Today we’d like to introduce you to Gena Tuso.
Gena, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
LA native, I started styling after doing window displays in NY years ago. After 9/11, work got slow so I moved back to LA and started slowly building my portfolio and cliental. It was a struggle at first, but I feel grateful for that time now looking back. My styling business has been nonstop for years and I feel really lucky to collaborate with old friends that started at the same time I did, new friends and clients.
As a stylist and musician, I’ve always been super intrigued by various music scenes and underground culture. A couple of years ago, I started a zine called LOOK AT US. Each issue is a sartorial documentation of micro scenes shot on film by myself. Most recently, I did a London Goth/Post-Punk issue.
Has it been a smooth road?
I struggled a lot in my earlier years deciding on what I wanted to do. I lived in San Francisco years ago and had a nerdy job for a tech company. Got laid off and moved to NY taking odd jobs as I knew I wanted to do something creative but wasn’t sure what. I ran into stylists from time to time and was like, hmmm I can do that….no idea how to get in though.
When I moved to LA, it was a struggle just to try and assist and a lot was celebrity driven at the time. I started slowly building my portfolio doing shoots for Nylon and Teen Vogue, but wasn’t making any money and had to do random underpaid TV production jobs in between. It sucked. I finally got a short term assistant job doing Target campaigns and celebrity pulls then that stylist generously started handing me jobs she couldn’t do. Jobs weren’t consistent for a long time though even after getting an agent.
The recession hit and I almost lost my mind. I had poured so much effort into this job that I had to make it work. My portfolio was all over the place cause I was trying to make myself appealing for every kind of job. Once I focused on what was really me, something shifted and I noticed a big change. I think once I decided to be myself and not try to cover every aesthetic out there just to try and work, it made all the difference.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a wardrobe stylist/brand consultant by trade, focusing mainly on print advertising for brands like Levis, Adidas, Spotify, to name a few. I feel like I bring a more real/authentic lifestyle approach to my work opposed to full-on fashion. I love to focus on details that can really pull a look together based on iconic subcultural references from the past that play into the present.
LOOK AT US is starting to work as a creative collective collaborating w my buddy Dan Monick on other projects with some of our favorite artists, brands and publications. Our latest project was the release of the late Anton Yelchin’s book of photography edited/designed/published by LOOK AT US.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I am excited that various underground communities are getting exposure in a positive and supportive way. It feels like a bit of a trend at the moment and especially accessible with social media, but I hope it creates opportunities for those involved that have been creating underground art/music to finally have some recognition. This crosses over within all creative-driven industries that parallel to what I primarily work in. It’s exciting to see more and more brands, artists, etc. taking more chances in with art direction, casting, etc. and I hope it continues.
- LOOK AT US ISSUE 3 $12 avail at Cash Machine.la; Donlon Books in London and 1909 in Paris
- Website: genatuso.com ; lookatus.la
- Other: @look.at.us.zine, @genatuso, @woundztheband (I play drums)
Main photo taken by Gianna Tuso
The Anton Yelchin photo of book is by Rebecca King
Photo of Gena on drums is by Aeon