Meet Myra Sjöberg the 29-year old Danish born artist who grew up in an artistic family. Her father, a Danish glassblower, is the owner of a shop in Denmark and mother is Swedish with a degree in fashion and tailoring. Myra lived in a town called Skagen which is located in the North of Denmark where two oceans meet. She described nature up there as really gorgeous and peaceful, a perfect place to raise a family; she thinks that’s the main reason that her parents decided to move up there was to raise her and an older brother.
Being exposed to a lots of imagination and creativity from a very early age helped develop her artistic skills such as drawing. Myra was always surrounded by her parents’ artistic friends, one whom later became her first art teacher.
From her drawings and sketches you can see the evolution on her work as an artist over the years. Her themes are mysterious and intimately beautiful with a soft touch of darkness through fine details, surprising us in each of her paintings.
For about 5 years, Myra now lives and works in Malmö, Sweden. It’s a relatively small city, close to Copenhagen where most of her exhibitions are displayed.
So enjoy this exclusive interview with this amazing artist and person. She shares her dreams, inspirations and thoughts. And please visit Myra Sjöberg official website.
RH: You are a self-taught artist; describe to us when you received your first calling as an artist?
MS: When I was 21 I attended an artschool in Denmark and it was there that I painted my very first oil painting. I had previously mostly worked with water colour – so this was a whole new medium for me, and I fell in love instantly. Working with oil colour came very natural to me and that first experience really made me want to be an artist.
The reason why I fell in love with painting is because of the magic you can create with texture and dimension. I love making something on a flat surface come to life – it makes me feel as if I’m some sort of Doctor Frankenstein.
RH: What did you draw/sketch or paint for the first time?
MS: My first oil painting was an impressionistic piece called Phinneas. It is a dark painting with an androgynous figure surrounded by a plume of feathers. I painted it in one night, so it was a very intense and awesome experience which really made me want to become an artist.
RH: How do the teachings of Carl Jung influence you in your art?
MS: I am very inspired by Carl Jungs theories about the collective unconscious, archetypes and how we can gain knowledge about ourselves from the symbols in our dreams.
The collective unconscious is different from the individual unconscious in that it is something passed down to us that can’t be explained by social heritage. It consists of pre-existing forms known as archetypes. I try to use these archetypes in my paintings, such as my fairytale series. I believe that when I use characters or archetypes which resonate in the collective unconscious it makes my artwork more relate-able to other people.
My art is very much derived from my own subconsciousness, I find that my best work is always based on instinct and I try not to over-think my ideas because it almost always makes them seem one dimensional and uninspired.
RH: Inspired by Sci-Fi, Fantasy and comic books, how did you apply these genres in your artwork?
MS: I work in a sci-fi and fantasy bookstore in Malmö and have always been very inspired by these genres. My favorite books growing up was The Lord of the Rings I read those books again and again. Tolkien was an expert at creating believable worlds that you could immerse yourself in completely and his descriptions of his world Middle Earth always painted such amazing pictures in my mind. I hope to one day be able to illustrate those books myself. All in all I guess it’s the world building within these genres that really inspires me.
RH: Do you have any favorite Sci-Fi comic books and movies – why?
MS: In science fiction you get to travel to the future or the past or far far away to another galaxy. The visuals of science fiction are so sublime, Blade Runner is a personal favorite of mine. I think it is the combination of film noir, futurism and oriental culture that really appeals to me, there’s such a nostalgic mood to the film.
China Mieville is another author I really like – I have only read a few of his books so far, but my boyfriend tells me that we share very similar ideas, i.e. I made an amazone warrior whose armor is made of her own blood – apparently such warriors can also be found in Mieville’s book The Scar. Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman also come to mind – they both have a very poetic and yet simple and elegant language and I love the moods and emotions that their writing evokes in me. My fairytale paintings (which were my first series of paintings and exhibition) was very much inspired by both of these authors.Horror is another genre that I’m very inspired by, I really love the visuals and the balance between the beautiful and the grotesque. The filmmaker David Lynch is also one of my sources of inspiration and I love old black and white cinema such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Metropolis. And last but not least I love comic books. My personal guru is Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Miracle Man and many more amazing books. His ideas and storytelling have really inspired me to make my own comic book, and I am currently in a collaboration with a writer about doing just that.
RH: You attended just one year of art school at Kunsthöjskolen Thorstedlund in Denmark; why did you stop?
MS: I attended Kunsthöjskolen Thorstedlund right after high school. I needed some time and some breathing room to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and höjskoler in Denmark is a great way to do that. It’s not really a formal education but more of a one year course in whatever you find interesting. I chose a school that had some great art programs and I had a really wonderful time. It was a great way to take a breather and explore whatever artistic interests I had to a more full extent. I met a lot of great people and teachers and decided to extend my stay from 6 months to a full year.
RH: How do you select your favorite subjects?
MS: I draw on my inspiration from my interests in litterature, cinema and history. For instance, my latest series started with my fascination of werewolves – in particular female werewolves – from there I start collecting inspiration, books, movies and whatever else I can find.
I was very interested with the werewolf as a symbol of female strength which at the same time differs from the popular ideals of beauty and feminine qualities. I wanted to make a series of paintings which empowered women and showed the connection between the woman and the wolf.
The space that I’m going to exhibit in is just one small room, so this was something I had to take into consideration. I slowly started to evolve my idea into an exploration of the links between spirituality and nature. In this way, one idea became another – which is something that is often necessary when you work creatively. But I’m sure I will get to do my female werewolf series soon, as of now part of that idea is incorporated into the other.
As I’ve mentioned before I work primarily from my instincts and my subconscious. Whenever I begin a series of paintings it’s usually from a stream of consciousness. I’ll find a subject matter that interests me and the original idea will always expand.
RH: How do you define art?
MS: Oscar Wilde said it perfectly in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray:
“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”
In my opinion art is not something we as a species need to survive but it is something that makes life worth living. A great civilization should be judged not only on how it treats it’s citizens but also on the significance that it places on artistic expression. Art is the voice of the people, it is a Litmus test indicating whatever is going on in society and an expression of the human state of being.
RH: Who did you admire most when you started painting? And now? Are there any artist whose work you enjoy today?
MS: When I was younger the first painters that I gravitated towards were Frida Kahlo, Kandinsky, John Waterhouse, Nicholas Kalmakoff, Gaudi, Chagall and the Swedish illustrator John Bauer. I still love all of these artists but now I also love Egon Schiele, Vermeer, Frank Frazetta, Milo Manara, Enki Bilal, Moebius, Georg Gudni, Dave Mckean, Arthur Rackham, Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Louise Bourgeois, Jackson Pollock , James Jean and Filmmakers such as David Lynch, Sally Potter, Jane Champion, Quentin Tarrantino, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick and Jim Jarmusch.
I consider my work to be very cinematic and I love working with the illusion that my paintings are on the verge of coming to life – I think this trait in particular is inspired by my love of cinema and the theater.
RH: Tell us about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?
MS: Right now I live and work in Malmö, Sweden. I share a studio space in a basement with 7 other artists. I don’t have a lot of space, but I’m very fortunate that the rent is very affordable. The company that owns our apartment building have started a great project in which they create studios for local artists in empty locales in their buildings around town. Of course I often wish that I had more space to create some of my bigger paintings, but it’s really great to have a studio either way, because it’s a place away from home where I’m not distracted by everyday trivialities and where I’m able to meet and work alongside other creative people. I don’t think that you need to have a studio in order to be creative. Having restrictions can often force you to find creative solutions to problems. But at the same time I feel that I’m constantly growing and evolving as an artist and part of that process is figuring out how I work in the most optimal way. Having a studio has certainly helped me become more focused and I like the idea of ‘going to work’ every day.
RH: What are the best and the worst part of being a full time, working artist?
MS: The absolute best part of being a full time artist is that I have full control about how I want to plan my workday and what I want to create. I love the process of beginning a new project or working on an exhibition – the feeling that the work is all mine and that I don’t have to take anyone else’s opinion into consideration is both a wonderfully fulfilling and very liberating experience but it also means that I’m fully responsible for the work process and if I don’t meet a deadline or live up to my own expectations there is no one to blame but myself.
RH: What other interest do you have outside of art? And what dreams do you still wish to fulfill?
MS: My dream has always only been to become a respected artist among my peers and to hopefully be able to make a living doing what I love. I have a few goals that I’m working on making a reality such as creating a comic book, illustrating a children’s book and maybe even becoming a writer one day. I’d also love doing an exhibition abroad and I definitely want to travel more. I think it’s important to have goals and dreams – but I think it’s even more important to try to make them into a reality.
