Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Interview with Emma Landen

Pictured Above: Emma Landen's test shot for IMG

Fashion's favorite Colorado native is taking the world by storm, running her wildly popular Instagram page and modeling for some of the industry's biggest names. Think Dior and H&M-- No big deal, I do that all the time. With a Material Girl magazine cover and a spread in Jalouse under her belt, she is a force to be reckoned with. After seeing this super-model-in-the-making grace the pages of the September issue of Elle Japan, I knew I wanted to talk to her about style, travel and what its like being fashion's freshest new face. Meet model and muse Emma Landen. (By the end of this interview, you'll wish you were best pals with this ultra-cool-funny-girl. She made me laugh almost as much as she made me want that light wash denim jacket pictured below. Well, watcha waiting for? Read on!) 

TAYLOR: Since I can't seem to conduct an interview without asking this question, here it goes: if you were stuck on a deserted island, what are three things you'd take with you? 
EMMA: Hmmm, on a deserted island I'd definitely need a knife, tons and tons of huge blankets and a very hot muscular boy. Yeah, I think thats all I'll need. 

Okay, now for the real stuff, you've had so much success as a model already, can I ask how old you are? 
Awe, thank you! I'm fifteen years old. 

When did you start modeling? 
I did some little kid modeling and local stuff when I was about eight or nine. I just did a lot of commercial stuff up until the age of like, eleven. I then signed with Elite in Miami for a few years, and when I was thirteen, I signed with IMG! 

How did you get into modeling? 
I was at some festival downtown with my family where I live, and a woman from a local agency came up to my parents and asked if I'd be willing to do a small test shoot and sign with them! 

Did you always want to be a model? 
I had never really though about it. When I first started out, I thought it was a bit weird. I just didn't know a lot about the industry. But as I grew older, it transformed into something I truly loved. 

Pictured Above: Emma Landen's test shot for IMG 

You get to travel a lot for jobs, right? What is the most exotic place you've ever been to? 
I do travel! Not as much as a full time model since I'm so young, but I'm in love with the places I've been. Tokyo was by far the most exotic, such a different culture. Thats where the Elle Japan story was shot. 

Since you travel a bit, what do you think are five travel essentials everyone should pack in their suitcase? 
I've kind of memorized what I need for a trip at this point. I always keep stuff with me in my purse especially if it's a longer flight, like, lotions, face wash, my journal and healthy snacks. But, in my suitcase I always have a leather jacket, sandals, a good pair of heels, really, really, really comfy PJ's and a bikini-- just in case.  

Do you like a big city or the countryside? 
I'm from Colorado so I appreciate a good mountain view. But I also love being in the city. Its really inspiring. 

Pictured Above: Emma Landen's test shot for IMG 

Now, I feel as though I'd be doing the world a huge disservice if I didn't ask you about your style. Off duty model style has become a whole culture on its own. How would you describe your style? 
Modeling has really changed my style. I love really basic things, and I find I like matching cheaper clothing with more expensive stuff. I just love experimenting, and I think if I wasn't modeling, I'd for sure want to become some kind of stylist or producer. 

What does your wardrobe mostly consist of? Mine is mostly striped shirts. You can never have too many striped shirts, right?! 
My wardrobe is overly comfy. I have so many things that I've bought not only because its stylish, but because I need to be comfortable at all times. 

Since your style is pretty great, I assume you have an equally enviable taste in music and movies! What are your favorite movies? 
I've been super into documentaries lately. I love anything that'll make me think. I've also recently watched romantic things like About Time and Up. But, I can also appreciate a good action movie. 

Favorite bands? 
So many. With music, I'm pretty much across the board. I'll listen to any genre. My favorites are Ed Sheeran, Alt-J, Cherub, The Killers, BeyoncĂ©, Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club, The Paper Kites, The XX, and I love some Jay-Z. Random, I know! 

Pictured Above: Emma Landen's test shot for IMG 

"It's all been fabulous and I couldn't ask for anything better."

Back to fashion. You've worked with Dior and H&M, and you've also been in editorials for Elle Japan, What's the most memorable experience in your fashion career, so far? 
Just the people I've gotten the chance to work with. I've never really had a negative experience with a crew [member] or photographer. It's all been fabulous, and I couldn't ask for anything better. I really can't wait for what's to come. 

