Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Kobos, BFA Studio Art '12
Sarah Kobos is the Senior Photo Editor at Wirecutter, a part of the New York Times. Read on to learn more about Sarah’s life and the start to her career after she graduated from the School of Visual Art and Design, and how she is now living her dream in New York City.
Hi Sarah! Since graduating with your BFA degree in Studio Art in 2012, what have you been doing?
The first year after I graduated in 2012 with a BFA in Studio Art — Photography and a minor in Art History— was a whirlwind. I worked as a studio assistant/retoucher/younameit at George Fulton's studio and then, figured out a way to move to NYC and hustle hard for a long time with a weird start. Eventually I started some ongoing freelance gigs at ABC News digital, Getty Images, etc. At ABC I worked on breaking news and curated photo galleries full of art I thought was beautiful, and photojournalism I thought was striking. I also pushed my way into creating original photography for our site. Curating led to me being a juror for a few photography competitions, including Critical Mass, and reviewing portfolios at the International Center for Photography. I then went on to be the Associate Photo Editor at BuzzFeed's lifestyle section. When we merged teams, I moved up to Photo Editor. I worked on celebrity photoshoots, retouching images, photo essays, training the company on best practices, and working with photo agencies, creating content for social media, and running some of our social channels. Their legal team created the position of Rights and Clearances Manager for me, that entailed a lot of what I was already doing, so I took it as I wanted to learn more, and I really enjoyed it. I reviewed our videos, created training for the entire company on photo and video rights for editorial and advertising. I also continued to work with photo agencies. While I found a voice working in media law I didn't know I had, I felt I wanted to get back to my roots so my next career move was to become the Senior Photo Editor at Wirecutter, part of the New York Times. Here, I am photographing nearly every day, styling shoots, planning what direction we want to take our visuals, handling assignments for our team, and working with editors and writers to bring our guides to life. It's a dream and I'm so excited for what's to come.”
What advice would you offer to students getting their BFA degree?
While you're working on your degree - please branch out. Be a jack of all trades. And most importantly, don't run away from the "boring" things. Take business and law classes - that knowledge will be so important and I wish it was part of my degree (you would be surprised how many artists and creators don't know their rights and don't know what the platforms they put their work on have in the fine print.) Do freelance work. Do extra-circulars. That's where I supplemented my art degree and learned vital skills that started to ready me for my future career.
What do you know now that wish you knew as an undergraduate student?
When you're going forth in the industry, you will get ahead by being kind, networking, reaching out, and knowing your worth and trusting your gut. Don't work for free. If companies know they can get someone to do things for free, they won't need to hire people or keep people employed, which makes jobs more scarce and the pool much larger. Industries, while they seem big from the outside, are teeny from the inside - do not burn bridges. Don't be petty. Don't be jealous. Do always be willing to learn and adapt. Don't be scared to ask for help. Do affirm your skills and know when you can handle things. It will always be your job to prove your and your craft's importance, and to recognize when it might need to shift. Also, don't burn yourself out and use your vacation days!
You can find Sarah’s work spread throughout the digital pages of ABC News, Buzzfeed, and the New York Times.