In my last ‘Find your style‘ post, I looked at nutting out the ‘hard facts’, things like your history. Where you are from, what you do, those things that make up who you are and influence your style, but one day as I was out walking, it occurred to me that there is also a mental role at play in our style, and that is self perception. How we see ourselves, not just the facts of who we are.
Not only does this affect our style, but it has the changing ability to evolve our style as we change as individuals mentally. It is the more flexible part of our style, and therefore the part that can transform us from what our style currently is, to how we want it to be, if we feel it is somehow lacking. So we not only need to identify the role self perception is currently playing, but if we want to change it. A bit like ‘fake it till you make it’. If we want to change who we are, we can start by changing it in our style and this can help us to achieve that mental goal of how we see ourselves and becoming who we want to be.
Say I am a artist, who does brightly coloured paintings and lives in Melbourne. You could say my style should be bright, fun and hipster.
But.. here is how self perception could play a part.
- If I see myself as a starving, struggling artist, and no one really recognises my talent. My style may be lacking, somewhat messy and unkept, my studio may be full of stuff and just incase stores.
- But if I saw myself as a high end professional, creating beautiful bright art for high end clients, I may present myself professionally with a bright arty touch, have my studio bright clean and well organised with gorgeous art pieces around the place.
- Or what if I felt I didn’t fit in, that I didn’t meld well with the hipster style of Melbourne, that I was from a foreign country and a little quiet. Perhaps I’d keep things small, quiet, understated. My art may be bright, but everything around me, is very understated and neutral colours.
There could be so many different examples, but you get the picture. How we see ourselves plays our big part in how we present ourselves. So once we have got to the bottom of the facts of who we are, we then have to work out how we see ourselves, and what parts of who we are resonate the most with how we perceive ourselves and what parts seem less significant to us, or that we don’t feel truly make who we are today or who we want to become.
I also came across an interesting fact, that the way we perceive ourselves is often different from how others see us. So if you want to create a strong identity and self branding, you need to find out how others perceive you and meld the way you see yourself and how others see you into one, so that you can be sure you are putting across to others who you are, and what you want them to know about you through visual communication.
When I studied graphic design, this is what they said our job was, to communicate visually. Good design communicates and tells the story, it gets across a message. Same with your visual style, be it fashion, interiors, website, blog, logo, instagram account. They all tell a story of who you are, and so if you want to be sure people are reading the story the way you intend it is important to first know who you are and the message you wish to send, then who people already perceive you as, and streamline it to create your true branding and style, that is undeniably you.
SOME QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU IDENTIFY YOUR SELF PERCEPTION:
- How do you see yourself in regards to wealth, status and class?
- How do you see yourself in regards to education, knowledge and ‘expertise’?
- How do you see yourself in regards to talent and skill levels in your field?
- What kind of personality do you feel you have?
- How do you see yourself in all your life roles? e.g as a mother, wife, friend, neighbor, in your job.
- How do you see yourself in relation to others, such as family, community, colleagues.
- How do you see yourself racially, and in regards to ancestral identity? and how that affects how you fit into and relate to those around you.
- What do you feel you exude in your personality?
- How do you think others see you?
- What areas of who you are and how you see yourself would you like to change, improve on or focus more on.
NOW go find some family and friends who know you well and ask them to tell you how they see you for each of these questions. (except for how others see you, this is just you making a guess before asking)
I think we often tend to put ourselves down or think less of ourselves then we ought, so doing this may build you up and help you better hone in on who you are. I always find hearing what others think about you really helps understand yourself better and can help you know what areas to push and shine in, because they are the cornerstones of your identity. It also helps you work out what areas need some work to better show the world who you believe you are and what you can be.
So get thinking, get writing and let me know if you discovered any interesting insights about yourself and how it affects your style and visual identity.