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Alice Keith

Working in Fashion

Alice's Top 5 Tips

August 5, 2011 by Alice Keith, of The Advocates

Tip #3. Be The Right Person For The Job

One thing I've learned (from the creative side, and in my role as an advertising Producer) is that when clients are selecting artistic talent to produce original work for them, they like to feel they know what they're buying. A defined, known commodity. I know... not how artists like to think of themselves. But this is the business of fashion.

Clients feel confident when they can say to themselves (or to their boss), "Yes, I've picked a person who specializes in masculine portraits of men" or "fashion surrealism" or "candid street style."

Remember, to get hired, you don't need to be the best overall artistic talent – you just need to be able to perform consistently at what the client wants you for. To that end, always remember that in your potential client's eyes, you're only as a good as the worst image in your book. (They're thinking, hmm, "I could get this here. But I could get thaaat there.") I don't think it's a problem if clients or the industry sees you evolve your skills over time. But it is a problem if YOU don't recognize when some of your work isn't great, or isn't up to your current snuff, and you're still using it to represent your service offering. So, be ruthless with your portfolio editing. It's better to show even just 4 good stories (3-6 images per story) than 30 images with some crap mixed in.

Differentiating yourself is a fine balance – show too narrow of a range in your portfolio and you won't be considered for enough opportunities. Show too broad, and someone else may be seen as a better "fit."

Hopefully you are extremely talented and your style just flows out of you all natural-like, and you won't have to think about icky marketing. But if it's not quite so for you, it's a good idea to position yourself by looking at a combination of your competitors offerings, market demand and your strengths. Practice describing your differentiating style in one sentence, and don't be afraid to let it evolve.

I think in some ways my starting The Advocates with Angela was a matter of surveying the competition and picking a focus. There's a lot fewer players in video than in photography, for now, and even fewer who have an affinity for fashion. That allowed us to start working paid jobs with brands like Harry Rosen a whole heck of a lot faster than if I had been pursuing photography.


Tip #4. Don’t Let Your Weakness Be Your "Thing"

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