As an artist and entrepreneur, it’s essential that you have a group of people who you turn to when you need support in your business and artistic endeavors. When I set out as a freelance writer over two years ago, I was fortunate to have connected with singer/songwriter Erica Bryan, and since then, it has been an honor to be a part of her circle and to have her as part of mine.
This past January, I was thrilled to be included in a focus group for her first EP. Erica’s music and lyrics are always very evocative of a particular sensation or image. While I listened to each of the six incredibly diverse songs that will be featured on her debut EP, I was immediately overcome with an array of feelings. As Erica and I formulated a concept for a feature on the EP, it has been amazing to watch these moods brought to life through outstanding styling, makeup artistry, and photography. I was eager to dive in deeper with the photographer, the makeup artist, and Erica herself and to learn how they collectively translated the music into Erica’s image.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did the EP influence the wide variety of backdrops you choose for the photoshoot?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: Erica and I discussed ideas that centralized with the theme of the song Jericho – destruction, crumbling walls, and debris. She wanted a darker, moody feel for a lot of the outdoor locations. While I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, we did end up with some places that worked really well. Lots of concrete and some old abandoned buildings with plenty of overgrowth.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you adapt Erica’s makeup to the diverse set of looks for the EP?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: When I’m coming up with a look, I always try to capture the feel of the set. For Erica, we wanted a range of looks that would really express the diversity of her musical style. So, after meeting her and seeing the outfits she had chosen for the shoot, it was easy to come up with makeup looks that would not only accentuate her style but also her beautiful personality.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing the looks for the EP.
ERICA BRYAN: I really wanted my looks to reflect the different styles of songs that I have on the EP. To represent the song Jericho, I wanted a look that was very strong. I thought the black dress with the fur shawl was very powerful and warrior-esque – like maybe I was going to hunt for my own dinner that night! I call the style inspired by the track Billboard “Cali-Chill.” I wanted to wear something fun and laid-back, so I chose loose, light-colored clothing. For the song Immune to You, I wanted to emulate a classy Adele-type style, so I went with a vintage hat, fur vest, and some jewels of course! And finally, to represent the track Leaving You In Memphis, I wanted a little more edge, so I wore a Journey t-shirt and some leather fringe!
AOC BLOG GIRL: What type of direction did you give Erica in order to evoke the mood of each look?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: You know, Erica really knew what she wanted. When we started at each location, she just turned it on. It helps working with an artist who understands what she wants and how to get herself there. I would offer suggestions here and there with posing and getting more of a natural look. A lot of that is achievable by natural movement. So, instead of, “OK, turn like this, and look this way,” we would try things like, “Ok, start here, let’s walk together, and just look back at me along the way.” We did some smiles and laughs, especially in the studio, but for most of the outdoor looks, we were channeling a strong feminine vibe.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one signature quality about Erica’s style that you maintained throughout each look?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I really wanted to highlight Erica’s eyes and hair in each look that we did. Although the makeup and hair changed with each location, my goal was to bring focus to those qualities, as they are some of her most striking features.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your personal style as an artist?
ERICA BRYAN: I really look up to strong women performers, so I think the edgy-rocker look of Grace Potter and the classy, timeless look of Adele really speak to me fashion-wise. Some people have even called me a chameleon because I can look rocker one day and classic the next, but I enjoy switching it up!
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was the most exciting to shoot and why?
DANIEL MEIGS, PHOTOGRAPHER: I love shooting on location. It’s just so unpredictable. I love the old building with all of the gnarly branches. We lit it in a way where you had just enough light on the background, and it created such a creepy feel, so much character everywhere we would turn. That was my favorite.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Which look was your favorite to work with and why?
ANAIS SHIBA, MAKEUP ARTIST: I think my favorite look was the black dress and faux fur. It was the first look that we did that day, and everything came together so perfectly when we started shooting. It was also the most dramatic hair and makeup, which I tend to naturally gravitate towards.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What is one thing you’ve learned after producing your first EP that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
ERICA BRYAN: What I’ve learned is that once you record your EP… you’re not done! Recording is just the first part. Figuring out how to get people to listen to it is the hard part. The industry is always changing, so you have to be creative about how you are getting your music out there. So many artists put their EP up online and wonder why no one’s listening, but if you’ve thought it through and made a plan of action, someone will hear it besides your mom. And that, my friends, is success!
