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!
As I stepped off the escalator and headed toward the stairs leading down to the subway, I could see the uptown train waiting. I started sprinting, as every good New Yorker does, but as I reached the platform, I could see the train doors were closed. Damn, I thought, just missed it.
I stood there, expecting the train to depart any second, but it didn’t. It sat, doors closed, for another couple minutes before it finally took off. I sighed and rolled my eyes in frustration, and I noticed another woman on the platform who had experienced the same misfortune. We both glanced around the station and quickly caught each other’s gaze. It’s the worst when that happens, I said, and we struck up a conversation.
At first, we commiserated over the occasional annoyances, like this one, that come with relying on public transportation. Another train arrived, and we sat, continuing to chat about the usual things. As the conversation inevitably shifted to work, we began to click. Before we parted ways at the station where we both needed to transfer, we exchanged business cards. This woman is now one of my clients.
Why should you always dress to impress? Because you never know who you’re going to meet. As artists, bloggers, entrepreneurs, and the like, we often live in our loungewear and activewear. Full disclosure: there are days when I work in my pajamas and only throw a coat on to run to the bodega up the block. Living in New York City (where the streets are filled with people bringing their fashion a-game) has inspired me to put a little more effort into my appearance before I leave the apartment. Fortunately, on the day of my subway debacle, I happened to have done my hair, thrown on some makeup, and put on “real clothes.”
When you work from your home office a majority of the time, it makes sense to only dress for video calls or in-person meetings. Most of the time, the first contact we have with our potential clients is on the web. They see the styled and polished images depicted in our bios and on our contact pages, not the girl in the yoga pants and oversized sweater on the other side of the screen. In our self-employed lives, we can’t forget to maintain a certain level of professionalism outside of our online presence. You never know if your next client may be behind you in line at Starbucks.
What you wear says something about you and your brand. Not the designers or trends you sport but how you present yourself. Just like the story you use to introduce yourself, clothing is a medium you can use to portray something about your business. Is your brand bold and colorful or sleek and minimal? Look at your company’s aesthetic, imagine how it could be translated into an outfit, and take it into consideration next time you’re running errands around town or walking your dog in the park. If you need a little guidance translating your brand’s image into your personal style, connect with me. In addition to writing, I happen to do a bit of styling on the side!
This project – a project very near and dear to my heart – my last ode to Mad Men – is now yesterday’s (or rather a week and a half ago’s) news. The buzz about the series finale has quieted to a whisper among die-hard fans or those behind on their DVRs. Everything I know about the Internet and blogging and Google and the immediacy and timeliness of it all tells me I need to let this project go and write it off as a series of unfortunate mishaps, time and money and energy I’ll never get back. But I refuse to let this project die in the depths of my external hard drive. So, without further ado, I present my final tribute to Mad Men: Marie in Manhattan, a short story of a woman whose life ran parallel to Peggy and Joan.
MARIE IN MANHATTAN
Marie moved to Manhattan in the fall of 1965, just a few weeks before her twenty-second birthday. She came to New York City with the hope of becoming a writer. To pay the bills, Marie took a job as a secretary. Although typing company memos and contracts wasn’t the best use of Marie’s written skills, she was a capable typist no matter what the content. Her personal record was 48 words per minute.
After nearly two years in New York, Marie hadn’t made much progress with her career, but she had made new friends and met a man, Paul Miller. Paul was an associate editor at The New Yorker, and he was certain he could make Marie a star. He told her she was the next Pauline Kael.
By the summer of 1968, Marie had her foot in the door at The New Yorker. They had published one of her short stories titled “The Dandy Game,” which was a witty anecdote about the life of a secretary in New York City. Before the piece was published, Paul pulled some strings, and Marie came into the office to meet with the Editor-in-Chief. “You’ve got a spark,” he said, “don’t lose it.”
On a warm Sunday in the spring of 1969, Paul proposed, and Marie said yes. Planning a wedding would be a welcome distraction from her career. Monday morning Marie returned to work. It didn’t take long for her co-workers to learn of her engagement. “Congratulations!” exclaimed Anna, whose desk was adjacent to Marie’s, “You don’t have to worry about being a writer anymore, you’ve got a ring!”
Shot on location in the Garment District of Manhattan courtesy of Breather.
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
2015 is fast approaching. While it’s always a good time to reinvent yourself, the New Year is a particularly poignant occasion to do so. Perhaps you’re planning to look for a new job or pursue a new career in 2015. Maybe you’re hoping for a promotion at your current company in the New Year. Is 2015 the year you monetize your hobby into a serious side project? Have you been considering launching a blog? There are numerous reasons to think about renewal as a New Year draws near.
A portrait session is the perfect way to jump-start a new you for the New Year.
There was a time when portraits were primarily reserved for special occasions – think yearbook photos or family Christmas cards. No more! Anyone with some disposable income (or, hey, some Christmas cash) can afford a professional portrait and present a more polished image.
We live in a time when social media has given almost everyone a public persona, and sometimes it’s tough to say where personal ends and where professional begins. A social media photo is often the first impression you make, and more and more it seems an iPhone and an outstretched arm won’t suffice. Don’t you want an image that makes people stop and say, “maybe I want to look a bit closer,”?
If you’re ready to kick off the New Year with a new you, join Angie Webb of Angie Webb Creative for a Headshot Mini Sessions Event from 10:00am to 1:00pm on Saturday, January 10. Each session lasts 20 minutes, and you’ll get the opportunity to shoot with up to two different backdrops. Afterward, you’ll be able to view your proofs online and select two images to be fully retouched by Angie. This exclusive event is limited to eight slots, and space is filling up fast – register now!
BONUS – Complimentary Styling Consultation from Yours Truly
As a bonus, I’m offering complimentary styling consultations for those participating in the event. Once you register with Angie, connect with me to arrange an in-person or online styling consultation free of charge!
Who needs a headshot?
Anyone and everyone! Business professionals, small business owners, entrepreneurs, event planners, photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, models, actors, students, fellow bloggers – people from all walks of life can benefit from a high-quality headshot.
Where can I use my headshot?
Again, the possibilities are endless – personal or professional social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and so on), personal or professional websites (digital portfolios, personal blogs, your company’s website, etc.), job applications… believe me, you’ll get good use out of your headshot! I know I have!
Why would I need styling assistance for my headshot?
When you look good, you feel good – dressing well boosts your confidence. Many people feel they can’t afford to be stylish, but you can show your personal style without overspending (or spending at all). Sometimes all it takes is looking at your wardrobe with a fresh perspective – it can be as simple as accessorizing.
About Angie Webb Creative
Angie Webb is a brand designer and consultant who assists businesses and individuals in creating a visual look and feel for their brand. Angie’s services go beyond that of a typical designer with her holistic branding approach. First, Angie walks each and every one of her clients through an in-depth process of discovery to find out who they really are and how they want to portray themselves to the world. From there, Angie helps them create a visual identity and other supporting elements, including but not limited to photography, website design, and print materials. Her work doesn’t stop there! Angie then assists her clients in implementing their new identity and moving forward with their renovated brand. Through a clear and thorough process, comprehensive strategy, and coaching, Angie helps businesses and individuals succeed and thrive for the long term.