Personal Branding: how would you describe your Ideal You

  • I love these answers from everyone! I tend to lean more towards a simple, direct statement. Admittedly, I struggled a lot to come up with a suitable anchor statement. The problem is that I love comic books, so my art is somewhat influenced by this type of art; however, as an illustrator who does lots of family portraits, I haven't yet been able to successfully incorporate this style into my work (outside of the occasional fanart drawing).

    With that being said, I think my anchor statement needs to reflect the type of work I want to pursue (children's illustrations) and the type of work I am commissioned for (fun, light-hearted family portraits). I guess my anchor statement would be, "I create light-hearted illustrations that bring joy to families. "

    Still not entirely happy with my anchor statement, and I believe it's because I'm still developing and finding my path. However, it feels good to think about this topic and to find something more specific to strive towards.

  • Pro SVS OG

    Such awesome replies!! Still struggling myself.
    Yesterday my son opened Floca`s „Moonshot“ for the first time, landed on the page with the Saturn V takeoff and said „Wow!“. And I thought, that´s it: my work is about kids opening a book and saying „Wow!“.
    Yet, that doesn’t fully describe what I want my career to be about, because I’m interested in so many other things and I want to work in other aspects of illustration too...but it´s a lot better of how I previously introduced myself, which was something like „I used to be a scientist but now I work in Children’s illustration..oh, and I also art-direct editorial illustration for a big corp...“

    The article that started this discussion stated that you can be as multifaceted as you want, but the face you present to the social media world (for self-promotion) should be just one: choose the one and stick to it. That´s what so difficult for me, I believe. I’m not sure which one is the „one“ I want to promote...

  • SVS OG

    @smceccarelli you could aim for character design then your still kinda open.

  • SVS OG

    I'm an amateur and have the luxury of not having to come up with a brand but the question still feels relevant because I still ask myself, "Why am I spending so much time and money on this? And why post stuff if I'm just doing it for the personal fun of creating?" The best I've come up with so far is that I want to capture the beauty and joy of the world that I experience in order to share that with others. (My efforts at watercolor and landscape painting are more on the beauty side and the children's illustration more on the joy side but the paintings that I've done that I like the most manage to capture both in the same painting.)

    As I said, that's more of a philosophical statement than a branding statement that can quickly summarize one's work for people who might employ you, but even as an amateur, I would like to get beyond the "Hey, I can draw a person who looks human" stage and get to the "I'm painting this to communicate this idea/view/feeling," stage and I think moving to that stage requires knowing one's brand, so to speak.

  • SVS OG

    @jason-bowen An example of successfully boxing yourself in:

    I have a friend who started their own graphic design company, and later refined it so they market themselves as a branding company for craft brewers - beer logos, labels, packaging, etc. They are seen as niche but get a lot of business within that niche because they are seen as specialized!

  • @smceccarelli said in Personal Branding: how would you describe your Ideal You:

    That´s what so difficult for me, I believe. I’m not sure which one is the „one“ I want to promote...

    I feel your pain! I feel a little like a doctor being forced to pick a specialty (yes, but do I really LOVE the ear/nose/throat enough to work with it the rest of my life?).

    I'm gonna have to think about this and come up with a statement of my own. Maybe it'll help me make the leap in a certain direction 🙂

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    I have always said "Creativity is my Passion" and with that I do anything I want as long as its creative 🙂

  • SVS OG

    @carriecopa haha thats great. You tell yourself you should be open to other things within art but I think that should be an under thought if the option comes up... maybe? haha

  • Thanks, Simona, Your question has given me a lot to think about and also to realize what a poor job I have been doing at communicating who I am and why I am asking someone to spend time to look at my work. But after thinking about this for a while, it seems logical to me that my personal branding must also include those qualities that will appeal to the person or persons willing to trade their cash for my product/services. In my case, that is an agent or art director who has found my work somehow and has paused to take a look. I would think my “anchor statement” doesn’t need to just include the type of illustrations I do or want to do. My portfolio has gotten their attention. I need to provide the information that is music to their ears. What would I like for an art director to tell another art director about his or her experience with me? Seems to me those things should be in my anchor statement. Maybe something like dependable, able to meet deadlines, mature, easy to work with, accomplished, and maybe something like “the most patient and understanding dude I ever worked with.” An example? “An accomplished illustrator that communicates well, who understands you are in charge, but one who is not timid in expressing ideas, an illustrator who will give you more than you expected.” Just thinking out loud.

