Stylist Maria Grossmann + Career Hopping

April 12, 2010

My friend Ingrid told me about German stylist Maria Grossmann who lives in Hamburg and who works mainly in Europe. Her website is so cool. Seriously. Check it out and make sure when you do that you drag the arrow around the screen to explore all that is there. Maria began her career as a photographer but realized that she was more interested in creating a scene to photograph than the actual art of photography itself so she switched careers and began her path as an interiors and food stylist. I find this quite common with creative types — we tend to embark on one thing but ultimately land on another. Why is this? Thoughts?

Stylist Maria Grossmann + Career Hopping

Perhaps it’s just how the creative mind works — seeing no boundaries, the thrill of exploration, the excitement of “what if”… I personally experienced this myself. I started off studying interior design and ending up writing for magazines, websites and this blog along with my current book. I realized that designing from start to finish with clients wasn’t for me as I had thought. I’d much rather do consulting work — walk into someone’s home and tell them how the space could work differently, how to organize it better, colors that they may want to add, and ideas for furniture and accessories. I then like to leave them with a POA – plan of action – and point them to all of the resources needed to get the work done and then leave and that’s that. Not that I didn’t like seeing a project through to completion but I think my idea of design and what decorating and design mean to me personally have evolved with this blog and I’ve come to realize that I’m an “editor” which applies to all things. I can edit anything – words, wardrobes, bookshelves, rooms, you name it. And I’m quite good at it. But what I don’t enjoy is starting with a blank slate where I am asked to do something entirely for someone else. I don’t enjoy working 100% for people — I enjoy working with people. The only exception to this is to create my own work. I do enjoy starting at zero and building something up on my own. But with others I like to show them how to do things better but not how to do things entirely. I like to show others how to fish, not give them the fish. “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”.

Stylist Maria Grossmann + Career Hopping

And so as I evolve personally and professionally speaking, I can relate to Maria with her decision to switch paths. I also think it’s great that she did because her body of work testifies to her magnificent talent. Of course it’s good to note that having the photography experience no doubt makes Maria a skilled stylist. I think this is evident in her work. I believe that this is true in many, many cases and so if you fear a career change perhaps look at this perspective: you can no doubt apply many of the skills acquired in your current profession in your new one. Even professions that appear on the surface to not relate at all. I never thought my past life would be even remotely linked to my current career but daily I find more and more links to my former career. No doubt Maria does too. I’m willing to bet you do as well.

I feel so proud to highlight some strong leaders in Germany when it comes to interior photography and styling. I’ll share a German photography today as well. I often thought all of these talented creative types lived only in select cities and countries — at least it seems this way when we flip through magazines and books. Almost as though you must live in Paris to be hip or in London to be stylish. But this is absolutely not the case. There is a lot of untapped talent in this world. Or in the case of Maria, not untapped just not widely known due to mostly language differences. Who would really know about her in America when her work is primarily featured in publications abroad — especially in German ones? This is why I try to show little blips of  what’s happening in Germany and everywhere else in the world as I find people who interest me or as they find me and write in. I like to be a global scout and have my eye all over the world without feeling limited to specific culture or country.

Stylist Maria Grossmann + Career Hopping

This is the beauty of blogging with the world as my demographic so to speak. I want to reach out to English speaking people who live everywhere — Americans, Swedish, Germans, Japanese — and show the things that make this global art and design community so enriching and lovely — like a patchwork quilt. I also love to escape through my work, as you love to escape through blog reading, and so part of my intent lies in my interest to explore without jet lag and lost luggage. With a blog you can go everywhere!

So back to my earlier question as I got carried off a bit… why do you think it is that creative types seem to jump around more often when it comes to work? Do you? What drives this?

(images: maria grossmann)


  • Reply moggit girls April 12, 2010 at 6:40 am

    Well written post Holly. I think you’re right on the money here. (and here I was blaming it all these yrs on being a Gemini! lol)

    .-= moggit girls´s last blog ..How The Minds At Moggit Work… =-.

