21.7 What Do You Actually Do? Q&A with Cassie Smith
It's that time again! time to pry into the life of a freelance creative and find out what it's really like. This time we have Melbourne based Stylist and Graphic Designer Cassie Smith. This is one very talented young lady, who I've had the privilege to work with before, and who I also call my friend.
To see more of Cassie's beautiful work and find out how to get in contact with her, check out her website:http://www.cassiesmith.com.au/
No onto the prying, I mean questions...
Describe what you do in 5 words or less.
C: Make things look pretty.
C: Well I have two jobs - I’m an interior/prop stylist & an event stylist for a company called Lettuce & Co.
Essentially as a freelance interior/prop stylist, I get approached by clients who want their products styled for photoshoots whether it be for catalogues, online, social media etc. Most people only picture a stylist working on the set of a shoot but there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes first. It will start with a brief from the client and usually a follow-up meeting where we talk about the nitty gritty - budgets, look and feel, props, colours, lighting etc. Then in most cases, I’ll go out sourcing props for the shoot (yes I get paid to shop for a living and yes it’s as good as it sounds) before you know it the shoot roles around and it’s usually a blur of craziness but always comes together at the end of the day.
Event styling has a lot of similarities to prop styling which is why a lot of stylists have spent time in their careers dabbling in both. Event styling works the same as a photoshoot but there’s much, much more work in the lead up to the event or wedding as there is a photoshoot. We’ll get the brief from the client, find out their budget, the venue they’ve chosen and the overall theme and colour palette they want. Months are then spent sourcing products, briefing in florists, hiring furniture, designing stationary, liaising with the venue and other suppliers... I could go on forever...
What has your career journey been like?
C: Super challenging and super rewarding. It wasn’t until half way through my Graphic Design degree that I realised I wanted to get into styling so I had a few long, tough years between then and now getting to where I currently am. It was one thing to develop all the relevant skills for styling without studying or working under someone else (I put this down to stubbornness) but getting consistent work is a whole new ball game. I’ve only been styling for 4ish years now so looking back at what I’ve accomplished and the clients I’ve worked for in such a short time at such a young age is a massive pat on the back moment.
Best part of your job?
C: Every day is different and the final product makes everything worth it. Seeing your work in a magazine or standing back after you’ve spent 5 hours bumping in a wedding or event on top of the 6 months of planning prior feels pretty great.
Worst/hardest part of your job?
C: The stresses that come with freelancing are absolutely horrific.
What does your typical work day look like?
C: I don’t think I’ve ever had a typical work day in my life. There are that many activities/jobs I could be doing at any given time but I’ll give you a sample of a few. Prop sourcing, meetings, mood boarding, on set shooting, driving around all over Melbourne looking for the perfect prop, emails, invoices, setting up an event. Basically, there’s lots of driving and lots of time in front of a computer.
What are your favourite apps to use for work?
C: I guess Instagram although there’s usually 2 other editing apps, VSCO and Snapseed, that I use to edit before I upload to Instagram. A lot of people think the pictures I post are professionally shot by a photographer but I’ve actually just got really damn good at making my iPhone photos look legit. I know how cliche this is but it really is all about faking it till you make it.
What is it like working for yourself?
C: Really really really hard. Nothing can prepare you for freelancing. Literally, everything is on you - meeting deadlines, replying to emails, sending invoices, chasing up overdue invoices, liaising with clients, producing consistently good work the client is happy with, spending days on end on the road prop sourcing, holding onto a million receipts so you can get reimbursed. I know a lot of this sounds like small trivial stuff but when you’re juggling multiple projects and trying to do all the smaller things that come with running your own business it can get overwhelming. You have to be extremely self-motivated and self-disciplined which I find to be impossible 100% of the time. In saying that, I don’t think I’d have it any other way - I love being my own boss. I don’t think I could go to the same desk day in and day out and sit in front of a computer all day. I love that each day and each job is so different. What’s that quote.. ‘Variety is the spice of life’.
What is your current work playlist?
C: Just some cute upbeat boppy songs... in no particular order: Best Coast, Frank Ocean, No Doubt, Little Dragon, Passion Pit, Metronomy, Santigold, Tegan and Sara etc.
Best career advice/tips you could give someone?
C: Work hard and be nice.
Can you tell us about your next project?
C: I’m about to design the interior for a new Health & Wellbeing studio! It’s still very early stages, especially considering the build is running about 4 months behind schedule (typical) but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one!
What's your next step/move? Any future dreams/goals?
C: Where to begin!? Short term is definitely to work with some new clients and find time to collaborate with some photographers on folio work. Medium term is to move to New York (or Copenhagen or Paris) and spend a few years there. Long term dream jobs are set design for a Wes Anderson film (a girl can dream) and I’d loveeee to design a boutique concept hotel like Ace or QT.