My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

The Gothic subculture is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, and looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Tim Burton, Siouxsie Sioux and Anne Rice et al.) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. Goth should not be limited by what is considered "goth", inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Interview: Midnattsol - Alternative Model

I met Midnattsol not through photography or modelling, but as a friendly and terribly bouncy patron of the Goth club I used to frequent. I later found that she, along with another friend at the club Nitr0gene, was a model, and after having looked through her modelling portfolio was truly amazed at how good she is a model and how lucky she is to be photographed by some really good professional photographers. I asked her if she would be willing to be interviewed, and she was. She was very kind and got permission for me to use some of the professional photographs from her portfolio to illustrate this blog and showcase her amazing talent as a model. As per usual, text in bold is mine, and ordinary text is the response.


Midnattsol in ©Andy Proper Photography
⚜ About Midnattsoll:
Describe yourself!
Not sure what to say!! Im just a normal 25 year old girl who lives in Oxford, who dresses a little oddly, with brightly coloured hair!! I'm a total geek, who loves anything cute or twisted… sometimes both! Huge lover of anything fantasy, in fact most of the time I’m in my own little fantasy world (I daydream A LOT!!). I enjoy going out like any young girl, and love the industrial/metal scene, yet I love just as much to snuggle up at home with a book (I read waaaay too much), play computer games, or when I'm feeling particularly nerdy, cross-stitch!!! I love all forms of art, and although haven’t done so in a while now, I paint and draw. I also do a little bit of modelling here and there when I can squeeze it in between my Job in a lab, my degree in Biomedical Science and my personal life!!

I met you at Intrusion, Oxford's monthly Goth club night and a lot of the fashion you have modelled could be considered Gothic, but do you consider yourself a Goth? Ifso, what does Goth mean to you?
I’ve never really thought of myself as anything! I’m just me! I’ve always been interested and inclined more towards what people would describe as ‘gothic culture’, though I like a lot of normal things too. Goth is such a broad topic! To describe it would take me days. Initially what comes to mind when I hear the word is a sort of a dark, romantic beauty; from flowing gowns and beautiful castles to the more futuristic ‘Industrial’ take on goth!

How would you describe the clothes you wear in daily life?
I don’t think I could! My wardrobe contains such a huge variety!!! On a daily basis to work I wear 6 inch new rock platforms, skinny jeans or bondage pants with some kind of funky t-shirt! Generally all black. I currently love anything cute but dark such as Cupcake Cult and the Killer Panda clothes! If I’m feeling like dressing up a little more, I have all sorts, from Victorian gowns, to fetish wear!


What is your favourite food to cook yourself?
I love cooking when I have the time! I love experimenting with things and throwing bits together to see how it turns out.


⚜ About Modelling:
How long have you been modelling?
I’m not entirely sure! I guess on and off for about 4 or 5 years now,though photographic modelling I think only 3.

Is most of your modelling work professional?
Most of it is I guess, though I love it so much it always seems like a fun hobby to me! I’m registered by a few agencies, such as Dark Arts and Spirit Models which I get bits and pieces in from. I also work ;a lot on my portfolio, due to my continuously changing look which I love doing as I can be a lot more creative! I also do a lot for fun too! I’m constantly coming up with themes and ideas I want to create into an image. It’s a huge creative release for me!

How did you go from being an attractive young alternative lady to being a paid model?
I fell into it completely by accident. I never dreamed I’d be considered attractive enough to model, to be honest I still feel the same and am continuously amazed at it! I started off modelling at events. While out shopping and at events I’d get asked by the clothing designers to model for them at future events. I was also getting asked by event photographers to model for them, but I was so low in confidence it took me a couple of years to finally agree to give it a go! At my first shoot I had so much fun that I quickly became hooked!

What attracted you to modelling?

It was never really something I was particularly interested in doing, as I said I fell into it accidentally, though I always looked and admired with a distant envy at all the beautiful models! It was one of those dreams that every girl has, but never thought it was possible, so something I never actively pursued.


Midnattsol modelling for Alienskin Clothing, © Nick Parry Photography


Modelling for Alienskin Clothing
© Nick Parry Photography
How much does your modelling work reflect your personal fashion style?
Well a lot of my shoots involve clothing I wear out and about! My fashion style is so varied it does cover most of the styles I wear in my shoots! I use a lot of shoots as an excuse to wear clothing that I love but could never get away with wearing in real life!!

