Heart Home meets... Emily Blunden

I love it when I get the opportunity to interview stylists I've 'grown up with'  - all those who were my peers whilst I was assisting but are now very deserving fully-fledged stylists of their own!

So I'm very happy to bring you an interview with the enigmatic and wonderfully creative Emily Blunden, who I had the pleasure of working alongside for the winter issue of this very magazine. Having first assisted with Emily many moons ago on a shoot for Habitat, it was great to reunite professionally and work on a fantastically festive and wonderfully enjoyable shoot for Heart Home.

After the shoot, she took some time to answer my questions...

{Heart Home Winter Issue, photographed by Sarah Hogan}

Styling was only a tantalising whispered rumour to me when I was at university. I studied Textile Design at Nottingham Trent University and whilst everyone was busy designing ditzy florals for Topshop et al, I was dreaming of cushions and manipulating my project briefs to become something interiors-based instead. Needless to say I was somewhat a thorn in my tutors' side as the course was very much geared towards fashion. Afterwards, I floundered for a year or two temping until plucking up the courage to start approaching newspaper supplements for work experience. I landed two in quick succession and at the end of my second met and started assisting for my first stylist-crush. It seems funny now. I was so nervous and so much in awe of her! As a freelance assistant, I assisted most of the interiors stylists around and gradually about two years ago made the transition from assistant to stylist.

{photography by Sarah Hogan}

I don't know if I can and I'm not entirely sure I have one. I just do until it feels right. I try and cover all 'styles' as I'm reluctant to become pigeon-holed. I don't want to not be put forward for a job or not be considered because of something I've done in the past. The whole point of being freelance and a professional is being able to put 'yourself' and your own personal taste aside and fit yourself into your client's shoes, whoever that might be. Some quirks and touches may be perfect for one job and totally inappropriate for another, it's important to learn this early on to ensure success and regular work! I try and ensure that when I go to meetings that my portfolio ticks all the boxes, strong, graphic, quirky, commercial, editorial, feminine, vintage, hybrid etc. I like to show versatility and it helps to stop people immediately dismissing you.

{photography by Richard Clatworthy}

Everywhere. Literally everywhere. Movies, art exhibitions, paint chips, photography, city life, things I see out on the street, out on walks, at home. I try and keep my eyes open where ever I go and I will go to all sorts of events just in case. You never know where it's going to pop up and it's good to not be closed to anything. I collect all sorts of odds and sods; scraps of this, cuttings of that. I absolutely adore colour. It is so stimulating and fun, it's funny, it's sad, it carries so much energy and passion and when it's unexpected that's when it's the most exciting. That's when it hits you in the belly.

{mydeco.com, photographed by Justin Short}

That's definitely a tricky one. Styling al fresco summer dining and BBQ shots in the snow? Trundling a wheelbarrow filled with vintage suitcases down a little country lane whilst being peered at by an entire herd of sheep? Every shoot has its moments; you are working in such close quarters so intensively with the same people for up to days at a go. All of you need to be in the same small vicinity as each other, it leads to the intimate, bonding, relationship-building times all of which are laced with an elements of stir-craziness and hysteria. The pleasures of creating a really nice shot are so great especially when it's been a struggle to get there that then coming out into the real world post-shoot can be really rather odd.

Hmmmm, decorating has got to be the most dramatic with relatively little expense if not, little work. Even something small like making new covers for your sofa cushion is quick and easy, or rearranging the room. I really like the idea of having a ever-changing display of nice bits and bobs, sort of like having your own personal exhibition space. It doesn't have to be big or stressful. Keep an eye on the colours in fashion trends and by introducing them into your home via fabrics or paint will mean that you'll often end up being ahead of all the interiors trends!

{Psychologies, photographed by Damian Russell}

I could list so many…any paint company for the obvious pleasure of working with just colour. Definitely a dream job. There are a number of high street retailers that I would be over the moon to work for but I ain't gonna list 'em here! I've been very fortunate to be getting reasonably regular commissions from the Guardian Weekend which was always a dream client of mine. But for me, a dream job comes down to the chemistry between you, the photographer, art director and client. When that works and works well, you could be styling the proverbial and it wouldn't matter. Laughter makes for a good shoot.

Yikes! There are so many. I was very fortunate to work with a number of stylists when I was assisting that I admire such as Finola Inger, Amanda Koster, Chloe Brown, Karl Braganza and the lovely Sally Cullen. I admire those that get the jobs that I want! I admire those that are unflappable and calm in their approach, those with confidence, ease and with a seemingly effortless ability to just make things work. I can often get into a right tizz before a shoot, questioning all my decisions and ideas, convinced that nothing's going to work or props won't turn up. It's the last minute panic and unfortunately, all of those things are the very nature of the job.

{photography by Lucy Pope}

It's fun, it's creative, you get to enjoy an enormous array of people's work and shop's products without purchasing anything even if it's just for a day and then it goes back. It also means I rarely go shopping because I do it precariously through calling in product for shoots or putting together shopping pages for magazines. I like the excitement of hunting for and collecting props that you know are going to look great together. I love the thrill of seeing your imagined idea coming to life and working. I'm sometimes not so keen on its all-consuming nature, and it'd be nice to be able to book things in ahead without having to then cancel when you're working late up against a deadline but I'm doing my dream job and I absolutely love it. Even the bad stuff.