Someone must have been looking down on me from above when I needed assistance in producing Ceci's Paper Art Party tablescapes earlier this month. They sent me Fiona Osborne, a photography student from the UK who had just landed in NYC for a 5 week "experience" vacation. She had contacted me weeks before, looking to assist me and the timing was just right. My favorite assistant, Anna was going to be away and I was stressing over who was going to help me style 4 fully dressed tables each with a different theme. It's hard to find the right person who is going to be the perfect right hand and really follow instructions, be polite around clients and just be all around upbeat and do whatever is needed, like Anna. Fiona was just that person. Kind, friendly and helpful in every way—from hiking around a city she's never been to looking for chopsticks and rice, (luckily she was living in Chinatown!)—to packing and unpacking tons of glass and ceramic pieces with care. She's also a super photographer and you can see her amazing photos of the event in my posts and on her blog, Looking is Not Seeing. Thanks again Fiona!
Now let me talk about Anna. She's the best. So crafty and fun, just the right mix of ready-for-anything attitude and confident yet humble. She always has my back. She was in my FIT styling class last spring. Here she is.
She painstakingly looked through 20 or so varieties of fake butterflies with me, looking for just the right wing shape for my Divine Damask tablescape for the Ceci Art Party. She has that kind of attention span. Love her!
Here are my 5 tips on how to be a great stylist's assistant, in case you are thinking of doing it.
1) Be very detail oriented. Keep track of where everything came from so you can ensure it gets returned to the proper place. I once spent several days fielding calls from prop houses that said something returned was not theirs. This was due to carelessness on the part of the assistant.
2) Wear clothing to the shoot that shows you are here to work. Don't show up in a party dress and heels. Look to your boss to set the tone of what is appropriate to wear. If she wears jeans, jeans are ok. If a shoot takes place in a formal environment a more dressed up look might be necessary.
3) Take directions well even if you think you have a better way to accomplish something. No one likes to have their methods challenged!
4) Don't promote yourself to your boss's clients while you are on a job. Or after the job for that matter. Trying to talk to and poach clients is crossing the line and a big no no!
5) Always remain upbeat even if the task seems mundane. Unpacking and repacking 50 glasses can be tedious!
Sounds easy enough, but believe it or not many do not work out. Thank goodness for my two gems!