  • Reply gretchen April 12, 2010 at 6:47 am

    oh i love maria grossman, her website is the best, i always use it in meetings as an example of incredibly creative, “handmade-looking” site design, clicking has never been so much fun. she is singularly talented in so many ways. absolutely brilliant.

  • Reply Pupa Art April 12, 2010 at 6:48 am

    I love those magnolia photos – amazing!
    It reminds me my latest painting Magnolia Girl….
    (if you´re interested look at her on my blog: )

  • Reply Kaili April 12, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Interesting that you have highlighted it as creative types, I thought it was just me! I am still trying to find my career path. I have so many loves in different creative areas like photography, interior design, graphic design and art. I am a traditional artist, but I do wonder if its because paints and pens were just so more accessible growing up. Maybe if I had the opportunity to do something like interior design I would love it more? I guess its a bit of trial and error, trying and testing until you realise what it is that you are meant to be doing. Great post, I totally relate to this!
    .-= Kaili´s last blog ..Friendship =-.

  • Reply lisa :: the red thread April 12, 2010 at 6:55 am

    Yes, I absolutely do jump around with my work! And I agree Holly, it’s common. For me it’s because I have so many ideas, so many things I want to do, and lots of different media that I want to try. I already create a lot of different things, but I always want to do more. I jump backwards and forwards from graphic design to art and craft, which includes collage, painting, sewing, illustration (digital and traditional), to name a few.

    I really believe that if you are conceptually creative you can apply that innate creativity to many different areas. Why limit yourself?!
    .-= lisa :: the red thread´s last blog ..Sleepers :: Olivia Martin-McGuire =-.

  • Reply tiina April 12, 2010 at 7:04 am

    What a great topic! I have been thinking about the nature of creative careers a lot lately partially as a result of my own career planning. We are really easily directed by old ideas and believes of what work life should be like. I believe that a modern career path is not even suppose to be the same from the very beginning to the end. There are so many opportunities, and it is always beneficial to everyone when one can follow their true interests and develop.

    In a way, the always changing creative industries can be seen as an unsure and unpredictable way of planning life, but in the end, life can’t and should not be planned too exact anyways. Change and new challenges are the foundation of happiness for many, and should not be limited to fit a certain frame.

    I think it’s lovely that the world is getting smaller and that country borders mostly exist on the map only. I love how the blogosphere has created international communities. You can really go anywhere in the blogland! It is so inspiring to read stories like this. Thank you again for talking about such an important topic, Holly! Spring greetings from Finland!
    .-= tiina´s last blog ..{ mascarpone lemon cake } =-.

    • Reply decor8 April 12, 2010 at 8:06 am

      Tiina – You said that SO well. I can’t add anything further – great thoughts Tiina. :)

  • Reply Kaili April 12, 2010 at 7:06 am

    Lisa, you are so right! Why limit yourself? Here I am thinking I’ve got to have just one, but I will always want to be creative in different areas!

    Thanks for the lightbulb!
    .-= Kaili´s last blog ..Friendship =-.

  • Reply Suzanne April 12, 2010 at 7:12 am

    I wonder if it’s partly because creative types are self employed? So much more scope for a career change!

    • Reply decor8 April 12, 2010 at 8:04 am

      Suzanne – You are definitely onto something — yes, I believe that must be it. Because I know many creatives in professional roles within companies that long to try new things and can’t… so you must be onto something with your comment. Hmmm. Good to ponder!

  • Reply tinajo April 12, 2010 at 7:24 am

    I believe it´s the need for challenge that makes creative people jump around.

    I only have to see to myself to realize that I get easily bored when I don´t get challenged in my work any longer. I need it for pushing myself – and it doesn´t matter that my jobs aren´t “creative” and that my creative outlet is at home; I still need to feel that I can learn more, that everything aren´t easy.

