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Unique Style: The Art Of Dressing For Creativity

Unique Style: The Art Of Dressing For Creativity

As a professional artist, I've often found that how we dress can be as expressive as the strokes on our canvas. Whether you're a renowned painter in New Zealand or a budding artist halfway across the globe, your attire can reveal much about your artistic persona. In this colourful journey through artistry, we explore the intriguing realm of what artists wear and why it matters.

How do you dress as an artist?

Ah, the age-old question: How should an artist dress? The beauty of it all is that there's no definitive answer—no artistic dress code etched in stone. The canvas of your attire is yours to paint as you please, so be unapologetically you!

In this world of creativity, it's like a grand masquerade where artists wear their personas with pride. Each artist is a unique brushstroke on the canvas of individuality, and their clothing choices are the colours on this vibrant palette.

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question because artists are a beautifully diverse bunch, each with their own kaleidoscope of styles and sensibilities.

Picture it as an awe-inspiring artful spectrum, a dazzling procession of personal expression. On one end, you have the Bohemian-inspired attire of those free-spirited painters who have captured the essence of a thousand sunsets in their scarves and flowing skirts.

It's a celebration of the unconventional, an embrace of the whimsical, and a nod to the bygone era when artistry was totally rebellious and oh so wild.

On the other end of the spectrum, you find the minimalist, avant-garde choices of contemporary artists. Their attire is a canvas of simplicity, a study in lines and forms, and a testament to the idea that art can be found in the everyday.

They weave their elegance from the threads of modernity, creating a visual language that challenges convention and invites contemplation.

Yayoi Kusama

What do artist painters wear?

Let's step into the colourful past and the vibrant canvases of artists like Picasso and Monet, two of my favourite artists. Historically, artists donned clothing that facilitated freedom of movement, echoing their hands-on approach to their craft.

The Artist's Smock

Another well-known item of clothing is the artist's smock, a beloved and iconic garment in the world of art with a rich history dating back centuries. Its origins can be traced to the studios of European painters during the Renaissance period. Smocks are designed for a practical purpose: to protect the artist's clothing from paint splatters and spills during the creative process. However, they were also an everyday fashion item from the period.

These early smocks were typically loose-fitting, made of durable materials, and featured wide sleeves that allowed for ease of movement. Over time, the smock evolved as a functional garment and a symbol of the artist's identity, worn proudly by painters like Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet. Today, the artist's smock remains a symbol of artistic dedication and creativity, embodying the spirit of those who dare to express themselves on canvas.

It was a practical choice, as they needed the agility to dance their brushes across their canvas. Think smocks, loose-fitting shirts, and functional pants—attire that bore the battle scars of countless creative battles. You have to remember too that fashion of the time would have also come into play just like jeans and a tshirt today are the standard.

And What About The Beret?

Ah, the timeless beret, an enduring symbol associated with painters. This iconic headwear isn't just a fashion statement; it's a utilitarian masterpiece.

Designed with both style and function in mind, the beret has a storied history. It made its mark in the early 19th century as part of military uniforms and soon found its way into the world of art. The Parisian designer, Basque milliner Laulhère, popularised the beret as a chic fashion accessory and is the last house that manufactures the 100% authentic French beret.

Artists such as Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet were famously known for wearing this distinctive headpiece, not just as a fashion choice but as a practical shield to keep rogue paint splatters and smears at bay.

However, let's not confine the beret to rigid stereotypes; it's more than just a uniform. It was a sign of the times, a reflection of the prevailing fashion, and a nod to the artistic spirit of the moment. So, while the beret may have adorned the heads of some famous artists, it was never meant to restrict individuality or creativity in the art world.

Whether you opt for a beret or any other hat style, or even a casual messy bun to protect your locks, your choice is a personal brushstroke on the canvas of your artistic expression.

Man wearing a beret by prince-akachi-unsplash 

This Is Now

Let's fast forward to the contemporary art scene. Today's painters have embraced a broader spectrum of clothing choices, mirroring their unique personalities. An artist's attire is a canvas of self-expression, and they paint it with flair. Picture vibrant scarves that reflect the vivid pigments on their palettes and stylish hats or caps that echo the eccentricity of their creative spirit.

Yet, some classics endure—paint-splattered jeans and well-worn sneakers, like trusty brushes in an artist's toolkit. These beloved staples pay homage to the art-making process, each mark and smudge telling a story of creative fervour.

Now, consider the context.

Are you in your studio, deep in the throes of creation, or mingling with art enthusiasts at an exhibition opening?

The attire you choose can be as fluid as your brushstrokes. While some artists adopt a distinct "studio attire" for the messy work, others blur the lines between their art and their wardrobe, I should know I'm one of them!

I've often painted in my 'good' clothes and come to regret it, so part of my artistic wardrobe is a paint-splattered apron that I can fing on and off when the mood to paint but not change my clothes happens. 

End of the day, there are no rigid dress code rules in the art world, only limitless canvases for self-expression. Whether you're channelling the classics like Monet or reinventing the wheel like Picasso, your attire is just another brushstroke on the canvas of your artistic journey.

group of artists in Hamilton New Zealand

Why do artists dress differently?

Artists often dress differently because they are a creative breed that thrives on self-expression. Their attire becomes an extension of their artistry. It's not about following trends or conforming to societal norms; it's about crafting a visual identity that reflects their artistic journey.

Having run galleries and spent much time around other artists, I know many think they have to portray a particular look to 'appear' to be an artist, while others dress like any other person on the street and don't stand out as individuals. Either way is okay, as it's about creative expression and what makes you personally happy.

What do creative people usually wear?

Creativity knows no bounds when it comes to fashion. Creative people often gravitate toward unconventional clothing choices that emphasise self-expression. Styles can range from quirky vintage finds to custom-made garments inspired by their own work.

Well, that's what I do anyway! Most of my clothes fit this spectrum, with a penchant for upcycling clothing to suit my personality. The key is authenticity, resulting in an outfit that feeds your soul, makes you happy and hey, even sparks conversations and inspiration.

What do artists wear and why?

Artists wear whatever makes them feel in tune with their creative spirit. For some, this means embracing the stereotypical artist's smock and beret, a tribute to the historical roots of their craft. Others choose practical outfits for the messy business of painting or sculpting.

Ultimately, artists dress for themselves, and their clothing serves as both a shield and a canvas for their emotions.

male artist staring up at his abstract artwork

Should an artist have a style?

While there's no mandate that artists must adhere to a particular style, having one can be beneficial. A consistent style makes you instantly recognisable and provides a sense of continuity in your body of work. It's like a signature on a canvas, helping viewers connect the dots between your different creations.

However, the most essential aspect of an artist's style is that it should evolve and grow, just like their art. A style is not a straitjacket but a vehicle for artistic exploration. It's a journey that can span decades, reflecting the artist's ever-evolving perspective on the world.

At The End Of The Day

Artists the world over dress in a myriad of ways, each one as unique as the brushstrokes they lay on their canvas. The act of dressing is yet another canvas for self-expression, reflecting the artist's personality and artistic journey.

So, whether you're a 'Kiwi' artist in New Zealand or a creative soul on the other side of the globe, remember that your attire is an artistic statement in itself. There are no limits to the palette, you can use to paint your style.


Posted: Sunday 10 September 2023

Don't forget to take a look at more of New Zealand contemporary artist's work in Collette's Online Galleries