  • I want to bring a smile to those that look at my illustrations. The real world is such a heavy place, and anything to bring a little joy is what I want to put out to others. I like to illustrate things from life but with a fun/humorous/sweet twist.

    My statement would be something like: "Illustrations that lighten reality."

  • hehe, something I can help with.

    Firstly, we all know personal branding is important (so we've been told)...but why?

    Before you start to reach out to people and tell them why you are worth hiring/buying from, you need to be clear who you are:

    • What makes you and your work unique?
    • What value do you bring to the world?
    • Why should the right people care?

    This message should be clear, and it needs to be consistent. Whether its

    • On your website
    • Within your social accounts
    • Any books and prints you make
    • Any conventions you attend
    • Any interviews you give
    • When you reach out to people

    When coming up with your personal brand you want to be able to make it as easy as possible for the rest of the world to spread your work. For your work to spread, your personal brand needs to be Remarkable. That is people need to be able to remark on your work/brand. IE. 'Worth telling others about.'

    A personal brand is designed to make it as easy as possible for other people to describe what you do. People are going to talk about what you do anyway, however, if you aren't clear in your message, they will get it wrong, half right, or wont get it at all.

    If you aren't clear on what you do and what makes you unique, how do you expect others to?

    So in short, the way you should think of a personal brand is:

    • What people say about you and your work when you are not around
    • What people can expect from your professionally
    • What people come to know you for.

    The reason people say "create an anchor statement" is one sentence is easier to remember (and share) than a whole convoluted story.

    So how do you come up with all this. Here are some things you should ask yourself:

    • What is your background? List unique professional talents, insights, defining moments in your life, what you respect in others, unique perspectives you have, expertise, what people come to you for advice about.

    • What are your values? List core values, what you are passionate about, beliefs, loves, hates, character traits that are important to you, what you stand for

    • What is your body of work? List what you have already created, what you are proud of, what you have learnt, stories/messages you want to tell, themes/genres etc that show up, what do fans know that are going to get, what fans will never find, unique attributes, why they should seek you out over others

    • What is your legacy? List what people can be sure of when they hire you, why you want to be known for, your impact on audiences, unique value, where you want to be in five years.

    Go through all these and write and go into as much detail as possible. Start to look for patterns and repititions in what you write. List down the patterns and repetitions. What are the themes of the repititions and patterns. What is consistent throughout what you have written?

    Hone all this down till you have a small group of words and phrases that sum you up. Bring it all together to create a susinct sentence that you want other people to use to describe your and your work.

    How does it feel to you? Does it feel right? If you think there is something missing, then go back and fine tune things. Once you are happy with it (or if you are a perfectionist - 90% happy with it) then you are done. You have your "anchor statement". Your personal brand in a nutshell 🙂

  • I wonder if at first it's like finding your style - first you just do the thing and post and then go back and reflect on your posts to see what's coming forward naturally - and then work to punch those small things forward.
    But a lot of you here are tried and true illustrators, so it's a different game for you :p or is it? It sounds like a nice wine night to go and sift through old work and posts to see what personality is coming out and to try and verbalized it - or a fun art friend day where you both examine each other's work and talk about the themes you see - man, art friends are the best - looking at you @burvantill 😉
    I would LOVE to hear @Will-Terry @Lee-White @davidhohn and @Jake-Parker 's "elevator pitches."

