Food52 Life

Our Art Director's Tips for Finding Style Inspiration

November 30, 2015

We partnered with Blurb, a self-publishing platform for creating your own books, to share behind-the-scenes stories on Food52 photography and styling. 

Today: Our Art Director, Alexis Anthony, shares how she finds inspiration—and how you can, too.

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A stylist and master of finishing touches, our Art Director Alexis Anthony could be given a rock and make something beautiful with it. She arranges flowers, sets a table, and chooses props with enviable ease. And while we’d love to be able to style a shot (or anything) like Alexis, we’ll settle for simply just doing a little better.

When we asked Alexis to tell us how she finds inspiration, or how to develop your own style, here’s what she had to say: 

On finding inspiration 

Look around you! “I’m inspired by finding the beauty in the everyday,” Alexis says. Take note in places like:

  • farmers markets
  • flower markets
  • parks
  • flea markets
  • vintage stores
  • art
  • film
  • magazines

Alexis on an antiquing adventure at Brimfield.

As for keeping track of all of your whims, ideas, places, and ever-so-cool spaces, Alexis suggests simply remembering to take photos. “I also put inspiring objects I find in nature or shopping in little vignettes on my bookshelves,” she says. “Whenever I’m in need of an idea, I ‘shop’ at home.”

Sometimes we go "shopping" in our office library, styled by Alexis, for props.

On finding your style (and styling) 

Your style should celebrate what you love, says Alexis. Think about the things you gravitate toward, consider their qualities (like material, texture, color, and patterns) and aim for your style to be an amalgam of these. If it feels natural to you, you’re on the right path.

Like style, styling isn’t formulaic. Alexis believes you can’t really teach styling, as “it works best when its an organic process that you allow to take on a life of its own.” Let lighting, angles, and your surroundings—like we did in our moody, spooky place setting below—influence you.  

On having fun—and embracing surprises

If you’re styling a shot/table/dish and don’t have the exact tools or props on hand to get the job done, don’t freak out. “Like when you throw a dinner party, you might not always have THE exact thing you need, but you improvise and that’s what makes it charming,” Alexis says. “Having a sense of humor is a great styling tool.” 

And remember that great props don’t just come from the kitchen—try flowers, plants, newspapers, or eyeglasses. Everyday objects “are a great way to bring life to an image,” Alexis says. Which means don’t be afraid to try out what's not-so-common. You never know if that wayward candle or photo frame (or, maybe, rock) will be your next great prop. 

Photos of Alexis and table setting by Rocky Luten; bookshelves by Mark Weinberg; and table setting by Rocky Luten

In partnership with Blurb, a self-publishing platform for creating your own books, we're sharing behind-the-scenes stories on Food52 photography and styling. Check out all of Blurb's book options here.

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