BrandYOU: Your Avatar – Part 2

In BrandYou: Your Avatar – Part 1, I talked about the need for avatar consistency within your online profiles. People want to see people and people want to connect with people. If your silent messenger is your cat, then your cat wins, not you.

I’m going to show you a few ways on how to leverage and promote your avatar.

Dissecting the Creative Self-Portrait

Self-PortraitThis self portrait was drawn in my style. The self portrait is not my cat, not a product to be sold, it’s pure me. Think of it as one’s DNA: never to be borrowed or traded.

Here’s a challenge: What’s your craft? How would you transform your self-portrait (aka face) with that craft?

When developing your self-portrait for the first time, you might want to read this recent entry I wrote about Design Bias. This article references attractiveness bias and face-ism ratio that can help you craft your online image (aka silent messenger).

Self-Portraits Turned Avatar

These are creative avatars that individuals have crafted in their own style.

Cherish Flieder

Margot Potter

Susan Donley

Tara Hunt

Lia K

Traci Bautista

One can see how they’ve applied their chosen artistic endeavor to their self-portraits. Straight forward and creative, I know I would want to learn more about these people just by getting a quick glimpse of their portraits.

By the nature of the avatar, they’re usually small in size, so you’ll want to edit out as much extraneous info as possible, emphasizing the strong elements.

First: The Photo – Tips on taking avatar self-portraits

1 Show Us Your Face. Don’t hide behind anything. Initially, it may be cute to see the camera in your face, but you’re still hiding. Stop it! There must be a reason you’re still hiding -be true to yourself so that the real issue can be addressed with aplomb. That’s right, for every ‘flaw’ there’s a reasonable ‘fix.’

If you take issue with any aspect of your profile, take a look at some of the celebrities that resemble you. Search for some of their profiles online ( is good) and take hints from them. Are they featured wearing clothes you never wear, say a great off-the-shoulder gown? You can, too!

2 Consider Makeup. Allow your eyes to lead the viewer in and keep those lips tamed.

Sleepless in the Studio Add a little extra under-eye magic to conceal the sleepless nights you endure as you comply with the inner OCArtist.

Emphasize the Drama Go a little bit heavier on the shadow and lashes. Chances are good that you won’t have optimum light and you’ll want the windows to your soul to stand out. Tammy Fay Bakers not allowed.

The Muted Mouth If and only if you’re Gwen Stefani, don’t apply the fire engine red lipstick unless your complexion can handle it. I’m jealous of olive and black skin; I can’t wear too much of anything without looking like fright night. Note: If you convert your photo to black and white, your red lipstick appears black -do this if you want to appear like a vampire.

Getting Cheeky Since I battle rosacea, I save a few bucks in the aisle of blush. Plus, my cheeks look fabbo in black & white photography! Opting-out of blush isn’t the worse thing in the world. Feel you need color? Just slap your cheeks a couple of times, you’ll get color.

Guys: Under-eye concealer goes for you, too. You work those late hours and get fatigued just like us chicks, plus, this photo is your silent messenger. Everyone sees this -you want to look at the very least, decent, right? Plus, those of you who are balding (bald is beautiful and sexy boys), don’t be afraid to dust your face as well as your head. Andrew’s been dusted several times before hitting prime-time -just ask!

3 Keep Jewelry Simple, If Any at All. Long hair and lots of jewelry can definitely clutter your image. If you sweep your hair up, I’d suggest only earrings; pendants clutter and can also get cropped.

4 Keep Clothing Simple. As with long hair and jewelry, fluffy boas, collars, scarves, and anything else neck and shoulder related cause clutter. A v-neck shirt helps to open up the neck and creates a relief area for the eyes. If you choose an over the shoulder pose, consider bare shoulders or one color top. Stripes & heavy pattern add to the clutter.

5 Strive to Remain Eye Level with Camera

Eye Level=Best: Positioning the camera at eye-level encourages warmth and conversation.

Bird’s Eye Level=Good: Positioning the camera from a bird’s eye perspective should be done with care. The over the shoulder pose that Tara strikes is a very romantic and engaging image.

Ant’s Eye Level=Not So Good: While positioning the camera from an ant’s eye view does in many cases promote a feeling of pride, it can often become misconstrued as intimidating and cocky. The idea of your self-portrait is to cultivate more friends, not drive them away. Plus, this accentuates any issues you already have with your chin & neck.

HINT Kathy’s portrait below does show her chin is turned upward. While this photo is taken at eye level, this makes for a successful composition because the camera isn’t below her chin looking up at her.

