Re-Thinking an Artist's Image: Creating a Signature Style



Original Article By Christopher Knab
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Many talented emerging artists are confused by the issue of an image and don't have a sense of their own style. So, they either copy things from other people, or are just bland. Few artists actually have a true, distinct style. In today's entertainment environment, the first impression is as important as ever. However, style is only one aspect of an artist's first impression. Working with artists such as Usher, Beyonce, and Jessica Simpson has taught me that there are many things related to the way an artist comes across to others.

My theory for building a compelling rockstar image is that you have to look within, harness what really makes you great, and then express that to the fullest. A style or look is just another form of self-expression, similar to the way you express yourself on stage or in the studio. It's capturing that same energy, and applying it to the rest of your life, including your look.

Everything you do can be viewed as a form of self-expression - from knowing yourself so deeply that your expression comes from an authentic place, to your live performance, to how you walk into a room, conduct yourself in meetings and interviews, and to how passionately you live your daily life. These things shape the way that you are perceived. And of course, style and a look play an important role too.

Entertainment is a business of first impressions. People make a decision of
what they think about you in the first few seconds of seeing you. But here's the key - People don't get an impression from you; they get an impression from the image you project. That's why talent is not enough to make it in this business. Many musicians have talent. But if they're not doing all they can with it - if they're not packaged in a way that it truly connects to others - it won't work. They won't attract the industry attention they deserve.

It's important that you define your look, just as you have defined your sound.  This creation of a signature style involves the following 3-step process:
Educate yourself so that you can dictate your own style: Start to notice what you're drawn to and what you like. Notice what styles work on certain people and what doesn't. Pay attention to advertisements on TV and billboards.  Notice movie posters. Flip through magazines. I'm not an
advocate of following every trend, but if you don't know what the trends are, how can you decide to take part of them or not?

Create a point of view and direction by uncovering your imaging themes: Think about your favorite rockstars. Notice their defining characteristics and traits. Then get clear on your own gifts and quirks. Rockstars accentuate their strengths. How can you? A combination of your favorite rockstar's traits, along with your own defined uniqueness will form a Point of View and Direction.  An image is formed when you consistently put forth a clear direction.

For example, if your favorite rockstars are Kid Rock, The Police, Sheryl Crow, Joannie Mitchell, Ani Difranco, and Bono, the traits you most admire in them are their rebellious nature, sunny personalities, and home-made qualities. Your own strengths and quirks include your sensual nature, love of wild animals, and heritage. It's then about taking pieces of all of these themes and putting them together to form "your own" rockstar image.

Illustrate your themes and direction in the way you dress, accessorize, and act: Once you have a clearly defined direction for your image, the next step is to portray that in every part of your look and in everything that you do. For instance, what's the belt buckle, hair style, or color combination that clearly represents the new image that you want to project? Your photographs, website, and other presentation materials should all reflect your new image too. Then decide how you can express your new direction in your live performance, studio sessions, and daily life. Live your artistry in all that you do. So now that you have your own style, it's time to go shopping. Happy hunting.

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