When I first listened to the EP, I was torn between the tracks Leaving You in Memphis and Billboard. I couldn’t decide which was my favorite! After seeing the music come to life, I have a whole new appreciation for Jericho. I have to agree with both Daniel and Anais – the look inspired by that particular song took my breath away.
Click here to listen to an exclusive preview of the four songs that inspired the looks for Erica Bryan’s debut EP, which is set to drop on July 1, 2016. Stay tuned for the release of the first single off the album in the next few weeks. To keep up to date on all of Erica’s future release dates, tour dates, and more, visit her website and sign up for her mailing list for a free download!
Happy New Year! As if you needed another reason to be pumped this January, I’ve got 5 of them: 5 things to look forward to in 2015! Cheers!
1. Erica Bryan’s NEW Video + First Show of the Year
Yesterday my girl Erica Bryan released a brand NEW music video, a cover of Bad Suns’ Cardiac Arrest like you’ve never heard it before. Start the New Year with NEW music! Watch the latest video from Erica Bryan on her YouTube channel now! AND catch Erica in Atlanta later this month for her first show of 2015. She’ll be opening for Old Dominion at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 21, plus she’s got something special in store for the first ten to arrive – FREE beer anyone?
2. Laurel Hill Hair Accessories
I’m absolutely obsessed with the jewelry of Athens-born, California-based designer Laurel Hill. I cannot wait til she releases her 2015 collection, which includes a NEW line of hair accessories! Stay tuned to her website and Facebook page this month for more details!
3. GIRLS, HBO
It goes without saying I marked my calendar months ago when they set the official premiere date of HBO’s GIRLS Season 4. I cannot wait to see what my fellow writer Lena Dunham has worked up for this season’s script!
4. Blog Conferences
This one is for all my bloggers out there. Fellow blogger Hillary Dixon of Style in a Small Town was awesome enough to share this comprehensive blog conference directory for 2015. I’m paying it forward and passing it along to all of you! No matter where you live… whether you’re a veteran blogger or just entertaining the idea of starting a blog in the New Year… this list is worth checking out!
5. NYFW F/W 2015
Last but certainly not least, NYFW F/W 2015. I’m always in eager anticipation of fashion week and the amazing energy it brings to the fashion community. However, this year I can’t even put into words how ecstatic I am to have the thrill of experiencing fashion week while living in New York City. I have no idea what type of opportunities I may or may not have to get involved come February, but the simple notion of being in the city and buzzing off the NYFW energy will be enough for me!
Reflecting on the past can be an important part of moving forward. I often choose to end each year looking back at what has transpired and what I’ve accomplished. When a portion of your life is documented online – through social media or a blog – it’s easy to travel back in time through the past 365 days. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse. There’s a point at which spending too much time on the past can hinder our journey into the future. There’s such a fine line between constructive and detrimental reflection on the past.
For me, the past year – my first year of freelancing and blogging full-time – has been a lot of learning what not to do. I’ve made a number of poor decisions as I’ve taken total and complete control of carving and shaping my career. While I know it’s all part of the learning process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking back with a negative mindset – the could-have, would-have, should-have mindset. Of course there are many, many things I could have, would have, should have done differently. The key to reflecting on these moments in a productive way is to acknowledge and examine what can be learned from them as I head into a new year and fresh start.
Whether it be self-imposed or a force from the universe, there’s a lot of pressure on year two of freelancing and blogging from New York City. So, I’m spending the last day of 2014 focusing on my energy – mental, physical, emotional energy – and reflecting on 2014. As cheesy as it sounds, I have this intuition that this is my year. It’s scary to proclaim in writing on such a public forum, but perhaps this is my first step in telling the universe I’m ready!
W I N T E R
S P R I N G
S U M M E R
7. Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee
8. Midwest Style Blogger Happy Hour
10. My Best Friend’s Wedding
13. Just Knotted ARTicles of Clothing Blog Bands
F A L L
24. Birthday in NYC with blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie
One year ago today I launched ARTicles of Clothing Blog. I can’t believe it.
