DESIGNING YOUR SELF-IMAGE: HOW DO YOU WANT TO PRESENT YOURSELF?
It’s Thursday morning at 1:22 am and I just finished editing a collection of images for myself, or rather of myself. I have become acutely aware of the need to present my work through social media with an equal amount of importance spent on presenting my self~ie. Look up selfies in any dictionary and you will find that the description reads a photograph that one has taken of oneself, usually with a smartphone. Pretty basic but I use a full-frame Canon camera that is pretty advanced, so call it an advanced selfie or an elaborate set-up selfie. In any case, it can’t look amateur because I’ve cultivated years of professional expertise and insight that I want to put on blast for prospective clients to hire me. On the other hand, it can’t look too polished because recent studies have shown that viewers prefer amateur content over highly professional ones. Browsing through Instagram, it would seem that a good selfie needs thought put into its capture and editing while being friendly, serious, and approachable. It needs to be aspirational, inspirational, with a pinch of honesty and a feeling of being in the moment, hopefully, a happy moment. Honestly, there are quite a number of complicated steps to creating a simple selfie.
Back in the early days of Facebook and Instagram, many people found themselves “sharing” selfies, but here today, I would say that almost all consumers are “presenting” them instead. In today’s world, online or offline, we now have the ability to edit and present a version or versions of ourselves into the world for our own benefit. For instance, as a designer, my job was to create assets and visuals to portray a brand in whatever way they desired with the purpose of selling their goods or services to new and younger consumers. The most popular brands were always reinventing themselves every couple of years to stay relevant in the vastly changing landscape of eCommerce.
A considerable amount of time and effort is spent placing an image into the minds of people so that when you decide to take up jogging, for instance, you are most likely to think of Nike first when considering a shoe. What about jogging shorts or a lightweight parka? Probably still thinking of Nike. Or another example is that you might need that exact right shade of lipstick that exactly matches your cheek color and Fenty Beauty comes to mind instead of a brand like L’Oreal. I would take a safe bet and say that you might have seen images or an ad campaign on Instagram through a sponsored post or a sponsored collaboration with a content creator.
When I study the art direction, I see that it is cleverly disguised as amateur content and done so with the intent to connect with today’s youthful audience. If you don’t ride the tides of the current market trends, you are more likely to be wiped out.
But why am I talking about a selfie? It’s because, in an instant, a good selfie can give off an impression of self-expression. Our attention spans have become shorter and with years of being bombarded with digital imagery, we have all gotten to be pretty savvy at recognizing something good and authentic at first glance. Swipe left or right...we can recognize a good pic instantly and will assume that the person in it has qualities that we deem admirable. In essence, if we happen to like the subject of the selfie picture and if it speaks to us, we might want to dig deeper and discover what he or she is offering to us in the virtual marketplace of social media. And let’s not forget that social media platforms are in the business of selling ideas, products, and services with a smile.
So to capture that sentiment, I don’t want to take a selfie...I want to DESIGN my selfie. I don’t want to share it, I want to present it. And anything that I present is subject to change. If a major brand can switch up its marketing directives every few months to a year, why shouldn’t designers or other artists be able to? Don’t we need to stay relevant to attract these new and younger startup brands? Absolutely! So share or present away.