    The need for challenge is also what has taken me from writing to scrapbooking to sewing to crocheting to painting to photography… well, you name it.

    I believe that the question all creative people (no matter what they do) have is: “Is it possible?”. We want to challenge that question – we get excited when it IS possible – and we get bored when it´s “everyday” over it.

    Sorry for rambling on, but I find this interesting! :-)
    .-= tinajo´s last blog ..Wow! =-.

  • Reply julie April 12, 2010 at 7:33 am

    I think a creative mind is a curious mind and therefore creative people love to explore different mediums (or careers). It is a never-ending (in a good way!) journey of exploration and learning. There are so many different skills I would like to learn – I want to be a better photographer, learn some graphic design skills, hand screen print (working on that one already), and to sew. It would be nice to have the time to be able to nurture these interests. Your posts are very thought-provoking Holly, you really are a such a natural writer.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..thea & sami – hand printed eco fabrics =-.

  • Reply Coco April 12, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I don;t think that creative types particularly tend to jump from one path to another, i think its more that you personally look more to creative types than to other people with different jobs :) no offence offcourse because i do too!
    But when you look at one type of person its normal that you see some remarkable things and tend to think this is typical for that type of person… I hope you understand what i’m trying to say?

    Nevertheless, if it is only something creative types do, than probably it would be because creativity can be done in so many ways thats it hard to choose one thing only. I do love to sew, take photographs, cook, decor my home and so on… hard to choose from ;-)

    • Reply decor8 April 12, 2010 at 8:03 am

      Coco – I understand totally what you mean. Though when I was in Human Resources the engineers, PMs, analysts, HR Specialists, etc. all stayed in those roles for light years + beyond, climbing without those roles to manager, director, VP, SVP, EVP and so on if the position offered that level of growth. This is what I meant, that often I see more fluctuation within careers where creative people are working – and that is what I wonder about – why and so forth. I especially wonder this since after working in HR for 10 years I noticed so many in non-creative roles wanting to move around and try new things within that line of work yet felt scared, or were unable because additional training was required that they didn’t have time/money to invest in getting.

  • Reply Katie Vernon April 12, 2010 at 7:43 am

    splendid post! I think many artists are more attuned to the different seasons of their lives. Just like how i am obsessively cleaning my house and prepping my garden (must…finish!) because it is spring. There are times (sometimes once every few years or even ten times a year) that something shifts within me and calls me to a new place (project, idea, job, etc). Most of the time the transitions are not easy (think allergies) but it’s worse trying to fight the changing season (think down coats in summer). for some this might be about stars aligning or chakras being out of sync. I can’t explain that part of it, but I know it when I feel it! (like a storm in my bones!)

    thanks Holly!
    katie vernon

  • Reply Samuel Sparrow April 12, 2010 at 8:01 am

    I love this post, Holly.
    Maria’s work is so beautiful – the styling is inspiring. It looks like the still life’s
    have been sitting insitu for 40 years…
    Sparrow & Co.

  • Reply ethanollie April 12, 2010 at 8:15 am

    i must meet this maria and bow at her feet. she is amazing.

    and i am all for changing paths, once, twice, a thousand times in a lifetime. whatever it takes to stay happy and fulfilled. i find the change just sort of starts to happen, and if you give into it, it can take you to some wonderful places. a little fear never hurt anyone either ;)
    .-= ethanollie´s last blog ..Extra Tall Vintage Blown Bottle =-.

  • Reply barbi April 12, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Great Post! Although, I am not doing anything creative as a career ….. yet (busy being a mom right now). I have always had a brain with too many creative ideas in daily life and by doing lots of different crafting hobbies, photography and even in my quest/obsession for being organized has a creative slant to it. I find myself being frustrated with myself for a brain with too many creative thoughts but after this post I see it is not just me! : )

  • Reply winter April 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I think because the basis of the creative mind is growth- so those that have it grow into the next spot organically. I think that other careers (some) can be about percision, so by perfecting the percision, one perfects the career.

