Art director

How I Became … an Art Director | Careers, Break into Fashion

Carlota Guerrero began experimenting with photography as a teenager, but studied psychology and communication at the University of Barcelona, ​​believing her family would not accept her pursuit of the arts. A year abroad in Paris changed his outlook on art. “I began to see how art was respected – and [how] I could make a career out of it, ”she told BoF.

At 24, Guerrero landed his first major business venture as a photographer and artistic director – for Solange Knowles’ studio album Seat at the Table. With a distinctive minimalist aesthetic and visual language, often working with women’s groups and identity exploration, Guerrero has since landed accounts with figures such as Givenchy and Dior, Loewe, Phillip Lim, Zara and Nike, as well as others. collaborations with Knowles.

“I keep it simple so I can really understand what I’m doing. It’s about taking risks that matter to you until you master it. I train with the same thing all the time because I’m trying to figure out what it means, ”she says.

Self-portrait of Carlota Guerrero.

Today, the pandemic gave the artistic director time to launch her first book and open a studio in Barcelona: “invest in my studio, invest in my archives – prepare myself for the future”. Here she shares her career advice.

What attracted you, and held you back, to working in photography?

I was a creative kid and teenager, but at that time it was hard for me to come to terms with that. My family is humble, hardworking. During the economic crisis in Spain, I was deciding what to study and didn’t feel like I could tell my mom that I wanted to study the arts. So I did psychology and then communication, but I felt in my heart that I didn’t like it. At the same time, I began to obsessively photograph my friends in the summer, by the sea. It was the starting point.

I moved to Paris for my last year of studies. There, something changed my view of art – it’s not as important in Barcelona as in Paris. I had friends who were studying fine art and I started to see how respected art was – and I could make a career out of it. So it started from there. I took pictures every day and naturally brands got interested in what I was doing.

How did you get the interest of brands and other customers?

I was working with personal stuff and things I had in my house – real life situations – and that’s what brands are looking for most of the time. It’s more difficult to do in the studio. They are soul searching and I think I was creating real pictures that were aesthetically pleasing.

My clients are looking for my aesthetic that comes from the Mediterranean. It’s done by and from here, so it’s easier for me to work here. I am creating my studio for the first time and some brands have the courage to send me their things to photograph here. The production is much cheaper and more sustainable.

It’s about taking risks that matter to you until you master it.

How did you approach the development of your aesthetic?

Find your personal story and try to translate what you feel into color and form. I keep it simple to understand what I’m doing. It’s about taking risks that matter to you until you master it. I think this has been my way. I train with the same thing all the time because I’m trying to figure out what it means. I don’t want to jump to another chapter until I really understand it.

I am aesthetically limited, but it’s solid because I don’t experiment more. I won’t be using a lot of colors and I’m a minimalist because I need to control the image and all elements of my art. It comes from being a chaotic person. For me, art has always been therapy. Minimalist images are where I find something harmonious and balanced. It is not an aesthetic choice but rather an emotional choice.

How did you book your first significant business project?

Solange [Knowles] was the first big project I did. I was in Barcelona and didn’t work a lot. All the money I made, I invested in personal projects. I think Solange was following me [on Instagram] and one day I got a message from his manager to say that [Knowles] wanted me to lead [her album] Seat at the Table. It was the starting point of my career.

I was 24, had been to New York just once before, and had no experience with major projects. I put a lot of my soul into this project and when I returned to Barcelona I felt exhausted. I started to experiment with other ideas [outside of group women] in the next year and now I can’t watch it at all because it was terrible. But I had to try that to find out that I’m here to work with some of the women in the group. It’s my thing.

Give yourself the space to understand that you are going through a lot of stress and that you need to take more care of yourself. We are human and that is a lot.

What was the biggest lesson you learned at the start?

I remember feeling insecure at first, until I realized I could do just fine if I concentrated. I gained a lot of confidence thanks to my first big project with Solange. Now I’m in awe because it was so much pressure for me in a culture that wasn’t mine, and with a big star. Working with her and realizing that we are a great team has given me a lot of confidence in my art.

It’s also stressful to travel the world and go somewhere on your own and then try to adapt and be creative. It’s accepted and normalized, but if you’re sensitive like me, it can be triggering and stressful. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the space to understand that you are going through a lot of stress and that you need to take more care of yourself. We are human and that is a lot.

What have you learned from collaborating with others?

You need to be clear about your limits from the start because sometimes you try to do something visual and you don’t make your concept as clear as you need to. This is important when you are collaborating because, if you are working on your own project, you don’t need to explain anything. I think developing good communication skills and explaining “why” and “how” is so important because you have to convince people of something that is your delusion and in your mind.

How has the past year influenced your approach to work?

I am grateful that I had time for myself and had no pressure to go anywhere. I could devote myself to building a safe space. One change of mind I had at the beginning was to be positive and courageous which means nurturing this nest for the future. Investing in my studio, investing in my archives – preparing for the future. Give love to the process.

What do you think is essential to be successful in your field?

Developing your skills is the main point, of course. For me, it’s also about connecting with and honoring what you have to say as an individual. Trying to translate this into visual images is complicated. You have to invest your time and energy in creating your own language because jumping on trends and doing what everyone else is doing will not add any value to the world.

What we need are people telling their own stories and connecting to the value of your own story. You have to take that risk. If it’s fear that’s holding you back, it’s best to overcome it because otherwise you’ll always feel like you’re missing out on something.

If you feel like you have something to say, think about it but say it.

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