Nike may have done it best with it’s ‘Just Do It’ campaign, or perhaps even Apple’s ‘Think Different,’ but today branding is not just pigeon held to large coorperations. Today, being a writer, artist, musician, flim maker or photographer is not enough, and branding is just as important as the art you’re creating; until you know that, you’re nobody, you’re just another artist.

If you don’t know by now, I’m a huge fan of Medium. Since joining, I have never felt more cultured and inspired by the thousands of people who contribute their thoughts, ideas and stories. I came across one story called ‘In Defense Of Miley Cyrus.” which blew me away because it was so true and indictive of not only what she is doing, but what I have been trying to do as well as a photographer and artist. His article talks about how Miley Cyrus is not just some rogue drug addict degenerate. All her tweaking, licking and butt naked wrecking ball riding has been meticulous, premeditated, calculated branding moves by a business women. And it works. She sells albums, she sells herself. She knows exactly what she’s doing. It’s her brand. This is something the greatest cooperations like Nike, Apple and Google have been doing since their inception. It’s something the greatest musicians of all time have done; The Beatles, Elvis, Madonna.

Photo by: Lucian McAfee

Before I got into photography I was a musician. I’ve been playing music since I was a kid and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Unfortunately, I was never able to make anything of it. It doesn’t matter if I thought what I was creating was any good, or even if my friends or family thought my music was any good, nobody gave a shit, and I think I know why. Every band I was in was just ‘another band.’ My cousin is in a band called ‘The Vitrolum Republic.’ ( They arne’t pop. They aren’t rap. They arne’t country. They classify themselves as ‘Gypsy Noir.’ I have absolutely no idea what that means and if you try to google it you’re bound to get more search results auto correcting you to Pinot Noir that any helpful information on their genre. But It doesn’t matter. What matters is not only is their music top notch, they have branded them selves. Everything from their clothes, to the instruments they play, to the gorgeous hand painted canvases painted by artist Sue Lawton ( that they put up behind them at every show, seeing a performance by The Vitrolum Republic is an experience. You feel transported to some early 1900’s circus/tarot card reading thing. And it doesn’t matter if you can’t describe what you’re seeing and listening to, the fact is everything they are doing is making them into something bigger than what everyone else is doing. Their whole package is their brand, and it’s working.

Art by Kelli Anthony

Kelli Anthony ( is stud from Chicago, Illinois I have never met. Why? I have no idea because I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin so there is pretty much no excuse that we haven’t, but he’s a guy I’ve been talking to and following for a while, and he’s also a guy like me, who has branded himself. #swave. #catholic. #milk. His pop art and the way he brands himself is something I admire as a photographer and as an artist because he has created an identity for himself. He’s not just another photographer. He’s not just another artist. You can spot his work in an instant and you know what you’re getting when you’re getting Kelli Anthony. He is constantly pushing his brand on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Being a photographer I follow many of them, but there are few who separate themselves from the rest. As a photorapher you not only want people to shoot you because you make great photo’s, but you want them to shoot you because you’re you. Because they want Kelli Anthony. Because they want Martin Moore. Because they want YOU. Because they want people to know that they just didn’t get some person off Craigslist to do their shoot, they got that person. I’ve never felt more strongly about this with photographers as I do today. I feel like there is a evolution, no, a revolution, happing with photographers today where branding is what is going to set you apart from everyone else who can get their hands on a DSLR.

Casey Neistat makes movies. He started off creating a show with his brother Van on HBO called ‘The Neistat Brothers’ and then shortly after became a YouTube sensation (CaseyNeistat — YouTube) with his short films, and recently made a commercial for the Mercedes Benz CLA Project. Casey has also created a brand for himself. His USA loving, stop motion, I can build anything I will do anything attitude has purpelled his art and made him one of the most sought after film makers you’re gonna find today. People love him. People copy him. People are inspired by him. Despite his success with campaigns for Nike and Mercedes Benz, 90% of what made Casey who he is, is his story telling ability and his brand. Almost everything he is most certainly proud of, he films is on Canon point and shoots. Film quality doesn’t matter. What matters is his stories, how he tells them, how he adds his brand to them. It’s how you know his films, his Vine videos and his commercials are Casey Neistat flims, and no one elses.

Today, being an artist is more than just the art you create. Should it be that way? Fuck no. But it is. Everyone is a musician. Everyone is a writer. Everyone is a photographer. Everyone is a film maker. Sometimes what you’re creating isn’t enough. Sometimes that one story you wrote, or that song you made that everyone loves, or that photograph you shot is a hint. A hint that there is a niche meant for you that you can exploit and grow into that you didn’t even know was desired by you or anyone that wanted it. You don’t have to be so accessable to be successful. You can be niche. You can create a brand for yourself. When you realize that, and embrace it, you and your art will automatically create a brand everyone will notice, then, you can grab the reins and ride the shit out of it.