Which outfits from photo-shoots would you most like to take home with you?


Modelling for Alienskin Clothing
© Nick Parry Photography
A lot of clothing I’ve modelled that aren’t from my own wardrobe I’ve been allowed to keep, the only things I haven’t really have been are most of the latex outfits and I’d take all of them home if I could!

What outfits were your favourites to model?
A lot of my favourite outfits that I’ve modelled aren’t really ‘real’ outfits as such!! I’ve worn all sorts such as being wrapped in fairy lights with a dress made from cling film over so it glowed!! That was great fun to wear and be dressed in. I’ve also created a dress out of fishing netting, which I loved. I love anything creative!!




Part of the Fishing Net Dress, © Nick Parry Photography
The stereotype, in terms of appearance, for models is that they're all at least 5'10" and thin to the point of it being unhealthy - do you think you receive any negativity as a model for being 5'2" and a healthy shape?
Not at all!!! The only real negativity I get is from myself!! Most photographers I’ve worked with have been extremely impressed and I have worked with again and again! Due to being in proportion to my height, most people don’t actually realise how teeny I am! A few people have been shocked when meeting me in person!


Fishing Net Dress
© Nick Parry Photography
Do you get positivity for being outside the stereotype?
Not particularly! The people I’ve worked with have always been positive, but that’s because of my versatility and we’ve created images we love and have always got on well! My height and shape has never been an issue either way!



How does alternative modelling compare to mainstream modelling?
Mainstream seems to be stricter with what’s required to be a model, such as height and weight, whereas alt modelling is more accepting to a wider variety of people. Though I have been turned down for work for not having enough tattoos or piercings! The way you model seems to be different too; mainstream modelling is a lot of posing to get a perfect image, whereas alt modelling feels more like acting. I feel I can bring a character into the image which is what I love doing best. I love to be able to portray a lot of emotion and feeling into my work.


The Fishing Net Dress In Full
© Nick Parry Photography
I saw you got published in Devolution magazine! What was it like being published in a popular alternative magazine?
I feel very humbled and honoured by it! It’s a magazine I love and am now an official devo girl for which is extremely exciting!

What is it like coming across pictures of yourself on the internet? I still go "Ooo! That's my friend!" when I spot you at places like AlienSkin Clothing.
It’s extremely exciting!! It doesn’t always feel real and it’s hard to always think of that person in the photo as me!! I’m so normal in real life! I’m always coming across published bits of me that I didn’t even know existed, such as being on flyers for bodypainting events in Mexico!! It’s always a nice surprise, and I feel extremely honoured!

© Nick Parry Photography
Do you ever get insecurities about being visible on the internet?
Like everyone, I have bumps and flaws that I don’t like to be seen, and having them on full display to everyone is sometimes hard!! I also get quite embarrassed at times! There's a huge poster of me in ::Neo Hair::, and as proud as I am, I always get embarrassed when getting my hair done in case someone recognises me from the image and thinks "oh, she’s not so great in real life" I get so scared of disappointing people!!

What's it like modelling for alternative fashion makers/retailers such as Fetasia Latex and Alienskin Clothing? Do you own clothes by them?I’m always shocked they want me to model their clothing! But it really is amazing!! The clothing from everyone I’ve modelled for is just beautiful! I don’t own any from Alienskin yet, and Fetasia Latex I have my first piece coming within the next couple of weeks which is a custom piece based on Quorra from Tron. I do however own pieces from the likes of Emerald Angel, Rubber Monkey and Iron Fist all of which I have modelled for! There are more that I cannot think of right now!


© Nick Parry Photography
In the mainstream fashion industry, modelling and photography has come under attack for being unrealistic and over the extensive use of PhotoShop and similar digital re-touching tools. Digital re-touching plays a part in Alternative and Goth fashion photographs too. Do you think re-touching is a bad thing?
I think retouching has its good and bad points. I do think these images with models with flawless skin and perfect bodies can put a lot of pressure on people and too much emphasis on appearance and what it means to be beautiful. Even I get scared meeting a photographer for the first time as I know I don’t look as perfect as I do in my photos that made them want to work with me! But then I can understand the need for it too, just maybe not to the extent that it is used. I think it’s great for artistic purposes. A huge amount of alternative images are theme based, and so some manipulation may be required!

