Is your artist image adding or subtracting the cool? Part 2

Finally the second in this series looking at lessons to be learnt in how you manage your musical artist image from the awesome double page adverts for the fashion house Dunhill; as part of their ‘Voices’ campaign.

The second advert features the actor Harland Miller. Whilst reading this take time and think how does it impact on you as an artist, are they’re any parallels, along with what are the differences and why? It’s probably worth reading several times to take it all in…

I can totally relate to this, coming from a small town and being drawn to the big city, which at that time in my life was Newcastle and the myriad of nights at the legendary venue ‘The Riverside’.  Like it or not we all play characters in our lives, your artist image is just one of those, it may be your only one or it may be one of many.

Being a successful artist is in many ways about making that character someone who people can buy into, can trust and believe, along with want to emulate. Your artist’s character may be completely you, and extension of you, or a complete fabrication – ala Ziggy Stardust or Plan B. Two complete ends of the spectrum in terms of characters are two massively successful artists – Swedish House Mafia and at the other end Claude Vonstroke.  For example take Swedish House Mafia everything they do is congruent with an image of big success. The hooks in the tracks are big stadium fillers, the tracks they mix in sets are big tracks, big drums, big synths and vocals. The members are all big characters and the images they put forward are all of grandness and opulence.  They play the biggest clubs with the biggest crowds. All the elements of they’re image are congruent and reinforce each other. If you’re wanting a lesson in how to go from the underground house to massive commercial success then can could do little wrong with checking this ‘Until one‘ release by Swedish house mafia and its documentary.

It is not unusual for musical artist to go through many characters in their life, some successful chameleons are David Bowie, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Madonna. So just because you have a character now does not mean that is it, or as you see elements of your current artists character that don’t fit, change them. Plan B was completely different, gritty UK hip hop. I remember Zane Lowe interviewing one of Chase and Status and asking what had happened to Plan B, and they were like ‘oh he’s working on a concept album about soul singer who finds fame and then loses it and ends up in prison’. He then defined a musical image and character around which to develop a series of songs and persona. The results have been amazing, and massively successful.

Two down and two to go, if this is all seeming a bit much don’t worry in the final one we’ll wrap it all up and offer you some direct ideas to implement to make sure your artist image is telling the story you want it to. We’ll leave you with one of Plan B’s killer singles


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