[Recap: This is part 2 of a 4-part post series on my brand’s core values–community, authenticity, inspiration, and legacy.]

Re-thinking my artist brand came from my very first abstract piece I painted on canvas–“Vulnerable.” It was the first piece where I didn’t have a goal in mind; I was just processing feelings in the aftermath of a hurtful situation.

I was surprised at how well-received the piece was since most of my friends were used to my illustrations. I also happened to love the new process. It was more honest (but without being publicly embarrassing). That’s when I realized I wanted to do work that’s actually honest and vulnerable. I do love illustrating, but I think creating from vulnerability instead of strictly technique is part of maturing as an artist.

Here are the practical ways authenticity translates into my brand:

Emotionally authentic subject matter. For those who understand, I say my new work falls somewhere between post-impressionism and expressionism. (Read my explanation of that here.) Basically, it means I’m more focused on painting how I feel about a thing, rather than the thing itself. That allows room for abstraction, as well as processing negative or complicated feelings. In my illustration style, none of my pieces rested on negativity.

I still don’t want to end on a negative note in any of my work, as I believe that’s never the end of the story. But as part of being authentic, I just want to acknowledge pain if it’s part of the process.

Finishing details. I read that including a Certificate of Authenticity is a best practice, so I started attaching those to my finished work. This helps to keep people from selling fakes. I also include an explanation of the honest meaning and process of the piece.

Tone of copy and service. The art industry has a long history of being stuffy and elitist. When re-branding, I decided to throw out (most of) the rule book and relate to people the way I normally do. I try to be conversational and unpretentious in how I communicate and serve people, while balancing it with class. (This is still an art brand.)

Web & social media presence. I’m still working on developing this, but I want to use pictures of real people and places, aiming for a natural, tactile visual tone. Along with this, I post pictures of works in progress to show the real process in the work, and always be honest about the meaning in it. That is, if a piece is about processing through pain, grief, boredom, joy or silliness, then I’ll explain that.

Overall, authenticity in this brand is about being as real as I can–in art, photography, communication and service.