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Conversations with the Inspiring Ryan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I wanted to work in fashion in some capacity since I was very young, though unsure what that even meant at the time. Mainly because of watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s so many times as a child. My friends and I would say we would die happy making no money getting coffee for a Vogue editor, clearly high hopes.

My mother made me a good networker so, through micro connections working in any fashion related job I could find, I landed a job as an assistant stylist at a photo studio that opened up near my house. I was still in business school and had no experience in a studio environment but we had to learn fast to build the studio from the ground up. I moved my way up and graduated college early, so I could move to Los Angeles and make it all “happen.”

I freelanced, worked in celebrity styling- sigh, and ended up working full time as a Senior Stylist at a menswear brand turned production agency. While there we had ebbs and flows of workload, so I took every opportunity to shadow and teach myself technical skills from all my talented colleagues. I made someone in every department teach me a program or skill or how to use production equipment. Working in small studios forces you to wear many hats. This is a very good thing.

To be able to keep my creativity flowing I often took freelance gigs on the side, styling, and art directing editorial shoots, music videos, etc. and got to hone in on my aesthetic and what I really wanted to be doing. Styling is probably the most fun you get to have whilst getting paid and I’m very grateful for that. I never premeditated that path but I will say it’s a great job. But I always felt like it wasn’t big enough for what I wanted to say and I struggled with giving up my creative control and direction to a photographer, who naturally takes on the role of art director on a shoot unless otherwise specified.

I had some bad things happen to me and for whatever reason, it sparked a really clear visual in my head and I had to make it into a film. I had never thought of directing prior but the day I filmed the project was the best day of my life. Directing provided the sort of all-encompassing creative outlet I had subconsciously been yearning for. Since then, I have been working toward pursuing that path and am working on my second film. I’m very excited to learn and experiment and see where it leads me.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve been incredibly lucky and have come across really helpful people in my life but no one’s career path is without bumps and bruises along the way, that’s for sure. Working freelance is terrifying and you go months with loads of work that you wish for less and then suddenly you’re worried about making rent. Ridiculously enough working in celebrity styling was probably the most stressful part of my career, definitely not for the weak of heart. Loads of funny and disastrous stories there, thousands upon thousands of dollars of clothes, lots of room for mistakes, highest pressure for the lowest of importance. I’ve personally struggled with the meaningless of this industry and trying to find purpose in such a vapid world. There is a need for the arts and entertainment, as hard as that is to see sometimes. There are definitely ways to contribute to a greater purpose but I’ve come to the conclusion that to really do anything you have to be a bit clever about it and hope that someone benefits from something you made.

My advice would be say yes to most if not all opportunities that present themselves at first, they almost always lead somewhere better and if not, they make good stories. Realize that you can make connections anywhere and put yourself out there. Don’t completely fake it til you make it but realize in this industry you can probably learn whatever you need to learn quick, it’s not rocket science. There’s also the internet, do your research. Most of all have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously, because if you are privileged enough to have such a silly job as playing dress up and watching movies get made, enjoy it!

What should we know about your business? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I work as a freelance wardrobe stylist, art director, and sometimes filmmaker, specializing in vintage styling. I style for music videos, commercials, campaigns, and editorial and e-commerce shoots. I also work in costume design for short and feature films. Hollywood sets and music videos are where I personally get to have the most fun. I gravitate towards projects that let me get a bit kooky with the aesthetic and artists who like to create their own world.

I am most proud of teaching myself how to produce and create my own short film when I hadn’t a clue before I started. Not having the luxury of art school has been helpful in giving me a different take on things, however, I would like to study film.

In terms of my style, I think abstract, red, love, old Hollywood, blood… I’m inspired by the Nouvelle Vague, Guy Bourdin, and pinup along with everyone else right now but also punk and post-punk music and things that have happened to me, I want to make things my friends can relate to in a bizarre way.

I think what sets me apart is that I’d like to think I have a good eye and like to present what I find beautiful but sometimes what’s hidden beneath is usually a bit darker or not as obvious, and I hope to open up people’s minds a bit. I like that I’m a happy and bubbly person yet I am taken by the dark and grotesque parts of my life. David Lynch (obvs) is such an inspiration for particularly that reason. He proves you can be an artist and show the morbidities of life yet still be happy and enthused to be doing what you’re doing. You don’t have to be a droning tortured cliché to prove you’re saying something. You can still be a “happy, happy camper shooting a death scene.”

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
Definitely. I have an amazing mother and grandparents who have always emotionally supported me in doing whatever I wanted to do. My mom never pressured me in school, so on my own, I made sure to have a 4.0 and succeed academically because it was what I wanted to do for myself and not what someone was putting on me, or else I would’ve rebelled. That kind of focus and work ethic has always stayed with me. Feeling supported by someone and feeling safe in what you do is a major key to taking risks. I am very lucky in that regard.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Alexa Nikol, Alina Lee, Dave Tada, Alexa Nikol, Dave Tada, (Me), Alexa Nikol, (Me)

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