Off Duty: Creative Director, Musician, Painter, & DJ Brianna Lance

Written By James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by: The Bleu

The morning of my photo shoot with 30-something Brianna Lance, I was up and ready to roll with time to stop for a coffee first, and I was in my Uber and scheduled to arrive at her door with a cool five minutes to spare — just how I like it. Once I arrived, I responded to a few emails by the curb before making my way up the front steps. She gave me an apartment number, but I didn’t see it on the front of the building, so I sent her a quick text letting her know I was right outside. It didn’t take long for us both to realize that I had keyed in the correct address, but to the wrong borough. I had traveled to Brooklyn and Brianna lived in East Village — shit! I called another car to pick me up and luckily Brianna had her morning cleared, so a slight delay in start time was going to be A-okay!

Once I made it to Brianna’s place I was greeted by her warm smile, possibly the most houseplants per square foot I have ever seen, and the cutest Pomeranian named Larry — who also has a great smile, which you’ll witness below. After a brief and breezy chat to acquaint ourselves and discovering we have some friends and a plethora of interests in common, we got to work, which really doesn’t feel like work, and I learned all about the tall drink of water / Texas native turned New Yorker, and her many creative roles. I left our time together smiling (her’s is contagious), inspired to prioritize more of the things that bring me joy, and armed with a slew of ace recommendations for vintage shopping and vegan food before my trek back to Williamsburg. Enjoy.

Vintage Shirt from Clio Vintage. Vintage Chanel pants. Ganni Shoes.
Vintage Shirt from Clio Vintage. Vintage Chanel pants. Ganni Shoes.

How do you typically spend a day off when the work can wait?  “I normally don’t let myself have a day off. I like to always live in a place where I’m producing, but I do take one day a week to hang out with friends.”

Do you sleep-in on your days off?  “I do sleep in until nine or 10.”

How many times (if any) do you hit snooze?  “Like five, every morning.”

What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?  “I make coffee and stare into space for a good 30 minutes. Then meditate, then exercise.”

What’s on your bedside table?  “Nicolette gum, the book I’m reading, and a glass of water.”

What’s the story behind your home and how long have you lived there?  “I’ve lived in this apartment for nine months. It came to me when I wasn’t even looking for a new place to live, but it’s my dream space. It’s not that fancy, but the energy is so good.”

A few things you cherish in your home and why?  “Honestly, my cherished objects are my plants. I have 40 and can’t pick a favorite.”

Tell us about the art in your home.  “Almost all the art is from friends that they made. So, it’s just tokens of my favorite people.”

Where do you find / shop for home decor?   “I shop at the plant store on 1st Avenue and 10th Street in NYC (I don’t know the name), and when I need things, I usually find them on Etsy.”

What are some must-read books you’d recommend?  “The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, and Be Here Now by Ram Dass.”

Favorite Netflix series?  “Russian Doll is my current favorite because it’s the first thing I’ve seen that deals with existence in such an overt way.”

Any good podcasts you recommend?  “I love What’s The Tee? with Rupaul.”

Coffee table books and magazines you love?  “Oh my god, any book by an artist you love is amazing. Right now my Hilma af Klint book is one of my favorites. I guest edit sometimes for So It Goes Magazine, so I have a bias opinion that that is a must read.”

Favorite candles?  “Apotheke.”

Brianna's paintings.
Brianna's paintings.

What are your hobbies?  “I make every hobby I have a job, so at this point exercise is my only hobby.”

Tell us about your painting process.  “I try and think about what I want to talk about first, then actually sit down to paint that message. I also repaint and repaint and repaint, essentially until the day before a show. It’s never good enough for me.”

Night in or night out? How do you spend it?  “Both. Sometimes you need people to lift you up and sometimes they can suck you dry. So, you have to really listen to yourself and what you need.”

Larry's smile.
Larry's smile.

Tell us about Larry.  “She’s basically a perfect entity. [Laughs] She is my two-year-old Pomeranian, my best friend, a fluffy terrorist, and also a total flirt.”

Song on repeat?  “Follow Me by Aly-Us.”

Signature scent?  “Histoires De Parfums’ Ambre 114.”

Dries Van Noten shirt. Veda leather pants. and Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes.
Dries Van Noten shirt. Veda leather pants. and Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes.

Describe your personal style / style philosophy.  “I don’t really have one, and I’ve been asked this before. I think it’s more instinctual and less something I consciously think about.”

What’s the one thing in your closet you would save in a fire?  “Nothing. I would be too worried about my plants and my dog. You can buy new clothes.”

Your first fashion splurge?  “I bought really expensive Prada boots and wore them until they fell apart.”

What do you wear when you’re spending the day comfortable, at home, and off duty?  “A vintage silk embroidered robe.”

Who, what, where inspires your style the most?  “I think I have so much information in my head at once I just mash all of it up together and something halfway presentable comes out.”

What’s on your want list?  “I want all these ancient Roman rings I keep saving images of (but only museums get them) and some really beautiful, giant raw silk button-up I can’t seem to find the right version of, Lemaire trousers, a Bode quilted jacket, and every single thing The Frankie Shop sells.”

Your five wardrobe staples, go…  “Vintage Levi’s, white tee, Frankie Shop khaki trousers, Staud clothing tank, and Dôen velvet slippers.”

