Your brand is uniquely you. More than simply the accumulation of your designs or art, your brand is what makes you distinct—setting you apart from other artists in the marketplace. It’s what comes to mind when a potential customer thinks of your work. Whether or not you’re actively taking steps to mold and shape it, your audience responds and reacts to obvious (and nuanced) aspects of your brand’s online presence.
New and longtime fans will base their perceptions about your brand (and ultimately their decisions to buy your products) off many key touch points they encounter across your work, shop, and social accounts. Help your audience quickly, clearly, and positively respond to your work with these theme and collection tips to hone your brand.
Distill your aesthetic into an easily recognizable style.
Cohesion across your designs allows your fans to easily identify your work in the wild and know it’s you. While your design aesthetic takes many forms, it’s informed by your use of typography, the color palettes you choose, and even the content or topics you most often depict. Determine a family of fonts to work within and stay consistent when using individual fonts for various elements of your work (e.g. logo font, headline font, complementary sub-headline font). Color is another tool to create unity across your brand. Marta Zubieta masterfully engages color in her design work and across her Artist Shop to read as one cohesive brand.
Vincent Trinidad designs within several similar topics, which read as uniquely his brand by simply glancing at his Artist Shop.
Extend that style.
With the visual manifestation of your brand defined, it’s time to replicate those assets across your social presence, online store, and collateral. Take advantage of all customizable settings in your online store, modifying banners, profiles, fonts, colors, and even layout to match your brand’s aesthetic. Completely populate all your social profiles and keep them updated with your newest branding, including your most-recent handle in your online store and print collateral. Remember business cards and other printed pieces in your branding efforts. Steven Rhodes is a great example of extending branding in an unmistakable way across all aspects of his Artist Shop.
Apply themes and group them into collections.
Now, for the fun part. Think creatively, broadly, and boldly to craft themes for your next series of work. Designing within themes gives your audience a taste of your ability to apply your style to larger ideas. Fans will grow familiar with, and hopefully fond of, your selected topics—coming back, week after week, to see what else you dream up. Themes can be as broad as a big idea like “space exploration” or as specific as recurring characters or character types. Nathan Pyle works within themes in a smart, relatable way—so followers return to his Artist Shop for the next installment of his Strange Planet characters’ stories.
Themes become powerful building blocks for larger, cohesive collections of work. Once you start designing art based on themes, you can begin grouping those themes into collections. Cody Weiler’s “Fools Guide” is a great example of a collection that expresses his unique style while iterating on a theme.
Mathiole’s collection, inspired by vintage travel posters, is another fun, interesting example of translating a distinct design style across an idea.
Refresh and repeat.
Like your art, your brand is fluid—evolving, morphing, and growing over time. Make an intentional effort to refresh your cohesive branding at a cadence that works for your business. Continue to build new and different collections that challenge, push, or celebrate your distinct style. Then, start a conversation with your audience, responding to their ideas for art based on themes that interest them. You might be surprised by how well themes and collections resonate with your audience—and rally them in support of your ongoing work.