Saturday, January 24, 2009

How to Dress Like an Artist, the I'm a Grown Woman and I Just Wear What I Like Edition

Did you read this terrific article that Lori Greenberg found? It's called "How to Dress Like an Artist." It's a little bit serious and a whole lotta tongue-in-cheek, unless you happen to be a 19 year old art major in college, in which case I'd say it's a little bit pierced-doohickie-thingie in the tongue or cheek and a whole lotta serious. It is more than just a bit of entertainment, though, no matter what the age of the piercee, um, artist.
If you doubt that people in the real world have expectations about the way an artist should look, check out Marcy's Suburban Mom scenario near the end of this post on her blog . Just as an aside, let me say, Sorry, kiddos, I remember college, and no matter what you are doing, I'm pretty sure you're going to one day find yourself acknowledging that it was different from out here in the real world.
Okay, now back to expectations about how an artist should look. For the guys, I have no doubt in my mind that your hair should do things a crew cut could never imagine, no matter what your age, brother. . . but this only applies to guys who don't work with power tools because hanks of hair freezing up a shaft that should be turning are never pretty. Ditto shafts that shouldn't be turning with your hair wound 'round them. For the rest, I'm not sure that a specific piece of clothing is "the" key to looking like an artist. There's more to it than whether to go with faded and ripped (as in denim) or ripped (as in fine musculature) and straight from the hand of the hottest designer. Nope, you can't buy the look. It's something that grows and stretches and shrink wraps itself to your personality.
We women get a little more wiggle room in this "how to dress like an artist" party, though, simply because women have had more practice and options in adornment throughout history. I don't even want to talk about the fairness of this. Please! We've been hobbled by high heels and tortured with pantyhose, but then again, we've also gotten to pick the color of our hair if we want and stolen the painter's palette for our eyes and lips and nails and clothes if the desire struck us.
I think the subject I'm dancing around here is that political and social ramifications aside (don't get me started on Barbies or those hobble skirts from a century or so ago), we women have the best end of the deal when it comes to how we want to present ourselves to the world these days. We can go girly, or we can go not-so-girly, or we can go girly one day and not-so-girly the next. . .whatever strikes our fancy, as long as our pocketbook (or pocket) can handle it.
What does all this mean for us creative women who are a shade over 20? I think it means a bunch of things, some clear cut, some confusing. We have more options, so we have more decisions to make. . .and that can be good, bad, or somewhere in between. Since I can't seem to tie this whole post up into neat little packages, I guess I'm going to have to resort to just making a bulleted list of thoughts about "how to dress like an artist" when you're a grown woman :)

  • First admission. I have always wanted to look like one of those people with "style," one of those casual but elegant women who can mix vintage and modern and end up looking like they stepped out of a magazine instead of like someone threw them into a thrift store dressing room and made them get dressed in 30 seconds. It seems that these women are almost always the creative or artistic type. I thought that would be me, but I'm always a day late for the newest trend and a dash of flair too short. So, even though I've always wanted to look like an artist, I've never quite gotten the hang of this sort of style. . .and I sigh when I admit to myself that I don't really want to go to any of the trouble these women do in order to look that way.
  • Besides those unique women who have that casual but elegant and creative look, have I ever really paid attention to how someone's dress fits in with their creative/artistic background? Yes and no. Yes, because during college, I could pick out the art majors a mile away (it had to be the burgundy hair flashing against the black trenchcoats). No, because I've learned you usually can't read the entire book of a person's life and personality by simply skimming part of a chapter. I remember one of the librarians during my grade school years. She looked like an "artist" to me, with her hippie-cleaned-up-for-a-day-job clothes and long hair in braids. . .but she was a librarian, and her husband was the artist in the family. Looks can be deceiving, no?
  • I think for me, once I really found the medium (glass!! hot, molten glass!!) that let's me express myself, I started feeling confident and complete on the inside. Dang, all of a sudden my preference for worn out t-shirts and torn jeans makes sense! I can work in those. I can wipe spilled bead release on the hem of my t-shirt. Who cares if the glass spits and pops little pieces onto my old jeans when I'm torching? If I want to practice using that hand-me-down welding machine (oh, I gotta get that thing out again!), then short hair that springs back to wild, uncontrolled life after I remove the welding helmet is perfect.
  • But do I *look* like an artist? Ummm, no. I don't think so. . . unless you look beyond the clothes and start to see me. See my obvious delight when someone asks what I make. See my eyes twinkle when I tell someone else, "Oh, you can do that, and here's why I know you can." See my ears perk up when someone has a new tool or a piece of scrap metal or a bit of glass. See all those things about me, the way I notice and admire those same types of things about you, and you'll never forget I am someone passionate about making things. That, right there, is my artist's cloak of many colors, and I like to think I wear it well :)


Deb said...

