Shortly after my trip to New York I told myself that there is no way that I would be sharing this experience with anybody. My trip left me feeling so humiliated and lost I began to question everything I was doing. I wasn't sure if I was going to recover from it, so talking about it was the last thing I wanted to do. But here I am, almost two months later, back on my feet.
I bought a flight to New York City five days before New York Fashion Week started. It was spontaneous. The night I purchased my flight I shared on my Instagram Story just how excited I was. It felt right to be going to NYFW even though I didn't have a job there. I was fed up with all the unanswered emails. I was going to figure things out on my own.
The day I was to leave, I was in a panic and in the last hour I was fiercely holding back tears. But then I left and I felt some relief. I thought I was just stressed about traveling, as I am wont to do. However, as I saw the city's skyline, I remembered why I anxious in the first place. I arrived in the city at eleven in the morning and in six hours I was going to sneak into a fashion show.
Before I even conceived the idea of going to New York I had listened to podcast on the struggles of making it as an artist. I had sought the advice from my creative friends. Every advice seem to support my inclination that I should do this.
So I took a giant risk: sneaking into Ulla Johnson's show (yeeaaah, she's a big name in the industry). Perhaps that was too big of a risk. I got through security, who directed me through these double black doors at the Springs Studio. Once I walked through those doors, I saw immediately that I was going to get caught because I wasn't dressed in all black. So imagine how I felt walking in there wearing blue jeans, burgundy Adidas, a pink floral print button-up shirt, and a tan blazer. Oh I looked good. Real cool in fact, but clearly, I did not belong there.
I was expecting to get caught, but I was hopeful that I would at least learn how to get into a show next time. Or even better, some high power person in the industry would see me and be like, "this girl is gutsy! I'm gonna help her out!" But no. Nothing hopeful came from this. I walked up to the fold out table where two girls sat with a laptop in front of them. They were checking people in. I knew this was the moment where I had to hype up my confidence or it was going to be a no-go. They both looked at me, "Uh, can we help you?" Just imagine the most pretentious voice ever 'cause that's what it was like. I confidently walked up to the table with drawing board and my bag of supplies in tow,
"Yeah, I'm Victoria-Riza. I'm a fashion illustrator and I'm here to illustrate live---"
She cut me off, "for Ulla Johnson?"
"Yes, for Ulla Johnson."
She cocked her head to the side and started to twist a lock of her hair in both her hands. Then she stared at me, "So who did you confirm this with?"
I started to laugh in my head cause I didn't have a name. I knew this was it. I smirked and trying with all my might to put as much confidence in my words I said, "No, I'm a fashion illustrator and I'm here to illustrate."
Bold and probably idiotic. Nonetheless, she said three words and man, did she drag them. With her head still tilted to the side and her hands playing with her hair she said, "Ummmmm. Yeeaaaahhh. Noooo." You still have that snobby voice in your heard? You hear it, right? The condescending tone! It was the worst! I even told her, "Okay, thank you!" Before I turned around walking away! Ugh, I'm too nice!
So humiliating! Sadly, that moment set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I had met and talked with one of my favorite fashion illustrators. I had a meeting with the PR rep of Sergio Rossi who took time out of her busy schedule to answer all my questions about working in the industry. Oh and before that meeting, I was standing next to Molly Shannon at a Starbucks! All good things that I should have celebrated, but I let all of these things (see depressing list below) ruin my weekend.
- Getting kicked out of Ulla Johnson's show
- Putting in the wrong address for my Lyft and having to take four Lyfts to get to the right address
- Missing a fashion show because I got lost
- My bank locking my credit card (because I took four Lyfts in a row)
- Not doing my best work when I was illustrating at a photoshoot
- Ordering the wrong burger at Shake Shack!
- Getting lost in Central Park (I think I walked 10 miles that day all of which were in Central Park)
- Anxiety. SO MUCH ANXIETY!!!
- And crying A LOT! (My amazing, sweet friends who had to deal with my crazy. Thank you!)
After less than 24 hours in the city I told my friends I was quitting. Although I didn't want to be a quitter, I kept pushing myself to give it one more try; chatting with Kelly Beaman, meeting with the PR rep, working at a photoshoot, trying to get into shows. After each attempt, I was left feeling emotionally exhausted and the feeling of not belonging in this industry only intensified. One day I had decided to go to The Frick Collection to cheer myself up. I was standing in front of Whistler's Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink and I started to bawl! I thought, "These people! These dead men and their paintings are my people!" I know, so weird. But I was reminded that I thrived in an environment where I had a mentor and trusted peers to support and critique me. So I decided maybe getting a masters is what I need.
Well, it's been more than a month since my trip. I still plan on getting my MFA one day. Don't fret though! My experience in New York will most definitely not go to waste. Even in the midst of all the anxiety and the suckiness, I felt that this experience would be a catalytic moment in my creative journey. I had a great conversation with a old friend from college (who I hadn't talked to in 7 years...whoa) who told me to take a deep breath because I was in a good place.
You are at an important crossroads and few people actually arrive here after college because the journey even to this point is arduous.
Thank you Allen! So indeed I can say that this trip was not a waste. Because of these experiences I now have a clearer vision of my path and a better understanding of who I am and what I want as an artist. So I end with a positive note: to my creative friends, just keep going!
The illustration is look two from Hermès Pre-Fall 2018 collection. It was created on nideggen paper with watercolor, gouache, sumi ink, pencil and a Derwent Pastel Cyan P340 pencil.