Melissa Cripe of Specs and the City has an undeniable energy in all things she creates. Styling or composing, Melissa delivers with a well-developed invigorating spirit and professionalism.  A colorful force to be reckoned with, Melissa could style the wardrobes for a Wes Anderson film just as easily as she could compose imagery for Pixar. Our conversation here…

Photo By: Specs and the City

Photo By: Specs and the City

Introduce us to who you are like it was a trailer for a feature film starring you.
Melissa is a girl filled with many passions
Styling, Directing, and of course fashion.
Color and fun are at the top of her priority list
Other than that, she loves honesty, jazz, humor, you get the gist.

Who would narrate this introduction?
Dr. Seuss. (we share the same birthday…so he gets me. And understands the need to find colorful fun in an otherwise dull world)

What part of your passion and or past brought you to do what you do?
I had been studying film and interning in the industry since the moment I graduated high school. I reached a point where I decided that I wanted to try something new, so I gave myself a second to breathe and started Specs and the City. I made a promise to create something every month and really develop my personal creative style. This led to a lot of unexpected joys and frustrations- and now I find myself wanting more and more to be behind the camera, creating stylized images for brands as well as personal projects.

Photo By: Specs and the City

Photo By: Specs and the City

If you could have unlimited resources to produce and or create for a year – what would you do?
WOW- just reading that sentence makes my brain race. I’ve always said that if I won the lottery the first thing I would spend my winnings on would be a creative project. It sucks that people feel like with more money they have more room to be creative….which I don’t believe is necessarily true, but would definitely help on the resources side.

Soooo if I had those unlimited resources I would find a way to combine all my creative joys into a gaggle of projects. I’ve always wanted to make a zine. I’d definitely make a short film. And I’ve also always wanted to do one of those challenges where you do something 100 days in a row with a theme. SO many options! I think I just wouldn’t sleep for the 365 days of that year.

Specs and the City

Photo By: Rayana Chumtong

I love it! Anything about current technology that you like and or don’t like RE: creative projects?
The thing I most like about using technology to share a project is the potential reach it can have. I love being able to share very personal work with people across the globe and getting feedback from fellow creatives. I love the tools of technology (though I don’t always understand them as much as I’d like). The thing I don’t like (and this can be avoidable, but unfortunately isn’t always easy) is the overly saturated, comparative nature of social media. I hate to admit that I sometimes get easily discouraged and intimidated from an instagram scroll after seeing so many similar aesthetics and better executions of ideas I had in my head. I then feel like I need to think of newer or more original ideas. In the same day though, I can do another scroll and feel completely inspired. I hate admitting this fluctuation, but this tug of war between inspired and intimidated sometimes causes self doubting anxieties that I don’t normally get otherwise.

Top role models you look up to and or works you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration (pretty obviously) from the films of Wes Anderson. I love the absurd, yet relatable characters. I love the particular worlds that make perfect sense to the people in them, yet might seem strange from the outside. I love the honesty in Woody Allen’s writing and the soulful spontaneity of jazz. I currently love Jimmy Marble’s photography and Adi Goodrich’s art direction + set design. I also can’t stop watching THIS and THIS short film. Oh, and I just watched The Lobster 4 times in theater (no shame). I’m obsessed with the equal parts light and dark, funny and tragic, bizarre yet so real storyline and execution.

Specs and the City

Photo By: Rayana Chumtong

Any shining moments thus far with your career path?
Honestly, each new project I’ve done has taught me something so meaningful and personal- and has allowed me to get to know myself even better. This most recent project, a short film I wrote and directed about the frustrating struggle and desire to connect with your inner child, called The Claw Of Life, being the most memorable. Particularly because it was completely self motivated. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for someone to hand me an idea or a budget with which to create. This time- when I felt creatively unfulfilled, I just dove in- no excuses allowed. I set a date and told myself that no matter what, I’d make it work regardless of the fact that I have a full time job that takes up my time Monday – Friday, would have to raise all the funds on my own, and gather a crew to help execute my idea. It was extremely challenging and I gave up all my weekends and weeknights for two months straight. But when it all came together and I saw my vision come to life this past weekend, I knew it was all worth it. It was just the first part of the process though. We still have to do all the editing, and finish raising our funding goal…

Check out Melissa’s campaign here – The Claw of Life on Indiegogo

Social Media Projections by Hikaru Phillips

Social Media Projections by Hikaru Phillips

Best advice you’ve ever received and or motto you live by?
Easy Winner: This quote by Ira Glass. Always.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work…It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions…It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

Someone or something that makes you happy?
Hot Dogs and Iris Apfel.

luftgekühlt- Deus Ex Machina Event Photo

luftgekühlt- Deus Ex Machina Event Photo

Favorite word? / Least Favorite word?
Favorite: epiphany Least Favorite: Breath
BECAUSE I love/hate these definitions with the way they sound. Epiphany is usually the first moment creativity strikes. Breath is the odor of someone’s mouth (WHY WON’T ANYONE ELSE AGREE THIS IS WORSE THAN MOIST?!)

If you could have coffee with any five people – alive or deceased – who would they be?
Iris Apfel
Woody Allen
Wes Anderson
Billie Holiday
Amy Winehouse

What’s next for Specs and the City?
I’m currently working on a fun project with Pocky where I’m creating some stop motion GIFs. I also think I’m going to do a photo series with these giant, nasty old character heads I can’t get out of my head from this local costume store. And mainly work on finishing up the short film! And lastly, I plan to spend the summer re-vamping my web presence so that it’s clear to brands and followers what it is I love to do: style, compose, and create colorful images.

 

Learn more about Melissa Cripe & Specs and the City: IndieGoGo Film Campaign | Instagram

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