What Do Artists Wear When They Create?

Me today

If you were a French artist and it was the turn of the century or possibly later, you may have worn a smock & a beret. Some artists wear garments that are bordering on eccentricity. The engima to me is how some individual creators can be dressed so stylish and others so damn funky, with dirty tops that have lots of paint splattered and rarely, if ever get washed. (Maybe its a good luck thing!)

When you look at some of the great artists of the past they were dressed in all the finery that money could buy. Do you remember Diego Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas? After he completed the painting he as awarded the Red Cross which signified The Order of Santiago. So he quickly went back and painted the Red Cross on his chest in the painting, which actually makes him the focal point… even more than the subjects in his painting.

What you wear when you create is a personal choice, for sure. Women are no better than their male creative counter parts when it comes to style in the studio. You get some classy ethnic peasant threads like Frieda Kahlo which is colorful and provide you with a persona, and others are literally wearing the rags that don’t even qualify for the donation pile, but do qualify for the paint rag pile.

My personal choice is black T-shirts, Levi’s and comfortable black slip on shoes from L.L. Bean. Comfortable, timelessly stylish, and you can always convert a black Calvin Klein t-shirt into a paint rag and not feel bad about the cost. I pulled out a photo of myself and a partner of mine in the early days of my photography studio and guess what? I was wearing a black t-shirt, levi’s although I believe at the time the footwear was black cowboy boots. Granted I am not the most stylishly dressed artist but please dress comfortably but for sure clean and nice. Your artwork will thank you and one never knows what major art critic or magazine editor might drop in and want to snap a shot of you for a major article describing you as the most innovative forward thinking artist for the time.

For fun and interest  below you will see various artists and what they wore when they created. Plus you will see a photo of a very young photographer Rod Jones and how time has worked its magic.

Painting Las Meninas - notice Velazquez's red cross
Painting Las Meninas – notice Velazquez’s red cross
Picasso Light Painting
Picasso Light Painting
Manet Self Portrait
Manet Self Portrait – Manet Dressed to Paint
Lee Krasner Painting in her Studio
Lee Krasner Painting in her Studio
Joan Mitchell Painting in the Studio
Joan Mitchell Painting in the Studio
Matisse and his painting smock
Matisse and his painting smock
De Kooning in his painting overalls
De Kooning in his painting overalls
Agnes Martin painting in kitchen apron
Agnes Martin painting in kitchen apron
Diego Rivera overalls and dress shirt
Diego Rivera overalls and dress shirt
Frieda Kahlo in peasant garb
Frieda Kahlo in peasant garb
Henri Matisse with Beret
Henri Matisse with Beret
Me on the right a lifetime ago in my photography studio with Rob Altaffer
Me on the right a lifetime ago in my photography studio with Rob Altaffer
Me today
Me today
Bob Ross with Classic White "Fro" and dress shirt
Bob Ross with Classic White “Fro” and dress shirt
Barney the dinosaur with beret in his signature purple
Barney the dinosaur with beret in his signature purple