A CUP OF TEA WITH: LUCY GOUGH, INTERIOR STYLIST
Now I've been in the interior styling 'industry' for a year or so (not that it feels like I'm really part of that gang yet), I kept hearing the same name coming up over and over again: Lucy Gough. Lucy is not only the hottest, most desired interior stylist right now, but she has been styling for some of the most reputable publications and brands in the interiors industry. Among that, she was my competition in the 2015 Amara Interior Blog awards for best Interior designer / stylist blog - an award that I graciously lost to her, a very bloody deserving winner if you ask me!
After we got chatting over email I thought she would be a great person to interview for the blog. I knew that Lucy would have some valuable nuggets of info for me and any other aspiring interior stylists out there. I wasn't wrong!
How long have you been working in interior styling and can you tell us about some of the brands you’ve styled for?
Sure, I have been working in the industry about 5 years. I started doing internships with various magazines like Wallpaper*, Livingetc and World of Interiors and gradually worked my way up from there. I have since styled for brands like the Aram Store, Marks and Spencer, Heal’s, Debenhams and Livingetc magazine.
You started out at a magazine, do you think that helped you to start getting work as a stylist?
Definitely. It helped me to build up my contacts that would eventually be my network when I went freelance.
Did you do any formal / professional training to get into interiors or styling?
I studied Interior Design at the Interior Design School of London (ID School), I also did a styling course at Central St Martins but I think more than anything you have to have a good eye for it- you can’t be taught that.
Did you always know you wanted to work in interiors?
Looking back I think I did. I never knew that an Interior Stylist was a job so I wasn’t aware I could do it. But I was always styling my bedroom growing up- obsessed with painting my walls and matching it to my duvet even when I was a teenager. Also, I couldn’t get enough of interiors magazine. They were the holy grail for me.
How would your friends describe you?
Hopefully they might say happy, energetic, fun and hard working!
What did you learn from working at the magazine that has helped you to be a better stylist?
That anything is possible! If you want a 6ft plush polar bear for your shoot the next day you can find one. If you need a 7ft christmas tree in June you can have one!
How do you balance your personal life and fitting it with a demanding career, are you travelling lots etc?
I have a very understanding partner! And I feel that my job is my social life to some extent as my friends are the people that I work with regularly e.g. photographer, assistants etc. My partner and I make sure that our weekends are as chilled as possible because we don’t see each other during the week as our jobs are demanding- but we also schedule as many holidays as we can. Work hard and play hard!
What is the funniest / weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do for a styling job?
Spray 500 books with white spray paint in my kitchen!
Do you think styling can be learnt or is it a natural gift?
I think it has to come naturally. Mainly because it’s such a competitive industry that you have to be incredibly passionate about it or you’d never succeed!
What do you think the most important things are to consider when styling a shot?
Composition, scale and lighting.
What kind of personality traits do you think you need to have as a stylist?
Strong-willed and energetic. You have to be a leader, and be organised, friendly and creative.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the job?
I truly love it all. I love sourcing locations (I get to look around so many amazing homes!), coming up with the concept, I even enjoy the admin believe it or not. I suppose the thing I could do without is clients reducing their props budgets. It’s hard to furnish an entire shoot on very little cash.
What kind of jobs do you enjoy most?
The ones where the client trusts my creativity and gives me free reign. I create far more unique and original concepts that way.
Interior styling seems to be becoming more and more of an ideal job choice for people. Do you think it’s a hard industry to crack without the right contacts?
Yes. It’s a small industry and a lot of commissions are based on word of mouth. But once you’re in, you’re in.
How have your styling jobs come about?
I actively stay in contact with a lot of my network regularly on email or social media. However, my blog acts as my agent. It’s the way people get to know I exist!
How have you found the best way to make contacts within the industry?
Talk to everyone and attend everything you’re invited to.
What would your tips be for someone wanting to break into the industry of styling, how can they get that initial foot in the door?
Contact stylists you admire and ask to assist or shadow them. You could also try and get placed into internship programs at various magazines.
Do you have any brands that you’ve always dreamed of working with?
I dream about working with Gubi - I have always admired their brand. I would also love to style H&M home. I love their interiors accessories.
In your opinion what is the one single most valuable lesson that you have learnt in this field that has helped your career?
Never give up. I feel like I haven’t stopped for about three years but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What’s next for you Lucy?
Who knows - that’s the beauty of being freelance! You never know what is around the corner. I am however in talks with a book publisher, so watch this space!