The What, Why and How of Personal Style
Happy Thursday everyone! Time for another take from The Chase Jarvis Live Show podcast. Today we focus on the importance of personal style.
From the laid back, vacation getaway vibes of Corona beer to the added sophistication of Matthew McConaughey in the Buick commercial ads, every name brand has a look, a feel and style that work for them and conveys the proper image for the brand. Rap and Classical music have opposite styles from the structure of music to the clothing and influence--the element of "style" is the main ingredient to branding yourself as a creative professional.
The burning questions for today's post are:
What is personal style?
What's the importance of it?
How can I find / develop mine?
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Okay, get your pencils and notepads ready, time to clock in.
His 2 Cents...
(Click anywhere on the bar to rewind/fast-forward. You're welcome.)
My Take Away..
Personal Style Equation = MAKE > SHIP > FEEDBACK > REPEAT
You can't force your personal style to come out
Get to know your POV
Learn to be distinctive and repeatable in your work
What's personal style
It's the equivalent of your signature or social security number. Your mark, the proverbial collar to your creative pet. Your style is the unique aesthetic fingerprint that you unconsciously put on everything you create. Yes, you’re making and doing stuff but until you have found a way to be repeatable and distinctive—you’re just letting your pets roam the neighborhood without collars, without a way for people to know that they belong to you.
Like Chase says, you know a Prince song when it comes on. It’s undeniably him from the first few seconds you listen in. Same goes for an Ansel Adams photographic piece. Epic, immersive black and white landscape shot of Yosemite national park; it's a no-brainer who shot that. I really wanted to pick on one of my favorite directors, Michael Bay and talk about his background power ballads, chaotic angle cuts therapeutic need to blow everything up in his films but I’ll keep that to myself.
Christopher Nolan films have always followed the same format. Unsettling and dramatic music that builds the environment of the story, a very film noir tone— gritty, dark and ominous, his use of the psychologically damaged as main characters in his films and he hates post credit scenes also known as stingers. (Made popular by the Marvel Universe). Don’t believe me? Google it.
This signature that you create, has to allow people to latch onto and recognize a piece of work as yours versus your competition.
Why do we need it, what does it matter?
For those who crave variety and fear being trapped into a certain feel or genre, I get it—do you. You want to write and paint, sing and produce, act and dance—do that. In each of those things and at your core, you should still have to have a personal style to it. I’m a blackjack fan so let’s split this into two different hands.
1) If you copy others or don’t establish your own style, you’ll end up miserable.
Why is this Stéphen?
Well don’t you create because it feels good to express? It feels great to create things and release through our art; putting things out into the world that is an expression of ourselves. It’s your individual right to develop your identity and take pride in making your own unique footprint, not fitting into someone else’s.
In this day and age, when we’re losing individuality and free thought by the second, those who can find their own lane end up doing well for themselves simply because you’ve shown that it's okay to be unique. You’ve given a blueprint to your identity and people want that; they crave to be comfortable in their own skin and desperately seek pools of individuality and creativity to bathe in. In return, the sincerest form of appreciation they can offer is imitation—they key is to copy and recreate. Now, in the beginning of your creative process, you had to learn to copy. Austin Kleon, who I covered in a previous post, wrote Steal Like An Artist explaining how we learn by imitation—by copying. When you first learned to ride a bike, whoever gave you your first lesson and subsequent lessons after was your “Master of the Wheels”. I know it sounds funny but stay with me, trying to keep it interesting here.
The “Master of the Wheels” knew no wrong and as a child, you followed their instructions to the letter. Now, you’re riding with one hand, texting with the other no doubt or no hands at all if you’re fancy with it.
Your preference of bike has hopefully upgraded from pink or blue with tassels and training wheels to something a bit more adult—all apart of you developing your own personal style of riding, but before you made it your own, you had to copy it from another. It’s the balance of copying or stealing from other artists with the intention of learning along the path and uncovering you own personal style.
2) The most well-practiced, recognized creatives don’t get paid for their time. Time is not the true measure of value. Get paid for your point of view (POV).
Short order cooks, landscapers, desk jobs—these sort of apprentice level careers are difficult to break free from and the idea or structure of trading time for money was never set up to benefit these types of workers.
For example, studies show that the average American is "one paycheck away from poverty.” Where you currently work right now, let’s say God forbid, that you have an accident on the weekend and you are unable to work the following week. If you’ve built up a savings for yourself, you have some cushion—good job. For most of us who don’t make enough money too save because it all goes to expenses, we’re at a disadvantage. The time you spend on the mend usually goes to your job in exchange for money. No time in, no money. Within a matter of weeks, you're in jeopardy of losing your house, car and the stress of compounding bills and debts. Getting paid for your time is not the end goal and true professionals don’t rely on hours to define their pay, they get paid on their point of view.
"Time is not the true measure of value."
Don’t just be a "monkey with a finger--equals a photographer." Establish your body of work with a vision and create or embed value in your works. The unlimited upside and high dollar gigs come with bringing a specific point of view and style to the table. Being that person who can create your style own consistently, better than anyone on the planet makes you distinctive. This allows you to be paid and rewarded on a higher level as a creator beyond the dreaded trap of "time served”.
How to find your personal style
The best way to find your personal style is to make as much as you can as often as you can on a regular basis. It’s actually the in the making stage that you gravitate to a certain style organically. I agreed with Chase’s take on this controversial topic. He’s says “I believe that you can't force your personal style to come out.”
Yes, you can train to be like
_____(fill in the blank)_______ ...... but that’s still THEM, not YOU.
Example for my dancers. I’ve met so many Brian Puspos', Ian Eastwoods and Bam and Chris Martins in my life and when I have the opportunity to get together with the real versions and catch up, I always realize one thing that I’d like to share with you all.
You cannot out Puspos, Brian. Period.
You cannot out Beniga, Lyle
You cannot out Friedman, Brian.
You can spend all of your time studying their personal style but it’s not your personal style. What you need to be doing to develop your style is finding out what and who has formed who you are—what’s inside you. That’s what you want to put on the page,
on the canvas,
on the dance floor,
in the studio,
and on the stage. It’s the unique point of view from the life that you and you alone have lived that will help your work stand out. How do you know what that style is if you’re sitting around thinking about it? You discover this through the process of making.
Focus on the making. Experiment in different genres and styles and hone in on figuring out what you like and what you’re drawn to. You cannot be everything to everyone. It’s not your job, your work won’t serve its higher purpose of identifying you and honestly, it's a bit exhausting (lesson 156 learned).
MAKE > SHIP > FEEDBACK > REPEAT.