Food Friday #9

Karen Quatsoe

1. How did you get into styling?

I got into prop styling in a round about way. In colleges(SVA in NY) I did an internship and worked in a photo studio. The photographer had me running around gathering props for him for still life projects...he shot for AVON quite a bit. I was an advertising/graphic design major but realized by my last year that  I couldn't really see myself doing that as I didn't enjoy drawing story boards or choosing the point size and style of type. After graduation I started a costume jewelry business w/ a childhood friend selling to stores around the country including Blooming, Bendel's, Nordstrom's. After about 8 years our cottage industry needed to move to another level and my friend and I both decided we wanted to pursue other things so I thought about styling. Someone I knew from my neighborhood in Brooklyn was a stylist and I started assisting her.

2. Did you start out styling rooms or food?

The woman I worked for did both  prop styling for food shoots and room shoots. After a few years when I was off on my own I ended up  working for  both HOUSE BEAUTIFUL SPECIAL INTEREST PUBLICATIONS and WOMAN"S DAY SPECIALS styling  for titles such as Home improvement, Kitchen and Bath , Decorating and Remodeling , Home Building. So for several years I traveled around the country as a field editor/stylist working exclusively in homes styling rooms.

3. What do you enjoy styling more? Why?

I currently do more food shoots locally...mostly NYC... A variety of projects including magazines, cookbooks, advertising, and packaging. I started doing more food shoots in the mid 1990's. I would say I enjoy both equally but shooting homes involved traveling and I was really sick of living "out of a suitcase" from May thru Oct.

4. Where do you find your ingredients for your food shoots?

I find props in stores, flea markets and prop houses. The prop houses are the most valuable tool for a prop stylist as the house so many props in one place that may be difficult to find at retail in a timely manner. When you are working on magazines or catalogues you are shooting out of season. Say a Christmas shoot in July so the prop houses are vital.

5. Do you see yourself getting hired directly by photographers or art directors?

I would say both.

6. Who is one of your biggest clients?

A partial client list is on my site. In addition to those listed I have worked for Goya and for Rodale on the BIGGEST LOSER:FLAVORS OF THE WORLD COOKBOOK.

7. Where do you primarily work? Any travel involved?

 I primarily work in NYC. I live in Bucks County. Pa. and would love to work closer to home.

8. Do you see social media as a helpful tool for your business or is a lot of your work word of mouth?

Mostly word of mouth but sending e-mailers with a link to my website. Art directors, photographers and  food companies has definitely been worthwhile.

9. Do you have a favorite food you enjoy styling? Pretty food? Easy food?

My favorite projects whether they be still life. rooms or food usually involve combining old and new props, strong color and texture. I worked on a personal project on a farm in NY state with a team that included 2 food stylist and a photographer.