In our latest Q&A on the Journal, we talk to leading interior stylist, Anna Mackie. Anna has worked with a wide range of brands including John Lewis and Zoffany. Her projects range from set design to brand consulting to prop styling. A&O worked with Anna on our first collection and so we thought it would be brilliant to share her story with you. We started by asking Anna how she got into styling?
I worked in various parts of the fashion industry before going back to university to study interior design, but ended up landing a job afterwards as an assistant stylist in-house at a big furnishing company. I quickly realised that creating images was what I had been searching for in terms of finding satisfaction in my career and that it had always been set design and composition of imagery that I’d liked about fashion.
You studied Interior Design and Fashion, which both seem to play a vital role in your styling. Your sets often include beautiful fabrics. Can you tell us more about this part of your background?
I’ve played with fabrics from a young age and decided I wanted to be a fashion designer at 11 just like Stella McCartney. (I was vegetarian then, now vegan, and admired her ethics as well as her designs!) I specialised in communication, however, in the second year of my fashion degree as I was more drawn to the magazine/styling/set design and general visual side of things by that point. Moving into interiors later on further established my love for fabrics and I enjoy working with them alongside hard materials. I’m drawn to contrasts in materials, and textures and fabrics are so easy to manipulate into beautiful shapes and play with lighting and form.
Was it tough starting out on your own as a stylist?
I was lucky in some ways as I left my job at Style Library (now Sanderson Design Group) having styled some pretty big and intense shoots and also with the promise of freelance shoots for them already lined up. I also networked hard before I left with brands I’d met from loaning props and at design fairs etc to get some potential work in the diary. That said, it wasn’t easy making the transition and obviously took some getting used to. But I would definitely not go back, even after the last year of uncertainty and the lack of support small creative businesses have received. I still feel I have less of an ‘in’ in certain parts of the industry because I did not assist lots of stylists on editorial shoots, for example. However, I know my varied work experience and background in fabrics, interiors and fashion gives me a USP no one else has.
What are you excited about in the interiors world at the moment?
I think colour is exciting right now. There are bolder choices being made and thank God finally grey is less of a constant. Sustainability and eco-friendly materials being at the forefront of design is a hugely positive sign for the future.
How would you describe your style?
I think it’s quite eclectic, but in a refined way! I find it super hard to pinpoint my own style as obviously I have to align my design work with whichever brand I am working for as part of my job. I am definitely not a minimalist, however much I sometimes would like to be! But I’m also not someone who goes OTT on colour and pattern.
Can you paint us a picture of your home?
We live in a new build and it’s definitely not my dream home. I have used colour and a mixture of new and antique pieces and oversized artwork to add my personality but, as with any London flat, space is an issue so I try desperately not to have too much clutter around, despite that being rather difficult in my job!
Do you have a starting point when you’re planning a shoot? What do you reach for first?
At the beginning, I like to be quite practical in gathering the elements together that build the picture of the shoot relatively quickly. Alongside this, my first port of call will be research and mood-boarding the overall look and feel before I delve into details. I usually have a strong idea from the get-go on how it will turn out and I just need to allow the journey to happen to get to that end point.
Any tips for new stylists starting out?
I didn’t come the usual route of assisting but you don’t have to. I think having diverse experience in the creative industries is just as important. That said, you’ll need to be willing to intern/assist and really throw yourself into it and have copious amounts of energy and enthusiasm. Attention-to-detail is absolutely key.
Photography by Veerle Evens.