6 Posing with Your Head & Face. Keep forehead, nose, and chin at the same axis.

Leading with the forehead denotes authority. Remember the school marms we grew up with? Unless, you’re playing coy (with a slight tilt) or naughty teacher, push the forehead back.

Leading with the nose (+chin). Being on the receiving end of someone looking down their nose at you is very off-putting. I know I lose interest in anything anyone has to say if they feel they have to throw their head back to make a point.

Leading with the chin. This happens too often when taking self-portraits (SP) with the extended arm. I know my harsh features can become accentuated and suddenly, I’ve got Jay Leno’s chin! Ack!

HINT Might I suggest that by taking several arm extended SPs like this to get familiar with how your head and neck feel when posing the way you want to be seen. I have taken several shots in any given venue to choose the one I feel best represents me and this can vary from day to day. Yes, I’m critical of even myself!

7 Posing with Your Head & Body Keep your body on the same axis as your face. Imagine that proverbial string running up your spine and out the top of your head.

Leaning Forward = Best. This conveys warmth and invites conversation.

Sitting Straight = Good. It’s natural and unassuming.

Leaning back = Not So Good in the chair when having someone take your photo never reveals your best side. If you’re sitting, your legs and hips get foreshortened. This only serves to emphasize that part of the body that most every woman feels self-conscious about anyway.

HINT By adding just a slight tilt of the head or tilt of the shoulder, you’ll also appear friendly. Be careful not to over do it or you’ll end up looking like a bimbo.

Tips on Creatively Transforming Your Photo

What is your professional endeavor? Illustrator, Jeweler, Crafter, Woodworker?
What is your medium of choice? Is it clay, paint, graphite, metal, paper, glass… glitter?
What is your tools of choice? Is it your favorite pencil, cutting blade, brush, sponge, drill, glue gun… camera?

Imagine how you would take these instruments of passion and apply it to your portrait. For an illustrator, rending the face is almost too easy. A polymer clay artist can render one’s likeness in that very medium. Even those above who tag scrapbooking as their medium can frame themselves into their compositions.

Dan Cagle, famed editorial cartoonist has rendered himself in marker sitting at his table. Head down, close to the surface of his current project, this captures who is he and what he does.

What is the one or two tools that you reach for constantly to create your work? You know, that tool that makes you scream if you can’t find it? Consider including it within your self-portrait.

Kathy has opted to hold her tool of choice: the spandangled glue gun. In a very reverent pose, she looks toward the heavens as if pleading to the Glue Gun Gods in the sky to allow her to complete this last project without cause to purchase yet another glue gun.

Okay… how about for a metalsmith or beader? That gets a bit tougher. Perhaps etching one’s face into metal or arrange beads like a mosiac… Options are endless.

Don’t forget the holidays!!

Holiday Style
I’ve updated my profile because I recently got a new hairstyle. Because it’s the holidays, I thought I’d dress myself up a little, too. Since most avatars are square, I had to create 2 renditions of my self-portrait. Naturally, I wanted to be Lisa, the sexy vampire.

Remember, keep it simple and you’re self-portrait will become effective.

I’d love to see your solution, so post a link in your comment so that we can all see… you!!

7 thoughts on “BrandYOU: Your Avatar – Part 2

  1. stephanie schoyer says:

    i appreciate the post, and agree with you 100%, people want to connect with a face… however i had a friend photograph me while i took photos during a shoot over the weekend. apparently my constant eating during the hurricane (to make me even heavier so i wouldn’t blow away) and the week i was without power (seriously, what else was there to do?) has “plumped” me up a bit. okay a lot.
    photos don’t lie. i’m freaking huge.
    as soon as we don’t need to use the wide angle lens i will take your advice.



  2. creativegoddess says:


    Even my husband has problems taking my mug shot.

    Rule 1) Don’t let people photo you while you’re eating; I don’t care how thin you are. I am not thin.

    Rule 2) Never have a photo taken of you straight on -it flattens your face. Unless you’re in a studio and the expert has lights on each side of your head, it’s disaster.

    Rule 3) Turn your head 3/4 so that we see that bit of cheek from the other side, smile, and show a bit of teeth -this helps with dimension. Teeth also promote friendliness, believe it or not.


  3. linda woods says:

    EXCELLENT advice on photos. It makes me nuts to see headshots/promo shots of artists HIDING behind their cameras or a jar of paint brushes. It’s an epidemic! Artists often don’t know how to market themselves and it starts with good promo shots, icons and avatars.


  4. Judi Boehner says:

    What a great article! I always wondered what angle is best/most flattering for a photo. My daughter just got a new camera for Christmas and I can’t wait to tell her she has to put it to good use for me!

    Judi B


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