Creative Conversations: Andreia Afonso, Fashion Stylist and Creative AdvisorDate: 06 Jun 2019
In partnership with Edinburgh-based photographer Ellie Morag, Creative Conversations is a mini-series born from her love of portraiture, and our desire to provide a platform to share the knowledge and experience of creative locals. In part 2 of the series, we meet Andreia Afonso.
Andreia is a fashion stylist and creative advisor, originally from Madiera and now based in Scotland.
On her career
After studying fine art and teaching art at secondary school for four years, I moved to Edinburgh with my Partner and found a job in visual merchandising. It was interesting, creative, exciting and I learnt a lot, but after 2 years it felt like I’d done everything. I got into styling because I used to dress the window displays as part of my job and my managers gave me freedom with that. It allowed me to be a bit more creative and I thought ‘maybe this is what I need to do, maybe I’m good at this’.
Soon after, I reached out to the agency Crew Scotland, got my first email from a photographer asking if I wanted to help her style a shoot. I couldn’t believe it – I was excited and nervous but the ‘shoot went amazingly. I couldn’t get over the fact that this was someone’s job; it was so cool. And that’s how I started. I kept working with that photographer, she asked me to do shoot after shoot and I just kept going.
On quitting her job
There was too much repetition in visual merchandising - it didn’t feel like there was any higher meaning. When I was a teacher, although I didn’t enjoy it much, I thought I was doing something good. I was trying to make the children I was teaching see the world in a different way, helping them be more creative and broaden their views. I made a promise to myself in Christmas 2017 that it would be the last Christmas I would work in retail. I quit in August last year and with the support of my partner, just went for it! Sometimes you need to let things go so you have space to let other things in.
On her influences
My Mum is a tailor, so was my Grandma. Mum learnt everything from Grandma, who was amazing; the most stylish old lady you could find. She would not leave the house without her red nail polish, would love to dye her hair, loved hair bands and big clip-on earrings. She was a diva. She was fabulous.
I grew up with my Mum making clothes for other people. She would use me as a mannequin to cut clothes and test outfits. We have this event in Madeira called Carnival where you dress up, and my Mum loved that. Every year she would make a different costume and we would plan them together. When my younger sister was little she was my mannequin too; I used to dress her and clip things in her hair. Every year Carnival happened my Mum and I would plan what we were going to dress my sister as, and she would make the outfit with every detail.
I wonder, sometimes, if fashion is a bit shallow. I recently watched the McQueen documentary and you can see that he was passionate, he was full of ideas and with each of his catwalk shows he was trying to deliver a message. His last show was especially amazing. But, now I’m asking myself what I want to specifically do, where I want to go, and how I can sustain it. Do I just want to do beautiful editorials, or something more?
I liked when my Mum used to dress and work on clothing for bigger women. Clothes didn’t fit as well as they did on skinnier women, so Mum would make the clothes fit curvier bodies. It was so nice to see; the women would become much more confident. I love that. But fashion isn’t always inclusive. Even I find myself on set wondering if the clothes would look good on models who weren’t as tall. Why am I thinking like this? I believe it comes from the industry; specific people who create these views that are then widespread.
So now I want to do something more than just styling; I want to work with more sustainable brands, and explore that. My style is minimal, and I want to navigate towards this sustainable way of fashion.
On imposter syndrome
There are so many amazing stylists out there, I find the comparison on social media hard to handle. Imposter syndrome certainly affects me more than I ever thought it would. I wonder if what I’m doing is new or different.
Gosh, defining creativity is a hard one, but I believe it’s a form of self-expression. The most exciting part of my art classes was when the teacher would give me a brief; I would spend hours on it, sometimes I wouldn’t sleep. Creativity is problem solving and making things happen and expressing the ideas you have in your head.
I do believe everyone is creative. People think being creative is just grabbing a canvas and painting or drawing something out of your head. It doesn’t just have to be that; it can be finding a way to solve a problem. So I would say there is some creativity in everyone. You don’t need to be an artist to be creative. Social media can add a lot of pressure, but after a while you notice that there isn’t a lot of individuality to social media. It’s just people copying or trying to be like everyone else.
There’s so much I like about Edinburgh; the people are always nice, polite and non-judgemental and there’s a lot more diversity than where I grew up. The food and coffee shop scene is amazing, there are so many cool and delicious places to visit. My favourite season is Autumn; I don’t think I’ve seen so many different shades of orange before. The city is really beautiful, cosy and for the most part safe.
I just think it’s important to follow your gut and do what makes you happy. Even if you don’t think you’re good at something, just keep doing and you eventually get there.
ABOUT CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS
Creative Conversations is an innovative, cross art-form series profiling local individuals working within the creative industry. Delivered in partnership with photographer Ellie Morag, an Edinburgh based photographer represented by Crew Scotland. She specialises in lifestyle, street style and portraits. With a style that falls somewhere between documentary and portrait photography, she is inspired by movement, colour & narrative.
Locke aims to bring creative organisations and practitioners, producers and curators into productive conversations, to share their stories and the wide range of experience and expertise amongst them.
The Creative Conversations Photography Exhibition is running at Eden Locke, Edinburgh from 31st July - 31st August.