Favorite designers / brands and why?  “Staud Clothing, her sense of color and fun is really joyful. Bode, I have never coveted everything from a brand more. Lemaire, it’s the chicest. Ganni, I feel like they just make super wearable clothing. Dries [Van Noten], no one makes things that feel more special.”

Very favorite online shop?”

If you could raid one person’s closet (dead or alive), who’s would it be and why?  “I would raid Yves Saint Laurent’s sample room. I feel like there is a lifetime of perfect things there.”

In your opinion, what are the best vintage clothing stores in the City?  “I have to take a big breath for this one because I have so many vintage shop loves. Edith Machinist, Local Clothing, Duo NYC, 9th Street Haberdashery, and Ritual Vintage.”

Dresses or jeans?  “In summer, dresses. In winter, jeans.”

Heels or flats?  “Flats. Always.”

Vintage or new?  “Vintage.”

Breakfast / brunch of choice?  “I love The Smile’s quinoa bowl for late weekend breakfast.”

Coffee or tea? How do you take it?  “I have coffee I brew at home with cardamom and cinnamon, then add Bliss Booster by Moodbeli, stevia, and almond milk.”

Favorite local cup?  “I don’t have one because I like the coffee I make at home the best.”

Fave cookbooks?  “I never follow recipes. I always just make up whatever I am cooking as I go along.”

Favorite local restaurant and your go-to order?  “Divya’s Kitchen — The Kitchari.”

Regular Postmates / takeout order?Souen, Tahini Miso Ramen.”

How long have you been vegan / plant-based?  “I’ve been since I was 10 years old, so it’s really the only way I remember eating and being. I have nothing to compare it to.”

Any supplements you take / magic elixirs you make or swear by?  “I love adaptogens by Moodbeli. I think it really helps keep my hormones in check.”

Most-loved kitchen gadgets?  “My blender is amazing. It’s a Vitamix and I feel could blend a pile of rocks into a smoothie if needed.”

How do you stay active? Do you work out?  “I work out all the time. I try and walk five miles at least three days a week and do yoga, pilates three days and week, and ballet training one day a week with Richer Movement.”

What does self-care look like for you when you’re off duty?  “I meditate, exercise, see a shaman, take baths in different potions — I need a lot of help.”

You decide to treat yourself, how do you indulge?  “I feel like when I get indulgent I take a trip to the Caribbean. That’s the place that makes me feel the most spoiled.”

Frankie Shop Boiler Suit. Vintage Red Suede shoes.
Frankie Shop Boiler Suit. Vintage Red Suede shoes.

Tell us a bit about the many facets of what you do.  “I, for some reason, cringe at talking about work just because the answer is so long-winded. I consult on creative direction for different fashion and beauty companies to help them achieve their best version of their vision. I DJ because I love music and also working. I paint because I’m crazy and need some place to put that. I make music because I’m extra crazy and painting can’t hold all of the unexpressed feelings I have.”

How did you get started in these fields?  “I moved to New York and was asked to join a band when dancing at a concert. I’ve been in Bands ever since. I have on and off sold paintings since I was 17. I have painted and taken art classes since I was a little girl. I stated DJing because when you’re in a band, people ask you to DJ all the time. I started editing for a magazine because they featured my band in the magazine, and I developed a relationship with the team. I started consulting after being in-house as a creative director for two different companies and finding a really amazing agent (Pool Creatives) who approached me to start a career freelance.”

Who / what has been your biggest inspiration?  “I think trying to find my purpose on the planet is what drives me. I still haven’t found or recognized it, but I will keep you posted.”

What does a typical work day look like?  “Each day is so, so different. I could be with a client all day or painting at home all day or in a recording studio or trying to mash all things into one day, and then DJing at night. I set my life up to make sure I don’t get too comfortable.”

Typical work lunch?  “Some days no lunch, other days a macrobiotic dish from Souen. I don’t like eating lunch when I’m busy because it slows me down.”

In such a competitive grouping of industries, how do you stay focused, positive, and keep up with the Jonses?  “I don’t really feel competitive with anyone. I think there is abundance for people who want to add increase to those around them. All of my insecurities are with my own expectations for myself and my own negative dialogue.”

Your keys to productivity?  “I feel like if I’m not making something I have less value, so that insecurity propels me forward.”

Can you tell us how you remedy being in a creative funk?  “Push through. Nothing is permanent and not everyday is going to be your best, but some days will.”

Any advice to other women looking to start a creative career following their passions?  “I think just don’t think you have any other options. If you need to create, you will do it. It is bound to come out. I never really thought I had anything else I could do. If you’re just starting, find people you find inspiring and go work for them and learn.”

Any exciting news or upcoming projects on the horizon?  “I’m illustrating a children’s book right now, so keep a look out for that.”

Written by: James Kicinski-McCoy

James Kicinski-McCoy is the 40-something Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Bleu. She likes tequila, picks fights with her husband so she can have the bed to herself, and is trying to figure out that work / life balance.

1 Comment

  1. S

    August 4, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Love this. Obviously she’s very driven and single minded but gosh this seems like a tough interview!
    PS I think you mean Nicorette gum though (for quitting smoking—not Nicolette)


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