Sometimes the gods hand you a person that takes you to another world. American stylist Annette Joseph (who I interviewed here) did this recently when she introduced me to the work of Brian Flynn, an interior designer, TV host and editor-in-chief at Decor Demon.
Which five words best describe you? Nimble-witted, productive, optimistic, colorful and unsatisfied.
How did you get your start in design and what path have you taken since? As a strapped-for-cash TV production student, I'd spend weekends collecting discarded furniture from curbsides. Refinishing lessons from watching Australian shows such as The Block and American shows such as This Old House and Trading Spaces resulted in monthly garage sales where I'd sell my newly revamped pieces for cash to pay tuition. While directing student film projects, I took an interest in set decorating and design. It got to a point where I would redesign my own rental house to fit the look of whatever project I was working on. After school I took behind-the-scenes job on the American version of The Block and stateside series called Surprise by Design [Discovery Channel]. About four makeover programs later, I became on-air design talent myself on a TBS series called Movie & a Makeover. Now in 2010, I'm taking all my design skills and TV experience online in the form of decordemon.com which is packed with editorial design print and video content for both women AND men.
What advice would you give to those who want to work in your industry? Advice for working in my INDUSTRIES, that is! My path led me to two of the most cutthroat creative fields on earth: TV and design. First of all, breaking into television is nearly impossible unless you know someone OR are willing to work for free. Since I didn't know anyone, I took the unpaid labor route for a good six months in my mid-twenties. By 4:30am I would be zipping along the interstate en route to makeover locations in my trusty red Honda Civic knowing I wouldn't rest my eyes against the soft cotton pillow again until well after midnight. ADVICE? Check your ego at the door and get ready to get coffee, take out trash and sponge every skill you can from your boss and peers. People will notice your observation and listening skills and see your work ethic. This will lead to climbing the ladder quickly if you learn to be all business and only give your creative input when truly asked. As far as breaking into design is concerned, I believe you have to spend YEARS finding your voice before you put yourself out there. ADVICE? Think of your design style or theory as a Hollywood movie pitch. Sell your style to others in only ONE SENTENCE. It's actually VERY hard to do. What's my sentence? "A sophisticated, fun and tailored mashup of eras strongly influenced by color and textiles with both masculine AND feminine characteristics".
What’s your proudest career achievement? Overall, I'm most proud of Decor Demon. Being able to reach people from America to Europe to Australia is very freeing. I'm used to working in the parameters of branding both for TV networks as well as magazine images. Many times my ideas or spaces were not "on brand" end ended up in a state of decorating purgatory. But now that I have my own space online both for imagery AND a webseries, I get to bring my vision to life 100% of the time. The only drawback? It's on my own dime! Ouch!
What has been your best decision? My best decision as a designer has been to have all of my spaces professionally photographed. Is this affordable? Most of the time, no. But it has allowed me to look at the evolution of my work to decide what works and what needs work. It's also great to be able to have a visual record of everything you've done captured to the best of its photographic ability. Be sure and hire an INTERIORS PHOTOGRAPHER when shooting your work. Why? Its a specialty which requires knowledge of certain angles and lighting techniques. A good interiors photographer can capture your work in a fantastical way that immortalizes your hard work.
Who inspires you? Film directors with strong visual styles and production designers. Stanley Kubrick is my idol. The sets in his films were just as relevant to the story or mood as the characters and script. Nancy Meyers [Somethings Gotta Give, The Holiday, It's Complicated] is another one out there working today. She and her production designer and set decorator truly create settings that feel like an extension of the character.
What are you passionate about? Learning.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Meryl Streep & Cate Blanchett.
What dream do you still want to fulfill? I would love to work as a set designer on a motion picture.
What are you reading? Decor Demon, duh? Ha! As far as books are concerned, Hue by Kelly Wearstler.
images courtesy of brian flynn