Behind the Scenes: Art Directing for Puma X Sophia Webster (& Lessons Learned)


Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: behind the scenes & lessons learned

A couple of months ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with Puma and Sophia Webster as Art Director for their new collaboration promo material. Shout out to the fabulous Sarah Akwisombe for having me on board & the lovely Stephanie K. Kane for helping me out! You can check out the finished lookbook and video here.

It was a one-day shoot in a warehouse in East London, and we were doing stills and a video, so the team was pretty big!

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: behind the scenes stills photoshoot

Between you and me, this was my first time art directing and I arrived on the day feeling f*cking clueless and hoping to merge into the background… Needless to say, that didn’t happen. Within 10 minutes, I’d had five people come up and ask me for instructions / info, so I decided quickly that ‘fake it til’ you make it’ was going to have to be the slogan of the day!

Luckily for me, this was a pretty good introduction to the role, as the look was industrial (AKA really minimal!). The location did a lot of the work for me. It was a really nice, airy warehouse studio, painted white with a couple of exposed brick walls and lovely original windows which made brilliant features. All I really needed to do was bring in some neon lights and coloured vinyls for the windows to fit the brief. *Fist pump*

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: neon strip lights stills

It was a really really good day – you know when twelve hours goes past without you really thinking about it that you’re having a good time! Sophia is a really lovely gal, and such an incredible dancer! Check her out in the video here. It was more like a music video than a promo video really; so cool to watch professional dancers doing their thing (and kind of scary… Is it normal to be that flexible??).

Lessons Learned

Fake it ’til you make it (within reason)

I’m not saying lie about your capabilities and take on jobs that are clearly out of your depth – that’s obvs not cool! But have confidence in yourself. I’d never been given this much responsibility before, but I’ve done lots of styling, so I just kept telling myself that it’s only a little bit more responsibility than what I’m used to – what’s the worst that could happen?! Even though I was really nervous, somewhere deep down I think I knew that I could do it, and it all worked out fine. Sometimes you have to pretend you’re more confident than you are, and as you go along you dig the confidence out of somewhere.

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: smoke bombs and cameramen

Always be prepared & have your full kit

Have your full kit with at all times! I’m really glad that I had spare scissors, tools, tape and tack to let people borrow. I don’t always bring my screwdrivers and packs of batteries with me because they put so much extra weight in my bag, but I’d have been in trouble if I hadn’t had them on the day!

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: on set

Use your initiative and find work-arounds

And when you don’t have the gear… Make it work another way! I had to attach a neon sign to a brick wall (check it out below!) and didn’t have a drill, so had to screw the nail in with a screwdriver and brute force! There’s almost always a way to make things work out. After a bit of playing around, I decided to cover up all the metal sockets & red fire alarm points in strips of white electrical tape because they were showing up on camera and it worked a treat!

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: neon cloud sign

Don’t be afraid to try new things

I was so intimidated by the smoke bombs when I saw them! When I set off my first one, I put it in a little cup and jumped back about seven meters, but it turns out they’re really not that scary. By the end, I was holding two in one hand! Give everything a try and don’t be scared!

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: smoke bombs

More snaps from the day…

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: sophia solo choreography

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: industrial warehouse studio space

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: dance music video

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: sophia signature neon sign

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: neon strips

Art directing for Puma X Sophia Webster: dance choreography

What do you guys make of the gear? I love all the tropical prints!

Let me know your stories from set in the comments!



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  1. I always love reading your post and looking at your pictures Rosanna. This one is no exception. The location for your first art director job looks fantastic and so do the snaps you’ve taken, I’m sure the client was super happy with the job you did!

  2. So so cool! I love Sophia Webster! I loved read your honest post about directing, also I’m sure deep down yourself you knew exactly where you wanted to go! I agree with you the location is amazing, I thought about it even before reading : loved the space, neon, brick wall… adding colors must make the pics amazing! Cant wait to see it! Congratulations!

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