By Melina Hammer
Celine is our intrepid founder, the reason we are all here. She wants to see creatives bolstering one another, a direct push-back to the increasingly winner-take-all industry, and has a vision to create a platform where stylists in all genres could share and grow their spheres by being great at what they do and not making photography sets more complicated than they already are.
Celine’s styling work is sharp and yet playful, smart, and very much of-the-moment. Which makes a world of sense because she is no-nonsense and won’t stop until she gets the job done right.
Full Portfolio: celinegriscom.com
How did you become a stylist?
I moved to New York after having lived in England for 5 years where I had started a Political Theatre company for which I produced and directed original plays. Styling was really not on my radar as a possible career, which back in 2000, most people didn’t know it was even a job. But I had an old high school friend who was a photographer and nudged me in that direction because she saw my creativity with clothing, props, scenery, etc. So I started working in her studio, and found that it actually wasn’t too far a leap from Theatre really!
As you know, I am passionate about the environment and it plays into my work. I hear you have your own angle… what is that?
My bike!! I have been biking in the city for about 15 years, but only a few years ago now did I finally get my cargo bike, an xtracycle edgerunner11i. It’s a “longtail” bike with a very low long rack at the back that is rated to hold 400 lbs! And so, yes, I prep all my jobs on my bike. I have found that it is actually so much faster than other modes of transportation. I have saved clients so much money on taxis, which also allows me to spend that budget on props instead! #thegreenstylist #morepropslesstaxis
What are you like on-set?
Attitude is so important in this business. Once I accept a job from a client, I am all-in: “challenge accepted!”, and with a smile. So when I arrive and I am given my marching orders, I will put my everything into accomplishing what is needed, and in the most efficient way possible. In short, I care. I care that the work looks the best it can be. I care that we get all the shots done that we had agreed to do. I take responsibility for my part, as well as the overall job. That being said, I really enjoy a good laugh and banter with the crew. I will guffaw loudly at puns and inappropriate humor, like a good sneeze, I cannot help it. In the freelance world we often get to choose who we want to work with, both for talent and professionalism, but also for a good hang. I love becoming friends with the team.
I also really love the process of creativity in a team. My favorite jobs are ones where I can have a good dialogue going with the art director and the photographer to achieve beautiful work that speaks to the message the client needs to communicate. I love when we can spitball ideas, and pontificate on the implied meanings of a particular prop, or outfit, or composition. I think the best work comes with a great meeting of the minds.
What is the biggest or most frequent problem that clients have that you can help solve?
The most common problem I encounter is when the creative team has big ideas and the production team doesn’t have the budget to cover it all. I find that I am often monkey-in-the-middle in these situations, needing to please both teams who have very opposing needs, albeit a common goal. I am very keen to please them both equally. I often love the ideas the creative team has, and I respect their need to cover off on all the shots on their list. So I will take it upon myself to be as creative as possible when it comes to sourcing props, clothing, sets, within the budget allowed. I will bike, I will find inexpensive sources, and I will make or borrow what I can. On-set, at the beginning of the job, I look at the totality of what needs to be accomplished, and then work closely with the photographer to make a plan for the most efficient way to get it done. So much time can be wasted changing sets or trying to replicate an earlier shot, when a bit of forethought and planning can mitigate those issues and keep the ship moving at a good clip. In the end, I hope that we achieve the most ambitious creative, while sliding in under budget and on-time.
Do you have any hobbies, and do they cross-over into your work?
If I had my way, I would spend all day in an art studio making things. I also love to explore new methods to create (on my list to try next are: resin, worbla, and pottery!). Painting was my first love many years ago, but I now feel that I have more of an affinity for sculpture. I love to mold things into shape, and have done so with clay, papier mâché, and even wax carving original jewelry pieces. All of this definitely plays into my workand is a driving force to what I do for a living. I create three-dimensional works akin to sculpting when I mold the soft leather of a bag, or gently lay a curl in a ribbon, all while remaining connected to the two-dimensional image that lives in the eye of the camera. And when I work in cosmetics I dive back into my painterly roots, mixing colors and smearing textures with the stroke of a brush or the edge of a palette knife. But the very best moments are when I get to create the perfect prop to bring into a shoot. I have made a few large scale paintings for room sets, and crafted exacting fabric-covered boxes for tabletop sets.
How did you get the nickname “Machine”?
I was given that name by photographer, Liam Goodman, during a particularly long stint of e-comm. I would like to think it refers to my nerdiness about efficiency, as well as my analytical problem-solving brain that likes to figure out how to engineer a bag or item to sit just so. And then to repeat repeat repeat, like a machine, with precision, accuracy, and speed. I come from a family of both scientists and artists (both painters and sculptors), so I really do bring both aspects to set every day. I like to call myself a perfectionartist!