  • Reply Ashley Yazzie April 12, 2010 at 10:20 am


    Regarding the career hop; I think artistic types allow themselves to creatively wander. Part of the reason I love acting is that I can be anyone; a doctor, a bum, a secretary, even a talking rag doll. Why limit our lives to just one niche? Why not try numerous options?!!
    .-= Ashley Yazzie´s last blog ..One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, Blue Fish. =-.

  • Reply Jessa April 12, 2010 at 11:03 am

    If we’re talking in terms of photography, interior design, writing and the more widely regarded “creative” jobs, they are more interchangeable. I’ve been an actress, singer, dancer, writer, and it didn’t require much sacrifice on my part.While my husband who is now quite successful in the finance world, would sacrifice a lot more for a dramatic career change. Then again he also has done 8 years of University schooling and an MBA to get where he is today.

    I also don’t think of any of my career changes as that different. I could recycle old skills. My girlfriend was a lawyer for 15 years and decided to go back to school to be a doctor. Now she’s an MD. That to me is a dramatic career change. None of mine required another 4 years of school. So maybe the creative world is more versatile and less formal education based.
    .-= Jessa´s last blog ..I Love Lucy Goes To Ethiopia! =-.

  • Reply Laura April 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

    I totally relate to this as one of the most frequent and serious discussions I have with my boyfriend is about my career changes. It is interesting how our multidisciplinary interests and everchanging careers seem to worry ourselves and everyone around. I suppose all the worries are based on the fact that we still think about work life in the old way: having the same job, preferably in the same company, from your 20s to your retirement, and being economicaly safe. Maybe bored or stressed to death, but safe. And when people ask what do you do, you have a well defined, recognizable and respectful category to fit in: I’m a doctor, I’m a secretary, I’m a photographer… Otherwise people tend to interpret that ‘you don’t know what you want’ or that you are not serious and so. And you end up wishing you were a doctor and you didn’t have to justify yourself.
    Anyway, I don’t think that all people wiht straight line careers know what they want.
    I also think that it is in the human nature (not only in the ‘creative type’) to be curious to experiment and perfectly able to excel in many fields, but the way we live now demands specialization and it is hard to find the time/opportunity/courage to expand your potential.
    In my case I went from graduated in history of music to furniture decorator, to interior designer and now to textile designer… with some experience in many disciplines related to art and design (photography, painting and such). It might look like energy dispersion but all those experiences feed each other and enrich me. I have realized that what interestes me is what underlies in all that: the love for colour, shape and composition. I’ll keep working to satisfy that, but I don’t know what my medium will be in 10 or 20 years. My boyfriend sighs and rolls his eyes when I say that. He is in HR.
    .-= Laura´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply Gaelle April 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    God I love your post! And I’m exactly like you, well I’m not a interior designer yet, but I love to just make things better, not from the start but just to adjust. I do it all the time with my cousin’s house, when I come overthere I always have a word to say in how and where to arrange the stuff. And she mostly listen to me.
    Your post is so true, I was into it when I read it. About your question well…why ? huuum…when I’m busy on DIY stuff I start with an idea, and as the project goes I often change my mind. Color, material, place etc.
    I don’t know why, I guess the inspiration is better and bigger once you started.


  • Reply Melanie April 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I think creativity has a domino effect – once it gets going….

    I have a creative job as a graphic designer but still wanted to do something else creative; something all my own.
    Once I started working on my own endeavor; started feeding my brain constantly; the ideas started coming and haven’t stopped yet. And now my brain is like “What’s next? What can I do now?”
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Fabulous Font Coasters =-.