How obtainable do you think it is to look as fabulous as the photographs of Gothic and Alternative models one sees on the internet and in adverts and magazines?
It’s a hard question! Theres a few of my images, particularly a large proportion of the ones I’ve done with Nick Parry, where I’ve personally had no retouching done at all on me!! Though even then the perfect lighting and angles make a huge difference! I do think it’s important to always be aware that these people do look as good as they do because of skilled artists! The photographers know how to light a face to create/remove shadows to enhance, to take it from the right angle to flatter the models shape. Then there’s the fact that it’s a models job to look good; they work hard to learn what angles, expressions and poses flatter them most and enhance their looks!! Not to mention the makeup and perfectly styled clothing to suit!! And then there’s the PhotoShop and post-processing!!!

Do you think that people in the Gothic subculture tend to be more at home in their own skins than in the mainstream?
I do! I think that all cultures have their own pressures on what looks good and what beauty is, but due to the nature of Goth and how it see’s beauty in things that other people might consider ugly dark etc, it is much more open to the idea of what true beauty is and that its not all superficial!

About Photography:
What's it like working with photographers? Are most of them rather pleasant, or do you get strange demands?
Most of the photographers I’ve worked with are lovely!! They are all just normal people who’s job is to create art with a camera! Luckily everyone I’ve worked with, I’ve kept in contact with and many I have ;become friends with! Not had any strange demands yet! Well not in a bad way anyway!

What do you think of photography as portraiture, and in comparison to drawn/painted portraiture?
I think photographers are not given enough credit for their work!! I think the talent needed to understand lighting, angles, cropping and what makes a good photograph is completely underestimated! And I believe that what they do is just as much art and contains just as much skill, when done right, as a painting

Do you think that people react differently to art portraiture of an actual, living non-celebrity person than they do to celebrity portraiture or historical portraits?
I don’t really follow celebrities so im not sure how to answer this. For me personally it’s the overall image that I fall in love with, not who is in it!! But I guess people tend to be drawn to what they know, so if its someone in the public eye it would make sense that they would get more attention!!

As a model, what is your advice to photographers for working with models?
Communication is essential!! Its always good as a model to know ;what the photographer’s looking for and if what your doing is right etc! we are human after all and want to get it right! Also be professional, yet friendly. To get the best performance out of a model they need to be comfortable!!

I see you work frequently with the rather amazing ::Nick Parry::! Can you tell us a little about that?
Nick Parry I met a couple of years ago, we started working together for bodypaint shoots. I think he really liked my versatility and emotion in my modelling, and how I acted rather than modelled, as he did a lot of acting for theatre! You only need to look at his pictures to see that he’s an incredible photographer! We very quickly developed not only a very good model-photographer relationship, but became really good friends! He is one of my favourite people to work with and shooting with him is always fun, and I tend to stay with him for several days. Once makeup and styling's done, I’m only in front of the camera about 10 minutes!! Its more like a mini holiday with a shoot here and there when working with him. He’s just an extremely talented and incredible person!

I've seen you in some rather lovely fantasy themed photo-manipulations? What do you think of mixed media digital-art and photography?
I love it! I have huge admiration for mixed media artists! I think it takes a huge amount of talent to be able to combine something real and something created and to make them match well enough to blend in and work as a whole image! It’s very exciting as a model to see what is a very basic image of you be made into something completely fantastical! I have spent many hours watching Kestrel manipulate some of our images in complete awe and fascination!

⚜ About Bodypainting:

© Nick Parry Photography
Who does the bodypainting?
I have worked with several bodypainters, the main one being the incredibly talented John Davis - another one of my favourite people to work with. I’ve also worked with world champion Alex Hansen, who worked on '300', Hollywood makeup artist and bodypainter Lyma Millot, and world bodypainting champion Raphaelle Fieldhouse! Also done some with my partner Rus, who was a special effects makeup artist and the owner of Awen Creations.


Can you give me a summary of the process?
There are 2 different methods of bodypainting, brush & sponge and airbrush. For a full bodypaint obviously you need to be nude, though many painters will paint over a thong, or you can get prosthetic thongs and nipple pasties to keep modesty while avoiding having underwear lines! If prosthetics are used they’ll be applied first. Usually a base layer is put on and layers of colour will be built up, with contouring and shading and eventually final details, either hand painted/airbrushed or by using stencils.


