I met some really cool ladies this week. I was working on the styling team for Next’s Christmas catalogue (I know – one of the weird things about this industry is that Christmas comes around June-August. The last three days were spent wrapping presents, hanging baubles, and scattering fake snow…). The shoot was directed by the amazing Pippa Jameson, and I was assisting super-slick stylists Maxine Brady and Andrea Mongenie. It was an a really, really good three days, and I’ve come away feeling like I’ve learned so much more about the industry – and the art of styling a flat-lay (posts to follow)! It got me thinking about what personality traits make a great interior stylist…
TOP TIP: if you want to get into this industry, learn as much as you can from the other stylists you work with. They got to where they are through lots of hard work, and their advice is invaluable. Shout out to Maxine – she was so patient & really willing to share her knowledge with me (check out her awesome blog & work here).
1. You have ‘the eye’
Ah, that mysterious gift that means you just innately know what looks good and what doesn’t… You probably already know whether or not you have ‘the eye’. The good thing is that you can train your eye. The more you read, browse, & soak up interiors inspo, the more you fine-tune your instincts about style. You’ll learn about what textures, materials, shapes, and patterns go together, and when to break the rules.
2. You’re a perfectionist
All the best stylists I’ve worked with have a really high attention to detail. Watching Andrea and Maxine working on their flatlays this week was like a masterclass in perfectionism. Props were being moved in millimeters; textiles ironed, steamed, and artfully re-creased; backgrounds meticulously cleaned of any imperfections. Every ‘effortless’, ‘lived in’ interiors photo you’ve seen in a magazine has been painstakingly built up, tweaked, and primped by a stylist to make it look the way it does. If you’re naturally a perfectionist, you’re already three steps ahead in making it as an interior stylist.
3. You’re insanely well-organised
This may be one of the most important qualities of a good interior stylist. You will have to find brilliant locations, co-ordinate logistics, source props, direct other crew members, keep your shoot space organised, and ensure all props are returned at the end of a shoot. It’s a pretty tall order! You have to be a great communicator, and literally have your phone on you at all times. Bringing everything together takes really good organisational skills. Time-keeping is super important too – making sure that you’re at the location on time is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re having props made, you have to have a water-tight time-frame; any hired props have to be delivered back to the prop houses on time to avoid charges; the shoot has to be wrapped on schedule…
4. You’re a people-person
So important! So much of the work is passed around through word of mouth and recommendation. It’s really important to be friendly and get on well with people that you work with, because they could be a source of future work. It’s a pretty small industry and people tend to know each other, so let your rep precede you in a good way!
5. You have a ‘can-do’ attitude
I’ve been on very few shoots where everything has gone exactly to plan. Nine times out of ten, there will be some kind of problem to overcome, so optimism & initiative are really good traits for a stylist. You can almost always find a good work-around, it’s just about being in the right frame of mind and having confidence in your problem solving abilities. The more styling I do, the more I am learning to think outside the box and see obstacles as a welcome challenge.
6. You aren’t afraid of hard work
As fun as shoots are, they are tiring AF. You will be on your feet for at least eight hours, and sometimes up to twelve. Expect to spend a lot of time kneeling, crouching, stretching, carrying heavy boxes, climbing ladders… It’s definitely not a desk job! I really love this aspect of it. Working with your hands is really satisfying. It’s a really good feeling to know you’ve earned your dinner at the end of the day!
So, what do you think?! Can you tick off the boxes? Got anything to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!