So You Want To Be An Interior Stylist?
September 12, 2017
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So you want to be an interior stylist?

get a pen and start making notes - we should be charging you for this advice

Do you ever find yourself picking up a magazine and swooning over the front cover shot? Perhaps you’ve even dreamed of being the person in charge of the shoot. Or maybe you’ve just always had a keen interest in interiors, homeware or styling? Well if that’s the case, and you’re wondering about how you get can get a foot in the interior world, perhaps consider an interior stylist role. An interior stylist is the person who creates the beautiful room sets on the front covers or that person that sources a whole load of awesome props to take to someone’s house for a shoot. If this sounds like your dream job, then listen up because we’ve spoken to two top interior stylists to give you some great insight into the role and how you can work your way up from an assistant to a stylist. Get you pen and notepad at the ready…

 

interior stylist
interior stylist

We speak to interior stylists’ Emily & Laurie and pick their brains about becoming an interior stylist. If you want to know what the role entails, what you can do to impress those your working for or even how you can be prepared as an assistant on your first ever shoot, be sure to read their advice. 

Emily Dawe

www.emilydawe.com
Stylist, Writer & Craft Designer

Emily lives in London and has worked for a wealth of popular print and online publishers for the past 11 years. She’s styled for the likes of Woman’s Weekly, Style At Home, The Craft Network & Woman & Home. On top of this, Emily has hosted a number of workshops and online tutorials for companies like Heals, Paperchase & Hobbycraft, so her advice below is golden. You can view her Instagram here

 

interior stylist
interior stylist

What would be your advice for someone assisting on their first ever shoot?

Firstly, stay calm! Shoots can be rather fast and furious, especially when everyone is arriving – lots of running to and fro, unloading vans and unpacking boxes, sometimes eating on the go and not much time for ‘getting to know you’ chats. Definitely don’t take offence if you are bossed around from the word go. There are often so many shots to get through in a day, especially if you are fighting against the light in Autumn/Winter when the daylight goes at 4pm! Be SUPER helpful. Ask the stylist what they’d like you to do, unpack a box at a time (carefully, as it could be fragile) and take photos of everything that came out of that box, trust me, this will be a lifesaver at the end of the day. Bring tape, scissors, pins, blu tack, and a bottle of water! Above all, enjoy it!

interior stylist

TOP TIP

Be prepared. Bring things like masking tape, scissors, blu tack, a pen & paper to your first assisting shoot

 

interior stylist

Do you think it’s necessary to do some sort of training or course in interior styling?

 Although I didn’t do a training course in Interior Styling, I feel this would certainly be beneficial to anyone. There is definitely a distinct element of creativity needed in this industry, so I think my art and design background put me in good stead. I have also learnt A LOT from stylists and colleagues I have assisted and work alongside. But I do think you can get stuck in your ways, so I’d like to take a training course at some point to open my eyes a bit more to new ideas.  

interior stylist

How did you get into interior styling?

After completing my degree in Illustration I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I did work experience at various companies, including IPC Media (now Time Inc) where I was assisting on the Home and Craft department at Woman’s Weekly mag. I knew I loved the variety of the job; part office based with a fab team, out propping for shoots, styling and writing Home features. That sealed the deal for me, I ended up there full time, working my way up until I was Home Editor. I also worked with Woman & Home mag and on the launch for Style at Home. I went freelance last year and haven’t looked back, I love the freedom of working with a variety of exciting brands, as well as going back to my creative roots by teaching workshops at Heals and The London Craft Club. I still do some Editorial shoots, but there are so many opportunities, from PR shoots to commercial. 

Laurie Davidson

www.lauriedavidson.co.uk
Interior Stylist & Writer

Laurie is a London-based interiors writer and stylist, and works for some of the UK’s leading publications and websites, including Ideal Home, Good Homes, Homesandproperty.co.uk etc. With over 20 years experience, including five years as the Homes Editor on Style at Home magazine, she’s passionate about interiors and is a self-confessed shopaholic with a love of industrial, vintage and Scandi style. She also has an unhealthy obsession with stationery and her motto is work hard, shop harder! See her Instagram here

interior photography tips
interior photography tips

What would be your advice for someone wanting to become an interior stylist?

