Petal Largie (aka Artist-2Artist) is a Berlin-based journalist, brand development coach, trend forecaster and event curator who recently delivered a Masterclass to BIMM Berlin students on ‘Branding for Musicians’. Over the years she’s worked with a range of market research companies and creative, marketing and digital agencies, and now delivers lectures and workshops which guide private clients in brand development.
Petal founded and managed a full service social media team for the musician Peaches, and she’s curated a number of club nights for up-and-coming artists. She’s also a DJ who has performed at festivals and venues in Europe, the US and New Zealand, and is currently working on her debut solo album ‘Become Your Own Refuge’. Here Petal has provided us with her top five tips for defining your identity and brand as an artist. Over to you Petal…
Inner reflective work is never easy. Discovering and uncovering who you really are, who you intend to be and what type of mark you’d like to leave on the world is not for the faint hearted. But I’m not here to teach you anything new. Rather, I’m here to help you examine who you already are, and empower you to learn how to execute this process for yourself. So, here are my top five tips for doing just that:
1. Know yourself
If your ‘self’ is mutable and changing, that’s ok. That’s the role of the artist. Just look at the public career of someone like David Bowie or Patti Smith, or even Stevie Nicks. Ask yourself, which type of public persona is compelling to you and why? Any successful artist will tell you they’re subjected to a landslide of pressure and the endless opinions of others on a daily basis. Do you think you’d be able to survive a successful music career if you don’t have an almost ‘holy’ understanding of who you are and why you do what you do on a very fundamental and intimate level.
2. Understand your place in your genre’s musical lineage
Most young artists, and some older ones too, don’t take the time to properly understand the history of their musical genre, or learn from the lives of the influential musicians and artists that paved the way for them. I believe this occurs particularly amongst electronic DJs, artists and producers (I know this because I am one!). It’s easy to say who you’re inspired by, but taking the time to really delve into the history of music – in particular post-modern music – and truly understanding where you are in the entire arc of modern music will be a huge boost to your career… and will create endless talking points during interviews too.
I often ask my clients or students: “Who are some of your favourite musicians and why?” The most well-known artists are able to speak endlessly about their influences and the history of the genre they’re creating within, and are enviably the toast of music journalists and the news media.
3. Close your eyes and dive in
Honestly, if you try to plot and plan your artistic brand too intently, then you’re setting yourself up for a world of disappointment and frustration. Yes, there are very smart ways to set up and execute your career, but if you let your head, or even your ego, lead and not your heart, you may end up with a career that will try to take your life or even your soul. I believe the modern entertainment industry has seen enough tragedies.
4. Develop strong instincts
I’m trying to avoid saying “trust your gut”, which is almost as annoying and clichéd as “know thyself”, but if you don’t have a tried and true process, or a core place from where you’re guided to make and take action on decisions, then you really need a deep sense of intuition. Luckily, as creatives, we’re naturally inclined to have a stronger relationship with our innate instincts than other people do. Sometimes, the development of our instincts come from our biggest failures or challenges in life – which leads me nicely on to my last tip…
5. Don’t overlook your failures in life
Our failures are often the moments that are most crucial in shaping who we are as people and, ultimately, artists. These can include: failure to connect with your mother or father or childhood family; failures or embarrassing moments in your early school life; missed opportunities; or even romantic relationships which have gone wrong. It’s our most humbling moments that make the best material for connecting with others.