Vanessa Colyer Tay, who has been style editor at Inside Out for four years, is happy so long as she’s constantly evolving and being inspired. I’ve long been a fan of her work, and while she’s not as self-publicising as some stylists, her work is well known and respected, and that says it all.
This shoot for Inside Out a few months ago was one of my favourites of all time and hey, they were bang on with the neon and pastel trend. Just take a walk around Koskela if you need any further proof!
A versatile stylist who can work to any brief, VCT has honed her skills over the years. “My understanding of styling processes and development has grown, as with each project comes more experience and a greater understanding of how to deliver a bang-up job,” she says. “As long as every day is a new notch on the inspiration belt, my style will continue to evolve.”
While Vanessa thinks the increased media presence of stylists and interior designers is welcome, work should still be judged on its own merit. “If the two worlds (media and superbly scrumptious styling) can mesh together it can surely inspire and that’s a good thing. Loads of work goes into styling photo shoots and if a photo shoot can live longer than a month (or a magazine’s use by date), and go on to inspire more people it’s highly rewarding. I love hearing feedback from people who have been inspired by my work. To me, this is the best possible reward and in turn inspires me to be progressive.”
Stylists have a pretty high profile in Australia at the moment. Vanessa says it’s because they tend to have “an in-built flaunt-it mechanism,” describing interior designers as scientists and stylists as magicians.
“Interior design is the crux of any living area. Spatial planning and material specification decide how the interior shell of a space will sit. Styling is like the decoration on a cake, it adds personality and charm. It focuses on items that aren’t fixed, such as furniture and accessories. Ultimately if a space is designed well, it rarely needs as much styling as one that isn’t.”
Vanessa’s varied role at the popular magazine includes styling sets and homes for photography, concept development, design blogging and online content production, news and trend snippets along with sourcing merchandise and liaising with suppliers. Before Inside Out she was the senior stylist on another Australian interiors magazine and worked on a number of freelance projects.
“If it’s creative, I’m in. Most of my time is committed to Inside Out but when it prevails I do dabble in other styling projects.” She’s been working on a new celebrity chef book coming out later this year. “It’s absolutely delightful and on my ‘favourite projects’ list, but for now my lips are sealed,” she says.
“I’m also a firm believer in sharing knowledge so that the quality of styling in Australia continues to grow and stand strong on a global level. You’ll often find me at design schools having a yarn to stylists-in-waiting or at live talks and presentations.”
Following some time out to have her daughter, Vanessa’s now successfully juggling motherhood and work, as much as a mum ever can! “I love working and I love my young daughter more than anything. Saying goodbye in the morning is the hardest part of any day, but I find huge reward in styling. It keeps me inspired, fresh and open to great ideas. I find some peace in knowing that my daughter reaps the reward of my inspired and excitable mind. My imagination is bigger; therefore our craft and play projects are too. I think a job that’s easy to juggle with motherhood is a myth, and styling is certainly no exception.”
So has her house become a mess of toys and all the paraphernalia that comes with children? Somehow I doubt it. To all the mums out there trying to keep their home stylish and kid-friendly she says: “Having children is a fabulous excuse to indulge in colour, illustrative art and well-crafted wooden objects that are just as delightful on display as they are to play with. The biggest home style saviour for families is storage, lots of it and preferably concealed.”
Beautiful photographs like these aren’t just down to the styling. “The stylist and photographer are a team who together produce one slice of pictorial history. The ability to inspire and push each other in the right direction is essential,” says Vanessa. “We often shoot lots in short timeframes so using two minds in a productive manner will offer a quicker, tighter, stronger and more comprehensive photo shoot. It’s kind of like mixing two brilliant colours together to create an amazing shade of tangerine. Without the right amount of effort on each part, the result falls short.”
VCT’s a dreamer so she doesn’t see herself being a stylist forever. “For now I am a stylist, and will always be one in some capacity.” And our magazines are all the better for it!
Photo credits from top to bottom
Check out more of Vanessa’s work at her website.