Getting a foot in the door isn’t always easy so try to research interior brands, popular social media accounts and other stylists, and look at what they are doing and how they are doing it well. Try styling items within your own home and create a small online gallery, whether it’s on a blog or Instagram, so that even if you don’t have a portfolio, you will at least have some images that prove you have an eye for styling. Next, try and get work experience on a magazine or assist a stylist, it’s the best way to learn on the job. You can look up stylists online, or flip through magazines and you’ll see the stylist’s names credited alongside features. There isn’t a huge amount of interior styling courses (I think Central St Martins has a short one), so the easiest way is to learn from others. Starting as an assistant is a must…
…with regards to what you can expect, you’ll need to be creative, organised and have a cheerful outlook – often the days are long and you’ll need to keep up a sense of enthusiasm. You’ll also be expected to deal with couriers, set builders, photographers, PRs, brands and editorial teams, all of whom will expect you to be on form at all times, so this isn’t a job for the shy! Saying that, it’s a very rewarding job and if you’ve got a real passion for interiors, then it’s a dream role.
interior photography tips

What challenges do you find yourself overcoming during a shoot?

The main thing I’ve learned is to always have back-up options – for everything! Couriers have been known not to turn up with props, items arrive broken, sometimes things don’t look as you expected so you need to already be three steps ahead. On a recent Christmas shoot we had a mechanical expanding tree that the company wanted to use, only it had been sent minus the electrical lead that enabled it to expand, so it was more like a mini tree. Luckily we had a couple of back-up options!
When shooting real homes for magazines, there have been times when the commissioning editor has asked for a shot of a room that they particularly want, but when we’ve arrived at the owner’s house they’ve either changed the room around or it’s actually a lot smaller than it looked and we can’t get the exact angle they’ve requested. In these cases, you need to be experienced enough to know how to work around it and still produce a shot that they will be happy with. Then there’s the small challenges, such as when it’s raining and you’re shooting a garden, or it’s bright sunshine and you need the shot to look autumnal. A lot of it comes with experience though and sometimes the challenges are the things that you look back on and laugh about – it certainly tests your creativity!
interior photography tips

TOP TIP

Reach out & offer your help for free to gain work experience and contacts for your first couple of assisting shoots. 

 

interior stylist

Whats your top tip for creating a beautifully styled shot?

This is a tough one, as it’s quite different depending on what type of picture you’re after, however I’d say that sometimes it’s the finishing touches that really take a shot from average to beautiful. Pulling a rug half into shot to break up a big expanse of floor space, layering up a bed with lots of different textures to add interest, or even laying a flower stem so that it’s creeping into shot on a flat lay – little things like that can make a big difference. Slapdash doesn’t work with styling; you need to be able to work quickly but also be able to know at a glance if it needs extra touches to make it extra special. If it’s a full room shot, check for anything unsightly – are there wires showing? Plug sockets? Is it too busy? Too empty? Are the items clear as to what they are? Does it make you want to snuggle into the bed or long for a kitchen like it? Those are the questions a good stylist would be asking.

 If you’re feeling inspired, get in touch with Topology to see how we can help you on the right track to becoming an interior stylist. 

Photo Credit: Colin Poole, Jeremy Phillips, Lizzie Orme, Sussie Bell & Simon Whitmore

Leave a Reply

2 comments

  1. Great post! Some super useful tips, especially those questions that Laurie says you should be asking yourself looking at room shots. I started assisting stylists this year and hope I can give up my 9-5 soon… Freelancing sounds like a scary thing, but hopefully it’s equally as exciting! Rx

  2. Great article!!! Laurie and Emily are the best! Great timing for this, since I’ve started my own business I’ve been wanting to do interior styling as well so thanks for the motivation 🙂