Local Creative: Margaret Williamson Bechtold
stylist & high court design advisor
Design and wellness are often two concepts discussed separately to satisfy different levels of well-being. When merged the two can cohabit a digital or physical space in stimulating ways to inform, create new experiences and serve as a pleasing voyeuristic approach to new creative content.
If you want to break the gym/office/home routine , consider High Court a third space, outside of work and home, for offline pursuits and single-tasking. The social wellness house wants to help you improve your quality of life in a workday. It is an an urban oasis for intelligent leisure and refreshing ways to socialize. The flagship location has an opening planned for 2017 in Lower Manhattan, but before then, they are doing a short-term experience High Court Happenings in Tribeca running from July 13-17th. Here they will host yoga and meditation, healing workshops and speaker series Healthy in Design in which we will be in conversation with Alissa Wagner of Dimes on ways the modern health scene is brought forward through design.
High Courts design advisor and Stylist Margaret Williamson Bechtold is a freelance stylist and art director whose imagery understands that wellness is becoming a new status symbol amongst other trending behaviors that define us as modern a society. Pulling the plug on digital dependency, redefining traditional gender roles in parenthood, female tribing and slow fashion are all topics she handles with grace and well-rounded insight that comes with an extensive background in writing, consulting, creative and styling. After making the recent move from NYC to Austin, the present day multi-hypenate woman is not slowing down anytime soon proving the interconnectivity of wellness and design everyday through her work.
We had a moment before our discussion Healthy by Design to catch up with Margaret and learn about when she is most productive, her beautiful Instagram gallery and her favorite creators.
If a stranger stumbled across your Instagram account today, what would they be most interested to know about you?
They’d definitely see my styling work first. I’ve been using Instagram as a sort of gallery for my projects lately. I used to be (and maybe still am…at least a little bit) a very, very shy social media user. But now that I’m shooting again and making my own work, I find it so fulfilling to be able to create something and share it pretty immediately thereafter.
I didn’t know that Austin would have a need for a stylist, but I got asked to do a project pretty soon after we moved there and it’s snowballed from there. I was in that world a lifetime ago both as a freelance shoot assistant and when I assisted the creative director of Lucky magazine. I thought that chapter of my life was closed, but it just goes to show that things have a funny way of coming back around.
Also re: Instagram, I’m convinced that it’s made plugging in to a new city 1,000 times easier than ever before. Especially when it comes to plugging in to a new creative community. I’m a prolific DM’er. I find photographers to collaborate with on it, and brands find and contact me for work on it too. I do a lot of casting on Insta as well.
Do you think there is a time of day when you create your best work?
I’m pretty productive in the mornings. Nothing feels better to me than having crossed off most of my list before 11 am.
But in general, since going freelance, I’ve been really lucky to be able to get in touch with my own creativity clock and work off of that. I make my own schedule, and my time is super fluid now. No two days are alike. I try to have a mix of projects going on each day so that less fun stuff like invoicing gets balanced with something more crazy and conceptual.
I used to be so schedule-driven – on time was late to me. And that’s very possible to maintain when you’re doing one thing. But juggling multiple projects has actually made me let go of that a bit. I’ve felt myself loosen up. I think more about the day and week ahead of me rather than the month. I’m much more present these days.
What does beauty mean to you? What captivates your attention?
I’m most enamored with quietude. I like for my work to feel slightly voyeuristic, full of awkward, uninhibited moments that someone would be more likely to do in private than in something as public and permanent as a photograph. I tried to capture that in the campaign I did for my friends at High Court. They’re architecting a space that gives its members reprieve from the grind, so we created languid, stretchy, sleepy images that helped to land that feeling.
Do you have any mentors or people who have guided you throughout your career?
So many! Starting with the journalist Curtis Wilkie, who mentored me in college. I credit him for planting the idea in me early on that your interests don’t just have to have to be hobbies if you play your cards right. My little sister is my always-and-forever hero. I’d like to establish an official Sue Williamson fan club just so I can be the president. My friends from my Lucky days continue to be great sounding boards for career advice. Everyone’s gone on to do such great things! Leslie Ghize at TOBE is another great one. She’s the most empathetic boss a girl could ask for, and it shows in the business she’s built.
Who are some of your favorite media creators, photographers and artists?
Media-wise, I listen to an outrageous number of podcasts every week. I love origin stories, career dirt, long-form interviews, all of it. Girl Boss Radio and the WW Club and You Made It Weird are among my favorites. My online reading follows that same conversation line. Local Creative of course, plus The Working Pair and OK Real. I could go on and on…
On the imaging side, I’m really into Gillian Garcia and Mikael Pudelka at present. Teeth Mag and Coeval are always good for inspiration gathering. And artists: William Eggleston, Leroy Grannis, Ed Ruscha, Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Alice Neel. There are so many more!
One long term and one short term goal.
Long term: Hang loose. Trust that what you’re doing now will lead to great things, and don’t hem yourself in so much that you miss an unexpected opportunity.
Short term: Take time. Building mental lists and To-Do-Tackling strategies doesn’t get the job done. Rest more, worry less. You got this.
Travel and exploration are, in many ways, a state of mind. What’s a favorite recent discovery?
That’s so true. As much as I’ve chilled out since moving to Austin, I haven’t shaken my tendency to overwork myself. And I know better than that, too. I know that I need time to daydream, recharge and explore, but it’s easier said than done. I’m one of those people who have to get away to unwind.
My husband and I did just spend some time in Ojai though, and I highly, highly recommend it. My favorite trip tip is to buy or take a new scent while you’re on vacation, use it every day that you’re away so you’ll associate it with the place, then continue to use it when you return to your routine. My sister made a scent package for me to take on my honeymoon, and I’ve done it for every trip since. Right now mine’s the Ojai Vibes roll-on I bought in the lobby of the Ojai Rancho Inn. Instant chill.
We haven't visited Austin yet! What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
Austin is THE BEST. You have to visit immediately. Ok, shopping: vintage at Monkies, Friends & Neighbors, Prototype and Garment. Designer scores for less at MOSS and UAL. Las Cruxes and Catchtilly for mega-creative retail. End of an Ear for vinyl. Food-wise, Torchy’s for tacos and croissants at Café No Se. Grabbing a juice at JuiceLand before taking a dip in Deep Eddy pool makes for a magical afternoon. Heaven is happy hour by the pool at Hotel San José and dinner at Elizabeth Street Café. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. DM me for more ;)