When an Artist meets Fashion 

By Devina Gunawan

“Wow. Flashy.”

I hear that a lot. And as an artist, I don’t think I could care less.

Fashion to artists is like a box of acrylic paint tubes to an empty canvas. It’s a chance to create a piece, and we do not waste anything, really.

Artists are all about expressions, and we don’t follow rules.

It is nice to look like Blair Waldorf, but more than wanting to look nice, we want to express ourselves. And a lot of the times, we don’t care what others think.

Say whatever you want, I’m an artist.

And being one, I have noticed some things that I tend to do. This is a good thing, considering that I do have patterns in dressing up.

Not all artists are like this, and I am sure you have noticed. Artists have different ways of expressing themselves. And for this case, I have met a lot of people who dress the way I do – similarly, I mean – and we share one common trait: the weird, artistic trait people would comment on.

And here is a list of things I have learned from my art friends and from myself:

1. Favorite color is a must, in mostly everything. We are all about statements. And it doesn’t matter if the color doesn’t look good with the rest of our outfits, it just has to be there. Almost like a good luck charm.

Red is my favorite color, and it will forever be a recurring theme in most of my outfits. It doesn’t matter how I am feeling, if red represents me, red has to be present.

2. The whole attire tends to show how I feel on the day. Also, I believe this rule applies to a lot of us. Although, I must say, from everyone I see in business attires, artists are the most interesting. There is always something that is rebellious about the outfits, something that is misplaced, but works.

3. Color composition? Screw color composition. People are surprised to see how contrasting colors, ones that should not go together, work on artists. I’d say it’s the confidence, or just the lack of attention we pay to ourselves. Most of us leave the house without checking how we look in the mirror. Most of us don’t even know how we look to other people.


4. Patterns are our best friends. And if sophisticated would say, “Pair patterns with a plain top or bottom,” we go, “Put them all together!” We make collages, we do mixed media arts, and this is just another form of art. When other people think it isn’t normal, we are totally used to it.

5. Hats. Berets. Whatever we can put on our heads will be our best friends. Me, personally, I love hats because I have troll hair. And even though I have no problem with people commenting on it, I know my family does. So let’s say I’m doing them a favor.

6. We are like a big freak show put together. It is really easy for people to tell me and my sister apart. My sister is the A type, a perfectionist, 4.0 scholar, and a very well mannered lady. On the other hand, there is me. And despite us looking like twins, people can tell right away who is who. Hint, look at what a circus I am compared to her.

7. We dig journalist, patterned bags that can fit in at least an A4 sketchbook. I always buy bags that can fit my sketch books. Due to this, I have probably only a couple of nice, fancy designer purses for the sake of formal parties, and the rest are huge bags that can sometimes fit in A3 sketchbooks and art supplies.  7. Accessories everywhere. My aunt and I share common theme in our usual outfits, we are both into bohemian, hippie style. She is also an artistic soul, and you can see it right away when you see her. When her friends are dressed in blazers and ironed shirts or elegant dresses, she dresses herself up in full blown colors and accessorizes here and there, as she wishes.
 8. We like baggy outfits, anything we can fall asleep in. There is something about comfort that is just so appealing. My outfits tend to look like my pjamas, and if you see my closet you won’t be able to tell which ones I wear to bed and which ones I wear to go out. People always say, “You look like you just got out of bed.”

And I don’t disagree. I love knowing that when I fall asleep somehow during meetings or in the car, I feel comfortable. It is important to me that I can feel the way I feel in my pjamas, in other places. And baggy clothes are the best. 

9. Henna is our best friend. A lot of us artists cannot work the magic of makeup. I don’t understand how people can wear eyeliner to this day, and I don’t understand how the powder thing on the cheeks works. But I do understand that we artists love free canvases. What we don’t have to buy, and what is not permanent.

Obviously we know our skin cells will never stay permanent. We also know that there is an alternative to tattoo when we want illustrations on our hands or arms or back, or well, whatever we can draw on without having to look in the mirror.

So after the days of buying the temporary tattoo stickers are over, henna is our obsession. And you can’t blame artists for loving henna. They wear off after two weeks and we can have different designs every month or even more often that that if we want.


10. Harem pants. Harem pants on everything!

I bought a pair of blue harem pants from a friend. She hosted a charity event and she was selling a collection of harem pants. Initially, I bought it for the good cause, but then it became the very necessary part of my outfits.

Watch how I emphasize the plurality of it.

The pants have traveled with me to many states and many countries. And I do not even care if my whole outfit clashes, as long as I feel comfortable and I have my harem pants with me, I am good to go.


11. We go all out when we want to. A friend of mine, an art lecturer, and I share similar problems when it comes to fashion. Whenever the two of us go out together, people stare, because together, we carry more colors than the whole mall does. But when she wants to, and I have seen this several times, she can dress like ‘what a real lady should dress like.’ And she surprises everyone. It’s like, we have that one outfit in our closets. That one outfit that is the ultimate “Yes, I am a woman” outfit that we wear once every few years.

Funny thing though, I notice that even though we do put on the dress, that’s all we do. Still, none of us bothers to brush her hair or put on makeup on her face. I guess we believe that, “Hey, I put on this nice dress already. So stop complaining.”

Because face it. You can never change an artist. 

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