As you will have seen from one of my previous blog posts I am interested in models (muses if you will) who are more directly involved in the creation of art than just being a relatively benign subject for the artist. This might include having some level of artistic direction ranging from contributing ideas to having full artistic control over the art work or it might involve taking on multiple roles such as the creator as well as the subject.
In order to explore the role of “the muse as artist” a little more I thought it would be fun to interview a few of the muses I know who have crossed over from being ‘just’ a model to having some level of artistic input as well.
To start I spoke with ‘Valentina Artist’, a photographer who also models under the name ‘Darling’ (see my photograph of her below) and who also creates some stunning and unique photographic self portraits.
Here are some examples of her work:
I decided when I was given a camera by a good photographer friend, but before then I’ve always had a camera, either on a phone or a cheap digital holiday snapper. I’ve always been interested in buying a proper professional camera but got a little too confused with makes, models, prices etc.
It was really others who recognised my style of work, I seem to be blind at what I take. They’re taken from my consciousness.
Have you had any formal artistic training?
Some of your photographs have quite strong religious iconography in them. What is the message you are making here and where does that come from?
I was raised to be a religious woman, a woman who has felt contradictions between her natural sexuality and her religious beliefs. A gentle soul troubled by that conflict.
What are your sources for inspiration, which photographers and artists do you most admire?
Truthfully, I’ve never really looked for inspiration, I need to fulfill the ideas that’s going through my own head.
Some of the images you create are quite daring in their execution. I’m particularly thinking of some of the shots you created in Venice. How do you go about planning and executing a shoot?
I honestly don’t plan, I may just take a few shots of what I like then go back with clothing etc.
What equipment do you use and what if any post processing do you do to obtain the lovely grain in your pictures?
I use a Canon 40d, the editing software I use is Lightroom 3, I try to create my effect before editing.
Where do you display and publish your work?
On Facebook, also free hosting sites. But will further my networking over time, I just can’t keep on top of it all.
What tips would you have for other models who want to cross over to the ‘other side’?
If you have a strong passion for taking pictures and to create something, don’t do it for money, do it for the love and passion that you have, not to satisfy others. Just don’t get wrapped up in other peoples world of what they want. Create from within and don’t be scared of sharing, remember it’s not for others, it’s for yourself. Always remember this because you can start taking images for others approval. Create from your thoughts, if you struggle then go to look for inspiration from other artists, photographers etc but a true artist will only be looking to admire, too busy with his own thoughts.
Do you think you will continue to use yourself as your main subject (Cindy Sherman made quite a career out of it after all) or will you focus more on conventional photography one day?
Yes, I just find it in some way. It can be easy as you’re fully engaged in what you are trying to achieve. I’m not scared of using a model in the future however.
Any new projects on the horizon?
Who knows! I just go with the flow of things.
Thank you Valentina.
For other interviews in this series see here.