A successful one-woman business is a myth. If I’ve learned one vital thing over the past year, it’s that you can’t do anything alone. As a blogger and freelancer, most days it’s just you and your computer. It can feel lonely and isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be. The minute I started connecting with others, particularly fellow artists, entrepreneurs, and creative spirits, my work improved drastically. I could not have pressed forward day after day and continued to compose this blog without the support and contribution of many, and to those invaluable people, I want to say THANK YOU and CHEERS TO YOU!
Thank you to…
I met Jessica at a seminar at AmericasMart in January 2013. She was the first style blogger I connected with, and over coffee she told me one of the most important things an aspiring blogger can hear – you just need to sit down, and do it!
Angie Webb, Suburbanite Photography
Angie started a blog in college, and through it, I grew to know and love her. In the spring of 2013, Angie and I sat down over dinner to catch up and discuss my desire to establish my own blog. She gave me a great deal of advice and encouragement and, most importantly, a branding questionnaire that was vital to my creation of AOC. Since then, she has contributed to AOC as my primary photographer and an avid supporter.
Over the years Denise has had many roles in my life – dance teacher, Pilates instructor, mentor, friend. Since venturing out as a freelancer and blogger, she has taught me about being an entrepreneur, helped me make meaningful connections in my industry, and always been there at the right time with a piece of advice, encouraging word, or relevant music video.
Erica Bryan, Singer/Songwriter
When Erica reached out to me about working with her as a stylist, I could never have imagined what an impact she would have on me and my career. From the moment we partnered together, Erica became my advocate. I truly believe Erica and I are kindred spirits, placed in each others’ lives at this point in time for a specific purpose. Erica’s passion is contagious, and I’m continually inspired by her enthusiasm and commitment to her artistry.
Catie has been my hair stylist for the past five years and over that time has become a close friend. Earlier this year, Catie connected me to her longtime friend, Nikki, owner of an upscale boutique, Encore. I partnered with Encore for the first time for a feature on their spring 2014 look book, and since then, Nikki has continued to be a dedicated supporter of AOC.
Tova Gelfond and the Eide Team, Eide Magazine
For years I’ve admired Eide for their dedication to narrative voice and carefully curated aesthetic. In June, they reached out to me about reviewing their summer issue, and I had the opportunity to interview the magazine’s founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Tova Gelfond. Speaking with and learning from Tova and working with Eide is an undeniable milestone in my career and highlight of year one of AOC.
Jocelyn Negron, Must Love Sparkle
Jocelyn is the founder of Must Love Sparkle, a jewelry destination characterized by a unique aesthetic, exceptional quality, and attainable prices. She has a keen eye for buying and her own collection has a stunning design. Jocelyn has contributed jewelry for a personal photo shoot and for styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan. Throughout our partnerships, Jocelyn has been a meaningful advocate AOC.
GaBrielle Pedriani, Look Sharp, Sconnie
GaBrielle was the first blogger I connected with in the Midwest. After visiting her blog, my perception of personal style bloggers completely shifted. Gabby defies the typical personal style blogger aesthetic ,and she’s a skilled writer. Although I only got to know her for a short time before she relocated to NYC, Gabby made a profound impact on me as a blogger and my Midwestern fashion experience.
Pamela Wilson, Iona
Pamela has been key influence in my Midwestern fashion journey. Upon meeting Pamela at a fashion event, she immediately welcomed me into the local fashion community. I’ve learned a great deal from her approach to fashion and entrepreneurship, and I’ve made some invaluable connections through events hosted at her boutique.
Amsterdam Station, Alternative Rock Band
Amsterdam Station approached me this summer while in the process of re-branding. As part of creating their new look, they enlisted me as a stylist. The band has an invigorating energy that translated into our work together. Amsterdam Station not only furthered my styling career but also broke me into the world of styling men.
Sonali Prabhu, So Narly
I connected with Sonali through mutual friends and was immediately impressed by her social media presence and following. Sonali is wise beyond her years and, in my opinion, represents the future of social media. She’s innovative, committed to her brand, and confident yet humble. While composing my first YouTube video, Sonali was a take charge director and brought a fun energy to the shoot.
