We get a lot of questions about image. What should I do or not do? What should I wear? What should I change or even surgically alter? What types of songs should I sing? Should I create a fake bio that makes me ten years younger? What should I lie about to make myself freakier, geekier, more mysterious?
These are just some of the questions that come to mind when you stop to consider what you want to project or how you’d like others to see you. For many, the question becomes something like: how do I create a look or a vibe that will spark a buzz that leads to fame and fortune, with all of the trimmings and trappings?
Many books on self-image start by having you examine how you see yourself and how you think others see you. Though that’s a bit simplistic, it’s certainly worth considering since “others” for you as a singer, songwriter, performer, or artist, represent your audience. So, it’s reasonable to want to know how you’re perceived. But…
Be True To What Rules
We’ve said this before, and we’ll continue to say it because it bears repeating, especially in an industry that is market driven and often promotes success at all costs. The key to creating your image is to be true to yourself.
Be grounded in who you are – first and always. That’s your starting point. Even if your goal is to create a public-persona or some larger-than-life character that sings and performs, you still need to be true to your values, beliefs, and heart.
The better you know yourself, and the truer you remain to the people, values, and beliefs that matter to you the most, the better equipped you will be to separate your public life and artistic persona from your private self.Â You don’t want unclear boundaries, unhealthy relationships, and unrealistic expectations to rise up and get out of hand.
Of course you want to have a successful career. But remember, the more successful you become, the demands of your public and private life will likely be taken to task, thrown off balance, and even threatened by compromise.
So what can you do to create an image that’s unique, marketable, easy to put on or take off, and remains true to who you are at heart? We’re glad you asked. Believe it or not, everything you need you already have with you. It lives in the highs and lows, wounds and healing, falls and fumbles, dreams and disappoints you’ve faced. That image is shaped, colored, and strategically lighted by markers or turning points you’ve worked through. It lives right alongside what drives you to get up, get out, and get over it or go for it, day by day.
Markers + Drivers
To help you get started with establishing and then refining your image, you need to take a good hard look at those markers and drivers. You’ll learn more about what you value, care for, and crave. You’ll gain a better understanding of your fears, doubts, stumbling blocks, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerability. You’ll be better equipped to clearly set boundaries that you can live with publicly as a performer and live with privately as you indulge your day-to-day routine.
To determine the markers, you may need to set aside an hour or so for a few days until you feel that the most critical markers have all clearly been identified. The time this requires will vary with each individual. You don’t want to get too bogged down in details, but you don’t want to dismiss or overlook any key issues, life-changing circumstances, or events that have served to shape the person you are today and are still becoming.
Mark Your Spot To Get Started
To get started, sit down in a place where you feel most free to be yourself and fully relaxed. Your goal is to make note of your markers – any defining moments or turning points in your life that had a strong impact on changing how you feel or think.
For example, maybe your parents divorced. Maybe it’s an event like the 9/11 attacks. It could be the loss of a loved one or the birth of a brother or sister. It might be the first TV show you became hooked on or a character you identified with. It could be your first celebrity crush.
Maybe it’s your first swimming lesson or your first outdoor concert experience. It could be a devastating breakup with your first boyfriend or girlfriend. It could be a memory of coming of age as a young woman or young man or an embarrassing, hurtful moment in gym class at school.
Think of your life as being a series of “plot points” in a screenplay that you’ve been called in on as a consultant. So, when the movie is made you want to make sure that the impact of each of those key markers is duly noted.
You may have only five or six that you feel have significantly shaped your views, heart, spirit, thinking, humor and so on. Then again, you may have twenty or more. The main point is to note the ones where you were clearly changed in some way by what happened. Once this is done, put the list aside, and forget about it for a few days.
The Drive To Sing Out
Next, you want to consider the drivers in your life. These are the things that stir your dreams or prompt your passion to get involved or take action of some sort. These drivers can be people, places, events, causes – anything that lights a fire with the desire to make a difference, get stronger, be seen, be heard, and have an impact.
It can include things that tick you off or even make you cry. Your drivers represent the broad spectrum of what compels you to stand up, sing out, play on, and let your voice be heard. What do you life for, sing for, hunger for? What spurs you to go the extra mile? Make a list of these things that spark dreams, desires, service, achievement, and a unique sense of purpose and place in the world.
Tune In Next Week
Now that you have your markers and drivers, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out what to do with them. For now, simply review the lists you’ve created, adjust as necessary, but also make note of any noticeable changes in how you feel or see yourself since working through to identify your lists of markers and drivers. Touching base with your drivers and markers will definitely stir things up.