Friday, September 23, 2011

Barbara Botting


How did you get to be a stylist who "collages" food for QVC? ...and next week I’ll be doing wardrobe for Sub Zero, the refrigerator and freezer company. Every day and every week is always different - The way I got to do this has been very circuitous and round about. My background is in fine art, so I understand design and composition and how to make things lovely. You got your MFA? I got my MFA in ceramics and sculpture from Tyler. Then I did some teaching, and then segwayed into clothing design. Wait, what? I wanted to test my skills and explore. I had an interest in fashion. So...I pretended that I could design clothes, and I got a job at Urban Outfitters. How do you pretend to design clothes? Well, you just make a portfolio of beautiful things. You pull tears from all these magazines and say, “I think the world should look like this in fashion." What made you think this was a possibility? Most people would say, “I need to go to school for this. I have to work at these other jobs first, etc.” Financially, I needed to make a lateral move, and even though I hadn't gone through the ranks per say in that industry, I felt that I had something relevant and valuable to offer.  I was interested in looking beyond the lines of industrial boundaries and seeing this simply as something creative. For me, this was another collage project - See, you're building and making these books. You're already making books of beautiful images. You juxtapose fashion with color and objects in the world and people go, “Oh, well look at these wonderful connections,” and then say, “Let’s give her a job." Then I got head hunted by the GAP, and so I jumped on it and went to New York and designed for them for awhile. I tripled my salary overnight. Somehow you make me think of Emerson and "Self-Reliance." Oh, no. Really, you seem to have that. Well, I can tell you why. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. There was no Home Depot around the corner. My Dad and I would have to fix things, repair things, make things.  You just use what you have or don’t have and you just make it work. It was beautiful. You had this attitude of being resourceful. "If it’s not there, I can make it." I can make it. Absolutely. I made my own clothes when I was a kid. We did jam and jelly, everything...it’s all around you. It's all about making the connection from up here to down here. And now you’re navigating these different industries with this attitude and these skills. Yes. If you were to see me today playing around with this “Cooking Food” from QVC, it was a mess at first. But we made it look so desirable and tasty. It was just beautiful - Because they let me pull from this and that and basically do whatever I needed to do to bring it all together. Even the people from QVC were jumping back and saying, “Woah, that’s amazing!” You managed to be the Joseph Beuys of QVC. Thank you. When you're in Philadelphia, you have to be a generalist. If I were in New York I would either be a "Food Stylist" or a "Wardrobe Stylist" or a "Set Designer." But here, because there are fewer jobs, you have to be good at everything. And because I already love to cook and I already love to sew and I know wardrobe and I've designed clothes, I can make things happen. Like today, for instance, the Art Director said to me, "Can't you just glue that together?" And I was like, "Sure." I had no idea how I was going to glue it. And I don't even think she really knew what she meant when she asked me to do that. But I just smiled and said, "Yes, of course I can," and went over to my tool box and just made this thing happen.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up on a farm certainly has its benefits. Barbara is a talent and a treasure to be on display for the world to see. Great Job!

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