  • @nathan
    This is so great!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @nathan This is an absolutely awesome process! I will go through this and see what I can come up with! Career hopping make it ever so complicated, but I do think your process will help to extract elements from each career that make me me in the illustration world....
    And while we’re at it, do you have any tips what to do with an ancient Linked-In profile, heavy with a large professional network (600 people or so) in a career you’re no longer in? How do I recycle it to use it in my new career? Like I have almost 100 endorsements for medical research....That´s going to be so confusing for ADs if I start building my network in that direction....

  • Pro SVS OG

    I think I got it...or at least a good first stab. Here my prospective anchor statement and the reasons behind each word:


    What´s interesting for me is what I decided to leave out. I left out that I also work as Art Director. It´s in a completely different field and the word „professional“ should be enough to tell people I know what art directors want.
    I kept „cultures“ in at the moment, though it´s an odd word....but being a TCK (third culture kid) and living in an extremely international environment makes up a big part of my personality and the way I approach art - so I decided to leave it in. Also, I like the alliteration. I could add something about working for global clients, but maybe it´s not needed. I left out any reference to science and my previous career. Although my agent thinks non-fiction is the right fit for me, I’m not sure I really want to box myself there. And to be fully honest, art, history, storytelling and social phenomena interest me much more nowadays. I left „writer“ out, because I haven’t sold any of my writing it wouldn’t go with „professional“.

    English usage question. Can you only say „get a kick out of....“ or can you just leave it like this?

    It does sound true to me...maybe a bit clunky, but workable? What do you think?

  • Moderator

    @smceccarelli said in Personal Branding: how would you describe your Ideal You:

    English usage question. Can you only say „get a kick out of....“ or can you just leave it like this?

    It translates just fine in English. 👍👍

  • I’m sorry, I think a lot of this is simply artists trying to be artsy and playing a role.

    I used to know an artist who worked for a world level studio as head of one of their divisions. His whole “statement” was that he liked to draw.

    Maybe in fine arts an artists statement may mean something (and I am not convinced of that either). To me, if I look at a website I never read the statements, can the person draw and do I like their art. But then again, maybe I am simplistic!

  • Pro SVS OG

    @jimsz I think your perspective is perfectly valid. Yet, an artist working at a studio would not need any branding because he`s either not looking for clients or his clients come to him in virtue of his experience and legacy. Branding is not something you declare to the world in any way - it’s something you keep for yourself and use it to inform the way you present yourself and your work. And presenting yourself is something that you need to do if you want to get anybody interested in paying you for your skills and creativity.
    All the successful freelancers I know have a consistent face...behind which there is some kind of implicit or explicit self-awareness of who they are and what they like doing, even if they never express it explicitly (though many do).
    For artists that are just beginning to move their steps in the freelance professional world, it can be difficult to settle for a specific identity. It definitely is for me: I’ve done too many different things within and outside art. So this exercise is just to help me think over how I want to be seen.
    It certainly doesn’t work for everyone, but I do feel I need this and I appreciate the conversation!

  • @smceccarelli looking great. I think you can refine your first sentence a bit more to make it clear what you are about. Something like "I'm a professional children's illustrator who loves to explore color, global cultures, and storytelling."

    You can still include the concept behind coffee that you explain, however, I think it might be too vague to present within your brand...

    Again, come back to other people saying the above sentence about you. If people say, oh he likes coffee, its more about the coffee rather than the concept of working hard, hitting schedules and balancing it with a social life that you were trying to convey.

    Regarding LinkedIn, I don't really have enough experience with using for completely career changes to give advice, however, if you create a new forum thread (so not to derail this one), I'd be more than happy to brainstorm 🙂

  • Moderator

    I believe that it is a smart marketing tool to know oneself and how to portray that self to potential clients. I think that this has nothing to do with art and everything do with business. I’m glad that you started this thread. Your breakdown of your “first stab” has helped me wrap my brain around what is needed in the brand.
    I’m also thinking that in addition to portraying what/who you are that it serves as a mission statement as well. A chance to keep from getting stuck or stagnant. Always growing. Maybe... these are just the wandering thoughts of a tired mind. 😜
    Here is my first stab;
    I professionally illustrate for the minds of children and the minds of adults who see with a child’s eye, striving to be outrageously captivating.

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