Exploring Creativity: The art director
Continuing my series on creative careers, I’d like to introduce you to the fabulous Efi Ntoumouzi. Well known to her friends as a super stylish shoe obsessive, Efi’s role as an Art Director in the fashion industry sounded fascinating but I didn’t know much about what it might involve so I thought I’d ask her a few questions about her job. I hope you find the answers as illuminating as I did!
Lori: Tell me about your career in fashion so far. How did you come to be an art director?
Efi: Although I have been interested in the design of fashion garments and shoes from a very young age, working in the industry happened in an indirect way. After I finished my masters (in critical theory and practice of interactive media) I was offered a part time job as a graphic designer in a small photography studio in Shoreditch. There I was exposed to fashion photography, studio lighting and art direction for the first time. I discovered a world I knew existed from afar, I was given the opportunity to assist various photographers and learn how a photographic shoot is produced. When I was headhunted by asos.com I jumped at the opportunity to work for the online design team. Part of the role was to art direct still life shoots for the homepage and newsletters. It went from there really. Realising that art direction is a big passion of mine, I have been looking out for opportunities that would increase my skills and experience ever since.
Lori: What are the best things about working in the fashion industry?
Efi: Working in fashion ecommerce as an art director is a great opportunity that for me comes with a lot of responsibility. Producing photoshoots that are diverse in terms of the models I cast is really important. People who buy clothes online like to be inspired by the shoots but also like to see themselves reflected in the images. I try to represent the personality of the brand(s) I am working for, through the models I work with. I like my shoots to be playful, inclusive and inviting, expressing as much diversity in gender representation as possible.
Lori: What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
Efi: I wouldn’t know where to start! Art directing a shoot for Mary Katrantzou (for Cocosa) has to be one of my favorite location shoots. Mary Katrantzou is known for her bold colorful prints and feminine shapes so I was looking an interior location that was sleek and minimalist to offset the prints. I was after a modern day ‘Grecian temple’ where I could use projections of the prints on the walls. It was a very collaborative project where I had to get all the members of the team on board to make it happen.
Lori: Do you have any advice for people looking to move into a career in fashion?
Efi: Be specific about the reasons why you want a career in fashion. Working in fashion and being passionate about clothes is not the same thing. The hours can be long and punishing so do your research, learn as much as you can about the industry, have a vision about where you want to be but also be flexible and keep an open mind. Fashion is an industry that is always evolving and new roles and unique opportunities keep coming up. There are bound to be roles you didn’t know existed and you will only find out about these opportunities if you are keeping your eyes open and your finger on the pulse. Lastly have fun with it!