We keep hearing this term thrown around. We're surrounded by this. And most of us underestimate the power of a brand. Why do you need one as an artist, and what does it take to make one? Let's talk about that.
What is an Artist's brand?
A brand is anything that evokes a certain feeling. It is identifiable and specific. For example, you look at artist Joy Kinna's paintings, and you know it's her. You see artist Katie Jobling's instagram feed and it evokes a specific feeling of freshness and freedom, and again, you know it's her. You see artist Amber Emmi's videos and they're so specifically hers, that there is no mistaking them for anybody else even though her subject is not unique. These are examples of people who've built a strong brand with their art. It doesn't only have to be repetitive use of specific fonts or colours. It is an overarching umbrella feeling that a viewer gets when they look at/hear/experience the artist in any way.
Why is it important to build one as an artist?
"But isn't it enough that I paint, and I paint well??"
Know that nothing you do or make is unique enough to make you stand out. There are always going to be many other artists doing the same thing. You, however can find a new way of doing it, presenting it and talking about it. That is what will make you stand out and be unique and desirable. And that is precisely what your brand is.
What makes an artist brand?
The different things that you do as an artist that can make your brand are many! A few of them are as follows. Some of these are more powerful than others, but they all contribute to your brand.
The way you post on social media - How often do you post? Do you post stories or videos? Which platform do you post most on?
The colours you use in your paintings and on your website - Do you have a recurring theme or a colour palette that people associate you with? (or that you want people to associate you with)
Your tone when you write about your art - Do you have a comedic tone? Do you tell stories about your art? Do you talk about feelings and nature, and what inspires you?
The way you shoot videos or take pictures - What backgrounds do you use for your photos and videos? Do you show your supplies and your process?
How you document your process of creation - Do you show the behind the scenes of creating your pieces?
How you connect with your audience and how much you let them in on your creative process - Do you show your face? Do you use your voice? Are you interactive and open to feedback from your audience? Is your creative process collaborative?
Talking about the common inspiration behind all your pieces - Is there one common theme across all your paintings? Are you inspired by a feeling or a particular part of nature, and do you talk about it?
How you sell your art - Do you release your work in series or piece by piece? Do you sell online or offline? Do you sell through Etsy or your own website or just through Instagram DMs?
What you offer to your customers - How is your packaging? Do you sell a painting or an experience? What are your courses/classes/workshops like if you teach? What does opening a package from you give the customer besides the painting they got (a little gift or a specific feeling?)
The way you describe yourself as an artist, and what making art means to you - What is your motive or objective behind being an artist? How important is making art to you?
I know these points may sound extensive to you, but these are just a few of the things that could make your brand as an artist.
Quick Exercise: Think of your favourite artist, and you'll probably be able to answer all of the above questions about them. Which is why their brand is strong, and you remember them.
Steps to build your brand as an artist
Do some introspection. Know yourself first. List down your motivations and how you want to be perceived. Be as honest as possible with yourself. I cannot stress the importance of this. You need to first know yourself, why you like making art, and what you want the audience to think when they see your art. This is similar to companies having a mission and a vision. It may sound like hogwash but it actually directs all your efforts in the right direction when you are clear of your objective. Quick Exercise: Ask your friends how they perceive you and your work. Tell them to list words that come to mind when they see your art. You probably already have a brand that you're not aware of. See if this matches with what you want it to be. (It may not and that might surprise you!)
Develop consistent visual elements across all your assets - Colours, fonts, graphics that all tie together with your brand value.
Use a consistent tone of voice. If you are a good writer, write long captions, and even a blog or a newsletter, filled with stories. If you are a humorous writer, even better! Be as entertaining and educational as you can. Write like you would talk to your friends, and be engaging and consistent.
Design the experience you want to deliver. Invest in good packaging, stickers, postcards etc. which your customers can collect over time. Everybody loves something extra. Give them that pleasure of opening a gift if you're selling your pieces. And the experience of a class or a workshop which is uniquely you, if you do that.
Let me know in the comments if this made sense to you, and if you have any other suggestions you may want to add to this!