I thought it would be a good time to chat about styling and what it is, because I've been getting a lot of questions about it lately. The term "stylist" is being thrown around a lot nowadays; there isn’t a clear definition of what that means. Styling may appear so easy and effortless, but it actually requires an incredible array of skills, a large amount of time, and endless patience. While a shoot or event might be over in a matter of hours, the prep work takes weeks!
So what is styling?
Styling can be defined in so many ways, but I see it as an artistic arrangement of objects in space, much like graphic design, but with three-dimensional items. My degree is in Illustration, so I have a foundation in art, color theory, and design principles.. Many of the same basic principles apply across ALL artistic genres, but things get a bit more complicated when you're dealing with real life scenarios.
How is the lighting that day? Cool or warm? Moody or bright?
Are you indoors or outdoors? Will the weather be a factor?
What backdrops and details are needed to best display the items or people being represented?
If it is a product, what styling will be appropriate for the brand?
If it is a shop/fair display, is it easy for shoppers to navigate while also looking tailored to the brand?
And after all that, how will all of these objects translate into photographs, which will then translate into print? All of these things need to be considered when planning shoots, whether it is for a product, event or editorial. Oftentimes when shooting for publications, the allowance of space for text can also be a factor. Not so simple and effortless anymore, right?
Styling doesn't stop there! A stylist's time starts with the overall idea and concept, transitions into focusing on details, moves on to sourcing all necessary details, then the actual styling, and in the end, usually the returning of any borrowed/rented/purchased items. A stylist needs to have a keen eye for color, texture, and how objects will translate in a space along with other products.
When it comes to styling events and decor, it is actually very similar. I start by getting to know the client – their likes, dislikes and what quirky things about their life/program/company can be included in the overall look. I do a lot of research on what MAKES them who they are and try to incorporate that as much as possible. Many event and decor-related styling are very personal, so it's incredibly important to make it FEEL like them or the brand.
A stylist many follow online is Emily Henderson, and she wrote a great post about A Day in the Life of a Stylist. It's a very informative read and covers many of the basics!
What is your interpretation of styling? Do you have any questions about this previously “underground” career?