Most non-freelancers, when asked how they came to become freelancers, simply say that they 'fell into it' and are never quite clear on or sure of, how it is they got there in the first place. As a topic which is rarely explored, few people can truly understand, and often underestimate the rigorous lifestyle of a freelancer. So we thought we'd go beyond this particular 'velvet rope' and explore life as a freelancer in London. More so, we thought who better to hang out with, than a lady who has been simmering under the radar for a while, quietly stocking up achievements, until now. Welcome Miss Lisa King. Unknown by name but known by print (Lisa designed the prints for the Osman Spring/Summer 2010 collection at this season's London Fashion Week).
Educated at the prestigious Cheltenham Ladies' College, King had initially thought a professional career beckoned her. She soon found this to be farther from the truth and subsequently enrolled at and successfully graduated from Central St. Martins. During her first year, fate decided to shine some light on her burgeoning career in the form of what was originally supposed to be a three week stint to act as assistant stylist for Kylie Minogue's Show Girl Homecoming tour and subsequently Britney Spears' world tour, courtesy of William Baker. "I actually started working for William in my first year at St Martins. I was living with a friend who was dancing for Kylie at the time (Lisa is also a dancer), and asked William if he needed any help over the Easter break. The day of reckoning came soon after and we met in Soho. It was all so exciting, Kylie had just performed at G-A-Y, the office was covered in stripy costumes and sequins. Judy Blame, a legendary stylist, with whom William shared an office, was making his signature jewellery in the basement, assisting him were Richard Nicoll and Christopher Shannon (both now hot young British designers), and Frank Strachan (who is now Cheryl Cole's stylist)."
The combination of luck, being in the right place at the right time, and obviously being enormously talented, King managed to keep her gig throughout her entire university career . "We were so busy preparing to leave for Australia for Kylie's Showgirl Homecoming Tour that I even had to ask for the day off to go to my graduation." She explains how that particular period inspired her prints, "He became a real influence on the prints I was doing. Modern, bold, graphic power prints." The duo hit it off, having spent so much time together and eventually, in 2007, King took on a more full time and hands-on role working on the B-Boy underwear line, which was launched in Selfridges in late 2007. They worked hard on the line but eventually, " in January 2009, Wiliam decided to call it a day, as it was becoming more difficult and expensive to juggle the fashion line with his other work commitments."
Of course the end of B-Boy was a slight knock back, but King continued to receive job offers (even some overseas, too) and then as luck would have it, another opportunity came her way. St Martins had put her forward for a print experience, to design prints for a new designer, who just happened to be Osman, the up and coming designer who recently showcased his wares at this September's London Fashion Week. He invited King to design all the prints for the show, to which she agreed and the rest as they say, is history. Following on from the success of the Osman show and the rave reviews the collection received, King went on to attend the Premier Vision trade show in Paris- a trade show for RTW designers and print designers, amongst other creatives, and sold some prints there too.
When asked what her favourite memory was of her time spent with Baker, she says "..If I had to pick one, it would be when I got to do the print for Kylie's 'The Museum Dress', which appeared in all the promo [materials] and in the Kylie Exhibition at the V&A museum. It was amazing to have my name on a piece of work next to other pieces by amazing creatives such as Jean Paul Gaultier and Galliano and of course, those infamous gold hot pants."
With all this happening "I felt it was the right time to get an agent, especially as I was taking on a lot more work- including an invitation to take part in a group show exhibition." An agent? In this current economic climate? One would have thought life would be slowing up for freelancers but it would seem that talented individuals such as King can weather the temporary storm. Having enquired as to how, if at all the recession has affected her, she pauses a moment, before admitting that, "The funny thing is that the recession has been quite good for me insofar as it has made me really rethink what it was I was pasisonate about, and what I wanted to do. I know now that I am definitely where I'm meant to be."