Photography © Nick Parry
Bodypainting © A. Hansen & L. Millot
Being painted up looks very time-consuming! Is it hard staying still while being painted? Is it cold?
My longest body paint was 10 hours for the Giger bodypaint with john Davis and Nick Parry! Think my shortest was about 4 hours! It can be exhausting standing for so long, but watching the process is completely fascinating! Standing still for that many hours can be realy difficult, and with the Giger, I was falling asleep while standing, and had to eat and drink while being painted! And when I did the paint with Lyma and Alex, I couldn’t stop shivering! They had to get a hairdryer on me to get me still enough for them to paint me! No matter how warm the room is, having high pressured air blown a you for hours does lower your body temperature, and with brush and sponge, obviously the paint is wet and cold!!!

Photography © Nick Parry
Bodypainting © A. Hansen & L. Millot

What do you think of body-paint as an artistic medium?
I have a huge appreciation for bodyart! The skill to be able to turn the body into a canvas and art form is incredible! Its hard enough to paint on a flat surface, let alone work on something as complex as the human figure, with all its shapes and textures!! There is a lot of technicality and understanding of the human body needed to be able to do it well! And seeing a piece of art that can really come to life at the end is incredible to watch!


Is it always something paired with a photographic final image or as part of a dance or other performance?
Not at all! I have also modelled at bodypainting festivals in competitions! It's also used for walking promotional purposes at events, in clubs, people get it done for fancy dress, then as I said, Alex Hansen bodypainted the warriors in the movie '300' to give them (and enhance) their six packs!

How do you feel about participating in an art form that must take a lot of time and effort to accomplish, but is transient and will ultimately be washed off you?
I always enjoy the process of watching it grow, but you do become attached to the art on your body, and I always feel guilty and hate washing all their hard work off! Afterwards I always feel so plain! But I think for the result you get, it’s well worth the hours of waiting, even if you only experience the final result for a short while. This is why I always do it for shoots! I hate the thought that all that hard work will be washed down the drain and forgotten! At least with a shoot you have a record of the artwork to be able to remember it!



Giger inspired body paint © John Davis
 Photography © Nick Parry Photography

Do you think it is under-appreciated and under-represented?
Definitely!!! They are all so talented and work so hard! Like I said before, theres so many technical aspects, and its not just about being a good artist, but being able to understand the human form and how it moves and how it affects the shape of an image; to be able to work it to the shape of a body!

Most of the body-paint work I've seen you model has been horror, science-fiction or fantasy based - how does it feel to be temporarily transformed into a fabulous creature?
Its amazing!! As I stated earlier, I love bringing out a character in my work and I act more, rather than pose for shoots, so this is ideal for me! Its crazy, but as the artwork grows you really do start becoming the character you're being turned into!! You naturally start moving the way the creature would! I love the energy you can put in! Its just such an incredible feeling!

Are you a fan of these genres outside of your modelling work?
Definitely!! In fact im obsessed with fantasy! I read a lot of fantasy novels and have lots of books on fantasy art. When I had the time to draw and paint it would be of a mythical/fantasy nature. I collect dragon statues, fairies and elves - anything magical, weird or beautiful! I love being transported to another world

In the bio-mechanical set photographed by Nick Parry, how much of that was physical costuming and how much was painted?
All of it was painted!! There was a couple of bits of prosthetics that were glued onto my skin to enhance and add texture, but these were painted too!

Are you approached by the body-painters as a model, or do you approach them?
I first got into it as I had seen it on TV, and, being into different art forms, fell in love with it, so I messaged John Davis for advice on how to start learning, what paints are best etc, and he said he’d teach me if I came to be painted! Its all grown from their! It has always been a mutual thing with John. We got on well and enjoyed working together so we’d be casually chatting and would come up with incredible ideas that we’d then put into practice! Everyone else approached me!

How involved are you in the creative process beyond being a living canvas?
With John, all ideas were discussed and created together beforehand, and the things with Awen Creations I had a large design part in the prosthetics. The work with Alex, Raph and Lyma was designed by them.

