Five Questions for Randi Brookman Harris, Prop Stylist / Creative Director

Five Questions for Randi Brookman Harris, Prop Stylist / Creative Director


Edited by 
Joseph Caserto

Ever looked at a magazine's masthead and wondered just what do all those job titles actually mean? What does a photo producer actually do? Does a deputy art director get a shiny badge? And why are some people creative directors and others design directors? 
  
Our blog series "Five Questions for..."  is here to help answer those questions and give you insight into working in the world of publication design. Is there a particular job that you want to know more about? Email  us at spdstudentoutreach@gmail.com and we'll find an expert who does it. They'll give you their take, and then it's up to you to put their advice to work. Read on to find out what being a Prop Stylist / Creative Director is like for Randi Brookman Harris.

The Pro's Work

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About the Pro
 
Randi Brookman Harris
Prop Stylist / Creative Director
  
Works for: Self employed. Clients include: Jack Spade, The New York TimesReal SimpleRebecca MinkoffTargetWarby Parker, and West Elm.
Degree Earned: BFA, Graphic Design

1. Imagine you're talking to someone who has never heard of your job. How would you describe it to them?
Totally bananas 100% of the time. I find/rent/buy/borrow the "stuff" you see in the photos in ads, on websites, and in magazines, and arrange them on set to make a compelling photo. I also conceptualize the photos with art directors, photographers, and photo editors in advance, so I know how to go about propping them at the time of the shoot. I design sets, arrange flowers, style interiors, sometimes even style food (albeit minimally): Whatever it takes to tell the story needed to be told in a single image or series of images.

2. What about your job makes you love it?
I love telling a story visually, and thinking about how to get the viewer to see everything I see, and then put in the composition for them to see! In the end, I know everyone sees differently, but I love the challenge of trying to control the image and how it gets absorbed. It's fun to hide little things here or there that may not really be noticed but that help me round out the storytelling in my own head. Every new job has its own set of challenges and each assignment teaches me something new about problem solving, or quite literally teaches me a new skill. I recently started making paintings as prop art, and often a client will ask me to do something that requires learning how to do it from scratch, like making a wreath for the first time ever, how to find a glass eye, or where to order the smallest boxes from. Seeing problem-solving from a brand standpoint, or season, or particular color palette, narrows parameters to make the constraints new and interesting each time.

3. What do you think of as the big break in your career?
Being hired at Martha Stewart Living as a Style Editor, when I had no previous styling experience. It was my only foot in the door. The Style Director could tell how badly I wanted it and how perfect for the job I would be, and she gave me a chance. I pulled out all the stops when applying for the job. I had heard about the opening (and learned that styling was an actual thing) when I attended a lecture about the editorial process of the company, while I was still a graphic designer. I knew that night I was changing careers!
4. What is your biggest professional mistake or regret?
I have no regrets, only profound appreciation for every opportunity from everyone who ever sought me out or said yes to me. It's a winding path of discovery: Only look forward!

5. What advice or parting words do you have for anyone who wants to do what you do?
Look into the work of as many stylists as you can. Each has a varied skillset that sets them apart form other stylists. Seek out those whose work you admire most, and try to assist them. Study their portfolios, and all photographs you think are amazing. Practice styling vignettes or interiors or events on your own, you can never do it too many times.


Is there a particular job that you want to know more about? Email us at spdstudentoutreach@gmail.com and we'll find an expert who does it. They'll give you their take, and then it's up to you to put their advice to work. 



  • Brian Anstey

    She's the best! -- Great interview.

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