RH: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? And what’s been your best decision?
MS: The best lesson I’ve learned along the way is that every moment is a new beginning and also to trust my gut instinct. Working as an artist means being in a state of constant fragility because the work you do is so closely connected to your confidence and sense of self worth at the same time it’s very fulfilling work that lets you grow as a person in a very spiritual way. I try to focus on this part of the process and not so much the end result of my creative endeavors – it’s all about the journey, not the destination. My best decision has definitely been to start taking myself seriously as an artist. The big change came when I quit my full time restaurant job and started calling myself an artist instead of a ‘waitress who loved painting’.
RH: What are your goals as an artist? How do you see yourself progressing? Or does this matter?
MS: My goal as an artist is simply to keep evolving and growing with my work. I used to have aspirations of being a famous artist but now it’s more than enough to simply enjoy my creative process and to be able to create without the added pressure that my work has to sell. I’ve always felt that as long as I’m in love with what I do – then someone, somewhere out must feel the same way and appreciate my passion and the beauty and truth in my work.
RH: Which five words best describe you?
MS: Creative, dreamer, shy, stubborn, silly.
RH: Are there any new or upcoming project(s) you are working on that you’d like to share with us?
MS: At the moment I’m working on several projects, one is a comic book, another is a children’s book, then there’s a huge mural that I’m doing together with another artist from my studio. My next big series will most likely be an exploration of female goddesses and how all religion stems from the same archetypes. Also I might do another female werewolf inspired series.
RH: Are there any other thoughts or anything else you would like to share?
MS: I think art today is a very relative term. You can argue that anything is art, if you are using the right arguments and have a way with words. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this.
The real question is; what is good art and what is not. The only person who can really answer this is oneself.
The only purpose that I have as an artist is to communicate my own truth and learn and grow in this constant stream of thought and revelation. Hopefully my artwork becomes a kind of mirror that people can see something of themselves in and we can share this journey of discovery and wonder.
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.
Meet Charlie May the 24 year-old London based designer. She graduated from the University of the West of England in 2010 with a BA (hons) in Fashion Design, and achieved her London Fashion Week debut with her own label at such a young age. Presenting her first full Spring-Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear collection. Ms. May’s designs are a reflection of her passion for fashion which she combines with minimalism, precise interesting tailoring and impeccable finishing to clothing. In addition, her designs are freshly charming with simple silhouettes that slip on your body with elegance.
To learn more about Charlie May, please visit herofficial website. And her clothing line can exclusively be purchased at BENGT.
RH: You were born and raised on a farm in the South West of England. How did you manage to make the transition to fashion designer esp. at such a young age?
CM: I was totally unaware of fashion until college, I loved shoes and was planning to open a shoe shop, so started a business course. It was then I started getting into Riot Grrl music and DIYing my clothes, I very quickly realised I needed to switch to Art & Design, specialising in Fashion and fell more and more in love!
RH: Tell us about your design process from beginning to end and what is a typical day for you?
CM: My day really varies depending on the stage of the season! The design process for a collection starts usually in the middle of creating the last one; I think about it a lot, the colour palette, the fabrics, the whole mood, and then about 3 months before fashion week and start designing and buying the fabrics. The fabrics then need to be dyed, I toile for a couple of months until the garments are spot on and then start working with my seamstress. The original design sheet usually ends up quite different as I chop and change a lot as I go on, the styling is also changed around before the presentation.
RH: How do you select your fabrics, before or after you draw your collection? And what you look for when choosing a fabric?
CM: I love using naturals fabrics; silks, wools and leathers are my favourite! I’ll loosely design the collection, then buy the fabrics and re draw, letting the newly bought fabrics inspire the designing. As soon as I feel the fabric, I know the purpose they should have.
RH: What does fashion mean to you? And do you have any other passions besides fashion?
CM: Fashion is all about design to me personally. A garment that makes you ask how it was made and the story behind it. My other passions are travel and photography which I share through my blog Girl a la Mode.
RH: What part of your job do you like the best? and Least?
CM: Seeing your garments being worn and loved is the absolute best feeling in the world! Also seeing them in editorials in a completely different context is a great feeling. I dislike the struggle for funding; as creating a collection is a huge money vacuum, but that is to be expected.
RH: Do you remember your very first sale?
CH: Yes of course! I got an overwhelming response for the gold studded pony skin headbands from SS12 which I saw being worn around London fashion week!
RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?
CH: Work hard for what you want.
RH: What 5 words would best describe your brand?
CM: Minimal, clean, textured, androgynous and effortless,
RH: How would you define your style? If you could give women a fashion tip(s) to be fabulous, what would it be?
CM: Quite minimal and clean but tailored as well. I believe a woman looks more chic when she is comfortable with herself so don’t choose shoes you can’t walk in or a skirt that’s too short because it will show. Just be comfortable with who you are!
RH: Who would you most like to see wearing your clothes?
CM: Tilda Swinton!
RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?
CM: I take a lot of style inspiration from bloggers; here are some of my favourites – Ivania of Love Aesthetics, Jayne of Stop It Right Now, Josefin of Fashion Sphere
RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing? CM: I hope to show on schedule at fashion week and be selling in boutiques worldwide, when I get there, I’ll be happy.
RH: Do you have any any hidden or unusual talents?
CM: I can bend my arms back pretty far, I guess that’s just a talent for creeping people out.
RH: What’s your favorite getaway spot? And where would you like to live other than London?
CM: I love to getaway to my hometown in Devon, on the farm and in the countryside, it’s my happy place! I wouldn’t want to live in London forever, but I wouldn’t want to go back to Devon either; I’ll have to do some more traveling to find out.
RH: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?
CM: Nothing I can talk about yet but watch this space for some exciting collaborations!
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.
It is with such pleasure that I introduce you this new line of colorful, fun and unique watches for your everyday use, designed by Winky Wu, founder of Winky Designs. So I was excited to invite her to answer a few questions and delighted that she accepted graciously to my invitation. She’s been very busy traveling around the world promoting her brand so I was lucky to be able to share Winky’s dreams, inspiration and creations in this exclusive interview. I hope you love her work as much as I do.
Please check out her official website for your favorite color.
RH: Tell me about the design process and when it began? What first inspired you?
W.W: People may not notice this, but the watch market is going through an evolutionary period right now because cell phones have pretty much killed watches in the same way that video killed the radio star! As a watch designer though, I saw a great opportunity here to redefine what watches mean to the modern consumer. It’s no longer just a time keeping device, but also a fashion accessory, a conversation starter, and a means of self expression. My motto has always been “It’s not just a watch, it’s an attitude!” – and that’s really the core thinking behind my design process.
I was first inspired to do this when I noticed that the selections of watches in the marketplace were either really expensive brand name designs, or very cheap and tacky watches of poor quality. I saw an opportunity to serve the market in-between, by improving the quality, adding style, and still offering them at reasonable prices. So I launched Winky Designs to share my line of fun and affordable watches with the world!
RH: Which part of the business do you enjoy the most? And the least?
W.W: My business is like my baby, and honestly I enjoy every moment of it because it’s extremely fulfilling to watch it grow. If I had to pinpoint one thing though, I would have to say the best part is the flexibility! I can run my business from any location, for example, right now I’m in Munich, Germany where I’ll be staying for a month. Having flexible hours is also great, for example, when I go to sleep at night I never set an alarm to wake up in the morning so the work day only starts I wake up naturally. On the downside, running a business is a lot of hard work and there’s always more to do! I pretty much work from the moment I wake up to the moment I sleep (even on the weekends!).
RH: Is it easy to come up with new designs? What are your inspirations?
W.W: It’s not easy to come up with a new design, but it helps if you have a clear vision. So far, my 3 collections of watches are all inspired by fun foods and cocktail drinks. When you’re wearing a delicious watch like the Mint Choc Chip watch or the Tequila Sunrise watch, it feels like it’s happy hour every hour on your wrist! The themes are great because they really bring out the essence of joy, color and freshness into my products.
RH: What materials do you prefer to work with? What influences your choice of materials? Do you favor one color over another?
W.W: The slap band watches are made out of silicone because the material is durable, comfortable, waterproof, and hypoallergenic which makes it a great “everyday” watch. The bracelet watches are for more classy occasions so they’re mainly made out of leather, but they’re unlike traditional leather watches because they’ve each got their own modern twist to it.The Ice Cream Bracelets features 4 separate leather straps including a braided one which gives the watch a fun and feminine feel. The On the Rocks collection features semi-precious stones weaved into leather straps and are extremely elegant! I love all the colors, but I think I prefer the more unconventional colors because how often can you find a cool mint green colored watch?
