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Stand alone


A successful career in the music industry is dependent upon a combination of factors. First and foremost, you have to be skilled as a musician or recording artist. However, sometimes this alone is not enough. To get people to notice you as a great artist in a sea of other great artists there are other things to pay attention to as well.

Artists need to create an image to go with their music. Usually artists belong to a particular genre, which has its own style. For example, when you think of a rock musician, you might picture someone with long hair wearing black clothes. Or if you think of a pop musician, you might imagine them wearing popular brands and stylish outfits. The artist’s image helps the audience understand which genre they belong to, whilst at the same time it reveals something about their personality.

The biggest mistake an artist can make is to try and “fit in” or copy a certain look. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, it’s not going to work! The public will see through your “star” disguise and they won’t like it. Fans want to know who their favourite musician REALLY is – what they like and dislike, what inspires them, their personality. By dressing and acting in a certain way, the artist can communicate these things about themselves to their fans. Think of an artist’s image as the best version of their real self – it might be bigger and more exciting than the real thing but it’s still them, it is not completely fake or made up. There needs to be an element of truth to the artist’s image even if this truth is exaggerated.

Here are some of the things that go into creating an “image” for an artist or band:

The Look

The artist or band members dress in a certain style, which tells us something about their genre and their personality.

Album Artwork

The most important thing that fans buy is the album – this should also be designed in a way that reflects the music on the album, the performers and style of music. Album artwork refers to the design on the cover, inside liner notes, and also the tile that appears on streaming players like Spotify.


If you’ve been to a live music concert you may have noticed the “merch desk” – a small stall that sells items like t-shirts, posters and badges with band photos or logos on them. Well-designed merchandise should fit in with the overall “branding” of the band. Some bands even have a logo which can easily be printed on to all sorts of items and sold as merchandise. This makes the band instantly recognisable, without having to even hear the music!

Here’s a selection of items from AC/DC’s merchandise collection, all using the iconic AC/DC lightning bolt logo.

Activity – Inspiration Collage

What kind of music will you play as a recording artist? Are you a rock star, or are you in the folk scene? Do you make electronic dance music or are you a hip hop MC?

Once you have chosen a style of music, it’s important to research other musicians in your genre to get into the “mood” of the style. In this activity, you will put together an inspiration board, which you can use to put together your artist look.

Research some bands from your genre and save images that show their costumes, make-up, on-stage sets, merchandise and album covers. Arrange these images either in a file on your computer, or print them out and stick them on a poster. You can also add in images you find inspiring, or contain colours you think would work for your style, or make you think of that style of music. For example, a boat floating on a calm sea might make you think of calming, peaceful ambient music, or a picture of a peacock might make you think of a rock band front-person parading themselves on the stage. Let your imagination run wild!


Step 1. Name Game

Imagine you are starting out as a musician, either a solo artist or with a band. Answer the following questions:

What kind of music do you play?

Which other bands or artists do you find inspiring?

Think of a name for your band. It could be a twist on your own name or something completely made up - you can even use nonsense words! Here are some examples of band names from the Australian Music Vault to get your imagination going. Inspiration can come from the strangest places!

AC/DC - Angus and Malcolm Young, brothers in the band, got the name from their sister, who saw “AC/DC” printed on her sewing machine. AC/DC stands for alternating current / direct current, terms to do with electricity – which tells us about the electrified, loud energy of the band.

Divinyls - The name is a ‘portmanteau’, which means a word made from blending two other words together – in this case, the words ‘divine’ and ‘vinyl’ are blended to create the new word ‘Divinyl’. The word suggests they are a very pleasing to listen to and watch (even god-like) in the use of ‘divine’. It also makes reference to their mode of communication – through printing their music on vinyl.

Step 2. Get the Look

Once you have a name for your band, you need to start thinking about all the design elements we’ve studied in this module. Start by sketching some costume ideas that reflect your style of music, and the personality or attitude you want to portray.

Step 3. Brand your Band

Create a logo for your band. Here are some examples from the Australian Music Vault. Make sure it’s easy to read – a simple design often works best. Your logo must also reflect the style of music you make.

Skyhooks logo
Divinyls logo

Step 4. Design Factory

Come up with designs for the following items of merchandise/artwork to sell at your gigs: 

Step 5. Stick ‘em Up

Design a poster for an upcoming gig your band is playing. Make sure you communicate the style or ‘vibe’ of your band so people know what to expect. Use words and pictures on your poster to provide the audience with the following information: 

You can use the information provided in Task 2: Poster Design to help with this activity.


Learning Areas Capabilities
The Arts
  • Media Arts
    • Explore and Represent Ideas
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Music
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Visual Arts
    • Explore and Express Ideas
    • Visual Arts Practices
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Visual Communication Design
    • Explore and Represent Ideas
    • Present and Perform
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Personal and Social
  • Speaking and Listening


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