ANDREW BURKARDT, AGENT (SMG)
FIELD: PR, PRODUCTION HOME: SEATTLE ZODIAC: VIRGO
A. | How do you define yourself?
I am the kind of person who who will volunteer to do something or I will start a project and I won’t really know how exactly I am going to do it, I’ll just know that I will figure it out.
It's not that I lie to people, I’ll say “I am not sure exactly how to do this but I will figure it out,” and I have been fortunate enough to be around people who believed me and who give me a chance. For example, the first wedding I ever did was for a good friend of mine and I went to go shop for wedding dresses with her and we hated everything we saw and I had pictured her wearing this very particular kind of wedding dress. I had no idea how to make that dress but I though I could. And I did! I made her dress and all of the bridesmaids too. The learning curve was fairly fast and there was a lot of pressure but I knew that I could do it and I knew that I wanted to do it. A learning curves occur when you put yourself in a situation that you don’t necessary know how to navigate and figure out.
I like to see people happy and succeed at what they want and in a funny way I facilitate that both as an agent and as a designer.
A. | How did you become interested in the fashion industry?
A million years ago I was a dancer and somehow that translates into an interest in fashion.
I worked on fashion shows initially. When I was primarily a designer, the show was really the moment I got to see everything come to life. It was when I was doing local shows when I met a stylist and he asked me “what are you wanting to do with design?” and I said I really want to work with Nordstrom. He said well if you want to work with Nordstrom you have to work with models that Nordstrom works with. He introduced me to a few models and at the time I did trades with them because I couldn’t afford the rates; we got along really well, they would model for me and I would style their shoots for them or make clothing from them. I did a bigger local show and Nordstrom buyers were there and they called me the next day and said “hey we noticed a few of our models were in your show and we would love to meet with you!” And so I worked with Nordstrom for a few seasons.
As a designer I started to realize how important production is and how the right lighting, the right music and the right models transforms something from a flat idea to something that inspires people to do something.
20 years ago I met the head of SMG. She and I got along really well and she asked me during our conversation if I ever considered being an agent and I said “no but I am a quick learner” and the timing was right because I was at a point with design where I didn’t really know how to move forward with funding and all the planning ahead that is involved in the process. At the time when I met Kristy, two years seemed a long time to work with them but now this is my 20th year!
A. | What is your work routine? What does your job entail?
I am a liaison between clients and models. We give models advice and decide how we are going to present them and then market them to clients depending on their look—some are more sporty others are more fashion or commercial, some have multiple looks. Depending on their look we connect them with clients that need that particular look and then facilitate the clients and models getting to where they need to be.
My background being in fashion show production, I do show the models how to walk but they sort of pick up as they go. One of the things that we do is have them work with up and coming photographers so both sides get photos and it is good for everybody.
A. | What are you most proud of in your career?
I have done a tone of projects that I am really happy with but what t I am most proud of in my life has to do more with personal relationships. For example, I had this business partner for who m I ended up becoming a primary caretaker, this was at a time where people didn’t really understand HIV and there were a lot of of prejudgment on AIDS in general and so when I think of what I am proud of it is the personal relationships in my life—I am the person who stays around. This is in business too because none of us can be successful on our own.
A. | What is fashion? How does fashion play a role in your life?
Fashion is everything. It is a way to communicate who you are and what you want to world to see about you. Fashion can also educate people and help open their minds up to what they are not aware of.
A. | Where do you feel at home?
Somewhere I feel safe.
A. | What's your vision for the future of your work?
I want to see where these men's pieces go. I have no idea what I want to do with them, if I want to make individual made to order pieces which is a lot of very close interaction or if I want to sell them to retail
A. | How do you define success?
When someone is inspired. As artists, if we can cause people to do or think something, to me that is successful. You want to inspire someone to do, feel or think something.
A. | What makes a good team?
I don’t think you have to all think the same way, in fact I think that it is better if you don’t.
I am big on communication, I am not big on ego. It is important to have a strong voice and I have no problem telling people what I think but when you are working with a group you have to know that it is not all about you and it shouldn’t be because the end result is going to be much richer and well-rounded when it comes from different view points.
A. | What would you like to see more of in Seattle's fashion industry?
Well, just more.
The issue with Seattle is that there is tons of talent here—there are models here, there are makeup artists and designers here, there is press here but the problem is that they haven’t really been brought together before. I think that it is really important that when people produce fashion shows there have to be press there. It's great if you have however many people who happen to get that invitation or happen to buy that ticket but if you have press there blogging and talking about it, you take an opportunity for that presentation to have a ripple effect and effect other people that weren’t necessarily sitting in that seat and I think that is missing here.
I know how hard it is to put on a show, you have to consider all of the elements of production but then you realize how important it is to have the editor of Seattle Magazine or something there.
A. | How do you define eco-fashion?
Fashion that doesn’t take from the environment or what resources it does take it isn’t harming the environment.
A. | What would you recommend to yourself 20 years ago?
I write in a journal and I have since I was 15 years old and I look back and read the study I wrote—it's hilarious! When you are in that headspace, when you are that age, people can tell you whatever they want to tell you but you still need to go down that path of experiencing what you need to learn in life. I spend a lot of time worrying over decisions so if I were to go back I would say don’t doubt yourself so much.
A. | What is unique about Seattle's Fashion history?
The late 50’s in America is that time when everything was really successful, the economy was booming after the war and art was really starting to flourish. America was starting to separate from Europe: jazz was here, art was here, and new fashion was here. Seattle was greatly a part of that.
FAVORITE QUOTE | HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
FAVORITE FOOD | JAPANESE FOOD, I AM OBBESSED WITH JAPANESE CULTURE.