  • Reply Jacqueline April 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Wow, I really can relate to your thoughts here. As a mother of four, my creative interests seem to fall into several different categories. I love to bake, decorate, craft on a simple scale, plan parties, take photos, write from my heart, play with my children. I have often thought about going back to school, but wonder what for? Photography? Design? Culinary Arts? Music? Interior Design? Creative Writing? Literature? These questions have often plagued me even with the keeping of my blog. I feel as if I cannot stick with a consistent theme which results in sharing nothing. Your thoughts in this post have given me courage to take and run with what I love, even though the passions may be varied. To experiment and grow in every area of interest, and perhaps in doing so I will find my niche, at least for a time. Artistic personalities love the thrill of the unknown, of experimenting beyond boundaries, of adding art to the everyday and thus find ourselves changing and growing. Perhaps we just need the freedom to start somewhere, to not be perfect, and in doing so, we will find ourselves doing the thing we love most.
    .-= Jacqueline´s last blog .. =-.

  • Reply Lauren April 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I think creative types jump around because they have the luxury to do so. Most people are naturally curious and like trying new things, but unless you’re in a creative field, you often don’t have the ability to try something new. In most fields — engineering, science, etc. you’re more or less judged by your last job, and jumping around raises too many question marks in the eyes of employers. If you’re freelancing though, who cares? I’m of the former category — in a very 9-5 job, but it’s okay because I can derive a lot of creative satisfaction from reading blogs like yours!

  • Reply peggy April 12, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Holly, I was so thrilled to read this post, because I feel as if it evolved from our emails this weekend. I definitely have changed much more than the average person. Some of my friends have been at the same job for over 20 years. I always knew that wasn’t me.
    .-= peggy´s last blog ..A trip to Crate and Barrel =-.

    • Reply decor8 April 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

      Peggy – Hi! My words here were inspired by Maria’s biography because when I read it I though, “Yeah, that’s me and 1,000 of my closest friends!” ha ha. Did you think that when you read Maria’s bio too? It really struck me and made me wonder if other readers go through this too.

  • Reply Ijeoma April 13, 2010 at 5:49 am

    My word, never have such true words been spoken! As an architect in training, I have somehow wondered off to other creative paths such as Fashion, Interior design and even video production. At first it used to really upset me that I couldn’t feel satisfied in one field and be a normal person, with a normal job like most of my friends. Now as I get older and coming to my mid-twenties, (I don’t know why people fear age, when it comes with so much wisdom) I am much more confident in myself, my work and my inspirations.

    So without straying of the question, I think that the reason creative people always “jump ships” is because we are inspired by everything around us. As an architect you can find inspirations from the pages of vogue, or from graphic prints. When this happens and you enjoy so much the process of creating something that was inspired by a source outside your own field, then it is only natural that you also play with that medium too. I can’t speak for everyone but this is true in my case. My final year Architecture project was based on the theme of fashion, and after so many hours of research and design I found myself becoming more and more interested in fashion design. So to round of this long answer (am sorry for the length), I think that as creatives, we owe it to ourselves to experiment with various mediums, as long as it satisfies our passion.

    I hope you don’t mind but am going to talk about this topic on my blog, referencing you and Maria Grossmann of course!
    Cheers for opening such a great conversation, it’s always good to know there are people who feel like you do.
    .-= Ijeoma´s last blog ..Universal language =-.

  • Reply Penny Patten April 13, 2010 at 6:48 am

    With me I enjoy many different things as well as creative avenues. I feel partly because I get bored easily, so I’ll always be involved in many projects at one time. It may take longer to finish some this way, but I always have some thing to work on.(where ever my mood may take me) I’m starting school next month so that will be be a challenge for me, but I hope to learn new things and get better at what I already do.
    .-= Penny Patten´s last blog ..Family Collage =-.

  • Reply Coco April 13, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Hi Holly, I’m sorry that i asked if you would understand me ;) haha i more meant that my english is a bit rough lately since i don’t practise enough :(
    Anyways, i also go with Laura and Lauren a bit and staying at one job is a bit determind to do so by society i think. While in the creative fields you can more easily switch to another profession and still keep some of your portfolio to show off your creative ideas.