RH: What is a typical work day for you?
W.W: Typically, I start my day by checking emails, making calls and corresponding with my customers and wholesalers. Some time is also spent doing research and keeping on top of fashion trends and new watch styles. If I have some new design ideas, I may go out and buy the materials I need and spend the afternoon putting together some samples. At night, most of my time is spent talking to my manufacturers in Asia as we have a 12 hour time difference and they only become available after 9pm. It is a full-day job!
RH: Can you tell me a little about the quality guarantee and warranty for your watches?
W.W: Absolutely! I invest a lot in the quality and every watch I make is equipped with Japanese Quartz movement and are water resistant. The slap band watches are actually water resistant up to 98 feet so that you can swim with them as well! We want people to buy our watches with confidence and we offer a one-year warranty on all our products.
RH: Describe the type of girl or guy (?) you envision wearing your watches? Does gender matter?
W.W: Every watch I design is a watch I would wear myself, so my target customers are generally young women like me who want to express their individual styles in fun and practical ways. I have had men buy the slap watches, but my color selections and styles are more targeted towards women so far (although I do have some ideas for men’s collections in the future!).
RH: What’s the story behind the “On the Rocks” collection?
W.W: This is my favorite collection personally! The accessory trend in 2012 is all about stacking, and precious stones are making a comeback as a popular material in jewelry this year as well. I’ve simply taken it to the next level by making fashionable jewelry that also tells you the time as a bonus!
The “On the Rocks” bracelets are made out of different types of semi-precious stones (onyx, amethyst, pink agate etc) hand-woven through leather straps. I envisioned people wearing these to trendy restaurants and lounges, so my friend Jeanette suggested naming the watches after fun and flirty cocktail drinks. Shortly after, “On the Rocks” came to me randomly one day, and the play on words just tied the whole collection together perfectly. The theme also lends itself to cool slogans like “It’s Happy Hour, Every Hour!” or “These watches will make your wrist drunk with style!”. It’s been really fun coming up with these cheesy but memorable tag lines.
RH: Which five words best describe your brand?
W.W: Fun, modern, colorful, fashionable and affordable
RH: Do your remember your first sale?
W.W: When I first launched my business I was mainly selling to friends, but I do remember my first sale to a complete stranger on my website. I was so excited when I got the order! It’s really fulfilling to know that others enjoy and love the designs as well.
RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?
W.W: So far I’ve been focused on growing Winky Designs in the US market, but the long term goal is to build up an internationally recognized brand. I’ve already started building some traction in Canada, Australia, Mexico, and the Middle East which has been exciting.
Winky Designs has only been selling watches so far but we’ll soon be expanding into other accessories starting with these really awesome Recyclable Plastic Belts. Read on to know more about it!
RH: Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?
W.W: We’ve got many exciting things planned for the rest of the year (which is top secret!), but we are proud to announce that our newest collection of Recyclable plastic belts will be debuting this Spring!
These plastic belts come in many vibrant colors and are designed to be one size fits all (you can cut the plastic to make it any length you want). However, they do come in different sizes (Classic cut, Slim Cut and Kids). It’s made completely out of plastic so it’s recyclable, waterproof, hypoallergenic and convenient to travel with (you won’t need to take these off when passing through the metal detectors!) These will be on sale for an affordable price of $25 and come packaged in a cute & clear plastic box which will be perfect for gifting!
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.
Dmitry Nechaev is a musician based in Moscow, Russia who started his career working as a professional model since he was 11 years old. It all started by participating in photos sessions for the world’s leading fashion magazines, being featured in TV adverts and mastering the runway. In a short period of time, Dmitry gained the status of an international model in Russia and Europe.
Today it’s such a pleasure for me to introduce this 24-year old musician who conquered a vast audience worldwide with his deep, sensual voice and nourishing lyrics that touch our soul. He inspires you in so many ways, setting you free to a different, new, fresh world, where we are connected by what moves us: the desire to simply live and to be happy, evoking many more feelings which were sleeping deep inside for a long time, making us feel alive again. It is a sharing of how he feels — simply beautiful. For those who have spent a lifetime in a surreal world, and have lost touch with what matters, he brings the chance to dream again because there is so much illumination in his lyrics in contrast to the things that we often forgotten, and that realization brings tears to our eyes.
So enjoy this exclusive interview and please visit his official web sites:
RH: Tell us about your transition from an international fashion model to today’s singing & songwriting?
DN: My modeling career started years back when I was 11. I’ve mastered the runway and acquired a great deal of acting knowledge, got publishing deals in fashion magazines and advertisements both in Russia and Europe. It sure has given me some real balls and actual experience of public performance ever since my childhood. But I’ve always had that passion for music. Yet I’ve never dreamed to become a musician, but music turned out to be the only art I find complete self-realization in. And in no time it became the primary language to express everything that I find trapped within me, although I take an interest in many kinds of arts.
RH: Were you around music growing up in Russia? Tell me about the music scene back there at that time?
DN: I’ve always been going along with music. Ever since my childhood I was totally surrounded by it. Bands like Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, A-ha along with all the other tunes of 80s really took a great part in my upbringing. Moreover, I think the fact that I was raised listening mostly to foreign music determines my style at the moment. I’m not really sure where is it coming from but I can’t sing in Russian, literally, and even if I try to I do it with a terrible accent.
RH: Then you mentioned in other interviews that you were influenced by Japanese musician Akira Yamaoka. How did you first discover his music since you were only 15 years old at the time. Was it Akira whose music first inspired you?
DN: Akira Yamaoka for me was someone I would really want to become for other people out there. Not only had he inspired me to take steps towards making music, what is most important he was the one to open up my consciousness allowing me to believe that I can actually create stuff on my own. Also he has an incredible talent to express feelings and emotions in his tunes. He managed to invent his own language in music. And that in itself is extremely remarkable.
RH: Your new was released worldwide in September: what was the inspiration and creative process behind it?
DN: That was quite a journey I have to admit. It was the first time ever I dealt with a German record company to actually produce the single. I’ve also got acquainted with European music market as we previously launched the single in Europe. It hit central radio stations such as BBC Radio 1, WDR2, Radio NRW, Antenne1 etc. That was a really significant experience I gained.
RH: How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music? Are there any messages that you are sharing with the public in your lyrics?
DN: Some say that a mission of a true poet is to give a voice to the social background he is surrounded by. I pretty much feel to sort of collect and reveal social concerns and outbreaks within my lyrics. It’s not something I’m aiming to, mostly it is something that comes out by itself. Commonly speaking I never make up rhymes, they usually come as a consequence.
RH: Which is your favorite song on the single as well as the new debut album Ignis Fatuus and why?
DN: Secret Love is definitely the one. In fact this song is the climax, the turning point of the whole album. It is me standing up against society’s cultural aversion, outbreaks of its gross diseases such as racism and xenophobia. It has been composed under a great pressure of thoughts kicking up in my spirit. The whole diversity of ideas exposed in lyrics is verbalized in the sound allowing one to read between the lines and get to the essential point.
RH: How would you classify your music?
DN: Expressive, psychologically overfilling… a mixture of electronic and live sound bound together with a strong melody and provocative philosophy expanded in lyrics and style, I guess. It is meant to make people think… I do really believe that commercial-based music industry constructs haven’t yet come up with a classification versatile enough to put that in, or have they? With this classification be marketable enough for the mid-class majority of consumers. We bet this is a bit too complicated – they’ll probably answer.
RH: What has been the hardest part in getting your music out there?
DN: The hardest part was gaining belief that I create something that could be understood and appreciated by the masses. I always thought myself to be unique in my own way, to create tunes that are hard to compare to mainstream or whatsoever. It took me quite some time to perceive my art as something I really want to contribute to the music culture of the future.
RH: Do you think that helps media outlets, such My Space, YouTube and Facebook are good ways to get the word out about your music?
DN: Definitely social networking makes sense, to some extent at least. Absolutely perfect for making first steps towards publicity. Besides that’s the perfect means to keep in touch with your fans and followers. But I thought they were essentially meant to raise public interest towards indie culture as to the only industry concept in which real art can exist. As all these major acts seem to become more and more contrived.
RH: How important to you are the visuals that correspond with your music — and do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a performance?
DN: Visual image is actually one of the most significant aspects that goes in tandem with my music. I really strive to deliver a complex idea within my art and give people a chance to perceive its diversity by all means possible. That was the main reason I founded the art project “Equinox” the main purpose of which is to depict the idea emerged in tunes by means of shapes, colours and stuff. Even the way I look mostly reflects the atmosphere trapped within the music.
RH: How often do you create a new song?
