How To decide your Artistic Identity and Business Focus | Part 1
It was bumpy.
Below 2,000 feet we were getting hit by a lot of turbulence. And with only two of us in the Cessna 172, our plane was light which made things worse. I flew a very conservative and long downwind leg to give myself plenty of space for what was likely going to be a challenging final approach to the runway. It was inevitable |
“Could you make your downwind any longer?!” came the remark by a seasoned pilot over the tower frequency broadcast to everyone in line to land.
My flight instructor didn’t hesitate for a moment, announcing over the same tower frequency |
“Everyone has to learn how to fly.”
As an artist, new or seasoned, we all have to learn how to fly.
Then with intent and time we find our own specific style.
This is true whether you’re a creative director, photographer, model, costume designer, or hair and makeup artist (HMUA).
Learning to Fly
Do a google image search on the following categories:
- Avant garde fashion
- Concert photography
- Costume design
- Event photography
- Fashion photography
- Glam fashion
- SFX makeup
- Swimwear model
- Weddings photography
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a starting point. Pick the top 3 categories that interest you and go down the rabbit hole in the categories you selected.
Next create a private Pinterest board for each category and pin your 10 favorite images from each category.
You now have your starting point. And with your starting point, your journey just got a little shorter, a little less bumpy, and a lot more enjoyable because you now have the beginnings of your Artistic Strategy.
With your starting point and draft artistic strategy in place your Artistic Identity will emerge if you do one thing for a year |
Plan and execute one photoshoot per week for 50 weeks.
No one needs to see the results of your photoshoots except you and your photographer. The photos are for your internal portfolio which will help you to explore what you do and don’t enjoy about the artistic path you started with.
Tip: Make sure that you have a written contract in place with your photographer that specifies that the photos taken during your photoshoot will not be published anywhere unless both you and your photographer agree in writing.
At the end of 50 weeks, you’ll have over 100 photographs to review in each of your 3 categories, Print each one at your local print facility, drugstore, or on a printer if you have one and then pin them to your wall in a way that makes sense to you.
- Three groups of photos that correspond to your categories, or
- Three groups that include that ones you love, hate, and are indifferent, or
- Groups that you want to focus on and groups that you don’t.
Tip: The quality of the print isn’t important. Focus on which categories you find interesting and how it made you feel about yourself as an artist.
Now your mission is to decide if one or more of your categories excites you. Possibly, you’ve found a niche within a category that interests you. Or a concept from a photoshoot lead you to explore another area. Or someone you met on a photoshoot inspired you.
Tip: It’s also possible that none of the photographs were inspiring, in which case it’s time to pick another 3 categories and start over.
There’s no wrong answer because you’ve taken an active step in narrowing your artistic identity.
Even if your result was that you need to start over, you’ll be able to put together 3 inspiration words that describe yourself from an artistic perspective. If you’re indeed starting over, than these could be 3 words that describe who you aren’t as an artist.
Example of 3 positive inspiration words:
Here’s the short version:
- A lot of creative freedom
- Very little money
- Creative constraints
Tip: Creative constraints are not necessarily a bad thing. Constraints in the right atmosphere with the right team can lead to more creativity.
Example: Peter Gabriel requested that drummer Phil Collins not use cymbals on Gabriel’s third album (Melt)–a big constraint for Collins. But this lead to the invention of the gated drum (gated reverb) sound by Collins, Steve Lillywhite, and Hugh Padgham. It’s the drum sound that defines a lot of 80s music. A year after his work with Gabriel, Collins played no cymbals and used the gated drum on his Top 5 song Air Tonight. Gabriel’s constraint turned out well for everyone.
So if you like eating regularly, it looks like commercial is the way to go.
Or is it?
In Part 2, we’ll look at other options for your Business Focus.
This story is an excerpt from Concept, my upcoming photography book. To learn more about my books and classes and to receive a discount, you’re invited to subscribe to my List by clicking HERE.