Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit

What Does An Artist Look Like?


A friend commented to me today that I had “dressed like an artist.”  I took it as a compliment (afterall, I’m supposed to be an artist aren’t I?) and thanked her.  Then she asked where I was going.

I explained that I had been cleaning out my closet, trying on clothes that I hadn’t worn since I left my previous lives as a speech-language pathologist and then a technical writer.  We have a “rule” in our house that if you haven’t worn something for two or more years it is time to think about donating it.  It is a good rule of thumb. 

Her comment reminded me about the first time I delivered art work to a local consignment gallery and the gallery owner’s assistant told me she wouldn’t have guessed I was an artist.  Both comments made me think about how we perceive people by their dress and/or how we think they should dress. 

So what does an artist look like?  Blue spikey hair, dark frame glasses and dressed in all black.

I admit that I’m not a fashionista.  I like comfortable clothes and I like to dress up now and then.  Individualism, as far as dress was concerned, was not stressed in my years at Catholic school.  In college, style was whatever you made it.  Punk and new wave were in fashion.  I had my bright colors (red pants, yellow pants, and red deck shoes) and my share of skinny ties, horn rimmed glasses (sans lenses), black boots and the black leather belt with rivets.

Then came graduate school and the professional life.  In the rehabilitation field at that time, there was a running joke that if you put an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist and a Speech-Language Pathologist next to each other, you could always tell the Speech Path from the rest of the rehab staff by what she wore:  heels, a dress or a skirt, and sometimes pearls.  Yet there were times when the PT or OT wore a dress or skirt and blouse.  And the Speech Path would wear khaki pants.

So what does an artist look like?  Straight hair, crisp white shirt, capris and a nose ring.

In the world of high tech the only person wearing a suit and tie was the CEO…and even that might only have been when there was a customer meeting.  T-shirts and blue jeans have typically been the norm.  But sometimes they wear chinos and a Polo shirt.

So what does an artist look like?  Salt and pepper hair, skirt, t-shirt, and a tattoo on her ankle.

So what does an artist look like?  Probably like you or me.  Maybe with some individual style; maybe not.  Most artists I know started in other careers and have kept some of that style of dress with them.  Some are rediscovering themselves and buying new wardrobes.  Some mix and match.

What does an artist look like?  In a nutshell, I really don’t know.  But I am reminded of the words spoken by Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movie when asked what she was dressed as for Halloween: “A psychopathic maniac” she replied “we look like everyone else.”

Yep; artists can look like everyone else.

6 thoughts on “What Does An Artist Look Like?

  1. I feel artists often have such a strong and individual character that they just dress the way they like it. It’s that uniqueness that often distinguishes this kind of people. But like you said, you can’t really define “the artists’ look” just like you can’t put every artwork in the same category.

  2. I agree that most people assume artists will dress “differently” from the norm and I agree that many artists express their individuality via their work and their clothing. Yet I just find it curious when people comment that I or someone else “dressed like an artist.” Do they comment to someone in high tech that s/he “dresses like a geek?” Or that someone in finance “dresses like a power broker?” It has been an interesting observation. I imagine musicians might encounter similar comments.

    On the other hand, perhaps people look to artists and musicians with admiration because they do express their individuality and not everyone has the confidence to do that.

    P.S. I enjoyed your blog, especially the Lego art

  3. I believe there are certain personality types that feed off their own energy of being extremely different (white boy, with tie die t-shirt, tatoos everywhere, khaki’s and dread locks, or the chicks with the BRIGHT kool aid colored RED RED hair) and striped socks.) I smile to myself because it looks like they’re enjoying their life and I can appreciate that. To each his own, but for myself, I don’t like the extra attention, I’m pretty conservative. I dress conservatively most of the time and I let my art speak for itself. 🙂

    Great post!

  4. That’s strange my son and I were just talking about this. He always is told he dresses like an artist and people tell me they would never guess I have any artistic abilities. And my son and I realize this is because he is very unconcerned about what anyone thinks of him and as ArtInThePicture wrote dresses anyway that feels right at the moment. Plus he loves to challenge people’s attitudes about what people with out of the ordinary hair colors or styles and things are like, by making sure his is unusual. I on the other hand have been dressing the same wince the 70’s.

  5. There are days when I “dress like an artist” and other days when I don’t. It all depends on my mood. WendyToledo, kudos to you for letting your son express himself. I’m sure that is hard to do as a parent. I appreciate your son’s efforts to challenge people’s attitudes. -Amy

  6. I suppose I dress like a designer more than an artist, but that’s probably because my interests straddle both disciplines. My wardrobe is heavily influenced by minimalism. Mostly, I want to wear clothes with very few associations besides simple, pure, aesthetics. But I also love wearing my art interests literally on my sleeve! Those little pieces – the ripped jeans and oversized smocks and black turtlenecks – that just scream “artist!” are always the ones that make me feel at home.

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