Ryan Pernice and Micki Kimberly, Osteria Mattone
Ryan and I went to high school together, and he’s now the owner of two successful restaurants in our hometown. I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot on location at his Italian restaurant, Osteria Mattone. A portion of the shoot was dedicated to today’s celebration, AOC’s one year birthday. Pastry chef and personal friend, Micki, composed a special dessert for the occasion: Budino Caramellato with Fior di Latte Gelato (yes, we ate it after the shoot, and yes, it was as good as it looks and sounds).
Midwest Style Bloggers, Community
I’ve connected with a number of the founders and members of the Midwest Style Bloggers at various events. They have welcomed me into the Midwest fashion community and have been invaluable to the growth of AOC.
My friends, family, and the AOC Blog Focus Group
Despite the fact that most of my friends and family are far more traditional and practical than I am, they have offered me unlimited love and support over the past year. I could not have launched this blog and continued to grow and improve it without the feedback of my Focus Group. I want to express my particular appreciation for the following people: My boyfriend, who has no interest in fashion whatsoever but has never failed to listen, lend a hand, or provide a second opinion; My mom, who has fueled my creativity from a young age by enrolling me in my first dance classes, buying me countless notebooks, and exposing me to art in various forms; My Kitty Kat, for serving as my co-stylist on my first photo shoot; and My Boo, for setting the foundation for my reader spotlight series.
YOU, My Readers
I only make up 50% of this blog, the other 50% is YOU, my readers. Without your loyal readership, this blog would just be words and images floating around cyberspace. ARTicles of Clothing blog is both by you and for you.
CHEERS TO YOU ALL!
As part of celebrating ARTicles of Clothing Blog’s first birthday, I wanted to reflect and share the top five posts from year one.
Year one on AOC Blog was a bit of a roller coaster and a lot of learning what not to do. As much as I tried to research and plan before launching AOC, it evolved in ways I never expected and ultimately lacked some direction and focus.
There’s definitely more pressure for year two. So, I’m in the process of implementing some changes to make AOC even better. One of the most meaningful sources of information is YOU, the readers, which is why reflecting on the top five posts of year one is so important.
These posts indicate the type of content you like to read on AOC. If you missed any of these top five, be sure to check them out!
5. BLACK AND WHITE
You know those days where you go to your closet and think, I have nothing to wear? We’ve all had them. In my years of building a wardrobe I have come to realize there is one way to avoid the I-have-nothing-to-wear clothing dilemma for good. The answer is black and white.
4. REAL BLOGGER BEAUTY
In January, I urged you to set a goal to FEEL GOOD and LOOK GOOD in 2014 by making small changes to your everyday life to produce big results. Shifting the trajectory of social media is a lofty goal, so today, I’m starting with one small step by participating in and promoting the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign. My #RealBloggerBeauty moment is illustrated above through these images of myself over the past eight years.
3. 3 UNSUSPECTINGLY STYLISH INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
You can find plenty of lists floating around of the most stylish Instagram accounts you need to follow now. These mainly consist of bloggers, models, editors, designers, and the like. But what about the awesome Instagrammers who are flying under the radar? Well, I think I’ve found three of them.
2. MY COMPLETE BATHING SUIT GUIDE
Three years ago I decided I could no longer squeeze my tatas into size large bathing suit tops that were ultimately ill fitting elsewhere. I had to take the plunge and invest in some bathing suits that fit my body. So, I bid farewell to my days of stocking up on multiple suits every season from the glorious Target swim section and found some brands that would suit me and my body better and stand the test of time.
And the #1 post of year one of AOC is…
1. A FUSION OF MUSIC AND FASHION
Erica’s debut single has a beautiful balance of light and dark, which instantly became the inspiration for her look. When you first hear the title of single, the word “haunted” elicits that feeling of darkness and possibly a place that is plagued by something or someone. As you listen to the verses, a lightness trickles in revealing a sense of nostalgia and fondness. While it is evident that the speaker is in fact haunted by a person or memory, there is clearly a warmth and deep connection, possibly even love, with the “ghost.” It is this sensation that is truly “haunting” the speaker, which ultimately illustrates the dichotomy between light and dark in the song.