Ang - you hit the nail firmly on the head my sweet! Especially the part about the 'eye's lighting up when you talk glass.
I once met a very successful artist, that I had dealt with via the gallery, at the local mall. I told her of my plans to leave work & then told her of my passion for glass.

She just looked at me & said "Deb - do it, leave the gallery, it's what you need to do....your eye's light up & your whole face becomes animated when you speak of glass".

My jeans & t-shirts make so much more sense now.... & when I go out in public, do I dress differently....NO!
Even though I have a whole wardrobe of 'gallery' clothes ;o)

rosebud101 said...

I am looking for clothes to look like an artist. I honestly think that's important. However, I need a denim shawl. I guess I'll hit the thrift stores and make myself one. It can be fun to dress outside of yourself!

angelinabeadalina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggie said...

I think of Georgia O'Keefe and her signature black clothes that had her looking so artist like. Maybe it wasn't the clothes, but the attitude.

When I was an art student it was my second time around through college, more than a smidgen past 20, and I didn't look like an art student, but enjoyed walking through the art buildings to see how others carried off their looks.

Ellen said...

T-shirts and capris in the summer. Sweaters and jeans in the winter. My only nod toward being an artist of some sort, is color.

angelinabeadalina said...

Oh, shoot, Mallory, I'm sorry! I was looking at RoseMarie's name somewhere right before I was answering that-- and then saw "rose" and got mixed up! Every time I see Rose's name, I have to write out the entire "rosemarie" because that's my cousin's name, too, and I'm used to saying the whole thing. Think I was thinking about her and not paying attention to what I was doing.

angelinabeadalina said...

Here let me edit because that is bothering me. Check this out-- I know your faces because you've both posted pictures of yourselves *and* I picture an entirely different denim shawl for each of you. The perception of the artist and the nuances of her personality comes into play again!

Okay, here's the comment with the right name inserted:

"Deb, she could tell right away, couldn't she? Mallory, I think Lori's posting of that article was a good thing, because like Marcy's experience showed, people do like for artists to look like artists. It does something for your confidence to dress outside of yourself, too. That's why I couldn't pull all of this post together-- so many different vantage points to the whole thing. You guys know someone else I always think about when this subject arises? Our high school art teacher. He was a little too bohemian for the tastes of most parents, but when I look back I see his clothes were pretty much the same as anyone else's. What set him apart was the attitude with which he wore them.

P.S. Denim shawl, like a patchwork poncho kind of thing? I'm intrigued because I do love me some denim!"

Ivana said...

I have given some thought to this because a friend of mine once said no one wants to buy a painting from someone who looks just like they do. My art medium is acrylic paint on masonite board. My paintings often are filled with color. But my clothing is not. I wear black, white and beige. I think I gravitate toward the lines and shapes that can be created with solid colors. I sometimes buy multiples of an item in those colors if I find a particular piece I love. I have three pairs of sandles this summer that are the same except one is white, one black and one tan. I like my hair medium length and styled in a messy way. I wear jewelry occassionally. Especially remade jewelry. I am lucky my mother in law is very talented at reworking vintage jewelry. My main concern with clothing is fit and quality of fabric. I love the new fabrics that feel like water flowing over the skin. I shop the loungewear/sleepwear dept for dresses to pair with jackets to make a comfortable night life outfit. I think I was always interested in clothing from the time I played with paper dolls. In high school the closest thing to an art class was home economics where I learned to sew. I often have ordinary clothing altered to fit exactly. Recently I have felt compelled to add fabric to my paintings. So happens I just went shopping today. My best find was a black night gown that looks like something from a Marilynn Monroe movie.

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