DN: Who knows, really. I get various ideas time after time, always try to sketch them down. But for me writing stuff is sort of falling in a trance I find myself involved with, when the whole universe collapses in a malevolent darkness of one’s endeavors, the moment in time in which you’re unaware of your existence and surrounding. You never know how long it may last. The only thing that matters is to capture the idea you carry in sounds and tunes distinct enough for other people to perceive.
RH: Where would you most like to perform? And who would you most like to open for?
DN: On planet Mars, really! My project manager Max and I recently signed for a NASA space campaign to become citizens of Mars. So performing there would be the best thing we could contribute to the cultural desert of the universe. A splendid metaphor for the crucial reality, ain’t it?
RH: If you could choose another genre of music, what would it be? And which genre of music do you most/least listen to?
DN: Due to the music I pick to listen to – Mine mostly… seriously… Someone said that one creates something he lacks in the whole wide world. Well, that’s obviously true for me. As to other artists, I’ve never really dig into music classification to set my preferences in the style or genre. I listen to the tunes that kick up in my spirit, evoke emotions and fit my mood. Even though I do stick to some of my favourite bands I still prefer my music menu completely versatile.
RH: Do you play any instruments?
DN: I play guitar, mostly acoustic, piano and harmonica. Pity the latter doesn’t fit in my music at all. I do really want to learn to play shamisen someday!
RH: What was the first concert you ever went to? An how do you felt after?
DN: I’ve been to many when a child, but that was unconsciousness so to speak. But the first gig to get captured in my memory was my favourite Duran Duran’s one. I was 12 at that time, and was completely fascinated and overdriven by the emotions and feelings I experienced. I’ve also had an opportunity to get acquainted with the guys in person and even talk to them a bit.
RH: What do you think of Lady Gaga?
DN: I don’t think of Lady Gaga much more than of an extremely successful commercial project: an unbelievably splendid collaboration of various artists, designers, image-makers, producers, songwriters etc. I happen to believe she might be the apotheosis of what major labels can bring into the cultural disorder of the present. I wish there was a matching personality behind the glossy cover, same bright and unique as the visual.
RH: Who do you think are the three most influential persons in the music industry today and why?
DN: Sony Music, Universal and Capitol. Pardon my sarcasm, but these guys really seem to create the immediate music culture and are believed to know what ordinary consumers’ taste might determine in the nearest future.
RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?
DN: To stay true to what I am and to what I believe in. They’ve been and they are my greatest support ever. They are the ones who created my personality. If not for them I might just look into the world through the eyes of an ordinary man resting his future upon the obsolete stereotypes socially acknowledged as ultimate truth.
RH: Do you have any shows coming up?
DN: Indeed I do. We are currently working on a live Unstaged performance held in November in Moscow, Russia. Where we will not only play released material but also will include some previously unheard tracks from the upcoming second studio album. There will also be a couple of local performances on TV and radio to support that show.
RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say?
DN: Most of the thoughts and ideas are trapped within my music and lyrics. Have a listen. Tsss… Can you feel it? That is me whispering in your ear.
It is my privilege to share with you this exclusive interview with London based socialite and fashionisto Emmanuel Ray aka “Britain’s First It Boy” as named by BBC, and winner of Fashion Icon of the Year Award at Fashions Finest Awards 2011, UK. It gives me extraordinary pleasure to interview this talented, amazing person and humanitarian man. For those of you who don’t know him yet here in the USA, soon he will be popular here as he has been approached by a few publications and agencies in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. He is spectacular, stylish, fun to be around, smart, generous, well mannered, an extraordinary writer and is the author of a fabulous new column titled Diary of an It Boy, rapidly growing in popularity. So I am delighted when he graciously gave me this exclusive interview. Now you’ll know why the audience have fallen in love with Emmanuel Ray and his work which is being called London’s answer to Sex & The City.
RH: You had a difficult past growing up and a troubled childhood. What are some early experiences in your life that have shaped who you are today?
ER: My parents always encouraged my ability to dream big. We were very poor but they saved up and sent me to St Thomas’ Prep School in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a school attended by rich kids and they never accepted me as one of them. I remember being angry and bitter all throughout my school years. I later won 2 scholarships to continue my education and was determined to break out of poverty. Generational poverty has always been a big problem in Sri Lanka and I remember being very jealous of the other boys in school as they had everything I did not have; the cool trainers, video games, generous pocket money and so on.
My parents had been entertainers in their youth. Mummy was a dancer and Daddy was a singer but they gave up their dreams as the economic situation in the island wasn’t very good and the long civil war meant everyone was living in uncertainty and fear. Life in general was uncertain and my parents encouraged me to pursue my dream of becoming an entertainer and also enjoy life at the same time, treasuring every moment as if it were the last. I think they both saw themselves in me and tried to live out their dreams through me, but in a good way as I always wanted to be a performer and entertainer. Now as a fashion commentator, I break the rules and add comedy, sex jokes and fun into my work which the audience loves. Fashion commentating can be seen as a boring job by many, but I am proud to say that when I speak, announce or present, everyone is all ears!
My earliest memory in school was my first day in school and a drawing class. We were asked to draw the first thing that came to our mind, and while all the other boys painted their houses, family, cars and so on, I painted a flamboyant peacock perched on top of a tree. My teacher told me I had a very creative mind and gave me a bag of sweets. I instantly developed an attitude and yelled at my father for turning up late to pick me up from school.
Despite being poor, my parents were always well dressed and well groomed. I learned “beauty & style on a budget” from them. Daddy taught me how to polish shoes and iron shirts and would always dress me up in little waist coats and berets and click pictures of me. Mummy encouraged my interest in dance and Daddy never stopped photographing me. I would watch TV when I went to relatives’ houses and dream of becoming a fashion icon and wearing designer suits and hosting soirées. I think most experiences I had as a child played a part in the development of my character and personality.
I always wanted to explore, experiment and create. I would stand on the beach at sunset and imagine what lay beyond the ocean. Sri Lanka is a beautiful island and everything about nature… from the fireflies dancing in the garden to the monsoon rain, the sea, sun and sand, from the lush green tea estates in the hill countryside to the elephants that roamed Kandy, the citadel in the hills – everything I saw, inspired me.
RH: What are the most important lessons that you’ve learned a long way, from the boy that sold snacks on the beach, to the brilliant modeling career —after failing hard, rising again to success?
ER: I’ve learned never to give up and that winners never quit. I have failed numerous times but always had a glimmer of hope in my heart and a strong voice in my head (probably that of my Dad’s!) that told me I will succeed. I also learned that we should never push away the ones that love us and cherish every moment in life. I have stared death in the face numerous times, thrown away every second chance I have had, and have made more mistakes than I can count. I learned that I can learn from those who are more experienced, mature and informed than oneself. I also learned that life is what you make and create. Some people may believe in destiny and fate. I do too, but only to a certain extent. Ultimately, it is ME who is in charge of my life and I must take responsibility for all the mistakes I have made. And I have made too many. It has been a learning curb, to be honest. I may not have degrees and qualifications on paper, but I had the best teacher in life; Experience.
RH: How do you feel about being called the male version of Carrie Bradshaw and having your column, Diary of an It Boy often compared to Sex & The City?
ER: I feel very happy about it, if I were to be honest. In a way, it’s hilarious to be called that. But many women can relate to Carrie Bradshaw, and many men can relate to my life, column and story. There aren’t many men writing columns similar to Diary of an It Boy and my audience constantly gives me great feedback, saying how funny and interesting the column is. Very often, at parties and social gatherings, I have people come up to me and say something along the lines of “Oh My God! I have experienced the same thing” or “I know exactly what you are going through” and so on. A lot of people give me good feedback, while some openly condemn certain things I talk about. One thing I love about my readers and audience in general is the fact that they are never afraid or reluctant to speak their mind to my face. If they don’t like something I have written or spoken about in my press interviews, they tell me. They also tell me what they think I should write about. They are always honest with me and I owe my success to them. An entertainer or artist cannot survive without the support of their audience. They are the ones that possess the power to make or break your career. So I always listen to what they have to say and spend time with them. If I am at an event, I make sure I speak to each and every one of them. This way, I always linger on their memory and the fact that I have no airs or graces, helps a lot.
RH: And how is your column different from the original show?
