How to Create Your Style Aesthetic as an Emerging Artist
It's not called show business for nothing. Being an artist naturally entails a visual aspect as well - you have to present the idea of yourself, along with the true self that you depict in your music. You have to present yourself confidently as a work of art if you want others to believe in you. But unfortunately, being original isn’t the ultimate goal for success in the industry.
Consistency in imagery lets an audience build trust with you. Commit to your look and overall tone - it’ll go a long way. Plus, it'll make the energy of a live experience all the more electric.
Think about other aesthetics in your genre. Compare and contextualize your feelings within it. If your identity is rooted in crossover, see how the two connect harmoniously, and what comes across as more choppy or confused. Make a Venn diagram and play around with what works, and what doesn’t.
A good example of a recently successful crossover attempt is Princess Nokia’s foray into punk/emo. While it’s not always the best idea for a musician to take two very different genres they’re a fan of and experiment with blending them, Nokia blends emo with hip hop in her music and aesthetic. It’s eccentric, but it works, and she’s only broadened her fan pool rather than isolating any part of it.
Don’t hire anyone or ask for the opinion of a sales person who’s just trying to make a buck. Instead, make a stylist friend or ask for advice and makeover help from a friend who has a strong style identity which works for them. Ask them what your vibe is. Additionally, whatever deductions they make from your music can help determine your style statements. You should also research your look and similar looks, trying to find a differentiating element which sets you apart.
If you have a tough aesthetic but lyrics about heartbreak as well, maybe pair leather with silk or soft color tones. If your personality is RnB diva or ladies man, don’t be afraid to glam or debonair it up to the max.
Watch music videos on YouTube of your favorite artists. Mainstream artists like Rihanna can show you how to create a linear style trajectory which is wildly diverse but still makes sense. Just as she went from good girl to bad girl, Gaga went the opposite direction, and toned down her look, while still keeping an elegantly unique swag that’s true to her.
If you’re a group, you can keep it simple if you go for a uniform; this creates a cohesive look. Don’t try random fads and test what will work. You’ll lose the trust of your audience. It might be disappointing to you that image and sound are so intertwined, or you might feel like the importance of image is now overshadowing the actual music. But try not to get bogged down by preconceptions and fear of becoming a sell-out - instead, push onward, embrace what comes, and have fun with it!