Talking creativity, remote shoots and more with Hooligans Magazine Branding Director and Spotlight Awards Judge Natasscha Girelli
Meet our Spotlight Awards 2020 Kids Photography judge Natasscha Girelli: she has extensive experience in designing visual brands and art directing photoshoots within the world of fashion and lifestyle. Currently, Natasscha is nourishing Hooligans Magazine creatively and conceptually taking the role of the Branding Director as well as art directing kids fashion brands on freelance basis.
Production Paradise: What made you accept our invitation to become a judge on the Spotlight Awards panel?
Natasscha Girelli : First I want to say I am very flattered to be invited to the Spotlight Awards panel 2020 in the Kids Photography category. Production Paradise is an amazing platform with so much talent, know-how, and inspiration. At Hooligans Magazine we only work with the best creative talents and the most outstanding brands in the kids fashion industry and it’s an amazing platform to obtain an overview of what’s going on in the business.
Besides my role as being the branding director at Hooligans, I art direct and consult kids brands on a freelance basis. I know what it takes to create a concept, express a vision, visualise a brand and how to art direct a photoshoot. I am delighted to join the judge panel in the kids photography category. Thank you for inviting me!
Production Paradise: You have a background in graphic design. How was your journey to art direction and branding?
Natasscha Girelli: I’ve always had a passion for fashion. When I was a kid, I drew dress up dolls and I had all kinds of dolls representing many cultures. They were all dressed differently every day. When I got older I also participated in various drawing competitions. I was lucky to win a few, so I knew my path quite early. I always loved to create, to visualise and to perform and that’s what I do today on a large scale.
After my time at The Danish School of Design, I soon started art directing at Saatchi & Saatchi Copenhagen. My favourite was always doing the most beautiful campaigns. One day the time was right to change direction. I was soon employed at a Danish fashion house being the creative director for an adult fashion brand. My job was to nourish the brand conceptually and visually – locally and globally in all marketing-related actions and this is when I started art directing photoshoots for the season campaigns all over the world.
Five years later I was contacted by an upstarting Danish brand. They were asking for “my take” to create their kids brand visually from scratch.
I was presented to the very first collection and I couldn’t resist. I absolutely loved the pieces. It inspired me. A kids brand seen from a different angle? I thought why not! So this is how I fell in love with the kids fashion industry.
Production Paradise: We know you have a talent to build long relationships with the brands you work with, what are the steps you think are essential to build that level of trust?
Natasscha Girelli: I always meet my clients with an open mind. I listen. I observe. I ask. We act. Together we find or create the strength of the brand and then we make it even stronger within the budget and with the tools available. It is about trust and respect both ways. You can say it’s a balance of flying and keeping your feet on the ground.
Production Paradise: As the Branding Director of Hooligans Magazine, what part of the job do you enjoy the most? By the way, congratulations to you and your team for your five years’ anniversary!
Natasscha Girelli: Thank you! We are celebrating our five year anniversary with the Five Senses issue. We just launched it last week. Check it out at www.hooligansmagazine.com.
I love the whole package. I am in the first row and I enjoy the view. Marina Ansaldo, the social media and blog editor for the magazine, and I catch up every day and share what’s going on in the industry and on the social platforms.
We are three in our Hooligans Team: Eliza Logan, Marina Ansaldo and myself. We live in three corners of the world and we run our magazine via the internet. We share, innovate and rethink and we believed in the digital experience from day one. Our global community embraces more than 71k followers today and we have great plans for the future.
I just want to mention one of our projects from April 2019, Eliza and I did our first remote photoshoot. I art directed the shoot from Cape Town while Eliza (the photographer and the editor in chief at Hooligans Magazine based in LA) did the photoshoot in LA. I love her visual universe and it was such a pleasure to try it out with her. We called our story UPSIDEDOWN. And it really was! We love pushing boundaries at Hooligans. This editorial was a great challenge. Everybody involved trusted each other all the way. I am actually still a bit shaken when I look at the result. I could have been present on the actual shoot, but I am still pretty sure I was in Cape Town. Ha ha ha!
A few months later I was contacted by photographer Erika Verginelli. She invited me to art direct a shoot in Sao Paulo based on the remote art directing idea. I thought why not, let’s play. How would this turn out with a different team? I worked with Erika before, so I knew her amazing photographic eye. We had a good talk on WhatsApp so we were on the same page from the beginning. She found a great location. A pink apartment in Sao Paulo. It inspired me, so I did the mood board and briefed Erika. The team followed my visual brief to perfection and I was again amazed. Last year it was experimenting, today it’s reality. So it’s a fact that remote art directing opens up new horizons for both brands and creatives if we cannot travel as before.
During the Corona isolation, we learned that almost everything can be done from home when needed. Listening to concerts, going to church, shopping online, homeschooling and we even see commercial campaigns shot in the backyards.
For sure I would art direct remote if needed, having a powerful internet connection, a solid production, a camera overviewing the shoot, a direct line via a headset on the photographer and a direct connection to the photographer’s computer so I can see the pictures running in on my own computer. Why not?
Production Paradise: What sort of images would you like to see in the competition?
Natasscha Girelli: Everything is more real and down to earth now because of the Coronavirus. We all share our stories and focus more on each other. Nothing is wrong with home. Home is the best. The social media platforms are amazing and have been incredible during the isolation. However, in my art directing perspective, the general visual level easily becomes too home-made and needs a professional touch-up. So when you ask me what sort of images I want to see in the competition, I kindly ask for amazing visuals executing creativity, originality and professionalism.
The present challenges on our planet are very real and I would like to see pictures that transcend, with all respect, to express the beauty and quality fashion deserves.
Production Paradise: What do you think are the main qualities (personal & professional) to look for in a photographer?
Natasscha Girelli: I want to be touched one way or the other by the photos. If you can touch my heart with your photos, there is, in my experience, always an interesting person attached to them. I also prefer to work with an open-minded photographer as we can work as a team and do a great job together. These are my main focus points.
Production Paradise: How important are online platforms for finding new talent? What platforms do you use to scout new photographers?
Natasscha Girelli: I art direct with amazing photographers and creative teams on a daily basis, so I have a network of people. I also worked with quite a few I see on your platform. Sometimes I meet new photographers in real life and we go for a cup of coffee. Sometimes we meet on the internet and introduce ourselves. It’s always good to network and exchange experiences.
At Hooligans Magazine we work with the best creatives in the business including photographers, art directors, stylists, hair and make up, locations, productions, trends and brands, so because of this I also have a good insight. Social media is great as well because it reflects a mirror image of what is going on.
Production Paradise: In what ways do you think Production Paradise Spotlight Awards could benefit photographers?
Natasscha Girelli: The winner of this Award will get recognition and hopefully more work. The visual level is amazing here, and who wouldn’t appreciate being awarded and to be recognised as 2020 most talented kids photographer representing the contemporary visual footprint?
We thank Natasscha for the eye-opening insights, and we are looking forward to seeing the submissions for the Kids Photography in the Spotlight Awards.