ER: Well, apart from the obvious difference of Diary of an It Boy being written by a man, I think the main thing that differentiates it from Sex & The City is the fact that it is written by someone who has worked hard to get where he is, with little or no resources. Also, it is set in London and everything in the column is REAL and TRUE, whereas Sex & The City is fiction. Diary of an It Boy is out and out factual and documents the life of a single man in London, who also happens to be a fashion commentator, socialite, presenter, human rights activist and charity fund raiser. It is also the story of how a boy who grew up in extreme poverty in war-torn Sri Lanka, went on to become an award-winning fashion commentator and presenter in Britain. Although most of my past will be written into the book I am working on. The column was spotted by a literary agent and she encouraged me to write the book. We have already had interest from a few publishers. Despite the advice I got from some people in the industry, I have decided not to have a ghost writer. I want to write my book by myself and although it is taking longer than I expected, because of my busy schedule, I want to write it in my own time. I want to do a good job as this book is for my audience, and they deserve the best for making me who I am.
RH: You won Fashion Icon of the Year at Fashions Finest Awards UK 2011. How does that feel? Are you getting more offers because of the award?
ER: It feels AMAZING! I feel very honored and special that the British public both nominated and voted for me — a foreigner who has only been in the fashion industry for less than 2 years. I LOVE the fact that they love me and I owe most of my success to the immense support I have received from my audience.
The phone hasn’t stopped ringing and my publicist David Mann from Highmore PR (who is in the process of setting up a new PR agency) is taking care of everything while I relax in the spas and salons that have been offering me beauty and grooming treatments! I loved the Gina Conway Aveda Salon in London Kings Road so much I didn’t want to leave. The Nickel Spa for Men in Covent Garden and Jungle Fever Salon in Soho are also great. They treat customers so well in these places, and I am lucky not to have to queue to get an appointment. I love rest & relaxation in spas. Every time I finish presenting, commentating or any sort of work in general, I am back at the spa being pampered and spoiled!
I can’t reveal much but I have auditioned for 2 TV shows here in Britain. Now we’re playing the waiting game but I have to move forward. I’ve only had 4 brief appearances on British national television and radio and a few on satellite channels and overseas. So I find it surprising that people know me and come to see me at events and shows. I am also in the process of setting up 2 companies, and am talking to a film maker and 2 production companies that are interested in commissioning a documentary about me and a reality series about my life. There is so much work to do and despite working with a publicist, assistants and so on, I oversee everything and make sure I know exactly what is happening.
I am also being dressed by Italian fashion house Antony Morato (courtesy of Milan Fashions UK), award-winning British fashion label A-Hallucination and have just done interviews with the BBC and Exclusive Magazine, have shot for the Los Angeles based NOH8 campaign when they came to London, have done a cameo in a TV series pilot named Nightlife and have also filmed two scenes for Dumar, an independent British film in which I play a silent assassin. There’s tons more to do and I am working around the clock. We have also had interest from overseas; USA, India, Sri Lanka, Morocco and New Zealand. I can never refuse a good opportunity so I guess I will say YES to most of them. But I do my best to have a break every now and then. What’s the point of being in the creative industries if you cannot give yourself a well earned rest every now and then so you can relax, dream more and have as much sex as possible? This way, you nourish your body, mind AND soul.
RH: To whom do you credit your rising back to success?
ER: There are a few. My ex-lover Marcel, for giving me hope, being my pillar of strength and for being with me throughout the most difficult time of my life when I fought so hard to battle my drug and alcohol addiction. If not for him, I wouldn’t exist. He is the main reason behind my success and for this; I will forever be in his debt.
My parents for encouraging me to dream big and going out of their way to push me forward, my cousin Sulochana (a journalist) for making me feel and act like a star at all times, and my sister and brother for telling everybody about me (doubling up as my unofficial PR people!) and of course my first agent Simon Wilson for investing a lot of time and effort in my career. Then there are the friends, relatives, colleagues and contacts that have all helped me with the age old art of word-of-mouth. Thanks to them, my Google rating has shot up!
Almost every partner, lover and spouse (well, I’ve been married twice and engaged once!) I’ve had has contributed to my success in some way. These relationships made me happy, even though in many instances the happiness was quite short lived. They made me feel good and encouraged me towards pursuing my goal. Many times I lost track, but there was always someone to push me back into the path. Every photographer, journalist and of course my audience. They have all contributed towards my success. I know I repeat myself when I say this, but I cannot thank my audience enough for the love and support they have shown me. I feel overwhelmed by it all.
I must also thank my new publicist David Mann from Highmore PR is also very helpful., for being of great support and for handling all of my affairs, often doubling up as an agent (while I am looking for one) and for taking care of everything. I depend on him a lot. And I take great pride in saying that I was the first one to spot his talent and am helping him set up his own company offering public relations and event management to the fashion & entertainment businesses. He has a natural flair and talent for this business and I know for sure that he will go onto achieve greater things. I am also very proud to have a Publicist who is also an award winning Style Icon! He was crowned Style Icon of the West Midlands (UK) by the Westfield Group, the world’s largest retail property company. How fabulous is that?
So as you can see, Emmanuel Ray is a team effort. If not for all of the people I have mentioned, I would never have gotten to where I am now. So I owe my success to all of them.
RH: Where did the idea of Diary of an It Boy come from? What is the definition of and It Boy? And what is your vision for the Diary of an It Boy?
ER: My previous agent Simon Wilson (from Express Broadcast) forced me to write a column saying I must have one to update my audience about what I get up to in my life and career. I was quite lazy but eventually gave in and started writing, soon realizing how much I enjoyed it.
A Sri Lankan journalist named Jayanthi Liyanage once wrote “When I write, my dreams become others’ dreams. I fly… using my pen as a steering wheel. Would you like to fly with me?” That is exactly how I feel when I write about certain things. Writing is very liberating. It is almost therapeutic. You’ll see what I mean when Diary of an It Boy the book, comes out. I see beauty in everything, mainly in nature. I am also providing snapshots of my past in the book. The column is mainly about my current life and career, the present.
The definition of an It Boy andIt Girlare quite similar. Wikipedia it! You’ll see some interesting information on the It Girl page. But the page about It Boy seems to have disappeared. I have my own opinions and views as you know, so here goes...
An It Boy is a man who possesses timeless charm, individuality and originality. He adds new meaning to the word “unique” and a new term or adjective needs to be coined to describe his uniqueness! An It Boy also possesses generous amounts of “It”.
And “It” has nothing to do with looks, age, ethnicity, race, background, social status or financial wealth. “It” is all about personality, character and ability. It’s about standing up for the right thing and helping those who are less fortunate. It is about being thankful for what you have. It is about accepting your limitations and then overcoming them.
Every human being has “It”. It is what connects all of us together. It makes us REAL, raw and basic, stripped of the layers of fakeness and superficiality. “It” lies in the combination of our primal and gut instincts of doing what is right, or what we think is right or practical for now.
An It Boy knows no fear, faces no competition and has nothing to prove to anyone. The only person he needs to both fear and listen to is himself as he is totally self-made and would not exist if not for his own hard work, perseverance and beliefs. These are however, my own opinion which I built up and made up my mind about once you asked this question. I am naturally spontaneous. It makes me feel alive! I’ve never based my opinion on what others have said. I base it on my own experience. I need to see, hear and face. I am very hands on!
My vision for Diary of an It Boy the column is to turn it into a book and then write one every few years. I would love to see one published every year, but it will all depend on how much time I would have and what my audience would want. I think the first book will answer many questions I have in my head. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my life and career with my audience, through my column. So in a way I think I have achieved part of my vision already. But there is always more to come.
RH: You have a new book coming up soon. Can you share a little bit about it and when will it launch?
ER: I want to see it becoming a mixture of things for many; an entertaining read for some, a tutorial on life for others, maybe a How-To guide as well as a naughty read and guilty pleasure. Well, there’ a lot of love in it and generous amounts of sex! The book will definitely be a warning too, as it will bear all the mistakes I have made in life. I will also share everything I have learned through trial and error, from how to succeed in the business to how not to lose your REAL self. Like every author, I would like to see it become a best seller. I also want it to go down in history in a BIG way for some reason! Maybe it would become a TV series or a film, but I honestly can’t see anyone else playing me but myself! But I might be middle aged by then, so I guess it would make sense to see some hot young actor playing me. This is funny… the book isn’t even completed yet. But I did tell you I’m a dreamer. But my dreams do come true!
I hope to finish the book this year. Then it will launch next year. But you never know. Let me finish it first and then I’ll tell you!
RH: Which five words best describe you and your philosophy of life?
ER: Live, Love and F*ck! OK that’s three words and they pretty much sums up my philosophy in life and I.
RH: What do you enjoy most about your job – and least?
