Individuality Over Everything | Alanna Pearl
DateApril 26, 2017
It’s hard to fit Alanna Pearl into one category, but she wouldn’t want to have it any other way. She dabbles in the worlds of styling and creative direction — while selling vintage clothes on the side — but is open to pretty much any opportunity that allows her to put her creative eye to use. Although it may all seem like fun and games for Alanna, given the vibrant and sassy aesthetic of her work, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into developing her career and personal brand. Through trial and error, Alanna has been able to make a living off of her individuality, all while remaining a compassionate human and supporting those around her. We spoke with Alanna about what inspires her and what it’s like working as a young creative.
You wear many hats — all in creative industries — for those who don’t know, what is it that you do and how would you describe your title?
I do wear many hats! They are one of my favorite accessories so it seems to make sense.
My life is a beautiful juxtaposition of hard work and luck. I love to work and I’m lucky in that I obsess over the field that I work in, so I find myself being eager to try all jobs and opportunities that come my way. By trying all positions I have an interest in, it helps me to learn about what it is that I am good at and what I can provide to potential clients. Right now in my career, I would say that I am at an educational point, hungry to learn all that I can about all that interests me.
I offer my services of styling, mainly with vintage and designer pieces, and working on photo shoots and music videos as often as I can. With styling, I got started with designing, and I am currently working on releasing my first collection as a part of a collab with a dear friend’s brand. To help support myself in a more reliable way beyond freelance work, I started selling vintage and archived pieces on my favorite app, Depop. As a 4th job, I took on a social media client and I work part time with him on creating his own brand and his creative business endeavors. My weeks are pretty full, but I love to stay busy. I hate to box myself in, so I remain open to all opportunities that come my way.
Can you give a little bit of background on yourself and how you got to this point in your career? Do you have any formal education in photography, music, and fashion, or is everything self-taught?
I come from a very hardworking, lower-middle class, single-mother family, born and raised in Durango, Colorado. My mother wasn’t the cliché or typical stereotype of what society portrays a woman to be and I owe my work ethic to her. Like myself, my mother worked multiple jobs while I was growing up, oftentimes bringing me along to help when she would work construction on her properties. While my friends and peers would always wear the newest and most relevant mall brands, my mom would take my sister and I on shopping sprees at our local thrift shops. I was born with this attitude that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and I think it helped me develop into who I am today; I constantly have to look for the beauty and potential in things instead of seeing the easy or obvious choice.
The only schooling I have under my belt is for cosmetology, where I did receive my license, but not before dropping out early to work in a beautiful local salon/store/event space called The Well. I met so many inspiring and beautiful people already a part of an industry that I knew I wanted to be a part of, but couldn’t figure out how. I got my first assistant styling job on the set for one of my favorite photographers as well as biggest inspirations, David LaChapelle, and got to assist one of the sweetest humans along the way, Brett Alan Nelson. I have been working with the two of them ever since. I am so thankful for each job I am given with David and count my blessings for the experiences that I have been given in my first two years of work, I can’t wait to see where these opportunities lead me next.
You have a very distinct and unique style, where do you draw inspiration from? What influences you the most?
I always appreciate those descriptives, as I never aim to look like anyone else, I just want to be my very best self. My largest source of inspiration I have found happens to come from my friends and peers. I can, of course, run off a laundry list of pop culture icons and moments that we have experienced and can all relate over, but lately I am mostly inspired by my current experiences. Where I am in my life at the moment and the funny and beautiful situations I find myself in from day to day. The people who I get to work with are a large inspiration to me as well. Not only as motivation, that I too can live out my dreams, but the dedication and hard work they all seem to have embedded in them is nothing short of inspiring.
“…I never aim to look like anyone else, I just want to be my very best self.”
What are your tips for remaining different in a world where overly saturated media starts to make everything feel the same?
Don’t look at the media! I try to ignore large social trends as I don’t want to put energy and my attention into something that does not benefit me. Not to be selfish, but also to be selfish. I do things to take care of myself first of course, and I trust that will then lead me to attract others that do the same and are appreciative of what I can offer them. I want to be my best self for those around me, I’m surrounded by such beautiful from-the-inside-out people, it’s powerful and I need to be a strong support system to them, especially if I experience the same in return. The media just offers as a distraction from my own personal path of being able to help myself, those I love, my peers, and my community.
Can you describe a highlight of your career to us or a favorite project that you’ve worked on?
Being able to support myself off of my creative ideas is a constant high, with very deep lows, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Of course, any project with David is an instant favorite. Being able to dress 20 of the hottest male exotic dancers for a Britney Spears video that will never come out was also iconic.
As someone who is constantly creating, do you ever get stumped on coming up with something that’s new and truly excites you? If you ever experience any burnout, how do you deal with it?
Of course. It happens to everyone, right? I try to take a step back from what I’m doing, clear my mind of whatever is distracting me, and maybe do something for fun to distract myself in a productive way.
Are there any other creatives that you admire?
Of course! I can write an essay here but I hope a list will do:
Shelby Sells, an up and coming celebrity sex therapist, established photojournalist, and one of the dearest humans I’m so lucky to know.
Josephine Pearl Lee, an LA-based creative who’s talent, creativity, and ingenuity blow my mind every day.
Avalon Lurks, a child prodigy, for real. She is 20 and so very talented, she writes, sings, and produces her own music. I can’t wait for her to become a pop star.
Bridgette Bayley, she does creative direction for Jeffrey Campbell and freaking makes all of my dreams come true with her branding here in LA.
Kelseyanna Fitzpatrick, a Vancouver-based makeup artist that blows my mind with her painting-like creations.
Miggy Sandoval, a very young and talented artist who happens to be filming all of your favorite rap videos on a VHS recorder.
Rome Fortune, a very influential independent rap artist that is making all of my favorite songs right now.
Abra, Kali Uchis, and Maxine Ashley are all on my Top Played in my iTunes as well, all beautiful and strong female singer/songwriters and producers that are crushing the game. So many to list!
You’re not afraid to openly discuss or portray “taboo” topics like sex and drugs in your work. Why is this important to you?
Honestly, I don’t see them as taboo. I am a sexual human and I am open about it in my life, I guess it translates into what I create. I am not one to ever advocate drug use, especially synthetic anything into your body, but unfortunately, it is hard to avoid in our world. I don’t judge others for their choices or struggles or whatever you want to call it, I only want to be a source of first – support, and second – inspiration. I have had many people close to me in my family and friends fall victim of addiction to some very ugly drugs. Instead of pretending they don’t exist, I will acknowledge this demon that I am able to identify and expose it for what it is.
What are three hidden gems in LA?
1. Cactus tacos
2. Squaresville Vintage
3. Alanna Pearl, the rarest gem to find
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH is supportive and challenges to help young creatives, no matter who, get to the next step of their dreams.
Photos by: Bukunmi Grace