Anna Mackie: A day in the life of an interiors stylist

When she’s not hanging out at stunning locations, attending industry shows and working with beautiful pieces of design, Anna Mackie is spending the other 95 per cent of her time in leggings and trainers packing and unpacking her car and carrying really heavy, awkward props…she tells interiors PR specialists Homestyle PR why she still gets a thrill when she sees the finished results…

Anthology’s brand new wallpaper collection ‘Anthology 05′ shoot, with photography by Damian Russell, and Anna on a recent shoot (photo: Jon Aaron Green)
Anthology’s brand new wallpaper collection ‘Anthology 05′. Photography: Damian Russell. Anna gets to work on a recent project. Photography: Jon Aaron Green

Tell us a little about how you started out as an interiors stylist; have you always been interested in interiors?

I studied fashion and worked in several different areas of the creative industries; at Net-A-Porter in shoot production, at an online magazine creating video content about art and design and at a trend forecasting agency.

I was obsessed with fashion magazines from a young age and I was always intrigued by the set design and fantastical story-telling in editorials and ad campaigns. I decided to go back to uni and study interior design at Chelsea College of Art after finding myself unfulfilled in a non-creative role, albeit at a creative company.

At 26 that felt like a risk but I’m so glad I did it as all of the different twists and turns of my career led me to where I am now. After Chelsea I interned and freelanced at interior design companies on both residential and commercial projects and also assisted on a few interiors shoots. I knew I wanted to work on the creative not technical side of interiors and eventually landed a job at what is now called Style Library where I started assisting and then styling shoots and designing displays for their showrooms and exhibitions.

Anna at work (Jon Aaron Green) and Sanderson Cushions with Andy Gore: Photography by Andy Gore for Sanderson cushions in a studio in Wolverhampton
Preparations are underway for another project. Photography by Jon Aaron Green. A Sanderson cushions shoot beautifully styled by Anna with photography by Andy Gore

It seems like a very glamorous career, which projects have you worked on recently and what is inspiring you at the moment?

I would say it’s about 5% glamorous as I spend most of my time in leggings and trainers packing and unpacking my car, carrying really heavy and awkward props and doing post office runs. On a shoot it’s Go,Go,Go constantly, so generally I look and feel a complete mess!

I only went freelance in May last year so I am really enjoying expanding my client list and working with different brands and products and styling more still life imagery. My recent projects include styling an exhibition stand for Content, by Terence Conran at the January Furniture show at the NEC, a men’s fragrance shoot, a new sofa collection, a pretty abstract jewellery shoot and even an alcoholic beverage ad! I suppose the glamorous part is shooting in amazing location houses, attending design weeks and press launches and also getting to work with some seriously beautiful pieces of design with very hefty price tags.

Anthology Definition Shoot With Andy Gore: Probably the most ambitious shoot to date, shot in two locations across Switzerland. Getting two luton lorries into the country full of expensive props was a nightmare… but worth it! Photography by Andy Gore for Anthology’s wallpaper collection ‘Definition’
Anthology Wallpaper Definition shoot with photography by Andy Gore: Anna describes her styling work as ‘probably the most ambitious job to date, shot in two locations across Switzerland’

What is a typical day like for you?

It’s a cliché but it’s never ever the same! Some days are spent frantically running around London propping, whilst others are spent at my desk researching ideas, creating new contacts and updating my website and blog. If I’m prepping for a shoot I may be driving to recce [reconnaissance] a couple of locations, visiting prop houses and picking up and returning emails on my phone about all the different aspects of the shoot.

Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love finding new pieces of design to include in my shoots. A lot of a stylist’s time is spent sourcing very specific props to create the right feel for whatever brief you are working on. It’s also pretty incredible when you walk into a potential location and it’s basically a palace! I always get a thrill seeing the final retouched images launch as it’s often several months after you have finished the shoot. I’m all about creating visually appealing and unusual compositions and I really enjoy it when the set has been built and the camera is in position and I can then work with the photographer to place and tweak the props to create a really stunning image.

ZOFFANY SHOOT WITH CHRIS EVERARD Photography by Chris Everard for Zoffany’s furniture collection ‘The Curator Collection’ shot in MC Motors in Dalston
Zoffany’s furniture collection ‘The Curator Collection’ shoot. Atmospheric styling by Anna and photography by Chris Everard

What sets you apart from other interiors stylists and do you collaborate with anyone?

Despite my rather winding career path I actually think that my diverse experience gives me a real USP [unique selling point] as a stylist. I love researching lots of different areas of art and design, including architecture and fashion and creating mood boards with lots of different influences to inform the shoot. Once you actually get to the shoot it’s a real team effort and so my collaborators are the photographers, assistants, set builders, couriers and retouchers. Since becoming freelance I have done several test shoots which are so much fun as you can really explore ideas that you might not be able to when the brief is set by someone else. It’s great to meet and work with new photographers who have a similar vision.

Have you thought about the next steps in your career?

Freelance still feels quite new to me and so it’s really about building on that and continuing to work with new brands and I’d really love to work on more editorial shoots.

HARLEQUIN LUCERO SHOOT WITH ANDY GORE Photography by Andy Gore for Harlequin’s fabric and wallpaper collection ‘Lucero” shot in split-locations in Chiswick and Clapton
Anna used her styling expertise for Harlequin’s fabric and wallpaper collection ‘Lucero’ in this shoot. Photography by Andy Gore

Which room is the most important part of your home and do you have any favourite possessions from a style point of view?

Such a tough question but it’s probably my bedroom as it’s the only place I really ever (try to) relax. We’ve just moved into a new place and our bedroom has the most beautiful light flooding in in the daytime and it’s so quiet. I’ve kept it quite neutral and pared back whereas the other rooms are much more eclectic and visually exciting. We just bought quite a few pieces of furniture as a lot of our previous pieces didn’t work once we moved. I am pretty in love with our emerald green velvet hexagonal pouf and my ever-increasing collection of vases are all treasured.