ER: MOST: Getting to do what I enjoy, the clothes and products I get, being treated nicely, audience interaction, being able to break the rules in the name of entertainment, helping up & coming talent in the industry, using my growing popularity and the flamboyance of fashion to draw attention towards charitable and humanitarian causes. Being made up, styled and air brushed to perfection so I get to look perfect even if it is only for a few hours. And definitely putting old fashioned eccentricity, a bohemian lifestyle and the art of dandyism back on the map! Also, hooking up with sexy pretty things and having more sex! Being touched, fondled and groped by uninhibited women is a definite plus. I also LOVE the attention the fabulous gay men bestow upon me. Gay men are the sugar coating of the audience community and they’re great! They are the backbone of the fashion industry and if not for them, the industry would be a rather pathetic and miserable one to work in!
LEAST: Bitchy, fake and superficial people whom I find totally annoying! Copycats, liars and backstabbers – they are too much of an effort. Having to answer to my Mum and explain the not-so-nice things I have said and done. She never misses anything. Having to look, act and be perfect all the time – it is such a pain in the balls! Conforming to stereotypes – I hate that with a vengeance but sometimes you just have to suck it up and play the game. Early starts. I hate them so much as I love sleeping until noon and it is rude to leave your bedmate on their own. They gave you a good time the night before so a lie-in and then some is basic courtesy! I also hate scripts, rehearsals and “the norm.” If the audience like and enjoy my performance, work and ME in general, why should I conform to these stupid unwritten rules that those that run the show expect me to follow? Isn’t being Emmanuel Ray enough of a reason to do things my own way?
RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?
ER: My family. Daddy was a natty dresser and believed in looking presentable and well groomed. He always looked neat, chic and elegant. I learned how to look amazing on a budget from him. Mummy is more flamboyant and wears cheap jewellery with plain clothing so well it looks amazing. When we went out, nobody would have guessed we didn’t have a dime to our name! My sister’s style is understated and classic. But she always wears her wild unruly hair au-naturale and apart from framing her soft featured face so well, it contrasted well with her dress sense. My brother’s style is more sporty and relaxed. But he pulls it off so well. My cousin Sulochana (the journalist) was never afraid to be flamboyant and over-the-top. She would take ages to get ready and sometimes we would choose what each other should wear. She is one the first Fashionistas I met, and this was before the term “fashionista” even came into being.
Then there’s Marcel my ex. His style and look are very 1920s French riviera-style. Timeless elegance, chic and effortlessly elegant. He never wears prints or flamboyant clothing. Accessories are always kept to a minimum and he carries himself so well. Tailored shirts and trousers that accentuate his slim toned frame and tall figure, bags, belts and shoes that compliment the outfit and don’t contrast too much.
There is also a woman whom I nicknamed Blondie, who works at a kiosk opposite Earls Court underground station. A mature woman, she always looked like she’d just got out of the shower. Fresh, beautiful and always smiling, I used to chat to her whenever I passed by. She always wore red lipstick and her hair was always perfect. The blouses she wore, her pearl necklace and the way she carried herself made her look very 1950s.
I guess what I am trying to say is that most style icons are people we know and meet in our day to day life. Celebrities, film stars, entertainers and models always have a team of people who make them look perfect. There are stylists, make up artists, hair dressers, etc. who contribute to the fabulousness of a celebrity or public figure when they make public appearances or perform.
The REAL style icons are the ones who do it without help. They don’t need help as they are naturally stylish. A natural sense of style is something you are born with. It can be cultivated, brushed up and perfected over the years but the core of it is something that comes to you without any effort or help. So these REAL people are my style icons. They exist everywhere, just look around you.
RH: The Duchess of Cambridge is naturally a very stylish woman, who doesn’t have a stylist. She trusts herself to just go with her own style. What have you noticed in the changing of dress style in UK as a result of the Duchess?
ER: I’ve heard constant gossip about Kate shunning stylists, then hiring one secretly and then not having one and so on. I don’t usually pay attention to gossip or anything that celebrities get up to. I only keep an eye on fashion trends as it is part of my job. I find the whole in-now out-soon process a big bore and time consuming.
I will gladly applaud any public figure who does not have a stylist and goes with their style. But we must accept the fact that everything in our world, work and life is changing. Stylists are a vital part of the fashion industry and are very much in demand in show business. But if someone feels they do not need a stylist, then that is a choice they make. Stylists are to the fashion and show biz what amyl nitrate is to BDSM Sex! Not everybody needs them to perform well!
In my own personal view, I think women who follow Kate’s style in the UK are a minority. It is usually a woman who is comfortable in her own skin who follows this style that is chic and elegant with a much understated touch of trendiness. It is smart, neat and polished. But it is also quite young and fun without being too loud. It is the perfect combination of style and comfort. I am sure Kate wouldn’t wear anything that makes her feel uncomfortable. She doesn’t seem like the type of woman who would put up with discomfort, pain and compromise just for the sake of fashion. She strikes the balance well and looks good doing it. So I guess women find this a good example and think “I want to look like that. Chic, ladylike, fun and glamorous – all at the same time.” All-In-One, a look for all seasons!
But women are constantly told in the media, advertisements, fashion magazines and campaigns, etc. that they need to look a certain way. It’s happening to men too. I am sick of seeing cover stories about the perfect abs in every men’s health magazine. I guess it is ironic I condemn this trend as I work in the fashion industry, but I am just being honest here. When did it come to this? When did it come to the point where brands and ads told people that they were not good enough, didn’t look pretty enough and had to change the way they looked? I guess it is also psychological. Human beings have a masochistic streak and have always enjoyed varying levels of pain. Being told, made to feel or worse, feeling UGLY (yes, I said it!) also causes pain. One wants to get rid of that pain but it is always temporary. It comes in the form of cosmetic surgery, a fake tan, anything that can turn back the clock and so on. But those who go down this route do not identify themselves with the Middleton Brigade! Now that is a different breed of woman we are talking about. As I explained earlier, they are women who are comfortable with themselves and want to accentuate what they have, not pay through their dainty little noses to look the way society, the media and the fashion & beauty campaigns tell them what they should look like.
The majority of the women here seem to favor fakery over all other styles these days. Fake eye lashes, hair extensions, fake nails, permanent make up, sky high heels, glittery dresses, fake tan, highlighters, bronzer and the list goes on. Not to mention the growing obsession with anti-ageing (botox, fillers, implants and what not!). A look that was favored by drag queens, then she males and trans sexuals has finally filtered down to REAL women, the majority of whom do not want to be REAL at all. I don’t think anybody saw this coming. It would be nice to see women celebrating natural beauty again, and putting an end to the endless quest for eternal youth, the obsession with attention-grabbing and looking like painted fake dolls. The fake look is now finding its way into men’s fashion. Many guys I know have now turned to tans, tinted eye lashes and brows, highlights brighter than the sun and whatnot. There’s looking well-groomed and neat and there’s over doing it! Why not look after your skin and treat it well and keep the make up and fakery to a minimum? I have never understood this obsession with tangerine tan, to be honest. I hope the Fake Trend in fashion and beauty will come to an abrupt end. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the REALness in a lot of these people!
RH: You are a human rights activist and raise funds for various charities. Tell us a little about this work.
ER: It’s very satisfying. Almost therapeutic. Some people who don’t like me say I am doing charity work and supporting human rights campaigns for publicity. That is ridiculous. If I wanted publicity, then I can make a sex tape or strip naked on the red carpet! One of the reasons I do charity work and human rights is to encourage more young people to get involved in worthy causes and also to publicize the causes I get involved in. Fashion and show business can be very visual mediums. And they help draw attention to worthy causes.
I was photographed by Hollywood photographer Adam Bouska to represent Britain in the Los Angeles based celebrity-led NOH8 campaign when it was shot and promoted in London. I am very happy to have taken part in this campaign against California Proposition 8. Every human being has the right to live and love freely so I find it angering that governments use traditional values, religion and various other reasons to deny equality to an entire class of people.
I was the only guest to be interviewed on Stonewall LIVE Radio, USA’s first ever international broadcast. They want to feature me in Stonewall National Museum in Florida and I feel much honored. I was also the only entertainer to have appeared on Brit Asia TV’s Broken Silence programme on Sky, discussing the problems faced by sexual minorities within ethnic minorities.
Then I lent my support to the All Out campaign that successfully persuaded the government of Uganda to abandon the controversial Kill The Gays bill. I’ve always had a keen interest in promoting peace and human rights and have also attended the Ministry for Peace campaign in the House of Commons (British parliament).
I presented at Miss Sri Lanka UK 2011 in aid of the Sri Lanka Christian Association’s children’s day centre and playground in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. I have also raised funds for various charities; SOS Children’s Villages, Save The Children, Tree of Hope children’s charity, London Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund, St Mary’s Hospital Pædiatric Unit, Look Ahead Housing & Care, Shelter, Samaritans, Photovoice, Portugal Prints and Derbyshire Hepatitis C Charity.
