DMJStudio ArtBrand Workshop – Your Narrative

Branding has been around for ages. Corporations and organizations have used it to connect with customers and to build successful businesses, product lines and experiences for customers. Today branding has become and individualized game. With social media and its use in building careers, personal branding is paramount. This holds true for today’s artists. Branding can be a complicated thing that most of us do not want to deal with, but we love the benefits of it. So where do you start? Easy, with your story.

The first step in building a brand is your story or narrative. Who are you? What are you? What do you want to achieve and why? What makes you, you and why should others care? Your narrative should answer these questions and more. Here is the absolutely plus for you as an artist. You have an advantage. Being an artist, you delve into yourself daily. That is how you create. That means that you may know yourself better than most. The challenge is how do you get it from your head to the world. Again, easy. Let’s write.

WAIT. Are you not the best writer? I understand. Do not worry about that at this point. This process is purely expressing you as you do.

The presentation below has links to different personal brands. Each one shares their story and personality in their own way. So, if you express yourself in short sentences, or with flowery language, then do it.  If like through bulleted lists, then use them.  However you write, whatever you write, do it with your authentic voice.  We can worry about grammar and refining later.



The presentation provides worksheets to help you get all of the needed information for your story out of your head, on to paper. It includes

  • List about you
  • List of your artwork
  • Your accomplishments (not just awards, but things that make you proud of you and connects to your story)
  • Your goals
  • A storyboard to help you visually see your narrative

After you complete the worksheets, I suggest writing:

  • 100-word narrative
  • 300-word narrative
  • 1000-word narrative

Each narrative can be used differently from social media (100 words) to an article (1000 words). Just keep a few things in mind when writing:

  • Don’t think too hard. Be genuine. Write in your natural voice.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect (we will get to that).
  • Try to keep in your mind who you are telling the story to (your audiences).

After these steps are complete, take what you’ve written and given it to someone who is great at writing and let them look it over for grammar, flow, and to make sure it is understandable. Viola. You are done with the written story.


Now, we all know that your personal brand and story isn’t just words; it is a combination of so many things – visual components, partnerships, beliefs, actions, your art and you. Writing it down is a major step in ensuring that these other components are grounded in one consistent narrative.


DMJStudio workshops on branding for artists are held monthly at the Baltimore Gallery Detroit. Those who attend receive one-on-one support in developing brand components. The next workshop is Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Sign up today.

Creative Time

I use to dream about the perfect situation for me to create my art. It looked like this. Me, getting up in the morning and after a long shower and a good breakfast, maybe a brisk walk or some yoga, I would go upstairs to my studio, turn or my record player that had an old Miles Davis album on it and create for hours. All day even.  What a wonderful dream. Real artists know that is not how creative time goes or how we get things done. Usually we create in between life responsibilities. Two hours before you have to take your kid to their soccer game or an hour before you go to work.  At night when everyone in your house is sleep or when you skip an event or movie with friends.  That is when creativity happens and when creative time happens.  It all counts. We have to know that it all counts and we have to know that it must happen everyday. To be great at what we do as artists, we must do it everyday until it comes as natural as opening our eyes in the morning.

If you are a scheduler like myself or one who writes list, make sure that at least an hour a day is set aside to create. It will change your life and your career.  You will see that as this becomes routine in your life that you will find more time and maybe that dream of creating most of the day will become a reality.


Know Who You Are


Branding is everything that your customers think feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect and even hope about you, your art and product.  Think of that. You are your brand, so it is best, when building your brand to truly know yourself.

We spend the majority of our life chasing the answer to the question, “Who am I?” When we were young kids, running around with our friends, we seem to be more comfortable with changing our identity for how we felt that day, that week or even that minute. Even as we change from moment to moment, there is always a part of us that seems consistent. It is the part of us we go back to after each transition from one identity or personality to another. It may be considered the real you. I call it the core. It is what everything else about us is built upon and in most cases will never change.  It is the you that is at peace with who you really are, in all your brilliance. As we get older and began to want acceptance or to be seen, we change our identities for others and in doing so, we move away from our core as well, sometimes making us feel lost and not understand ourselves, others or some of the choices that we make. Let’s change that. Let’s get back to knowing who we are and that starts by getting back to our core. This core is important to know and understand when you are building an identity as an artists and desiring to connect with people and even your work. So, how do you connect with your core?

List What You Know

List are powerful and when you write things down helps bring clarity and understanding, getting rid of the clutter that happens when we just let things sit in our brain. To write is a direct connection from mind to hand making the outcome of what is written more true than most. I am and avid list writer and I journal most days to help me understand different feelings and experiences and to use my time most efficiently. Some of us are not journal or blog type people, but if every other month you write some type of list, connect with your feelings and your experiences and write them down, you will feel better and you will defiantly connect with yourself. Here are a few list I tend to write during my journalling to get to know about myself.