    For example my boyfriend (we have kids together ;)) is now in his profession for over 20 years and he is not thinking of switching to another job at all! He probably will stay in this job forever :-)
    That doesn’t mean though that he doesn’t switch in his lifestyle. He switched from sports and musics (from tennis to mountainbike, to kickboxing and from bass-guitar playing in a coverband to now taking classic guitarlessons). But switching in his profession would probably mean that he should go back to the university again, take off a lot of his incoming where we both life from… not something you would easily do with two children. Nevertheless as you can see in his personal life he gets bored doing only his job ;) and gets bored doing only 1 sport.

  • Reply ashley maureen April 13, 2010 at 8:25 am

    thank you, thank you for this post. this is the exact topic that i’ve been struggling with lately. admittedly, i am on the early side of this, having just graduated a couple of years ago. my degree is in interior design and i am currently working in sales for the industry. with so many other interests and passions, i am having a hard time figuring out where to focus my efforts… photography, design consulting, graphic design, crafting? sometimes it seems that serendipitous occurrences drive decisions and happenings, but should i worry about the direction in which to channel my career? it will be interesting to see how it pans out over the years.

  • Reply Olivia April 13, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    This was such a great post, and like many others on here I sometimes struggle with this as well. Similar to Ashley, I am in the interior design field, a few years out of college. I currently work in commercial design, but feel stagnated and am seriously considering switching to something new. I am interested in so many things and inspired by so many things that I don’t know where to focus. As others have stated, I think that’s why creative types tend to jump around. Just because you initially focus on one path, one career, one artistic medium, doesn’t mean that’s the only thing you’re passionate about. Also I think in many fields, being good at your job comes from years of experience and focus on your objectives, where as in creative fields, being good at what you do basically requires you to study and be inspired by other design, so you’re bound to find yourself interested in those areas as well.

  • Reply Saioa April 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

    I think when you’ve chosen what you want you just go for it. As the time goes by you find out what you really like even those thing are related or not to each other.

    And then you begin the search for more information like reading, suddenly one day you just realize that now you are happier doing this that you were before in your previous job.

    This is what has happened to me but I’m still in the purchase of what can makes me happier and fulfilled.
    .-= Saioa´s last blog ..Lab Partners =-.

  • Reply Lisa April 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

    First off – I love Maria’s work. So beautiful!

    And as far as career hopping, I certainly can relate to this! I started out using my interior design degree working as a designer, but then started working in production on TV commercials which led to working as a stylist. I then moved on to working on the visual team for Anthropologie, but then returned to styling and interior design, which I’m still doing. And along with those careers I was coaching figure skating most of the time. Now I’ve added an Etsy shop to my repertoire so I spend lots of time sewing. I’m almost always practicing 2-3 careers at once, but they seem to all go hand in hand (except for the figure skating!)

    I think we’re very lucky as creative people because it gives us a lot of directions in which we can point. And since we’re creative we find ways to move in those directions. When I talk to my friends who don’t feel like they’re very creative, they feel stuck in their careers and have a hard time changing. All it takes is a little creativity!

  • Reply katetie May 9, 2010 at 7:33 am

    Sorry. This was posted a while ago but I’ve been thinking about it alot lately and will link to this post in an soon to published blog post of my own (if thats ok with you).
    I think creativity and exploration go hand in hand. Creative folk have to explore, they need to be innovative, think ahead, stretch the concepts of what can be, they are inspired by the small and insignificant and tease out these influences and concepts to re-invent them into statements, exclamations, grand inspirations!
    When researching for one of my uni assignments I can across several examples of big businesses (ie Rolls Royce), recognising the value of creative in the work place and the need for flexibility to foster this. So don’t worry if your folks or your friends think your creativity is making you look like a flighty artistic stereotype because it looks like the big wide world is embracing those creative types who are multi talented and capable. Embrace your ability to be able to take up (and complete) and variety of projects. There are many out there (myself included) who wish they had such gifts!!!
    .-= katetie´s last blog ..Bambinos {Friday Finds} =-.

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