Being bold and fearless goes a long way. Just ask art director, Sarah Bassett, who earned a coveted spot in Fashion Week’s front rows simply by asking. Don’t believe it? Read the recount of Basssett’s projects, philosophies, experiences and opportunities that have come her way in this cut throat industry.
two+seven: What projects are you currently working that you’re most excited with?
Sarah Bassett: I am currently working on the new and very first Rag and Bone collection campaign which is super exciting. They are such an amazing company that I love and are just really great people. They are down for anything and willing to try new things which is an amazing opportunity. I also have a book project coming up for a recognized costume designer, can’t say who just yet, as it is a surprise, but she designs the costumes for one of my favorite bands! Super excited about that because it’s even a surprise for her!
2+7: What kind or projects do you normally take?
SB: I prefer to work on projects where I have the most creative freedom, obviously, and get the opportunity to try new things, use my hands and steer away from anything super commercial. My heart will always be in editorial and book design.
2+7: What do you think is unique about your work?
SB: I really aim to create work that is fun, and exciting and a little different to everything else. Because I never studied design, I am not confide by the ‘rules’ of traditional design and how things ‘should be done.’ It’s great because, when left to my own devices, I make stuff I like, not necessarily technically perfect. I am not a graphic designer, I don’t want to be a graphic designer and don’t claim to be a graphic designer. I like pretty things and making things look good, simple. So I focus on the overall look and feel as apposed to the pixel space between a letter. Although this may mean that I am not always mathematically perfect, I make fun stuff that I like to look at.
I always think something that sets me apart, is the level of respect I strive to uphold in any work situation. This is something, as a young person that is super important to me. After interning for years etc. the way I have been treated at times, I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. Just because someone is young, doesn’t mean they can’t do the same level of work as someone older. I really hope to eventually change this cut throat, aggressive mentality that many people within the fashion industry have. I know it seems like a big goal, but by simply showing a level of mutual respect for everyone you work with – whether above you or below you, I hope to change peoples attitudes along the way.
2+7: What’s your creative process like?
SB: It varies for every project and every company, depending on how they work. But usually it involves image research to start with – pulling ALOT of images to try and find that one that captures what you’re trying to say. Easier said than done
I like to uses other avenues for inspiration though too – like food, film and using my hands. Doing these simple things will inspire me more than looking through 300 books at times.
2+7: Fashion and design is such a fast paced environment, how do you manage to come up with such brilliant concepts under pressure?
SB: A lot of people like to look to other designers or designs or whatever for ideas, but I seem to find the opposite. If I look to others work first, I end up subconsciously copying them in some way. That’s why I prefer to look at pictures only and will always try and go with my gut reaction for a project. My mind works in strange ways most of the time as my friends will tell you, so coming up with original ideas comes quiet fluidly.
2+7: What’s the worst idea you’ve ever heard of?
SB: Curlz font. I was going through 90′s Italian Vogue’s the other day and found this editorial where it was covered in CURLZ. You know, that ghetto font that came with the Windows computer your family bought back in 1999. God it’s ugly. I don’t know how it ended up in Vogue but it reminded me how bad of idea that was. That’s such a geeky design thing to say, but come on, SO UGLY!
2+7: You’re one of the youngest photographers in New York Fashion Week, can you tell us the story of how you landed that gig and what did it feel like?
SB: When I first moved to New York I started doing some work for a photographer named Jodi Jones. She introduced me to her mentor – a wonderful soul by the name of Ron Michaels. He was one of the first photographers to shoot New York Fashion Week. Being the sassy kid I am, I just walked up to him, told him I wanted to shoot and that was it. He didn’t even question me. The next season I had an all access press pass and was sitting front row at over 70 shows. I had never really shot anything like that, photography had always been a hobby and I loved fashion, so it was really just a great excuse for me to have the best seat in the house for all the shows.
It became a matter of learning how to shoot professionally in 5 minutes sitting in the pit. It was funny actually, there is a huge heirachy amongst the fashion photographers in the pit, and etiquette and ways you go about things so that everyone can survive the week and get their shit done. I’m not an idiot and caught onto this quickly but most are not so quick. So the first show I ever went to, I had a personal email from the Tommy Hilfiger PR department granting me access to the show and I rock up, a 19 year old girl dressed like the guests of the show – no one knew what to make of me. I think they all thought I was either sneaking into the show or some E grade fashion blogger. I got a lot of slack, but after they saw the letter and realized I was supposed to be there, they calmed down a bit. Now, 4 years later, they know me, they know I’m there doing a job, I’m professional and I’m supposed to be there. It’s a pretty cool feeling proving that you can be young, a woman and not dressed in dad jeans to get the same shots as those guys who have been doing it for 15 years.
2+7: You’ve been everywhere around the world since you were growing up from living in South America back when you were 17 to backpacking in Europe. How do you think all your travel has helped you both as an artist and as a person?
SB: I have been traveling alone extensively since I was about 16. It is kind of built into the Australian mentality. It takes 20 hours to get anywhere decent, so if you’re going to go, you might as well go for a while! It is the most important thing for me as a person by far. I can’t even explain the experiences I have had and the insanely incredible people I have met, that have shaped me into who I am today. I don’t think I would have half the idea of who I was as a person with those experiences. You kind of have to grow up pretty fast and figure things out in the real world, which for me, was invaluable. I don’t understand how people don’t have any desire to see things outside the world they live in – even if to simply get a different perspective, a breath of fresh air and be inspired by the unknown. I make it a priority to travel as much as possible – to me, it’s invaluable inspiration.
2+7: You’ve done so much at such a young age, do you have any advice to other young aspiring artists to help them hone their skills?
SB: Know what you want. Be respectful and understand that you’re going to have to put in your time and it’s not always fun, but if you have a solid understanding of what you want, where you want to go and the best way you work, then you will already be miles ahead of anyone else your age. I think people respond really well to someone who knows how they work best – it’s not something most 23 year olds really understand.
2+7: Lastly and most importantly, what’s your favorite Motown song?
SB: Ain’t No Moutain High Enough – but the version from Sister Act 2 when Whoppi Goldberg and the nuns break it down.