YIN & YANG CREATIVES TARALYN THUOT & NICHOLAS PETER WILSON ON LIVING, WORKING AND STAYING BALANCED IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
We were lucky enough to have photographer Nicholas Peter Wilson shoot Taralyn Thout as part of YORK’s Holiday 2016 brand campaign. Our new product is inspired by the outdoors, so shooting in Oregon was ideal. Both Nick & Tara grew up in the PNW and have a deep appreciation for nature. Tara, creative director at Wildfang, balances her “never-off” work ethic by running daily and getting into the nearby mountains to hike and climb. Nick is a photographer who finds peace and creative clarity exploring and photographing the forests, mountains and beaches of the PNW.
We shot at Cascade Locks, Columbia River Gorge in Oregon and asked Tara & Nick to interview each other afterwards. Read about their dream jobs and how nature and the outdoors keeps them grounded and inspired in this week’s Out of Step post…
NPW: How did you get to where you are now?
TT: It’s been a crazy journey over 10+ years. I never imagined myself a creative. I actually went to college to do premed so I had aspirations of becoming a doctor. When I was in school, I worked at the Gap and got pulled into doing visual merchandising for them. I really fell in love with it. I loved styling and coming up with ideas for window displays and window dressings and essentially set design but for retail. So after college I took a year off and worked at a medical clinic and took the MCAT and did all the stuff that you do when you’re going to med school and realized in that process that I just wasn’t in the right field. So I decided I wasn’t going to do any of that and took a real u-turn and tried to find a job in visual merchandising. I found a job working at Levis doing visual merchandising. That led me to do VM at Nike, which lead me into entertainment marketing at Nike. The creative responsibilities in each of my roles grew and grew from VM to buying to art direction and that’s led me to where I am as creative director at Wildfang.
NPW: So a less creative field led you to a creative field, which is very interesting and fun.
TT: Having a more scientific, analytical background makes me a really unique creative. I feel like most creatives, good or bad, tend to be very concept-driven and not necessarily thinking much about output or analytics. I think what my background gave me was a real understanding of how to have a concept and then quantify whether that concept would pay off or be meaningful to a brand.
NPW: That’s wonderful. I think for me, my creativity found me all of a sudden. It went through a lot of different genres and I ended up with a camera in my hands.
TT: How old were you?
NPW: I was 14 years old and I got a camera. And that camera kind of lead to my creative outpour.
TT: Who gave you that camera?
NPW: It was for an 8th grade trip to Washington, DC. I got a camera to take photos on that trip. I came back and took photos of my friends and that kind of lead to creating entire worlds and putting people in them and creating a universe around my own perspective. Which then lead to working with people in more professional situations and that lead to different clients and where I am today. While I think I’ve gone through a lot of transitions to get to where I am now, creativity has been the driving force in everything I do.
TT: Your photography ranges from fashion to portraits and nature photography. Do you find one more inspiring than the other?
NPW: In the beginning, my photography was people-driven and my focus telling their stories through my interaction with them. A lot of it comes down to my connection with who I am taking a photo of. It’s almost more important to me than everything else because that kind of tells the story. Then I got into fashion and creating fashion-driven imagery, which I moved to NYC to explore. But it actually took me living there for a year in a very ugly place to come back to where I grew up in the PNW. I love where I live and having access to beautiful places--shooting nature and capturing that beauty. So I think it’s been a transition to people and nature and finding what that magic means.
TT: How does living in the PNW feature in your life?
NPW: The PNW is almost as much of a character as the people you put in your photos. Nature photography for me is more of a personal activity and I find a lot of inspiration through being in nature and in the middle of nowhere.
TT: I find it so inspiring that you find creative input in nature because I feel like I use nature as more of a reset button. I’m never out in nature thinking this would be a pretty picture or I should have a photo shoot here. I always use getting out to really reset myself and recharge and get away from the field of fashion and what I do. I find it inspiring that you’ve managed to bridge those two things.
NPW: It’s definitively been something where I find that being in nature is so creatively recharging and wonderful. It’s also something I value personally.
NPW: How did you know what you wanted to do with your life?
TT: I think the evolution of where I am now in my career it was not something where I woke up as a 5-year-old and was reading a book and was like, “Oh, creative director, I want to do that, that’s me!” I think that’s actually a really hard thing for people today and their careers. Most careers you see in children’s books are not graphic designers or creative directors or photographers, they are doctors or accountants or in real estate or businessman. There’s nothing wrong with any of those careers, but when you are a kid, especially in our generation where a lot of these careers and fields are newer that we have access to, I think unless you have something in your remote vicinity it’s really hard to have an idea that could be a good fit for you.
So I think it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. I have always loved fashion and put together looks that were unconventional. I definitely wore things to school that my parents were embarrassed about. So fashion has always been something I have been really in love with but figuring out how to integrate fashion into my career definitively took me awhile.
NPW: It’s a new frontier – what we both do. It’s finding a way to express ourselves through our jobs. I think that’s something that most people go through: I’m going to find what I love doing and pursue that.
TT: It’s an interesting phenomenon that’s current right now. There’s this real fluidity between your personal life and your professional life and what fuels those things. Growing up with someone that was a doctor, you leave your work at home and come home for the most part. If there are things you want to do outside of that, you do them as a hobby, like you cross stitch or… (I definitely cross-stitched at a teenager, okay?!). I think it’s exciting that there are more and more professions where there’s a lot more fluidity. The things that you are passionate about can actually come to serve as things that make money for you.
NPW: Yeah. I started out as somebody who was wasn’t creating a living off of what I was doing but it fell into place.
TT: So how do recharge creatively?
NPW: Definitely hiking. Definitely finding somewhere insane and making that my goal and if it takes 4 miles up a hill to get to the most amazing place ever I’m going to do it. I find it’s the most creatively fulfilling when you’ve sought something out and you’ve done it--you’ve accomplished it and you’re really happy with the result. You’re always striving for better, but you at least find a way to show your creativity in that way.
TT: I feel like working out is definitely a way that I recharge myself creatively. Or almost the exact opposite. It takes working out to turn my brain off for a little bit, which then opens the floodgates later. It actually is a really funny thing. I feel like some of my best ideas are in the shower, which I know sounds super weird, but I feel like after I go for a long run, I get in the shower and I just have this really nice headspace, and I still have that adrenaline from working out, and then I’m still in this sort of quiet space and that’s when my ideas often come to me which is pretty funny.
NPW: I think that’s the best place. I definitely think exercise is great to blow off steam and also allow your mind to get on a different plane of thinking. I just happen to have a camera in my hand.
TT: You’re telling me I shouldn’t take a camera into the shower?
NPW: You could! [laughter]
TT: Somebody might pay for that! [more laughter]
NPW: It’s definitely interesting. We have a good comparison—we’re almost opposites.
TT: We’re like yin and yang, Nick!
All photos credited to Nicholas Peter Wilson, with the exception of the one photo featuring him, taken by Tara.
Tara and Nick both live in Portland, Oregon. To learn more about them and their work, check them out here: