COMMON PEOPLE #25

JESSICA BELLEF

MAIANBAR NSW

 

A woman of many talents, Jessica Bellef is bringing one of her dreams to life in the form of her first book, Individual. As a photographic stylist and writer her passion enthuses in every creative field she works in, from head of styling at Temple & Webster to teaching, all grounded locally in the Royal National Park. Jess tells us about the humble inspiration behind her book and gets us excited for our upcoming co-event at Noel & Gladys!

 

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

COMMON PEOPLE #25

JESSICA BELLEF

MAIANBAR NSW

A woman of many talents, Jessica Bellef is bringing one of her dreams to life in the form of her first book, Individual. As a photographic stylist and writer her passion enthuses in every creative field she works in, from head of styling at Temple & Webster to teaching, all grounded locally in the Royal National Park. Jess tells us about the humble inspiration behind her book and gets us excited for our upcoming co-event at Noel & Gladys!

INTERVIEW BY ANNA HEYLIGERS IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

 

 

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I am a writer and photographic stylist who focuses on interiors but loves to work within any creative field. I live in the Royal National Park with my husband and a whole lot of books, records and props. The park keeps me grounded when work is hectic and our awesome rescue dog Charles Barkley also keeps me sane.

 

YOU'VE HAD A LONG STINT AT TEMPLE & WEBSTER, TELL US WHAT YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT IT?
 

Working with crazily passionate people! Collaborating, head bashing, problem solving. The position lets me indulge in my love of image making and storytelling. I love building concepts for shoots, pulling together elements to bring the ideas to life. My favourite part of the process is working with a team to shape the ideas into a piece of communication that millions of Australian's eyeball. It's a rush. With my degree in psychology and marketing, I am also drawn to learning about consumer behaviour insights and I love seeing the creative output from that side of the fence. Left brain, right brain, it's all firing!

INSPIRING OTHERS IS SOMETHING YOU'RE ALSO PASSIONATE ABOUT, TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEACHING EXPERIENCE?
 

I love teaching because I am a big nerd who gets excited about ideas. I was working as a visual merchandiser for General Pants when a workmate told me that there was a teaching vacancy at the fashion school where she was teaching part time. They were looking to fill a role in their Styling and Creative Direction strand and I ended up teaching visual merchandising and interior styling there for a couple of years.

Despite not having any official teaching qualifications (shhhhhhhh!), I did really well in that teaching position. I think the school and the students liked me because I am a goofy dork who loves nothing more than tuning into someone to find a way to get them excited about something. Maybe I am just a big desperado who needs to have people like me (!) but I also genuinely get a kick out of seeing someone get excited about an idea or concept, and even more so if it’s something I have shared with them. I love spreading the nerd-ly love.

 

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF?

I am a writer and photographic stylist who focuses on interiors but loves to work within any creative field. I live in the Royal National Park with my husband and a whole lot of books, records and props. The park keeps me grounded when work is hectic and our awesome rescue dog Charles Barkley also keeps me sane.

 

YOU'VE HAD A LONG STINT AT TEMPLE & WEBSTER, TELL US WHAT YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT IT?
 

Working with crazily passionate people! Collaborating, head bashing, problem solving. The position lets me indulge in my love of image making and storytelling. I love building concepts for shoots, pulling together elements to bring the ideas to life. My favourite part of the process is working with a team to shape the ideas into a piece of communication that millions of Australian's eyeball. It's a rush. With my degree in psychology and marketing, I am also drawn to learning about consumer behaviour insights and I love seeing the creative output from that side of the fence. Left brain, right brain, it's all firing!

 

INSPIRING OTHERS IS SOMETHING YOU'RE ALSO PASSIONATE ABOUT, TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEACHING EXPERIENCE?
 

I love teaching because I am a big nerd who gets excited about ideas. I was working as a visual merchandiser for General Pants when a workmate told me that there was a teaching vacancy at the fashion school where she was teaching part time. They were looking to fill a role in their Styling and Creative Direction strand and I ended up teaching visual merchandising and interior styling there for a couple of years.

Despite not having any official teaching qualifications (shhhhhhhh!), I did really well in that teaching position. I think the school and the students liked me because I am a goofy dork who loves nothing more than tuning into someone to find a way to get them excited about something. Maybe I am just a big desperado who needs to have people like me (!) but I also genuinely get a kick out of seeing someone get excited about an idea or concept, and even more so if it’s something I have shared with them. I love spreading the nerd-ly love.

"The position lets me indulge in my love of image making and storytelling. I love building concepts for shoots, pulling together elements to bring the ideas to life. My favourite part of the process is working with a team to shape the ideas into a piece of communication that millions of Australian's eyeball. It's a rush."

"The position lets me indulge in my love of image making and storytelling. I love building concepts for shoots, pulling together elements to bring the ideas to life. My favourite part of the process is working with a team to shape the ideas into a piece of communication that millions of Australian's eyeball. It's a rush."

 

YOUR FIRST BOOK, INDIVIDUAL IS ABOUT TO BE RELEASED - OMG WOO! WHAT KICKED OFF THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK?
 

OMG woo indeed! From a purely selfish point of view, I just wanted to spend time in interesting homes, connecting with rad people and creating a body of work filled with rich, layered images and thoughtful words! Publishing a book has always been on my list of things I've wanted to achieve (still high on the list: set dressing for film and getting published in Apartamento), and I’ve always been obsessed with how we express our personality through the things we wear and items we gather around ourselves.

When it comes to interiors, it's always the unique, creative spaces that catch my eye and hit my heart. I went part time with Temple & Webster in 2017 and I teamed up with photographer Sue Stubbs to shoot interesting spaces just for fun. We quickly realised there was something in it all and since Sue had been published in books in the past, she was able to put me in contact with a publisher and it rolled on from there. There was a bit of a set back in the process when my original publisher shut down their Australian offices (oh boy that was not a nice phone call to receive!) but my new publisher Murdoch Books has been incredibly supportive and the final outcome has blown me away.

 

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE 15 HOUSES TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BOOK?
 

This might sound like a lie but I promise it’s not – nothing about actually creating the book’s content was hard. There were challenges – the logistics of coordinating photo shoots will never go smoothly and budget airlines will always suck – but I had a clear vision from the beginning that the homes all needed to be totally different in style because the aim of the book is to showcase the beautifully unique ways we live.

I would look for layered spaces that were filled with interesting pieces put together in a way that suggested to me that the homeowner cared about their home. If they had spent time on making their home their own, I knew that the stories about their home would also be stories about themselves and their life experiences. That was what I wanted to celebrate.

I started reaching out to people who I knew had awesome homes– old friends from school, neighbours, past workmates - and then they would suggest someone else and I would reach out to them. I did a handful of cold calls via Instagram ('cold DM's' I guess?) and had a good success rate there too. There were (polite) rejections but it was mostly because the timing wasn’t right for the homeowners.

 

YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT PUTTING PERSONALITY INTO HOMES WITHOUT A HUGE BUDGET OR EXPERT DESIGNER, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND INDIVIDUAL?
 

I know many Aussies get a bit stuck when it comes to creating warm, inviting spaces that they love. They see a million and one images on Instagram or Pinterest, they watch people whip up entire homes overnight on renovation shows or they flick through magazines and glossy design books and wonder why their rooms don’t look like the ones on the page. Individual makes the statement that a beautiful home can mean different things to different people, and that it’s the differences that make life interesting. We need to embrace the things that make us unique and not succumb to a cookie cutter aesthetic that adds nothing to the conversation, or worse, causes feelings of anxiety and inferiority - yuck.

 

YOUR FIRST BOOK, INDIVIDUAL IS ABOUT TO BE RELEASED - OMG WOO! WHAT KICKED OFF THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK?
 

OMG woo indeed! From a purely selfish point of view, I just wanted to spend time in interesting homes, connecting with rad people and creating a body of work filled with rich, layered images and thoughtful words! Publishing a book has always been on my list of things I've wanted to achieve (still high on the list: set dressing for film and getting published in Apartamento), and I’ve always been obsessed with how we express our personality through the things we wear and items we gather around ourselves.

When it comes to interiors, it's always the unique, creative spaces that catch my eye and hit my heart. I went part time with Temple & Webster in 2017 and I teamed up with photographer Sue Stubbs to shoot interesting spaces just for fun. We quickly realised there was something in it all and since Sue had been published in books in the past, she was able to put me in contact with a publisher and it rolled on from there. There was a bit of a set back in the process when my original publisher shut down their Australian offices (oh boy that was not a nice phone call to receive!) but my new publisher Murdoch Books has been incredibly supportive and the final outcome has blown me away.

 

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE 15 HOUSES TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BOOK?
 

This might sound like a lie but I promise it’s not – nothing about actually creating the book’s content was hard. There were challenges – the logistics of coordinating photo shoots will never go smoothly and budget airlines will always suck – but I had a clear vision from the beginning that the homes all needed to be totally different in style because the aim of the book is to showcase the beautifully unique ways we live.

I would look for layered spaces that were filled with interesting pieces put together in a way that suggested to me that the homeowner cared about their home. If they had spent time on making their home their own, I knew that the stories about their home would also be stories about themselves and their life experiences. That was what I wanted to celebrate.

I started reaching out to people who I knew had awesome homes– old friends from school, neighbours, past workmates - and then they would suggest someone else and I would reach out to them. I did a handful of cold calls via Instagram ('cold DM's' I guess?) and had a good success rate there too. There were (polite) rejections but it was mostly because the timing wasn’t right for the homeowners.

 

YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT PUTTING PERSONALITY INTO HOMES WITHOUT A HUGE BUDGET OR EXPERT DESIGNER, CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION BEHIND INDIVIDUAL?
 