  • People that I love
  • People that I admire
  • My beliefs
  • Desires
  • Your favorite song
  • Biggest fears
  • Traits that I love about myself
  • Traits about myself that I dislike and want to change
  • My goals and aspirations
  • What I wish for the world around me, especially my family and friends
  • Clothing I want to buy
  • Music and Movies I love


It seem almost an American trait to brag about how long of hours we work while at the same time complain about how we desire this utopian type life where we work as minimally as possible.  We are all about work hard and play hard, but in the moments or relaxation and silence, that is when we hear and understand ourselves best. It is in those moments that we usually find inspiration. Taking some time every day or on a normal routine to hear your own thoughts or just to be quiet gives you time to know who you are are where you are going in your life and career. Here are a few ways that you may find relaxation and connect with your core

  • Meditation (one of my favorites)
    • This is a favorite of mine. A daily disconnect from the day and a reconnect with the inner-self.
  • Exercise routine
    • Some type of daily activity is another great way to focus on you. Again, exercise takes you out of the day-to-day task and emotional stress and into a inner-focus and body-focus that will get you closer to your core and even help get you in physical shape. What a great twofer. My favorite activities are long brisk walks and yoga.
  • Journalling
    • I shared that I write everyday. I think the practice of writing your experiences on paper after they happen allows you
  • Traveling
    • I admit that getting ready for a trip can be a pain, but I think getting away from the norm is a way to  shock the system and getting to know yourself unapologetically in a place with no obligations, responsibilities or… I love cities, so I take short trips to places like Brooklyn, New York, Austin and New Orleans every now and then. These short trips take you out of the everyday routines and opens your mind to new

There are others ways to relax and connect with yourself, the point is regular quiet time and time to focus on you is key to getting to know your core.

Create Often

We are lucky that we are artists. We tend to know ourselves better than most, but sometimes, when we get involved in the world and the pressures from others telling us what we should be and what we need to change in order to have success in life, can cause even us creative folks to lose ourselves. There is no better place to reconnect with our core than when we are creating or performing. Here is the catch. Sometimes we have to create just to create. We have to let go of the pressures that everything we create must be a masterpiece. It is in those moments of just doing, we see ourselves, we see new things and actually find inspiration when we are ready to create our next masterpiece.

Do You Have a Business Cards

You’ve been there at a gallery, talking to some amazing person about the art on the wall, your own art and your next show. You both are having a great time and you feel that there may be an opportunity to collaborate and do something amazing, then next thing you know, they pop the question. “Do you have a business card?” Your eyes become saucers and you think, “Oh God, I hope I have at least one card left.” You start searching your bag or your wallet looking up and smiling at your new contact and you pull out a ragged card with a pen mark on the back. You make the excuse that your new cards are on backorder and this is the only one you got left. Your new contact looks at it and smiles. Or even better, when you are asked for a business card and you do not have one at all, you go for a piece of paper or even text them your contact information.  This is the digital age, why not, right?

Well even though we can share information rather quickly with our smartphones and social media, business cards still have quite a vital place in our communication and networking process.  Here are a few reason why you should invest in a business card.

First Brand Impression:

Your business card has the potential of being the first impression and the first brand experience someone has of you and your identity.  Your card should embody your creativity and your personality, making you new contact want to know more.


I am guilty of taking someone’s information in my phone because they asked me to or they did not have a card to give me and many times those connects become part of the plethora of contacts in my device without any context of who the person may be. I know that digitally providing information is convenient, but it doesn’t leave you with a memory. A business cards provides a personal touch and a physical reminder of who you are to a new contact. It is branding at work, quickly reminding the contact of who you are as they glance at your richly designed card.

You Mean Business

This may seem so obvious, but a business card shows that you mean business and that you are rightly prepared to share your vision, dream and contact information wherever you go to potential collaborators or buyers. It brings some legitimacy to your work and/or your business.

What should go on your business card?

This seems like an easy question, but what is on your business card should connect directly with what you want to convey. At the least should be two different ways to contact you (email, phone, your favorite social media) and from there, let your creativity guide you. Here is a link to creative and unique card designs:

Design is important

After reading this, you may be in your car running to order some cards. Glad that you are on top of this, but before you do that, note that design is important to how effective your card may be.  What your card looks like, the paper and the content on the card is all part of the brand experience. This card, is the key to a door called your personal brand and should visually connect to it, so keep in mind who you are before you buy that card.   I come from a graphic design background so I love going to local printers and picking paper, inks and the lot. But to get something of quickly, here are a few companies that provide inexpensive but quality print of business cards and in some cases, design services.

Design is important

If you are adamant about sharing your information digitally, here are ways to create a digital card. It gives you some flexibility to wrap your digital information in a more creative package while still getting some of the benefits of the paper card. These are apps that, in most cases include a monthly fee to maintain your digital card and even the scan/photos of paper cards:


When you are ready for a complete brand development plan that includes your business card, DMJStudio’s ARTBrand Tool Box services is a way to ensure that your business card and all of your materials collateral is creative, connect and are consistent.

Posters from Detroit100 Poster Workshop

It is amazing the quality of work that can come out of a few hours when people are passionate and talented. Here are four posters created during the Detroit100 Poster Workshop.


The next Detroit100 Poster Workshop will be next month (date to be determined) – I hope to see more faces and that more posters can will be created during the event.

Detroit100 Poster Workshop – A Success!

Well, It’s been a few days since the Detroit Design Festival ended. The festival was such an inspiration for me. I enjoyed several exhibits and events and met some fascinating people who were just as excited as I was to see designers doing there thing. I thought that the festival would be a great time to kick-off the Detroit100 Poster Series Contest by hosting a Poster Workshop.

The workshop was simple. Participants came and were given a theme to use to make a poster in 2 hours time. Before the design mêlée, a deep discussion about Detroit and what Detroit means to us as designers gave participants the creative juices to develop some wonderful art.


The workshop attracted twelve people and it was very moving and invigorating to all that came. It was more than a workshop. It was a get together. We laughed, we talked, ate and drank spirits and at the end of it all, we were inspired.

In a couple days, I will share some of the posters that were created from the workshop. I am more than sure that we will hold another workshop/get together soon.  Please stay tuned. In the mean time, please click here to participate in the 2011 Detroit100 Poster Series.

Photo credit: Photos taken by Tim Peoples