In Sri Lanka, I helped the poor while working with the Anglican Church. I also tutored children of refugees displaced by the civil war while campaigning for the Ceylon Workers Congress and presenting at their events in Parliament. They support poor laborers in the tea plantation sector who face a daily struggle and live in poverty.
I also had a very difficult life growing up, but several people helped me. In Britain, the public has been very supportive of my work and constantly tells others, and word-of-mouth is the best news vehicle. My fans have made the events I present at successful, they voted for me at the Fashions Finest Awards and it makes me feel very special to have the support of the audience and my listeners, viewers, readers etc.
I owe my success to many people. I could never have achieved what I wanted without the help and support of countless numbers of people, so charities and human rights are my way of giving back, in addition to say thank you. Anyone in a position to make a difference or help those less fortunate, should do so. Enriching someone else’s life, standing up for the right thing and helping those who need your help are very special deeds. I did many horrible things in the past, so this is also my way of collecting brownie points to when I get to heaven!
RH: You publicly spoke about your personal life in a variety of publications and interviews going into a past with drug addiction —now you’re clean for about two years. Recently Amy Winehouse passed away at the young age of 27, following other talented artists including: Jim Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.
What advice can you give to this young generation not to get involved with drugs?
ER: Saying “don’t do drugs, they’re evil” might not change anything. Human beings have always enjoyed what is bad for them, be it drugs or alcohol, fatty food and various other vices. Young people need to make their own mistakes and learn from them. But they need to realize that losing self-control and letting drugs control you is a definite path towards downfall. I deeply regret wasting my time, life and years on drugs and alcohol and being addicted to sex. That’s all I did. Sex, drugs, clubs, more sex… I was living in a bubble and I thank my lucky stars for my Ex Marcel. If he had not stepped into my life, I would probably have been dead by now.
The younger generation should listen to their loved ones and realize they are called “loved ones” for a reason. Some people are full of excuses for their behavior, citing broken homes and poverty as reasons for stealing, committing crime, doing drugs, running away from home, etc. But the truth is that your life lay in your hands. Your ambitions, destiny, career, happiness – all depend on YOU. I learned this the hard way and had to stop blaming others and making excuses.
Drugs will always be in society and no matter how many crackdowns and investigations are carried out; people who want cocaine, marijuana and various other substances will always find a way of getting them. Self-control and self-discipline is the main thing. It can be very hard to achieve for the majority of us, but speaking as someone in the creative sector, I would tell the younger generation to enjoy their vices in moderation. Too much of anything is good for nothing. We only have one shot at this life and we need to live it with happiness and contentment. Hard work and perseverance is key to making it in this business, especially if you don’t have famous or rich parents. So never let your focus on your goal waver and just keep at it.
Don’t give in to pressure and give yourself a break every now and then. Meditation and nature can do wonders to one’s personal satisfaction and relaxation. Some people might enjoy other tasks that make them feel relaxed, nourishes their soul and helps the well-being of their inner being. This is all part of self-discovery and knowing yourself and what works for you. Drugs and alcohol are temporary fixes. What you need is to find a balance and realize that illegal substances are not just a waste of money but are also injurious to your health. If you must do it and need it so badly, then do it moderately and don’t let it control you. You need to be able to stop when you want to and if you are unable to do that, then that is a sign that it is taking over.
RH: Are there any other thoughts you feel compelled to share?
ER: I just have to thank all my audience for their support, your readers for reading this far and you, for this opportunity. I love your jewellery by the way, and look forward to wearing them!
Most of you already heard about or have seen Tomas Bohinc (a.k.a. BO) modeling campaigns especially in Europe or Southeast Asia. This 27-year old model, who is more than a face or a specific body size, quite confident, a hard working, kind and intriguing man. He’s gotten his looks through his Macedonian and Slovenian parents who taught him respect, loyalty, friendship and love. He speaks: German, English, Macedonian, Slovenian and Croatian. He has been on the runways of Germany, New York, London and China Fashion Weeks. His motto in life is always to think positively, enjoy life to the fullest and live your dreams. So enjoy this exclusive interview where he opens up about his work and dreams showing that his not just about looking good in photos. To learn more about Bo, please visit hisofficial website.
RH: How did you get your career started, and what path have you taken since? TB: People always told me I should try to model. I went to some agencies in Germany, but it was always just a side job. Then I got more attention from foreign countries and I took steps to push my career foward and started traveling to different countries. New York, London, Tunisia, Slovenia, then got signed in Taiwan and in China. So since then I am a full time pro model.
RH: What other modeling projects have you done? TB: I had some interesting projects. One was a video production, a portrait video of me. The video shows my movements and some actions from normal life, and also modeling scenes like an unusual runway on rails, and a scene filmed in New York on Time Square, and another one was a photo shoot in Tunisia where Star Wars was filmed in Matmata Tataouine in a great location. I was very busy in China and worked a lot. I did editorials, catalogs, fashion shows and also filmed 22 TV commercials for Chinese companies and for their National China Television.
Between all that, new offers came up for me to travel to Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea and Taiwan. The past 2 months I was working in Taiwan. Soon I will keep traveling again.
RH: How would you describe your own style? TB: My style I would describe as a mix between casual and elegant… timeless.
RH: What are some of your hobbies and interests? TB: My biggest passion is Basketball. I was also playing before in the 2nd professional league in Germany. Now I do it for hobby since I model full-time. I also love going to the gym, running and taking yoga classes. I also love meditating. Love hanging out with friends, traveling, meeting people, love networking and connecting and helping people. Love eating great and delicious food.
RH: Your favorite time of the day? And season you like best? And favorite room in your house? TB: My favourite time of the day is nights. I love the summer season the most! My favourite place in my house is to chill on the couch or in the bed.
RH: If you could be doing anything else what would it be? TB: I would love playing basketball in the NBA or any other professional Basketball league in Europe.
RH: What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progressing? TB: My goals in modeling, are getting more exposure in the states and also in Europe and working for good designers and brands. Also always getting better myself in all fields — working hard. My progress is going really well, I get a lot of offers and great responses from professionals in the industry.
RH: Have you ever bought something because it was fashionable? If so, what? What does fashion mean to you? TB: Of course I look what is up-to-date in fashion, but I always have kind of my fashion combined with what’s up-to-date.
RH: Does the fashion industry exists mainly to persuade people to spend money on things they do not really need? TB: No I wouldn’t agree with that! Fashion is a great thing! I think they are making us look good. Everybody is free to decide if he wants to spend money on fashion or not.
RH: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? And what’s been your best decision? And biggest regret? TB: The best lesson I have learned in life: Life is a up and down with highs and lows. Negative also belongs to life, problems are there to solve them and learn from them. If you accept that then your life is easy and nothing can break you! You always have to know you are nr 1 without being arrogant. You are responsible for your decisions and you can guide your life in the direction you want to. Never listen too much to what other people say or think. Mostly they are jealous or just don’t have the free mind to go and change something in their lives. Everybody has to make his own things and experiences in life.
My best decision was not listening to other people anymore and taking steps in my life for all the things I want to do. So I became a very alive balanced person.
The regrets… not too many since they mostly turned out well or it was an experience more in life.
RH: What are you passionate about? TB: I am passionate about my modeling of course and playing basketball, eating great foods, and having great times with my best friends enjoying and doing simple things… just being real!
RH: What are for you the keys to a happy and meaningful life? And what dream do you still want to fulfill? My keys for a happy life are to make yourself happy first. Always believe in yourself. Listen to what you want to do and take actions for it! Don’t listen to others. Find your own balance for everything! Learn to handle your emotions.
I want have my own house in a nice and peaceful country by the ocean, and when I retire, chill and enjoy my life there with my family.
RH: What are your favorites books? What are you reading? TB: I love books about personal development, motivation, and interesting stories. I just read a book about emotional intelligence.
RH: Which five words best describe you? TB: Positive, Balanced, Driven, Real, Sociable.
RH: You have been working in China for three months. How is it? What surprises you the most there? TB: Yeah… in the meanwhile it became 11 months. I extended since I got so many requests and working schedules here. Another reason is also I get along well with Chinese people. They are mostly very friendly and nice people. They treat me very well and respectfully here with what I do! The food is great and the living is also good so I can say I really enjoy my time here. I got surprised by how much they love foreigners here! They love the foreign look so much and you get admired a lot, and many people look at you all the time everywhere you go.
RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say? TB: My thoughts are… you can get inspired with so many things in life and also from people. Always be open to listen to people. Never underestimate people. They could open always new views or ideas in your life. Always treat people with respect. The way you are you will get it back.
