Angeles. His mediums include, but are not limited to, film, photography, performance, poetry, prose, and fashion design.