Behind the scenes, fashion illustrator, Stephanie Gentry would describe herself as a woman with designs. Wife, designer (having shown at some prestigious fashion weeks), graduate of SCAD
SCAD .edu: Home artist, showing the world what love is through fashion and celebrating life in every moment using fashion as a focus.
Here an interview with Ms. Gentry:
Stephanie, tell us a little about your background
Growing up I was always appreciative of fashion sketching from an early age, and you could say I had a slight obsession with evening wear and weddings. I was always drawing dresses, not even realizing fashion was what I was doing. I was always very artsy growing up. I’d find ways to make things or recreate things. I loved dress up as a kid *who didn't* but I would always take control of the situation and style everyone I was doing it with. I started exploring costume design and making clothing in High School. It wasn't until I was in college that it all came full circle after taking a fashion design class where I learned all my skills. I was inspired by seeing designers on project runway and knowing I wouldn't be fully happy doing just illustration which is where I was coming from I explored the idea of creating a fashion sketch from my head and then pushing even further to a physical form. It's so exciting seeing designs on paper become reality and not only seeing them on the runway but seeing people in real life wear them! The best part is seeing the process come to life.
Where did you go from there? Tell us about your experiences
I started freelance designing and illustrating back in 2011 during college to make extra money. I had no idea this would become my own business in 2013. As a student I was seeking opportunity. Found a lot of it through being really proactive. Including having investors who sent me to Phoenix Fashion Week – Bridging Designers and Buyers to compete as an emerging designer, my aesthetic and what I'm about. I call myself a designer and an artist. Because I do both. I create clothing and I create art in a way I combine the two. Because fashion is art I believe it is a form of art. A way to express oneself using the body as a canvas in a truly unique way. It can send a message, start a movement, and provides shelter for our bodies. Color and color theory affects us every day. It also embodies fashion. Colors have meaning example, the color green is said to relax you. I am inspired by these concepts to create the things I do.
What would you like to share with others who might be considering a career as a fashion illustrator or designer?
Do set up your own website, and have your portfolio displayed in multiple platforms. The more you put yourself out there the better it gets. It seems scary but what I have learned from my business coach is if you are not scared something is likely wrong. I used to think it was better to stay in my comfort zone let's be honest we all have one. In putting myself out there I have gotten so many things I normally would not. What's the worst they could do when you ask, say no?
Do make connections constantly. It's all in who you know. Sounds cliche but it's so true. If you don't know people, introduce yourself go to events network find a support group talk to people online. You'll be surprised who you meet, it's a small world as they say.
Do keep a spreadsheet, and label it WRMB. Wholesale, Retail, Media, Bloggers. I learned this valuable information from the director of Phoenix Fashion Week during the Emerging Designers program. Keep track of who comes in and out keep in touch with everyone and reach out. Not so often that it's annoying *I hate spammers and never wish to be one* But enough that it's a balance. This is a key element.
Do have a good reason for why you do what you do. Why does someone care? Mine for example, is I am showing the world what love is, preserving life in a single image celebrating key events and passions that deserve to be documented and remembered every day. Such as weddings, or special events, anniversaries, special moments. Art brings people together and can start a movement for the greater good. This is why I do what I do and my mission is to create uniquely beautiful things thats have lasting effect on the world in daily lives.
Do find a support group. There are tons of support groups you can join online. Facebook is a great resource. Take advantage of social media. We are no longer in the dark ages with no technology and have plenty of capability to connect with those across the world if we wanted.
What other advice would you like to share?
Don't sell yourself short. Do research, if you're having trouble setting your price, compared to what else is out there. Ask for constructive feedback!
Don't forget to follow up, it's good to always follow up. Even if the answer was no. However if it was no, follow up with a can we stay connected and as a bonus send them a thank you card with a picture of your work on it. Something for them to keep and remember you by.
Don't take things too personally. If someone says no its ok, there are plenty of other opportunities out there.
Don't forget to get everything in writing. for everything money related or business related. Save all emails related to this as well. This usually includes a payment agreement and an nda. In freelance design my clients always appreciate me being willing to do these things as they protect not only you as the freelance artist but also the company you're working with.
Don't be afraid to reach out on social media. starting nice relationships through this platform is one of the best things you can do for yourself. comment, interact with magazines, celebrities, bloggers or people in general. You will be surprised the feedback you get.
For more information, and to contact Stephanie, please go to
http://stephaniegentryart.com/ and visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Sgentrydesigner
Having worked in the industry and shown at Phoenix Fashion Week, Ms Gentry is a perfect example of what it takes to be part of the creative process in creating designs and being on that stage.
Until next time~ Hearts and Hugs BellevueGrl
Photo Credits: Stephanie Gentry
BellevueGrl Productions, 2011.