Whats the best part about being a model? 
I honestly think I've learned more valuable life skills whilst traveling and experiencing the world than I ever could in high school. To have a job like I do so young, you have a new outlook, and you start planning for the future much earlier. It's taught me to be humble and professional. 

What do you like to do with your free time when you're not modeling? 
I love running, hiking and yoga. Typical Colorado stuff. But, I'm young and I really just enjoy chilling out and listening to music with friends. I'm not a huge partier or anything. Concerts are my favorite. Shopping is always a must. 

Pictured Above: Emma Landen's test shot for IMG 

"Be confident and never do anything you don't want to do."

You have a lot of people who admire you and your work, who do you admire? 
Really? A lot? It's hard to imagine myself that way! Oh, I admire so many people. I love a lot of the girls running the industry right now, Karlie, Joan, Candice, all the big girls. I'm with such a large agency, there's so many people to look up to and aspire to be like. But, I also love the original supermodels, Kate, Gisele, etc. I especially admire all the crews and other models I've worked with. The position of being a model is really the easiest job when it comes to a shoot. Everyone else has been working and planning their asses off! 

Whats the best advice you've ever been given? 
Thats a tough one! My agents have always kept me grounded and my parents always know what to say. My mother has always let me know that things aren't guaranteed and to make it in any profession you need to work hard. I'm so blessed to have the family I have! 

What advice would you like to give to young aspiring models? 
Be confident and never do anything you don't want to do. If you have true potential, things will fall into place, you just need to be patient. Modeling is an incredible career, but it takes time and talent to really make it. 

Okay, so I'm really into corny jokes and puns. I have about seventeen written down. Do you know a joke? 
What do you call a seagull by the bay? 

A bagel! 

Thats a good one! I'm going to have to write that one down! Thanks for letting me interview you! 
Thanks for the interview! This was fun! 

Follow Emma on Twitter and Instagram

Monday, July 7, 2014

An Interview with Nina Chakrabarti

Pictured Above; my photograph of Nina Chakrabarti's My Wonderful World of Fashion Stamp Set 
A few weeks ago I had the chance to chat with author, illustrator and cat-lover Nina Chakrabarti. You probably already know her because of her wildly popular book My Wonderful World of Fashion; the follow-up My Even More Wonderful World of Fashion; and more recently, My Wonderful World of Shoes. I guess you could say its pretty wonderful-- she's pretty wonderful, too-- which is why I was super excited to take a peek into Nina's world. We talked fashion, illustrations and living in London. Please do read on, dah-ling. It's absolutely lovely! (Sorry, must be my inner Londoner kicking in.) 
Pictured Above; A decorated Illustration by Nina Chakrabarti from My Wonderful World of Shoes. 

TAYLOR: First things first, if you were stuck on a deserted island, what are three things you would take with you? I love asking this question, its so interesting to hear everyone's response! 
NINA: An extremely comfortable bed with an unending supply of bed linen, a mosquito net and a library full of books. I hope this is a warm desert island by the way, as if its cold I might ask for a sauna!

I'd love to hear about your illustrations. They're so fun and quirky, its impossible not to love them! When did you start drawing? 
When I was a child. I just liked to copy stuff and draw characters and doodles. I grew up in India, without a TV and studied at a strict, academic school so drawing was a way I could have fun. That, and playing badminton.

Did you always want to be an illustrator? 
I didn't know there was such a vocation when I was a child. I'm not sure I thought about the future at all. When I was a teenager, growing up in England I vaguely knew there was this job called Graphic Design. I remember opening a magazine and seeing the headline 'Be a graphic designer!' with pictures of Letraset and rulers and pencils and I was very attracted to that. It sounded fun. Maybe I could make a book? Or a record cover? Yes, it definitely resonated but I did really badly in my art exams and it put me off for a while. I thought it must mean I wasn't very good and I did other things. I worked in a bookshop, applied to do English and art history but turned it down at the last minute and then decided I would give the art/design thing another go. The moment I started at art college I felt it was the right thing to do.
Pictured Above; Inside My Wonderful World of Fashion.  
Coming up with fresh ideas and sources of inspiration is a lot of work. What is the best advice you've ever received that helps you create new work
Have a change in scene. If you're sitting by your desk, scrunching up lots of paper into the waste paper basket and feeling like nothing will ever get done then take a walk, go to an art gallery, take a trip to the library and pull out books from a section you don't always go to. Sometimes its much more productive to do that rather than feeling disconsolate over a blank page.