I know many Aussies get a bit stuck when it comes to creating warm, inviting spaces that they love. They see a million and one images on Instagram or Pinterest, they watch people whip up entire homes overnight on renovation shows or they flick through magazines and glossy design books and wonder why their rooms don’t look like the ones on the page. Individual makes the statement that a beautiful home can mean different things to different people, and that it’s the differences that make life interesting. We need to embrace the things that make us unique and not succumb to a cookie cutter aesthetic that adds nothing to the conversation, or worse, causes feelings of anxiety and inferiority - yuck.

"Individual makes the statement that a beautiful home can mean different things to different people, and that it’s the differences that make life interesting. We need to embrace the things that make us unique and not succumb to a cookie cutter aesthetic that adds nothing to the conversation, or worse, causes feelings of anxiety and inferiority."

"Individual makes the statement that a beautiful home can mean different things to different people, and that it’s the differences that make life interesting. We need to embrace the things that make us unique and not succumb to a cookie cutter aesthetic that adds nothing to the conversation, or worse, causes feelings of anxiety and inferiority."

 
WHAT WOULD BE THE MOST CHALLENGING THING WHEN IT COMES TO INTERIOR STYLING? ANY BIG TIPS?
 

The most challenging thing in interior styling comes down to working out how to be a mix master- that is, how to style together old and new pieces and how to merge different styles. The reality is that most of us own a mash up of stuff- we inherit pieces or we can’t afford to buy new so we have to work with we’ve got. There needs to be some thread of consistency between the pieces in order for them to sit together in an aesthetically pleasing way. It could be that the materials are similar in texture or colour or that the pieces are similar in scale. The goal is to find a balance in the space, which may take some layout adjustments to get it right. It might also mean going a bit ‘Kondo’ on it all, and removing elements that aren’t functional or ‘sparking joy’. When in doubt however, just remember that artwork on the wall and books on a shelf or table will always make a room seem more considered and put together. It’s my go-to trick, 100% of the time.

 
TELL US WHAT WE'LL BE DOING AT OUR CO-EVENT IN NOVEMBER?!
 

I will be chatting about the process of making the book and the things that each home taught me, and I will give a styling demonstration by having a play with all the treasures in-store! I can’t wait!

 

GOTTA ASK, WHAT ARE YOUR PICKS AT NOEL & GLADYS?
 

That rich sexy scent of Dutchie Scents incense is a winner in my eyes. I love the tactile quality of Peta Armstrong’s ceramic pieces, and I am a massive fan of worn-in denim, so your vintage Levi’s are hard to pass up!

 

Learn more about Jessica here.

 
WHAT WOULD BE THE MOST CHALLENGING THING WHEN IT COMES TO INTERIOR STYLING? ANY BIG TIPS?
 

The most challenging thing in interior styling comes down to working out how to be a mix master- that is, how to style together old and new pieces and how to merge different styles. The reality is that most of us own a mash up of stuff- we inherit pieces or we can’t afford to buy new so we have to work with we’ve got. There needs to be some thread of consistency between the pieces in order for them to sit together in an aesthetically pleasing way. It could be that the materials are similar in texture or colour or that the pieces are similar in scale. The goal is to find a balance in the space, which may take some layout adjustments to get it right. It might also mean going a bit ‘Kondo’ on it all, and removing elements that aren’t functional or ‘sparking joy’. When in doubt however, just remember that artwork on the wall and books on a shelf or table will always make a room seem more considered and put together. It’s my go-to trick, 100% of the time.

 
TELL US WHAT WE'LL BE DOING AT OUR CO-EVENT IN NOVEMBER?!
 

I will be chatting about the process of making the book and the things that each home taught me, and I will give a styling demonstration by having a play with all the treasures in-store! I can’t wait!

 

GOTTA ASK, WHAT ARE YOUR PICKS AT NOEL & GLADYS?
 

That rich sexy scent of Dutchie Scents incense is a winner in my eyes. I love the tactile quality of Peta Armstrong’s ceramic pieces, and I am a massive fan of worn-in denim, so your vintage Levi’s are hard to pass up!

 

Learn more about Jessica here.

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COMMON PEOPLE #24

TILLY CLIFFORD, WOLLONGONG NSW

Taking moments in time and making them into magical memories is the most rewarding aspect of Tilly Clifford’s photography. Tilly says you have to dig deep to take a good portrait and this shows in her work. Home to the South Coast, Tilly enjoys being able to travel with her work around Australia as well as to her red brick home and four-legged doggie-pal Piper.

PREVIOUS ENTRY
 
COMMON PEOPLE #24
TILLY CLIFFORD, WOLLONGONG NSW
 

Taking moments in time and making them into magical memories is the most rewarding aspect of Tilly Clifford’s photography. Tilly says you have to dig deep to take a good portrait and this shows in her work. Home to the South Coast, Tilly enjoys being able to travel with her work around Australia as well as to her red brick home and four-legged doggie-pal Piper.