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Philadelphia Cream Cheese Advertisement with Con Poulos

18 Jun

This simple advertisement is a good example of how much work goes into each and every image.  Most people would look at this and think that there were maybe 4 people in the room: the photographer, assistant, boy and dad.  In short, it took an army: 2 food stylists, prop stylist and prop stylist assistant, wardrobe stylist (yours truly), a whole bunch of photo assistants, and of course, New York based photographer Con Poulos.  There were also three little boys on deck in case one of them had a melt down, and sure enough, the #1 choice for the little boy did.  The lesson to be learned is that it often takes a small army to get it right the first time around.

Advil Campaign with Martin Schoeller

6 Jun

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to work with a photographer as admired as Martin Schoeller.  When I got the initial phone call saying I was being considered to work with him, I jumped up and down.  Then, when I got the phone call saying that he wanted to work with me, I did a celebratory sprint in my apartment, which was more like a shuttle run do to its tiny size.  Martin Schoeller?!  Martin Schoeller!!! If you’re not familiar with his work, here’s a little sampling.

And the controversial Time cover:

Here’s the Advil advertisement I did the wardrobe styling on.  I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “But there’s no wardrobe?”  Not true my friends.  Behind that hint of a cardigan, blur of a necklace and hip mom glasses, there was a full rack of different tops for the mom, AND the kid’s hands, as well as a table of glasses and accessories. Here’s the thing, you never know where the crop is going to be and how much you will see, and I rather die than let Mr. Schoeller down.  It doesn’t look like much, but that doesn’t bring down my excitement.  A big THANK YOU to everyone who let me be in the same room as him.

Luol Deng – Nike, “How will you make it count?”

11 May

I realize my timing of this post may not be the best.  Therefore, I would like to start by saying that I wish the tables had turned in a more favorable direction for the Bulls in this post season, and I’m sorry for their loss due to the team’s injuries.  After turning off the game, it inspired me to find the Nike commercial I wardrobe styled of Luol Deng last December because I hadn’t seen it yet.  Um, yeah… it’s amazing.  I’m so excited to have been part of the massive crew that made this happen.

If my mom told me driving home from my fourth session of basketball camp in the summer of 1993 that I would someday dress a Bulls player for a Nike commercial, I would have never taken down my Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen posters I got from the book fair.  At the time, I was pretty sure that I would someday be surrounded by fellow players that could dunk, but it would be from my basketball merits, not from my ability to source an ungodly amount of Nike merchandise in less than 24 hours.  Either way, this commercial makes me smile ear to ear.  It fulfills a dream.  It’s a different dream that includes a lint roller, but still… I’m honored to be able to stand next to such an amazing athlete under any circumstance.  Go. Team. Wardrobe.

Wardrobe Stylist – Courtney Rust

Haggar Style Guide

17 Apr

This was without a doubt, one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done.  I knew it was going to be good when the producer told me the agency requested me because of my, “Quirky Wes Anderson style.”  Pinch me.  So off I went to Philadelphia Pennsylvania to create a 10 look style guide for Haggar’s new Life Khaki clothing line.

Being in a new city with only 2 days to pull for 10 looks and props without an assistant was a little bit daunting, but the job ended up being one of those wonders where it was 100% hiccup free.  I also had one of the best creative teams from the ad agency by my side to create the cardboard cutouts you see in each shot.  There was a lot of blood and sweat, but tears were replaced with cheese steak whiz, and we all ended up with something we could be proud of.

You can see more Like Khaki looks, HERE.

Haggar Life Khaki Style Guide: Styled by Courtney Rust.

Phot0grapher: John Romeo


Unilock Spot

20 Mar

Backyard grilling action?  Now here’s something I know a lot about propping.  Here’s a Unilock commercial that we filmed last October that I art directed and propped.  I was so excited to see this because I never get to see any of the ads I work on.  You’d think I’d be better at digging stuff up to present on my blog, but honestly, blogs that only show your work are really just portfolios.

Some interesting outtakes from the filming of this would be the crew rolling into this suburban house at 5 am, trying to remove a tarp from the Unilock patio that had collected a pond full of rainwater the night before, and then proceeding to dump it all over ourselves.  I worked the first hour without any shoes and wet feet.  Thanks again Melanie (super duper producer who keeps extra socks on hand) for your festive socks.  Shockingly, the mostly Canadian crew showed no empathy for cold feet.

Other fun obstacles were creating a new patio cushion color by pinning loose fabric, making a yard that looked like late fall in Chicago look like June by filling it with out of season flowers, and propping a french door to look like we were still in the house, while in fact the door was rigged outside in the middle of the patio.  Oh art department and the challenges you present.  As usual, a crazy amount of work for a quick splice of advertising, but that’s how these things roll.

New Image – Baby Face

6 Jun

This is a great example of keeping it simple with a strong message.  The photographer, Thomas Chadwick, really kicked this concept up a notch to make an eye catching manbabe.  On my end, this was an easy one to style.  I spent time sifting through thrift store t-shirts looking for the best selection of abusive guy tees I could find.  We didn’t want to hit you over the head with a A shirt or mesh tank.  This is a little more subtle way of implying the stereotype.  The shirts, even though used, were also aged with tea bags and sanded with a pumice stone.  Throw in a fake tattoo and prepare to be intimidated by a baby.

New SOCCER images.

9 May

New SOCCER images I styled with the great, Thomas Chadwick.   I really love these and want to give a big thanks to Thom for asking me to be part of it.  If you’re wondering where you can find incredibly good looking people playing soccer in alleys, well, the secret is ours!