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting Bo.
Last year during one of the L.A. Fashion Week I had the opportunity to meet fashion designer Adolfo Sanchez. I really liked what I saw from his collection on the runway for the first time since being acquainted in New York. Mr. Sanchez fascinated me with his ability and creativity to design such amazing garments. I made a point to let him know that I admire his style and uniqueness. No doubt that each piece he creates is original and brilliantly constructed, with extraordinary quality and special attention to detail.
Since then I’ve spent a little more time, my schedule permitting, following his work and attending his events, curious to see how his work evolves with time.
The 26-year-old and youngest of four, with both parents from Mexico, was born in Los Angeles and raised just South of L.A. in Orange County. That’s where Mr. Sanchez took his first steps into the fashion scene. A self-taught designer who simply followed his passion for clothes which guided him to his destiny of his own couture line: a women’s ready-to-wear collection that launched in 2006. After just a couple of years his line grows more and more each season and he along with it — because it is meant to be.
He has been showing his collections to the most prestigious runway shows from L.A and Las Vegas to New York Fashion Weeks, featured in countless fashion magazines, with great opportunities of working with a lot of amazing people. He’s dressed celebrities from the Gossip Girl actresses Shayne Lamas from “Leave it to Lamas”, pulled clothes for Nicki Minaj for one of her albums, and has now been approached by Fergie’s stylist. Adolfo just presented the line to Rihanna’s stylists as well. Women want his clothes for their edgy, sexy and modern styles that adorn a woman’s body so well. Dressed in an Adolfo line makes you feel strong, unique and desirable. So enjoy this exclusive interview with the man behind the scenes. To learn more about Adolfo Sanchez, please visit hisofficial web site.
RH: When did your career in the fashion industry begin? And what did you do before?
AS: When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I started to really get into the art of fashion. My primary group of friends were largely interested in several of the fashion houses; through their influence, I got my first taste of the who’s who of fashion. I remember them showing me runway shows from designers like Thierry Mugler and Vivienne Westwood. Later on I began working in retail and soon I worked for some of the larger fashion houses like Gucci, and Versace. In early 2006 I decided that I wanted to design and really explore pursuing a career in the industry. Prior to pursuing my interest in fashion, I was just a rebellious teenager who was intrigued by underground aspects of art/fashion/music and exploring the latest trends. I always experimented with what I wore and enjoyed standing out from the crowd.
RH: What inspired your collection? Is it easy to come up with new designs?
AS: This season I wanted to create a dark collection with an aesthetic was wearable for women from east to west. Initially it began with the idea of lace and then after bringing the concept of a Victorian Goth collection together the lace was only used as a mask. I always love combining soft and hard details together for example we had dresses with a leather bustier inspired bodice and chiffon skirts. Wool and fur were some of the other textiles that played a big role in this collection. Overall, the collection looks soft and feminine but still incorporates details that very much let people know who I am as a designer.
RH: What are the benefits of your career? What do you find most rewarding?
AS: The idea of seeing your vision come to life when you see the complete line, as well as being able to experience the process of growth as an unknown designer to being recognized for your work and aesthetic. It’s a very rewarding feeling professionally and personally to see the transformation occur.
RH: What is the most difficult aspect of running your own label?
AS: I am a perfectionist so my main discrepancy is that sometimes I feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to make sure every aspect of the business is running as efficiently as I expect it to.
RH: What do you think fashion needs more of right now?
AS: More creativity. I feel like the main focus is on wearability, which I understand is definitely extremely important (it’s the lucrative part of the industry); however the art aspect should not be lost in the process. At the end of the day we are not only fulfilling a utilitarian function, we are extracting the unique remnants of an artist’s imagination that marks the current movements and influences of our culture. We are creating something that should spark curiosity.
RH: What skills do you need to be a fashion designer?
AS: Patience, technique, dedication, perseverance, thick skin, and creativity with an understanding of wear ability. I also think that in order to be a designer you should have the knowledge of how to construct a garment from scratch. You should know the process that begins with the idea in your mind to the finished product that is ready for a client to wear.
RH: Do you design clothes for certain types of women?
AS: When I design, I have powerful, confident women in mind. She is comfortable with taking risks in life and with her personal style.
RH: What makes a woman memorable?
AS: A woman who is in full control of her style; when she actually wears the garment instead of the garment wearing her.
RH: What is your favorite piece from your collections that you are most proud of? Why?
AS: This intricate lace evening gown made up of 67 yards of fabric that I ruffled from the waist down. It’s definitely one of my favorite pieces because of the amount of time I spent to get it done, in addition to how happy I was with the final result.
RH: Do you have admiration for any famous designer(s)? Why?
AS: Always and forever the work of McQueen will always be the ultimate definition of wearable art in my eyes … and so many of the big houses I love. I have followed the work of Gaultier and Galliano since I was 15 or 16. I think one of the most amazing and inspirational is Thierry Mugler. I was and still am fascinated with the way that he would transform women and a woman’s silhouette.
RH: Outside of fashion, what are you looking forward to? And what is your career objective?
AS: I’m very much looking forward to my upcoming trip to France this September. I love traveling and enjoy experiencing the culture in other countries.
RH: Any new or upcoming project(s) your are working on that you’d like to share with us?
AS: I’m happy to say that I will be showing and having a runway presentation in N.Y. this upcoming September; details should be announced soon. The trailer to my first film that I styled and custom created for will be out this summer. For the time being this is all I can really say as the rest is still in the development phase but believe me when I tell you that there is so much more to come.
RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you would like to say?
AS: “The beauty of fashion is that, unlike a painting on a wall, fashion is wearable art that can be displayed anywhere you like”.
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.
Liz Adams is a freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles known for her cheerful, delicate and feminine illustrations. Her drawings have graced the pages of: Teen Magazine, Girl’s Life, American Baby, Vogue Girl Korea, Disney, Today’s Parent, Venus Zine, Adorn Magazine, Curve Magazine, Nails Magazine, ELLE Girl Korea and many more publications. Because of her colorful style and beautiful hand-drawinging full of fun and imagination, she is a regular contributor for the most well known magazines. Also she created her own pattern that is incredibly adorable and she has been working on her new book that is coming soon. Definitely Liz is a busy girl!
So enjoy this exclusive interview with this talented artist and loving person. To learn more about Liz Adams’ illustrations, please visit her website.
RH: Tell me about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?
LA: I work out of a room in my apartment. I have a table where I can paint and draw and another area with my computer setup. I don’t think it matters where you live as an artist as long as you find ways to get your work out there.
RH: Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc …)
LA: I think of it as a mixture of both. I was a mixed media art major in college and mostly focused on making weird sculptures. I didn’t realize that I wanted to pursue illustration until a couple years after graduating. I worked as a photo retoucher and fine art printer at the time which really helped to train me technically. I was drawing a lot and started painting. I thought my work could possibly be marketable so I did tons of research, put together a portfolio and started promoting.
RH: How do you stay inspired? Can you share some of your ideas?
LA: I can usually get inspired by just tuning out and doodling. If I get bored with something I’m working on or the way I’m working I try to find ways to make it fresh to me either by playing with different tools, materials or techniques or reassessing my original idea.
RH: Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Could you give us a quick overview of your process?
LA: I’ll usually start by making a few quick thumbnail sketches. From those I’ll pick two to three that I’d like to make into larger sketches with more detail that I do with pencil and paper. I scan them in and either add some gray tones or colors if I already have a color scheme in mind. I send them to the client and either it gets approved or I revise the sketch until it’s perfect for the client. At that point I’ll start drawing my final illustration. I’ll put my sketch down on a light table and make a new drawing in pen over it. I may paint or draw various elements like textures or backgrounds. I scan everything in and work on it in Photo shop. I use a wacom tablet to clean up, color and assemble everything.
RH: What are your goals as an artist? How do you see yourself progressing?
LA: I just to want to do work that I’m excited about. I’d really like to work on a children’s book and do projects for animation or games. I love illustrating things for teen girls so I hope to do more of that too.
RH: What are the best and worst parts of being a working artist?
LA: The best parts are doing what I love and seeing my work out there. The worst parts are dealing with some of the business aspects in this economy—slow periods, late paying clients and lower budgets.
RH: What other interests do you have outside of art?
LA: I like to watch TV, play video games, cook things and walk around my neighborhood.
RH: Current and upcoming projects?
LA: I just finished some work for a couple magazines. I’m working on a book dummy that I’m hoping to pitch soon. I’m also learning animation software.
RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say?
LA: My best advice to anyone who wants to do art is to never give up and have a place online where it’s easy to see your work.
PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.