Who are you?
What do you have to offer to another person? To the market? To the world?
What makes you unique? I’m talking about your character, personality, your experiences and stories.
How are - and how do you want to be - recognised?
And how do you pass your knowledge and your value to your context.
Many people ask me: But why do you go so deep into self-knowledge? What does that have to do with art and business?
Luckily, through connecting my areas of interest, studies and exchanges with other interesting humans, I found out that as an artist I was a human, but also a walking brand. And I asked myself how can I be true to myself, to my essence, and still communicate a strong message?
So today, I’ll share a few steps on how to actually start thinking of yourself like that - and then acting.
CHECK YOURSELF OUT and in
To look inside. To find what you are good at - and also what isn’t necessarily a strength. Capacities, struggles, qualities and tools. This self reflexion is the first step to be the creator of your story. Of your own movie. To build up a brand. To become a brand. Because these factors will become part of your identity, of your strengths and weaknesses, your purpose, values, message, positioning and clients. So yes, self knowledge, in this case, will not only help you develop your own self, but also to build a firm base for your own business.
TRANSLATE IT into products or services
So you’ve looked at yourself as a human. From there, what can you offer to the world. It could be a product, a service, knowledge. The sky is the limit. (or not) What moves you? And what do you want to pass along to the world? What do you see yourself doing in the next year, 5 years, 10 years? What is easy to grasp - and create right now? How can you develop that into something else in a near and far future? This will make you think, plan. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stick to that with all your strength. See it more as a guide for you to start. It’s ok if in a few years, or even less, you realise that is not exactly the path you wanted - or that really moves you. You are a human. You change, you evolve. You can change paths. But to do that, it is also important to have a kick-off. To start from somewhere. Not to stay in the clouds, but rather to act. And to create. What are you doing?
ANALYSE YOUR CONTEXT and be conscient about it
Well, after looking inside, it’s time to have a look outside. Where are you inserted? What does your context look like? Who are the people you are hanging out with? Who builds up your network? What are the places you are seen and can be found? Does this context really reflect who you are? And more then that, do they reflect the way you want to be perceived? The way people will relate to you? (remember, I’m talking about you - as a human - but also as a brand - let’s talk business here) Will you find potential clients in the places you go to? And well, in this context you have to ask yourself:
WHO ARE THE HUMANS that will become your public
Yes, while you check out your context, it is also very important for you to understand what your niche is, and who your public is. Remember you thought about your strengths and weaknesses’, what are you really good at and what moves you? What you are creating? A product a services? Well, what are you presenting to the world? And who will not only be interested in it, but also buy it? Here comes in a bit of a deeper research around your market. Who is your target audience? To whom to you want to connect and sell. An interesting exercise is to actually design your ideal “client(s)”. Write down every detail about one - or more - clients. We call them personas. What are their names, their styles, their lifestyles? Where do they go, what they like, what do they buy? To design them helps you to identify them in your context. Or makes you realise you have to change contexts to actually find them.
COMMUNICATION, image and speech, IS CONNECTION
Well you have something in your hands (and in your heart) and you know the humans that will be help you make it happen. How do you connect these two things? Here comes communication. We are surrounded by technologies. It has become an extension of our hands, and brains, and hearts. It’s almost hard to keep up with it. (Ok, I’ll get into that some other time). Yes online is important. If someone googles your name, what will they find? How does your online presence look like? Social medias, virtual business cards, portfolio, website, social events, pictures of you. It all comes in. Come on, who hasn’t googled a person yet? We have all played a little stalker role at some point in our virtual lives. So, have you done it to yourself lately? This is how people will perceive you if they have their stalker moments. This is important nowadays. Even if you are not a fan of social media (it’s ok, there are other ways), how is your online presence? So yes, technologies will definitely help you out with the connections and selling - in whatever path you choose to go. However, I always like to raise a little flag here on the importance of the offline too. It seems many people forget about that. We are not only living an online life. We still go (or should go) to events, appear in public spaces, talk about ourselves amongst friends, families or strangers. How do you do that? What do you wear? How do you talk about yourself and your projects (or products). To whoever you are talking - if they talk about you, will they have the same information? Are you talking confidently about yourself, but also being open and vulnerable? Ok this is one is not that easy - and I will dive into it a bit more some other time - but right now it’s important for you to question yourself. Your image, your attitudes, your speech and the way you connect to other humans - or places. On and offline, the more your message is consistent and coherent to who you are, the more effective it will be. Being true to your essence. Authenticity is the new black they say. Gotta be yourself - always - and people will see that, look up to that and mainly - connect to it. And not only the people that love you no matter what - but also those who will be interested and buy (yes, we still live in a capitalist society) what you are offering.
CONNECT THE DOTS and start creating your system
You have looked inside and outside - and are now diving into the connections and communication between all of these elements. To me, right from the beginning it was very important to understand that this was a system. That everything I create, do and put out there are connected somehow. And it is all an interdependent system (will get deeper into this too). The more tightly coupled your systems are, the more effective they are. To understand yourself as a brand is to reinforce your personal branding, to create a positive reputation - and impact - in your niche, in order to amplify your networking and business opportunities.
My suggestion is, start diving in as soon as possible - and then out. And in again. And out again. It is an ongoing and iterative process. Every day, week, month and year. Give yourself the time and pleasure to always be connected to your true self.
Do you need a little push or help on that matter? Don’t hesitate to ask.
When you create a piece, you are not just creating a “piece of money”. A concept about your art, is also a reflex of who you are. And that's when you create a connection between the client and your piece.
Authenticity is the equivalent to undressing in front of a crowd. It means to be open, to be vulnerable, to know and really show yourself. Who you are, who you were born to be.
To travel, to explore, to insert myself in other cultures. This kind of experience kicks me out of my own context. Pushes me to change perspectives. To question my own habits and behaviours. The mind and heart seem to expand almost immediately. The creative process gains other layers that connect to other experiences.