Variety, 24/7 and creativity: that’s the life of an art director.
It’s just a touch under ten years that Isabelle De Vos has been working as an art director. In the fashion world, what she does and her enthusiasm can be found scattered across any number of campaigns and logos. But what is an art director really? From the set of a shoot to the view behind her laptop: we take you on a brief excursion into the world of Isabelle De Vos.
No day is as packed and diverse as one of De Vos’s, but you can be sure it’s also just as chock-a-block with passion and enthusiasm. She's already gotten a start by 5:30 a.m., when she takes stock of the previous night’s activities. By 8:30 a.m. she's in her office, checking e-mails and making appointments. ‘The rest of the day's activities depend on the day itself. Sometimes I spend my time on research for a new brand’, says De Vos. Whenever she's part of a shoot's activities, her day gets an even earlier start. There is no such thing as a fixed schedule for an art director, but one thing is guaranteed – loads of variety! ‘Nothing is ever the same, and what's more, it doesn’t feel like work.’ That’s De Vos’s take on her job.
The mystery unravels: art director
But what secrets exactly does this mysterious position – art director – hold? According to De Vos, an art director is someone who can put together a fantastic team, really understand the ‘mindset’ of a brand, and based on this, develop a kind of image. You don’t become an art director by coincidence. ‘A key aspect of being an art director is being interested in everything – otherwise you'll lack for inspiration’, says De Vos. She sees it as a job that brings you into contact with absolutely anything and everything in every possible field, which opens up your world and helps you develop your own perspective and path forward.
De Vos puts tremendous stock in personal style and perspective. That’s because they form the foundation for achieving the right balance with the brand's identity. ‘There’s always a fine line between your own style and the customer’s identity. Customers and brands often already have their own distinct style. That’s means it often boils down to tinkering with your own style, your identity and inspiration and that of your customer or brand.’
When she was still just a child, De Vos wasn’t really sure what she wanted to be when she grew up. Although she does laugh and mention that she did want to be a singer one day. She was also already spending a fair amount of time drawing, painting and modelling early on. Those are things that she still enjoys as hobbies today. In the end, it was this visual element that drew her into the art director's world.
What is an art director without inspiration? De Vos looks to nature as a crucial source of inspiration, along with the world's infinite palette of colours. At the same time, she’s fascinated by ugliness. ‘How can I turn something ugly into something beautiful?’, De Vos remarks.
Every fashion designer has a muse – and it's no different in the realm of the art director. De Vos can’t wait to see what Mous Lamrabat will do next. This Belgian-Moroccan fashion photographer is famous for his unique style and just recently launched his solo exhibition, Mousganistan. Isabelle De Vos often partners with him. You'll also find him from time to time at a Fibre Mood shoot. ‘The path he's travelled is incredibly lovely and powerful. He never wavers from that path and keeps on doing what he believes in.’, De Vos remarks.
According to De Vos, the advantage to working as an art director is that you get to work in an environment full of beautiful things and that you end up in places that you might otherwise never experience. She says that the only downside for her is that there's no end to that work and it's super hard to take a break and let go. However, that’s something that's a constant when it comes to passionate, driven people.
De Vos continues to evolve and push forward. In the context of a new project, she’s taking a brief foray out of her comfort zone into the social sector. She's hoping to connect the older and younger generations through a new citizen's platform, ‘GOUD’ [GOLD]. The idea emerged organically from the observation that the elderly continue to be pushed to the margins. ‘All their experiences, knowledge and talent are confined to their often lonely walls.’ As art director she took care of the project’s branding. It didn’t take her long to catch onto the fact that it would be a huge challenge to effectively get it off the ground. For this project, De Vos also called on people in the Ghent region to join the effort.