 About Latex:
You have stated your desire on your Model Mayhem profile to work with latex designers, why do you especially like latex?
Well at the time it was something I was missing from my portfolio! I still don’t have enough. Latex shots seem to be really good for portfolios. Its always so flattering and shows off your figure amazingly, without the need to be nude! Plus its shiny and beautiful, sexy without being slutty.



© Nick Parry Photography

What do you think of latex's potential as a fashion fabric outside of fetish-wear?
I think latex is great as fetish wear, but I think it’s a beautiful form-fitting fabric that is great as fashion wear! Personally, if I could afford it, I’d have a huge wardrobe full! I think now though, a lot of Latex designers are creating more vintage styles in latex, rather than the traditional fetish wear, which I think is great! Like a futuristic take on traditional vintage styles!

Do you think it has become more popular to wear latex and PVC to club nights?
Definitely. I think its becoming a more accepted medium of fabric to wear, I think that people are beginning to open up to the idea of it and so are loosing their prejudices on it being a purely fetish thing and seeing it for the beauty it can be!

What sort of impact does latex's position as a material favoured by pin-ups and fetishists have on you modelling it?
Not a lot really! I was into latex before I got into the whole modelling thing, as more of a shiny futuristic industrial look rather than fetish. Only back then I couldn’t afford it so had to make do with PVC as a substitute!!

⚜ About Hair:
© Nick Parry Photography  
Your hair is always so fabulous! I can't think of a colour it hasn't been. Who does your hair?
My hair is done at ::Neo Hair Design:: by the extremely talented Owen Roberts in Cardiff! They are such a brilliant salon with an incredible team! Could never go anywhere else now!

How does having such vivid and brightly coloured hair go down in your everyday life?
I love it!! I get stopped most days when im out by complete strangers telling me they love my hair! It has never given me any problems!


© Nick Parry Photography  
You have a rather professional day-job of working in biosciences - what is it like being visibly alternative in that sort of work environment?
Its not been a problem at all! In fact they all love it! In general I have fitted in pretty well, though I have been told some of them were nervous of me when I first started! I’ve had one doctor disapprove of my appearance, being concerned of the affect it will have on the donors, but in general everyone has got used to me and find my ever-changing vibrant look refreshing!

How do you keep your hair healthy despite repeatedly dyeing it?
I always get top products from the salon to keep it in good condition. It really is worth paying the extra money for it! Also Owen, my stylist, looks after my hair, does deep treatments when needed etc. I also keep heat styling to a minimum, things like that!




© Nick Parry Photography
You seem quite unafraid to try new hair designs - do you have any dream hair-style at the moment?
I don’t have any in particular! Though I'm always seeing colours and hair I love! I’m currently really happy letting Owen decide my colour and style as he really is amazing and knows what will suit me!

Where do you get inspiration for the hair-styles from?
I don't! I let Owen design my hair! The most input I have is occasionally telling him the theme of a shoot I need it for! Otherwise I give him free reign and love seeing what he comes up with! It's become like a bit of an addiction!!


Your hair is really quite something, very colourful and creative - do you think hair design can be seen as art as well as fashion?
Definitely!! Watching Owen do my hair has proved so! You need to understand how hair will hang and fall, peoples face shapes and how the hair will change that, so knowing what to do to suit,& understanding colours, what will suit different skin tones, how it will fade so it will always look good. And the dyeing process - he literally does paint my hair! He gets an image in his head of how I'm going to look and the colour, cuts and sculpts 'til it gets there! He completely transforms my appearance, so yes, hair, when done properly is definitely an art form!


A big "Thank-youto Midnattsol for being interviewed, and to all the photographers involved for letting me illustrate this blog with their pictures of her.


 Links:

4 comments:

  1. Fantastic interview really interesting person and some totally amazing photographs, mainstream modelling could do with a lot more models like her. Well done Housecat, really good questions, open and informative without being leading, you would make a good journalist apart from the fact you have scruples and they don't. This a piece you can be very proud of

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    1. Midnattsol is a lovely lady, I feel very glad to know her :) Mainstream modelling sadly doesn't want women like her, sometimes I'm not sure if it actually wants woman-bodies at all, more stick figures.

      I'm happy that the questioning was good. This is only the second time I've tried interviewing someone, and I had to think a lot about the sort of questions.

      Hee! I'm sure that not all journalists are unscrupulous individuals!

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  2. great, very interesting - thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thankyou :) And many thanks to Midnattsol and the photographers involved for sharing!

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