For years our pop culture has stressed the importance of image to the point of the slogan, “image is everything.” Marketing, image consulting, various forms of stylists, and so on have become viable art forms and thriving industries. In fact, we’ve become experts in hyping and spinning and packaging everything from the latest healthy lifestyle trends and state-of-the-art medical facilities to strategies for social networking sites and policies for privacy protection.
Spin, Rinse, Hype
Sadly, our hype and spin all too often exceeds the quality of the product, service, idea, or act it frames or presents. Think of how many times that two-minute movie trailer is far more entertaining than the two-hour feature it prompted you to go see or rent the DVD for. We’re so good at marketing an image, that previews play a pivotal part in going to the movies or popping in your latest NetflixÂ® rental from the top of your queue.
Like it or not, image is not exactly everything for the singer, but it’s vital to grabbing attention and plays an important role in sustaining interest and defining a look or vibe or feel. Our focus here will not be on marketing but primarily on helping you get started on finding and refining a look that complements your voice, song style, and personality.
Define The Shine In Image
Image is something that helps to define you and naturally reinforces who you are. Its importance as a factor in determining your potential success has come about in part because packaging is what often draws attention and piques the interest of potential consumers, users, listeners, or fans.
In establishing your look, you must consider everything from what you put on your head to the soles your footwear. From head to toe, you want to reinforce comfort and confidence. You don’t want to create an image that makes you feel self-conscious or that becomes a potential distraction for you or for your audience.
To get started on defining your look, begin with what’s familiar, something that is you that you can build on. It may be a specific color or a basic article of clothing like jeans or a vest or skirt – whatever are some pieces that define who you are at your most comfortable and confident.
Then, make a list of favorite singers, entertainers, and other public figures whose looks grab your attention in a positive way. Maybe you just think the look is cool or fun, whatever you personally connect with or are moved by is what you’re looking for here. These will trigger possibilities for enhancing the basics and familiar items that you’ve identified as reflecting your personal confidence and comfort.
Now look at your personal heroes. These can be family members, friends, teachers, along with well-known people that have inspired or influenced you deeply in some way. These personal heroes have had a significant role in shaping who you are as they touched your heart, changed your thinking, or opened up your spirit in some way. You will look at these people for something to add to your image as a tribute. Even if your choice is something the audience doesn’t see visually, it’s something they will pick up in what you project as a performer.
The Fly Off The Wall
If part of your personality always calls you to try new things or be a bit off-the-wall or different, you can consider looking into choices that do make you initially feel a bit self-conscious or seem so bizarre they might become a potential distraction. The objective in this case would be to work with it until you’re comfortable enough to have some fun. In such cases, the element of surprise or even a bit of a shock effect becomes part of your image.
It’s also key to consider your song sets. That material you sing may prompt the need for a specific look or feel for portions of your live performance or for themes in the material that drives your music. If you do add an unusual piece of clothing or an accent piece that draws attention to itself, or if you’ve chosen some article of clothing because of its personal significance, write a song or have one written for you that showcases that piece of clothing, accent, or accessory.
This can a fun song that pokes fun at an item reinforcing a playful aspect of your singing persona, or it can provide an emotional tie to the piece of clothing, accent, or accessory that deepens its significance. The song can become a theme song of sorts down the road, further enhancing some aspect of your image.
Change As You Grow
As your career develops and as you grow as an artist, draw from your heroes and popular figures you admire to expand or even change up your look. If you make significant changes to your image, write a song or have one written about that change. You could play with a song about finding image and use a variety of props to poke fun at its absurdity at times and its never ending necessity. The bottom line is to be true to you and make adjustments to reflect significant change as you grow.
Start With What You Like
In the process of pulling together your look in terms of wardrobe, you need to take a look at levels of comfort and confidence in your physical bearing, fitness, and health. So, do a self-assessment starting with what you like! This isn’t about beating yourself up or trying to be someone that isn’t you. It’s about appreciating things you wouldn’t want to change and can build on. So, take a serious look at what you like about your body, face, the way you feel, move, act, laugh – take inventory of your physical traits and attributes, citing the things you appreciate most about your look, feel, vibe, style, and place in the space you occupy.
After you’re done your inventory of things you like; then take a look at those things you would like to change that would enhance your personal levels of self-confidence and comfort. After you complete this list, find someone you trust to share what you’ve come up with. This needs to be someone that cares about you and preferably has some music business savvy. It could be your vocal coach, acting teacher, or maybe somebody that operates a venue where you’d like to perform. You want feedback that has some credibility in terms of helping you define your image.
Also check out any media consultants and stylists in your area that have a positive reputation and a proven, verifiable track record for bringing out what’s unique in the clients they served. This is a sizable investment that it’s critical to your potential success. So do your homework, shop around, and investigate thoroughly before making a commitment.
Treasure Not Trash
Don’t let anyone tear you down. Look for those that are committed to building up or bringing out your strengths and shoring up your confidence. When change is necessary, you want people around you that will help you become comfortable as you try on, step into, and move around, adapting to change.
Always start with and default to all that is true to you and build on that. Whether it’s a stylist, media consultant, manager, co-writer, band member, or friend, you want someone that truly honors the unique essence of who you are and what you stand for. You want people around you that build you up, help you improve what needs attention, and are dedicated to engaging your gift as a singer to its highest honor, its utmost uniqueness, and greatest potential.