Styling is one element of interior design that I’d love to dip my creative toe into (and it’s one of my new years resolutions – remember those?!). So when I had the fortune to meet Homes & Antiques Stylist Kiera Buckley-Jones I was intrigued to find out about her career and the wonderful world of interior styling. I know many of my fellow readers and bloggers would love to find out more about this amazing industry too so instead of keeping all the juicy details to myself I interviewed Kiera to discover just how the hell do you become a magazine stylist!
HOP Did you always know that you wanted to enter the fabulous world of Styling
KBJ For a while I was drawn to interiors magazines as well as sewing, drawing and making. I realised that I could put my interests and skills to use and enter the world of magazine styling. I even used to make little displays and installations as a child and get my parents and neighbours to come and have a look. There were the shoe box room sets, the post holiday shell extravaganza and the Christmas bedroom display in October. I’ll say no more.
I knew I had to do something creative but also needed a role with deadlines to put that to good use. So interior magazines seemed like a perfect fit.
HOP How did it all begin?
KBJ I actually studied ‘English literature’ at university, followed by an art foundation course. I was drawn to magazines and literature but wanted to a job that was a bit more hands-on and practical. With styling you’re still story telling just using different skills.
I spent several years doing work experience under stylist’s at SHE, Homes and Gardens, the Telegraph magazine and Living etc. In all I spent four years as a junior shadowing stylists, running errands and organising press returns before I got a chance to do any actual styling myself. But I think assisting is essential to get the training and a rounded understanding of the industry.
HOP What challenges did you face as a Stylist?
KBJ The main challenge is that there aren’t many stylist roles around, they come up every few years and it’s a very competitive field. So it’s being patient and hard working before you may get a chance to have a go yourself. But once you start building up relationships with stylists you admire it becomes a lot easier to keep working.
HOP Describe a typical 24 hours at Homes & Antiques Magazine
KBJ Most of my role as a stylist at Homes and Antiques is plate balancing. There’s a lot of logistics to oversee and keep on top off. Lots of research too, being an antiques and vintage focused mag means checking you have the right items to shoot. Organising the items getting to and from the shoot on time. Booking locations, assistants, photographers, not to mention coming up with the concept for your shoot. There is tons of preparation before you get to the fun bit of making it all look pretty. But it’s the build up and the adrenaline of balancing all of these elements, which can be exciting too.
HOP What are your top tips for anyone wanting to become a full time stylist with a magazine or someone who is thinking of a career change
KBJ Well, as I mentioned before it’s a really competitive field so you need to be able to work hard. Also you might have to work for free for a time to build up experience and contacts. Though I do think the industry is changing, especially in the eight years I’ve been here. With the popularity of Pinterest and Instagram, and the emergence of lots of free online content maybe more possibilities will open up.
But if you’re gonna have a go, first approach your favourite magazines or stylist’s you admire, and see if you can get some work experience. At least then you can get some hands on experience and decided if it’s really the career for you. Though assisting it quite physical, you’ll be unloading and repacking props, but if you’re serious no experience will be wasted.
HOP Where do you draw your inspiration from for each shoot or project
KBJ The shoots I get to style at Homes and Antiques vary a great deal, it’s been ballgowns to stamps, walking sticks to Danish mid century ceramics. So I guess it’s from the subjects themselves and I love having this variety. But ideas for subjects for shoots come from everywhere, we have all of the past to play with. Be it seeing something great at an antiques fair, or in a period drama or seeing a new fashion trend emerge and want to research it’s historical origins.
As we’re aware a lot of trends go and remerge. For example there is lot of fabric and wallpaper around with fern motifs. Well this is based on the Victorian fashion for all things ‘fern’. Things really do come and go. What is seen as old and past it, can the next time be seen at the very latest thing.
HOP If I was stuck on a desert island, my three creative must haves would be…
KBJ …Well, lots of notebooks and fine line black pens for drawing with. I get really impatient with knitting, so I guess being on a desert island would give me plenty of time to focus on it. Though may be a little hot on that island, maybe knitted swimwear? Can I bring my wardrobe? Think I’d need to accessorise that knitted bikini with a basket bag, a floppy hat and a fifties sundress.
HOP I’m most happiest when…
KBJ …I’m having a rummage. I’m a sucker for a flea market, jumble sale, charity shops, Ebay search anything where there is a possibility of finding a gem!
Exploring cities as one neighbourhood merges into an another, you never no what you’re going to come across, it might even be another charity shop!
All images credited: Photographers: Carolyn Barber and Rachel Whiting
Images supplied by: Kiera Buckley-Jones for