23/02/2017
So you wanna be a stylist/ photographer/ designer.

Words by

Alyce Cowell

By far, the two most common questions I get asked in life are:

  1. “How do you pronounce your name?”
    (it’s like A-leece, if you’re wondering) and
  2. “How did you get your job?” 

I dabble in writing, styling and social media, and to do this full-time has been a long journey of working for free, getting hated on by friends and family for constantly being on my phone, and sending thousands of awkward follow-up emails to people I admire. 

Along the way, I’ve learnt a few things you should definitely not do if you’re also trying to make it in the creative fields. 

Don’t hide in your room

You know you’re a creative type of person if you a) work better on your own and b) don’t like other humans or social interaction of any kind. 

This can be a good thing for so many reasons. You’re not swayed by other opinions, you can work however you like (in your favourite undies while listening to Celine Dion, for example) and you actually get shit done. 

On the other hand, this can be a major hindrance. Trying to make it as a creative (or anything, really) requires a lot of networking and hustle to get your work out there. 

My point? Turn off the Celine, put on some pants and get out there.

Don’t follow the crowd

For as long as people have been starting businesses, the biggest pearl of wisdom has been “find your niche.” This is still as true as the day man started selling carved wooden ornaments from caves, or waterbombs filled with sand from market stalls. 

As much as you love monogrammed purses or watches with interchangeable straps, just stop right there. It’s already been done. Instead, find out what sets you apart and weave that into every area of your business. 

Don’t be too cool for social media

We get it. You hate social media. You don’t like how much time people spend on their phones and how they take photos of their food before eating it. 

This resistance to technology was OK in the beginning, but it’s safe to say social media is here to stay. So we all just need to get over it. 

Instead of complaining and being too cool for it, embrace it. Understand its power! It’s an amazing marketing tool that many people credit their whole success to. Learn how to use it and use it well. 

Don’t be lazy 

If you have a creative talent you want to turn into an actual living that provides you with rent money and new shoes and smashed avo on the weekends, you can’t just sit around calling yourself a creative and talking about your plans. You have to actually do it. 

Work on your craft every single day. Approach businesses and publications who might be interested in selling your stuff/writing about you. *Market* your brand with a *strategy*. Sacrifice sleep and Netflix and other fun things until you’re in a position you want to be in. 

In other words, don’t be lazy.

Don’t compare yourself to others 

If you’re a female between the ages of life and death, it’s likely you’ve compared yourself to another female at least once in your life (or the past five minutes). It’s what we do. We compare the size of our thighs, how many Instagram followers we have, the handbag we’re carrying, the glossiness of our hair and how successful we are. 

As tempting as it is, don’t compare yourself or your brand to someone else. It’s a waste of time. 

If you need to, do what I do and tell yourself they were already rich beforehand, they’re five years older than you and who cares about them anyway because they stink. That usually makes me feel better.

Don’t see the week as Monday to Friday 

Once upon a time, when I worked in the wonderful world of retail, I dreamt of one day working in my creative field and having a proper, grown-up Monday to Friday job. Little did I know, once I arrived here, I would actually work more nights and weekends than ever before. There are even some things I actually miss about my retail job (lunch breaks, talking to people, no responsibility etc etc). 

The creative world doesn’t operate Monday to Friday. There’ll be events to attend on Wednesday nights, models to be styled on Saturdays and stories to be written before work on Tuesdays. The sooner you see the week as seven days, as opposed to five, the better. 

Don’t be above any jobs

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not going to walk out of a Certificate III in Fashion Styling and start working for Vogue. 

More like you’re going to walk out of a Certificate III in Fashion Styling and start ironing 1,000,000,000 white T-shirts for a real-life stylist. 

Most successful creatives will tell you the only way to ‘make it’ is to work for free, assist, be a nice person, build your portfolio and never be above any jobs. That’s just how it is. So rather than groaning while you tape another pair of shoes, see it as an opportunity to network, get to where you want to go, and create some BTS content for your Insta feed.

Illustration by Twylamae who also makes sitcom tees.

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What do you wanna be when you grow up? I wanna work at Snapchat.
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