You're the author of three books, and you even have your own stamp sets all based off your drawings! You've had so much success as an illustrator. What is your most memorable experience in your career, so far? 
I think working on the first book was the most memorable experience in my career so far. It felt so exciting and the ideas came very easily. I worked long hours and most weekends but it felt fun and like I was doing something for myself.
Pictured Above; Inside My Wonderful World of Fashion

"I enjoy what I do and sometimes when it's going well, I wouldn't even call it work. It's a quiet kind of pleasure." 
You were born in India, and currently live in Britain. How have these two places influenced your illustrations? Do you think that as an illustrator it's important to live in a big city? 
In answer to the first part of the question, I think India has not influenced the content of my illustrations but growing up there with not many distractions (no TV, no iPhone, no internet, no computers) must have helped develop my imagination as there were long stretches of staring out windows daydreaming. I think staring out of windows is hugely underrated as a pastime. I liked reading, drawing and stamp collecting. When I arrived in England, with my black rimmed spectacles I felt like a complete geek. I immersed myself into my new life: the music, the clothes, the TV(!!) and started having fun after the initial shock in being in such a different country.
In answer to your second question, I don't think it's important to live in a big city. I love it and thrive off it but I also think how nice it would be live in the country and be able to grow vegetables and have animals and a big studio. The world is now available on your computer too as research has changed from the days I used to have to go to the library for every small thing.

What is the best part about your job? 
The independence to be able to live the life I want. I can work till midnight if I want, I can take the morning off and go swimming. I enjoy what I do and sometimes when it's going well, I wouldn't even call it work. It's a quiet kind of pleasure.
Pictured Above; A colored-in illustration in My Wonderful World of Fashion 

You published your first book My Wonderful World of Fashion in 2009, that must have been incredible! What was it like seeing your drawings in a book and on shelves in book stores everywhere? Did you ever think you'd not only be an illustrator, but a published author, too? 
No! It never occurred to me. It was the publisher that approached me with the idea for the book and it has been so incredible seeing the book do well and being stocked in so many places. I remember the first time I saw it in America I stood looking at it for a while not quite believing it was my book.

What was the hardest part about writing a book -- or three? 
The first page. Once you're over that, you're alright.

How long does it take to illustrate, write and publish a book? 
I guess it depends on how long the book is. The first fashion book took about a year as I wrote and did the illustrations in four months, a little while longer to design the cover and have it checked by everyone, then it gets sent off to the printers for what seems like a long time but it's actually about three to four months.

If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be doing instead? 
I'm mad about food (in fact I'm thinking about lunch right now) so I would have liked to have had training and become a cook.

Pictured Above; Illustrations by Nina Chakrabarti
"Find your voice and let that be the governing factor in everything that you do."

A lot of people admire you and your work! Who do you admire? 
So many people, it would be hard to cram them all in here but a few that have really inspired me are Andy Warhol- the early illustrations more than the art, the drawings of David Hockney and Jean Cocteau, Scandinavian designer and illustrator Olle Eksell, Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin, Japanese woodcuts, Indian patterns, my friends, artist Fergus Purcell and illustrator and ceramicist Laura Carlin. In fact, it is my friends whom I really admire as you see what they do close at hand and the skill and talent is mind boggling. Also, I wouldn't be here without their encouragement, generosity and support. Thank you friends.

What message would you like to convey to young aspiring illustrators? 
To develop your own style and try not to be swayed too much by what's going on around you.
To stand out from everyone else you have to know your mind. Find your voice and let that be the governing factor in everything that you do.
When I started out, illustrators weren't widely used and computer generated illustration was in. I just plodded on with my hand-drawn drawings and gradually after years and years, and yes, there were times I wondered what I was doing and felt like giving up, I started to get work and build it up to the point I could make a living at it. Don't give up!

Cats or dogs? 
Cats, although I'm slightly allergic. I still love 'em.