17 year old, Olivia Bee

18 Apr

My friend just told me about the photographer Olivia Bee, who has ad campaigns under her belt with Converse and Nike and is ONLY SEVENTEEN!  Her landing these accounts is far from luck with having one of the most successful and prolific Flicker accounts out there, which gained her notoriety.  The question is, how do you know how to conduct a photo shoot when you most likely only have “Soft Serve Attendant” on your resume?  I’m guessing you get all Justin Bieber and hire really great crew.  Regardless, Olivia Bee’s work holds its own.  It’s refreshing to see what lies before photo school and years of assisting with Olivia’s unadulterated outlook.  She simply takes pictures of her friends, really, really well.

The lesson to be learned is:  Save your money kids, art school is for the unproductive.

Take a look.  Click on Olivia’s image below to be blown away.

Contracts from wardrobe and/or prop stylists

12 Apr

Here’s some food for thought.  I just watched this video on A Photo Editor called, “F- You, Pay Me.”  If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, although you should if you freelance, it basically says that all creatives who charge for their work should always put everything in a contract so there are never any discrepancies. You want everything on the table upfront.  It’s to protect you AND the client.

In the photo industry, photographers already practice this, or they hire producers to do it for them when dealing with agencies and clients.  But what about the rest of the crew?  Why is it common for the rest of the crew to work on handshakes even though we’re all freelance?

It’s a tough bridge to cross and become contractual because it isn’t common for crew members to work under contracts upfront.   If you’re not familiar how it typically works, the crew get’s a phone call from the producer or photographer asking them if they’re available on said dates and willing to work for X amount.  You say yes, and now you’re all in.  Things can change, but nothing is in writing and won’t be until you send your invoice at the end of the job.  The only time numbers are put in writing with discussing your fee is when the photographer or producer asks the stylist to send a rough estimate of what things might cost when they’re in the bidding process to get hired for the job with the agency.   In this case, it is based on estimated costs, nothing is finite, therefore it is far from a written contract.  As a stylist, the riskiest situation is when you’re hired by out-of-towners you’ve never worked with or met before, and you’re asked to put THOUSANDS of dollars on your credit card for requested materials to get the job done.  All you have is a verbal handshake with the hopes that these expenses will be covered.  Luckily, I’ve never had any issues, but luck runs out and I never want to be in the position where I’m kicking myself in hind sight.

So you ask, why don’t you put everything in writing from the get go?  Concerns that I’d have if I started to send contracts before starting a job is a majority of producers and photographers want a crew that can role with the punches and not nickel and dime you for every mile you drove, for example.   I’d be afraid that those hiring me would see it as being too rigid and start thinking of me as someone who is less about the creative goal and more about the money.  When I really think about it, that’s silly.  In fact, the photo industry may be the only creative industry where everything isn’t spelled out from the beginning from everyone involved.  In film and television, when filling out paperwork, I often start to feel like I’m closing on a house rather than signing a couple of papers because EVERYTHING is accounted for.  In the photo industry, things are only brought up through verbal communication with the crew, where it’s easy for bits and pieces to be lost or a miscommunication to occur.  Ironing out money details before the job is easy, ironing out money details after the job is uncomfortable.  No one likes to be mislead or feel like they’re losing money.  It’s easier to work for less if you know from the start because it’s up to you whether or not to take the job.  It’s a lot touchier negotiating fees after the job is performed because the expectations of the job had changed or their was a miscommunication from the beginning about your fee.  Losing the money you thought you earned becomes much harder to swallow.  The thing is, contracts couldn’t hurt.

I’d love to hear feedback from industry professionals who hire crew members on what they’d think if they were presented with a contract prior to a shoot from wardrobe and/or prop stylists.

My online shopping cart is half empty.

5 Apr

I guess this is more of a warning than anything.  As you know, I’m a big fan of online shopping, especially since a lot of companies now have free shipping.  It’s really great for ordering men’s suits, with the option of getting specific pant lengths and finding hard to find jacket sizes.  It’s also amazing for shoes, which I hate buying in stores because you’re wasting too much of a sales clerk time when they could be getting commission from someone else.  The kicker is, and where I’m starting to see the online world as a half empty cart, is when you return the items.  Many companies now have smart labels, which provide free return shipping, which also provides intense anxiety over whether or not your package will ever arrive back to the retailer.  If the package was lost in the abyss of the USPS, I would have to eat the costs, which is about the same amount of money of what I purchased my first car.  This creates a bad day and in the end, not worth the emotional torment.

I recently did a job where I had a number of boxes that I needed to return and dropped them off at the USPS office near my apartment.  I realize 3 weeks later, the returns were still not processed on my credit card.  When I looked up the tracking numbers (ALWAYS KEEP YOUR TRACKING #) I saw that the packages hadn’t moved an inch.  After total panic of thinking the items were gone, the packages were sent to the retailers 4 WEEKS LATER!  Crazy, right?  This is when being a stylist becomes tough.  You don’t ever want a job lingering on your credit cards for a month.  Nowadays everyone wants to see the same amount of products on set, but they don’t want to pay expenses up front.  You need to have a lot of money to stay afloat when things like this happen, so that you’re not giving up half of your fee to credit card interest.  Bottom line, always ALWAYS keep your tracking numbers and purchase insurance, silently hate the USPS in your sleep, and keep a hefty savings for credit crunch situations.