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The Escape Artist

Name: Erica Sewell

Job Title(s): CT Co-Founder, Career Counselor, Recruiter, Designer, Educator, and and...

Born: Chicago, IL    

Lives: Oakland, CA/Brooklyn, NY    

Works: Globally

CT: What do you do?

As a Fashion Designer, I have worked on brands where the area of clothing has been fragmented by category. For example at Armani Exchange I started by designing Women's wovens then ended designing Men's knitwear. I came up with concepts through color and images and fabrications and sketch clothing ideas from there then see those ideas through to production overseas.

In Talent Casting, I have worked on identifying subjects in contemporary art projects such as Untitled (Structures) - a film installation by Leslie Hewitt and Bradford Young that explores mid-century civil rights era photographic landscapes through a contemporary lens. With that project, I found the "subjects" who were used to be photographed in the work by advertising casting calls and interviewing and photographing people who could be a fit for the tone and aesthetic vision of the artists.

As a Costume Designer, most recently I put together a concept board and sketches for the volunteers of artist Simone Leigh's Free People's Medical Clinicwhich served as one of the sites for a Funk, God, Jazz, Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn - a month long exhibition in held by Creative Time and Weeksville Heritage Center.

My primary day-to-day work is in Talent Acquistion, which means that I bring creative talent into brands. I start by digging into the needs of the hiring team for the roles they are trying to fill (from User Experience "UX" Designers to Online Content Editors). Then I start to see what talent is out there and engage them about the opportunity for the brand, and manage that process and the relationships with both candidate and the business until there is a successful hire. In other areas of my work.

As an "escape artist", I may go from one-on-one career counseling with an aspiring fashion designer to speaking on a panel about identity politics within dress for "The Dandy Lion" exhibition. It all varies depending on what projects are thrown at me.

CT: what is the easiest way for someone with no experience to do what you do or break into your field?

In general, relationship building. That's basically the key ingredient for any job that is thrown at me. Some of my projects more than others require skill trainings.

For Fashion Design, you must have a good sense of color, be able to sketch and know garment construction. Besides that, an internship is key for getting your foot in the door. It's easy to obtain a job that is of low or no cost to the employer, so set your heights high with your internship selection because whichever name you have on your resume will determine your next job. 

This is sort of the case with all "industry" related fields, but everything else that I do is about managing and obtaining relationships to get your foot in the door and not being afraid to start at the bottom to learn from others.

CT: (progress) what do you do to stay relevant or creative?


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