Food Friday #2

Sienna DeGovia

1. I read in your bio you have an Italian background along with a artistic father. Do you feel it was your calling to combine those two worlds and create a living out of food styling?

I believe I was destined to make art out of food because of my Italian background and my artist father.  I inherited my Father's artistic eye.  I am keenly aware of the visual realm and I feel it intuitively when something does not "look right."  I apply this  sense to my work as a food stylist when composing a shot or creating a dish.  The Italians are all on my Mother's side and from them I learned that food is more than mere sustenance.  I still have my grandmother's recipe box and on nearly every card she has notes about the people and events she was preparing that particular dish for.  Food is love in my family.  I just feel lucky that I found a career that so perfectly combines these two great forces I was raised with.  

2. Did you ever have a dream or another direction you wanted to go for as a occupation?  
I was a touring musician in a rock band for 8 years.  If that had been extremely successful I might have given up food styling completely, but I got tired of living in a van!  My styling work supported my Rock n Roll habit because I was able to work for six months as a stylist and take off for the the rest of the year.  I also have a BFA in sculpture.  I still make art and am having my first large exhibition (a collaboration with my Dad) this December at gallery KM in Santa Monica.  I have always gravitated towards the creative freelance lifestyle.

3. What was the oddest dish/food you had to style?

I once built a pirate ship out of deli meats and bacon.  It was for a fine art collaboration with Photographer Teri Lynn Fisher.  I couldn't eat bacon for months after that!

4. Do you think it’s easier or harder to style a cocktail? Why?

I think drinks are a piece of cake.  There are some real drink gurus out there who take it to a much higher level, but for the work I do, a drink is often much simpler to style than food.  I worked on a Nescafe commercial once with the Yoda of beverage styling.  This guy spends his free time hand carving artificial ice cubes, he finds it relaxing!  He has a secret formula for edible foam that he won't share with anyone.  He comes at beverage styling with a special effects background, so it's far more technical and engineered than a typical drink shoot.

5. Do you feel you’ve learned the most with experience on-set or by reading books about styling?

I have definitely learned everything I know from watching others and doing my own on-set experimentation.  I had a couple of great mentors early on, and I took the time to assist for three years before I ever attempted my own lead styling.  I learned so much from watching them, it was a real education.  The ability to think on your feet and problem solve is what makes a good stylist great.  That is something you gain with on set experience, it can't be learned from any book.

6. Where do you go for your inspirations? Are you able to incorporate them into your styling?

There is no shortage of amazing food photography out there.  Donna Hay and Martha Stewart are always fun to look at for the ultimate beauty food shots.  I like the edgier food styling in Sauveur.  For my own personal art work that involves food I draw inspiration from many different sources.  I am currently working on a series called Food Crime with Photographer Renee Anjanette.  For that series I looked at a lot of old evidence photos and the work of 30's era street photographer Weegee.

7. Other than photographers, do you find food styling a needed service elsewhere?

I think food styling, like many other art forms, is often disregarded as an extravagance.  It seems unnecessary but it is ubiquitous in our every day lives.  We are aesthetic beings that respond to beauty, even in the mundane act of eating.  So yes, I believe beautiful or well thought out food presentation is needed every day.  Without it we would all be eating astronaut ice cream.

8. Who was the biggest client you’ve worked with?

I have worked with many national and international brands from Ball Park Franks to McDonald's.  I have also done some styling work on films which is a whole other dimension of "big."  There is a lot of pressure on a big production like that. You want to make sure that no one is ever waiting for food.

9. Any dream client you hope to style for one day?

I hope there is someone out there who is willing to take some risks with their product and allow me to really get creative with it.  I would love to make an edible outfit for Lady GaGa sponsored by the Wheat Council or something like that!

10. Is social media a marketing tool your business is using well? Were you ahead of the trend? (Twitter, Facebook)

I was definitely slow to jump on the social media band wagon.  I am just now getting the hang of twitter and the like.  I am having fun using my blog as a sort of stream of consciousness sketch/scrap book for projects I'm working on.   Whether or not anyone else in interested in looking at it is another question entirely!

11. Your favorite food?

Dessert in all it's forms.  Mostly pie.