The importance of your ‘image’ as an artist

We’ve decided to take a break from looking at the industry this week and decided to focus on you, the artist, and why your image is important. Although it is mainly about the music, it is also fair to say that image does play a part in a band or artists success – the image has to fit the sound.

Why does image matter?

Having a distinctive image is important as it allows the audience to identify with you straight away. Because of this an audience can make up their mind about an artist before they’ve even played a note. In the same way that you may judge someone by how the look when you first meet them, an audience will do the same to an artist so first impressions count. An audience seeing you for the first time can also tell a lot about your genre from you image, and will liken you to other artists that look similar. For example, if you walked out on stage in jeans and a flannel shirt the crowd may instantly think about grunge rock like Nirvana and be predisposed to like you, because they like them. Similarly, if a female artist walked out in a designers creation then the audience may instantly liken them to successful pop acts, and like or dislike them because of it.

Choosing an image.

Deciding on an image can actually be quite hard if you are not already gifted with a strong sense of fashion. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable, and that if fits around the style of music you play. If you need a bit of inspiration look at bands in your genre that are successful, and emulate their style. Be sure to put your own personality into your image, though, as that way you won’t just be a carbon copy of similar artists out there. It’s a balance that you have to get right – people need to be able to instantly identify you and your genre of music, but they also need to be able to tell you apart from your counterparts.

However – none of this advice is telling you to sell out and do something that you don’t’ feel comfortable with, and isn’t you. You don’t actually have to change your image, as long as you are aware that the image you do choose to present will have an effect on the way people perceive your music, and ultimately, in some way, your success.

Is image just as important to successful artists?

Think of some of the best known acts in music and look at the way their image helped carve out their career. The Beatles took to wearing four identical suits to make them instantly recognisable, and rock legends like the Rolling Stones and the Stone Roses each had their take on the scruffy, harder edged (at the time) rock star look. More recently, you only have to look briefly at a picture of a woman dressed eccentrically to know that it’s Lady Gaga. It’s not a coincidence that these artists and bands with striking images made it as global stars.

However, not everyone has to be as daring and weird as Gaga in order to get noticed – look at Michael Jackson and the simplicity of his white glove, or Beyonce and her hot pants. The most important thing is that your image fits your sound, your music can be recognised by your style, and that you are comfortable with how you are presenting your self.

This post was written by Zimbalam/Believe social media assistant and blogger Jess Boyer @jessroseboyer, adapted from a piece by Robert Hurst.

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