Kaleah Horton Shares Her Thoughts on the Industry and Social Media


As a Photo Stylist, and someone who works in the design and fashion industry there have been articles floating around about "sought after" [full time] fashion and art jobs such as art direction, styling, fashion photographer, fashion designer (I could go on) becoming more of a freelance gig. What does that mean for us creative types? Well, it could mean working more than one job and for some, that's not a lifestyle that they could handle. In a previous post, I gave advice to recent grads just joining the industry (which can be seen here) and Refinery29 writes a blurb about how they see the industry changing in the future. With all of this in mind, I decided to track down fellow creative, Kaleah Horton to see what she had to say on the matter.

A: So what is it that you do and how long have you been working in this career/job?
K: I work as a video editor for Express. I've been with the company for about 3 years now.
A: What is your background? K: I received a degree in traditional advertising and graphic design. So much of my focus in school was on print media. A: Did you make any job choices prior to your degree that helped you get to where you are today? K: Maybe not so much prior but while I was getting my degree I did A TON of freelance work. I think that helped a lot. Plus it exposed me to a lot of different types of work that I really wasn't doing while I was in school.

A: Do you have an other passions that you pursue outside of work? Tell me what your journey has been like as an artist/designer thus far and how you got to be where you are today. K: Luckily my passions tie into to my work! I think you'll find that a lot with creatives. I've always loved films. I'm a self-professed homebody so I watch A LOT of movies and TV shows. I never really thought I would be making them. A lot of my editing skills and technical training has all been thru experience at jobs or self taught and it comes from just watching how a scene or short is cut, shot, colored, lit, etc. Then of course I want to try it at work! Most of the time though outside of work I just do more work! I'm a workaholic, so I do freelance projects on top of my day job but I try to take on projects that I feel will let me flex some design muscles I don't get to use at my day job. A lot of them are traditional design, logos and print, etc. I think once you've found something you really love doing you just don't stop! Ever!

A: With the advent of social media apps and advanced technology as a whole, nobody's are becoming somebody's with a post of a picture on Instagram. ASOS just hired a model from Instagram last week, companies check social media now in addition to their resume when hiring. What's your take on this and do you feel that you can "work technology" enough to stay up with current social trends when that involves putting yourself out there for possible work? I know getting a degree was a lot of hard work but in today's society with social media ruling do you sometimes feel that getting a degree was worth it or wasn't in the long run? K: I have this conversation a lot with friends on whether we could have gotten to where we are now without a degree. And I do have friends who don't have degrees and are getting jobs in the art world (photographers, designers, etc.). To be honest, I personally could not have learned what I know now without my degree. I never regret getting it! You sort of just learn "the rules" from school and it's a great resource for developing technical skills. On the flip side and especially in the fashion and creative world there's the talent factor. Models just have "the look", stylists just have the knack for knowing what looks great on someone. While I think school really helps hone skills, I do really believe there's a tiny bit of something that a person realizes they're pretty good at AND is actually interested in pursuing that thing. This is a hard question to really give a "yes, definitely go to school" answer to because in the art world there is no right or wrong path. I think the social media layer is just a great marketing tool really. Social media is just exposing your creativity on a different platform, its not the thing that IS creative about you or your work. Companies are looking in all kinds of places for talent now because it's free and accessible and people are willing put their work out there. When that work or talent goes viral, of course companies want a piece of it! Most companies like ASOS though are doing competitions for these kinds of avenues. Free People did something like it a couple months ago as well. Its kind of like talent shows on TV (Project Runway, ANTM, etc.), it's still a competition just a different delivery. So now it just takes a whole hell of a lot less time for a nobody to become a somebody these days!

A: You've been in the business for a while now, in school I'm sure you were taught to have a resume, portfolio, etc., but have you noticed any change in the job market in terms of more freelance work vs. full time work and have the requirements changed? Do you foresee your job as more of a freelance gig in the future and what are your thoughts on this? K: Actually my job specifically as an editor heavily weighs on the freelance side. Most companies don't have an in-house video team and even a lot of our video is outsourced to freelancers. For video specifically, I think you might see a shift in the corporate world, where they will have full time positions for people who can do some of this stuff. Instagram, Vine, these huge apps that have video features, Facebook, Youtube, someone has to make all that content. However I think the fashion world is seeing a boom in freelancers. A lot of that is thanks to the blogosphere and social media. Lots of bloggers are not only bloggers but stylists, models, designers, etc. as well. Companies not only hire them for the work they will create but also for the audience they will bring with them. As for requirements, coming out of school with a resume and portfolio probably won't change drastically. Those things are a testament to what you can do and your personal style of work. I think the way you serve them up is what's changing. Not only do you need a resume and examples of work, you need a digital footprint as well. Employers are looking at personal websites and definitely researching your social sites as well!

A: Now, let's take this back to your off time with your passions. Do you take anything from your day job to your freelance work, and do you think this is relevant/important? K: All the time! I think as an artist or designer you're constantly applying what you're learning from either freelance or a full time job to vice versa. And even taking things from work and applying them to passion projects or personal work and the other way around. I think its so important to keep that balance too with work and personal work. You really need a break to just create something, it sort of revives your work life I've found. I recently edited a video for work that was sort of just an exercise for me to just create something different than what I was doing and it got reviewed to become a real project for Express! A: Do you have any advice for art and design enthusiasts out there? K: Don't stop creating whatever it is you want to! Learn as much as you can about what it is your passionate about and more than likely it will become your day job.

Kaleah currently lives in Columbus, OH and traveling is generally her favorite thing to do. She usually hangs out at the movies or goes to concerts with friends, runs around with her dog and cat and plays the piano for them if they'll sit and listen long enough!

You want to see what Kaleah does for a living? Check out her amazing work at www.kaleahh.com! You can also follow Kaleah on her twitter and instagram @kaleahh (and fall in love with her dog and cat photos)!


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