This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Back when I was in college, I would intentionally get paint on my jeans. As I was out and about wearing those colorfully splotched pants, I felt the part of a true artist. I imagined people looking at me and saying to themselves with awe and admiration, “He is a real artist!”
Fortunately, I grew up.
But there does seem to be a bit of that mentality among many aspiring artists. I was there. I felt that if I looked the part, it somehow legitimized me to others. Visit any art department on any college campus and you will see a group of bohemian looking aspiring artists. They are playing the part. Many underground art circles in many cities also have this group of artists.
The truth is, though, that I have come to know many, many professional artists over the years. Almost none of them feel the need to dress the part of the stereotypical starving artist. Fact is they all look, dress, and act normal. While it is true that there are certainly some professionals that do fit within the stereotype, I think the vast majority dress and look like most normal individuals. Ragged clothes and unkempt hair don’t make an artist.
But let’s take this one step further. How do you dress when you are at a gallery reception?
Once in a while, you see a few who “dress the part” of an artist. But most people simply wear nice, but casual clothes. A few dress up in dress shirt with tie (for the man) and a skirt or dress pants and blouse (for the woman).
May I suggest that you should always dress up when attending a show, reception, or gala at which your art is on display.
The military has two uniforms, the Combat Uniform (working uniform), and the Service Uniform (also known as the formal uniform, worn at formal and ceremonial occasions). As an artist, you should also have two separate uniforms. One for while you create your artwork and one for receptions and shows. Your work clothes and your reception clothes.
If you dress down at shows, in your combat gear, you fuel the stereotype of the starving but free-living artist. When you dress up, you present yourself as a successful professional. Isn’t that what you want, after all? You are professional. Play the part. Dress up.