Artist Persona: Transforming Yourself
David Bowie had Ziggy Stardust, Stefani Germanotta has Lady Gaga, and even writer Stephen King had Richard Bachman. I have Krissy Whiski. Armed with rainbow hair, painted dresses, sparkly accessories and over the top headpieces, I tend to stand out in a crowd. There's a reason why I do this, and it certainly isn't just because I love costume parties (I so do love dressing up)!
Sometimes artists, writers, and musicians create more a body of work — they create people. They form whole other identities and alter egos. Whether or not you decide to give yourself a unique moniker and an impressive wardrobe, it's smart to think of yourself as playing a role. We play roles in life all the time, mom, dad, employee, boss, daughter, son. We're the same person, just behaving a bit differently in those different situations. In your art you are free to express yourself, so why not let your artist persona do the same? You are still you, but you're just wearing a different hat. In this case, it's your performer hat, and in my case, it's a rainbow horned headpiece!
Seriously, I have found this tactic to be incredibly helpful when putting my artwork out there. Creating an artist persona not only gives a cohesive aesthetic to your art and your message, but it also gives the freedom of free expression. It's easier to create what you want to create, personal pieces that can be incredibly hard to share and put out there. As a creator, you also bear the burden of facing rejection, and people not liking or understanding your work, because of it's subjective nature. Using a persona can take the burn off of being rejected.
Having a persona give you the ability to express yourself, in odd and unique ways freely. I love going to an art show and giving it 100%. I want to be remembered, and that's incredibly difficult in a sea of artists creating art. But, when I show up dressed in a glitter holographic catsuit, or with rainbow horns on my head and custom sunglasses that I've designed, all eyes are on me. That makes marketing my artwork easier. Suddenly more people want to engage me, rather than stare blankly at my art on the wall and move over to the next painting. I actually without even realizing it, end up matching my artwork, in both color and style. It's unintentional, but I think that is what happens when you express yourself freely on your terms. Having a persona helps me do that without fear. I don't fear people thinking I am crazy, weird, or outrageous with my appearance because it isn't me they are rejecting, it's my persona. During my typical 9 to 5, I am toiling away with paints in my art studio, in jeans and a t-shirt, sometimes even in my pajamas, my pants often covered in paint. No one sees me there, other than the characters on the unfinished canvases that hang on my studio walls. When I am creating in my studio, my only worry is on mastering that painting in front of me. Honing it perfectly into the idea that I have in my head, and numerous sketches, around me. But, when I go out to art shows, the point of the event is to display that art and to engage. I have been to some shows where artists are hiding behind their booths, playing with their phone. It's difficult to engage when your art is on display. It's like literally hanging your most embarrassing story on the wall, and then standing in the room, hoping no one knows your the girl in the story. I know this struggle all too well, or at least that's how I often feel myself because my art is a personal reflection of my inner dialogue. Believe it or not, I tend to be shy around strangers, especially when my painting is hanging for all to see, critique and comment on. I have mixed emotions of both pride for what I have created, and fear, that other people will not like it or understand it.
A persona is how I overcome those feelings and pull off confidently displaying my art. I am forced to get out of my comfort zone, and my mission is to share my art. I love talking to people and learning about what draws others to my artwork. But I can't-do that if I am not willing to try. An artist persona has been a fun way for me to meet new people, express myself in some unique fun ways, and live my art authentically. Now I know not everybody is going
to be able to pull off strutting around in a holographic glitter catsuit but I do suggest finding what works for you and experimenting with things you'd like to do. Need ideas? Just look for at your idols.
I've taken cues from my idols like Frida Kahlo, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Salvador Dali, Bob Ross, Andy Warhol, and even Betsy Johnson. Think big floral headpieces, lightning bolt makeup, feminist power, creating work that speaks to social issues, while using surreal symbolism to do so, vibrant color and pop culture references. By mixing my influences, and borrowing bits from here, and a little from there. I am curating my sense of style. It's the same thing that I do in art; I'm just translating it into fashion and giving it it's own identity, thus creating the artist persona.