Interview with Valorant Talent Stylist, Christina “Ziska”
Yoann: Hello everyone! Today I'm with Christina, she works for Valorant as a Talent Stylist. Could you introduce yourself?
Christina: I'm Christina. I'm 29 years old and I live in Berlin. And yes, I do work for Valorant. My coworker, Mina and I joined the team a year ago.
Yoann: Right, how could you describe your job?
Christina: I'm a freelancer, I actually have three different jobs. So I'm a stylist mostly in esports for Valorant. And then I'm also a creative director for different editorials and campaigns. And then I also do productions for music videos and fashion campaigns.
Yoann: Oh, that's cool! So how would you describe your style?
Christina: Most of my work is in the “street wear” segment. I do a little bit of high fashion, but it's mostly street wear.
Yoann: When and how did you get into styling, and why in esports?
Christina: So I got into styling pretty early on in college. I always liked clothes, But then in college we had different magazines. So I started joining them. We started organizing shoots.
So I got my first experience. I was like 19. And then I went to school in the US and when I moved back to Germany, I started just doing small, editorials with my friends, started shooting with people, and then I worked full time at a corporate streetwear company. I always loved styling, so I continued, just always working with stylists, styling myself.
And then eventually got to work in esports. It was really random. I didn't even know esports existed. And then my friend and now coworker, she called me last summer, for Masters 3 Berlin. It was like, Hey, can you do a Valorant event in like three days with me? Can you block the next two weeks?
And I was like, All right. I guess so we had to just show up and then we got introduced to this entire new world that we did not know of.
Yoann: Yeah, that's very good. So was working for Valorant, in an esport different from your past work experiences?
Christina: The fashion scene is very specific. People have specific ideas, they have a lot of opinions.
And working in esports, we realize people are so nice, they're so humble, they're so loving, they're so open-minded. So we get to be very creative and pitch new ideas and just really try different things, where everybody's very respectful and appreciates and values your work. So that has been quite the difference. We just want to stay in esports.
Yoann: That’s interesting! Do you play Valorant in your free time? Maybe with friends, casters or players?
Christina: People make fun of us a lot because we are the two girls that haven't played Valorant. I really want to, my friend managed to do a playtest in Copenhagen that I wasn't able to join. So she played it once.
I never played, I've been talking to some of the players but I don't have a PC at home. But we've been planning that next event. Hopefully, I get to try it during Game Changers. We'll be extremely excited to work with the female players.
Yoann: How important is it for you to have a great team environment inside and outside work at Valorant?
Christina: It's so important because especially during these events or even on set for a music video, you spend hours together and there are a lot of times where it's extremely hectic and you have to work very quickly.
It's so important to have somebody you can communicate with openly. You can exchange feedback, you can be professional, and just have fun! So I got extremely lucky working with my best friend and sharing that experience because we spend a lot of time together during these events.
Yoann: What are your hobbies/passions aside from Styling?
Christina: Fashion is my hobby, but I also love to travel a lot. I exercise, I go ride my horse sometimes, and I dance a little too. Try all of that fun stuff when I'm in town. And then I started making stuff out of pearls like little bags and tops.
So I don't have many hobbies that are not related to my job.
Yoann: Okay. It's fantastic when your job is your passion!
Christina: Yeah, I love my job so much, I got lucky!
Yoann: What’s your preparation routine before events?
Christina: We have to shop all the clothes for the different talents. We have like three huge boxes filled with clothes that we bring to every event.
My friend is a designer so she can alter some of the clothes and mix them up. For each event we try to buy new things that are in trend, what's the season, which country are we going to, what's the style in the country to work with that new culture.
And then sometimes we get new talents so we just have to see what their feedback is. Last event, they're like, Oh, I'd like to wear more bomber jackets, or, This works well for me. So we're just shopping a lot.
Yoann: Right, do you help Benkai for example?
Christina: We usually just work with casters and analysts. We don't really interact with the players. I think it started in Copenhagen. We started working with Benkai for one of his scene entrances.
And so we started getting into that and told Riot that we would love to work with the players. So we got to be part of features, which is the video they shoot with some of the players. So we got to meet them, which was super fun.
Yoann: So is there a difference between the esports industry and fashion?
Christina: I think eSports is just more progressive and inclusive. I feel like there's so much more creative freedom to express yourself.
There are not that many limits set also because fashion is just getting more involved in esports, so that's really fun.
I mean the fashion industry is slowly realizing that esports is a fun place.
So it's been really fun seeing both worlds kind of merge slowly.
Yoann: Have you been involved in the Riot merchandising?
Christina: No. We’re not involved with the merchandise yet, that's a different department.
Yoann: All right, what are your short-terms and long-term ambitions?
Christina: Well, I would like to work more internationally. So that's definitely a goal. Mina and I, we're a team, so we'd like to stay that way and just we really would like to be more involved in esports.
Yoann: Very cool! Which team are you supporting right now?
Christina: So Fanatic is our number one team. We're really biased because we're friends with Yinsu Collins. Then of course Paper Rex because of Benkai.
We also became really close with the Optic team. Unfortunately, they're not gonna be there next year, but this year we really rooted for them as well. So those three.
Yoann: Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Christina: I just think that a lot of people see we've done a lot of things for Valorant with the fashion but I don't think a lot of people understand the process that's behind it. It’s not only picking clothes, it's working with the people. It's very different than in fashion where you work with models and they just wear what you give them.
Working with talents is different, you have to take their personality, you have to see what they're comfortable with. And making sure everything looks good on screen, there's so much that goes into the process of creating an outfit for this show. And we've been having a lot of fun working with everybody because they're very open-minded.
Hopefully people see it and pay attention to our stuff. We really try to make a difference.
Yoann: Yeah, I think it was very interesting for people that don't really know what's going on behind the scenes. Thank you so much!
Christina: I'm glad. Thank you!