There are three things at the core of a well-defined artist identity. My goal in the article is to give you a clear, firm, foundational understanding of the personal artist identity. Defining your identity, will enable you to distinguish yourself in the minds of colleagues, ticket buyers, customers, clients, and investors so that you can be sought after for what you do and how you do it, thus, attracting the respect and the audience that you deserve.
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Let’s go through the core parts of your artist identity that will shape and mold everything you do: story, values and style.
Your background and your experience are your story. These are events from your past that shaped who you are.
The beautiful thing about defining your identity is that you do not have to create or make it up because your artist identity begins with your story. Your story combines your background and experiences. You are not your background or your experiences but both speak to your approach to your artistic work. Your goal is to draw out those things that make you unique so that you can understand who you are and what you bring to your craft. Answer the questions below to review your background and past experiences.
You did not decide when, where or how you would be born but these things define you nonetheless.
- What is your hometown? What is unique about it? How did the culture of your hometown shape your perspective of yourself and the world? Are there any perspectives that you learned in your hometown that you carry that often distinguish you from other artists?
- Who raised you? What did they teach you about life? What is your most defining memory with those who raised you?
- Describe your artistic career thus far? What subjects or themes do respond to most? What works of art do you find irresistible?
- Is there a connection between your place of origin, the people who raised you, and your artistic interests? Explain what it is. If there is no obvious connection, see if you can find the origin of your interest what you create.
- Describe how you first became aware of your artistic medium. Was there a friend, artist or teacher who taught you?
- Aside from the above, who or what has influenced your thinking the most? What artists do you admire?
How do you respond to the circumstances of life? Your consistent response to life’s ups and downs reflects your values.
Reflecting on your past experience and upbringing, identify three moments in your life that changed the way that you think. Describe each of these experiences.
How did you respond to this experience?
What does your response say about you and what you value?
Consider the last thing that you created as an artist in your field: does it reflect the values that you mentioned in your last response?
Which values did your work reflect?
As you continue reflecting on past experiences and thinking about the artistic work that you create, you will begin to see certain values that continue to emerge.
Write down the 3 values that you see the most.
Style is the way you do it.
Style is the last part of the artist identity. How do you reflect your background, story and values in your artistic work? Consider your fashion, speech, and you approach your art.
Once you have your artistic identity defined, you can refine and hone it as you grow in your field. As you brand yourself, you will use this knowledge of your identity to create any images, product packaging, logos, websites, social media pages and more with this unique brand in mind. Your audience will know what to expect and they will readily identify something that you created.
Remember, in everything you do: be yourself. You are an artist for a reason and I applaud you for your courage. Embrace your identity. These things are what make you unique.