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August 16th, 2017
Jesse Gussow

I am constantly on Instagram and Facebook looking at artwork and photography. One day I noticed that a few different artists seem to have their characters look kind of similar. One of them happened to have posted saying the piece was based off model Fox Chalker. Curious, I checked to see if they had been used as a muse for other artists and sure enough they had!

It’s interesting to get the point of view of the person on the other side of the canvas or lens. They are creating art as much as the artist. They inspire photographers and artists alike. It may be the artist's vision but it’s the model's soul that we see in their work. Fox is a versatile model, a true chameleon. After reading their interview and seeing their work I’m sure you’ll start noticing them in different artists works as well.


Where are you from?

I’m from Washington. I was born and raised here and have lived in many different neighborhoods basically circling Seattle.



How did you get started on this journey?

When I was 19 I was homeless, a friend on Facebook needed another model for a shoot. She offered me 60$ and I took it! I continued to do random modeling gigs not really finding my niche but having fun and just kind of doing it to feed myself. A few months later I wandered into a local Seattle art building that is sadly no longer around, and discovered a whole other side to the art of being a muse I hadn’t ever considered. I remember wandering through a gallery of beautiful paintings thinking “these models are amazing; I wish I could be like them.” I met the artist, and worked with them shortly afterwards basically changing my life and career permanently.



How do you prepare for a shoot?

Well, it depends on the shoot. Usually I try to gather whatever costume, makeup, or other things the photographer would like me to bring. I try to get plenty of sleep, wash my face and moisturize before the shoot. If my hair needs it I’ll give it a re-dye of whatever color I’m rocking at the time. Usually pink.



What's the difference between a photographic shoot and one that will be used for a visual art work?

For photos everything has to be perfect. Hair and makeup, any styling pieces like costume or jewelry, lighting, everything on point. Photoshop can only fix so much, and it’s better to just get it the first time. You can take 100 photos of the same look and realize only in post that my necklace was facing the wrong way. You work for really intense short periods of time on several looks. Modeling for paintings can be a little more laid back usually. I may wear makeup but if it’s not perfect that’s fine the artist might change the color anyway. I might pose with something invisible in a painting reference photo, or work with props that will end up looking completely different in the finished piece.  Both have their own complications, and every artist is different. I pour a lot of emotion into, and am exhausted by both.


What makes you unique compared to other models?

I hate to compare myself to another model because the same photographer could want me with pink hair and tattoos one day for something, and need a model the next day who looks completely different. If I had to pick something that sets me apart from other models it’s my ability to step outside myself sometimes and see things from another perspective, offering me versatility in looks as well as styles. I also am unapologetically myself and I think people respond to that honesty. I tend to just have a natural knack for what I do as well, and it makes shooting a breeze.



What is the worst job you've had, and why?

I used to work in the dish pit at a local tourist location. I worked hard, learned a lot of stuff, and had a lot of fun, but I sure do not miss cleaning the grease trap.



What was the most challenging shoot you had to do, and what made it so challenging?

I’m not sure honestly. I had one where I had to climb in a shallow pool full of very cold water. The artist was doing her utmost to get it really warm but her water heater could only handle so much at a time. The pieces turned out beautifully, and I laugh about it now but it’s always a challenge for me when it’s very cold on a shoot, just part of the job sometimes though.



What do you try to bring out in your work?

I’m sure it’s been said a thousand times but I love making pieces that tell a story. My favorite photos usually end up being experimental shots or things we catch on set while just playing around. I like the idea my pieces pull the viewer into another world or moment. Showing them a glimmer of something not quite real or fantasy.


What does love feel like to you?

To me love feels like the sun on a warm day after a long cold winter. You can’t grasp it and hold it there permanently, the sun will come and go continuously, but when it’s around it fills you with joy and warmth so great it may burn.



Do you do photography or visual art as well?

I do a little bit of photography, mostly I just play around and take photos of flowers but I would like to take more photos of models. I don’t draw or paint right now, but sometimes I doodle silly sketches in my journals or on notes to friends. I used to write often when I was younger, and have been considering dipping into it again.



When looking at the images on your Instagram page I can't help but feel like I'm looking at a surreal, larger-than-life character. When you model are you playing a character or are you always just you?

I think inside all of us there’s a surreal larger-than-life character, and that’s the point of art. You’re trying to portray that person, or show that inner world to other people. I’m just lucky enough that in my chosen medium I get to actually *become* my imagined other self for short periods of time. Afterwards I go back to lounging on the couch with my pets watching cartoons, but is either version more or less the real me? I don’t think so.



What is a common misconception that people make about models and specifically alternative models?

Oof… I would say the most common misconception about models and especially alternative models is that we never eat, I cannot tell you how many times after a runway show or photoshoot I’ve been with other models from the event at a burger or pizza place putting away as much food as we can manage. Everyone is different of course, but it’s one that definitely irks me personally as someone who would be labeled a “petite” model in the mainstream modeling world.



What kind of photographers and artists do you prefer to work with? Ones that give you lots of artistic freedom, or the ones that have a set vision?

I really love getting to work with artists who have a set vision because I am inspired by other people’s work heavily! I love to play with props, and play dress up. I always get a thrill when photographers and artists show me costumes, and I meet the makeup artist! There’s just something so exciting in seeing the different looks I can portray and bringing the artist's inner worlds to life! I also love getting to work on my own artistic pieces and having creative freedom, but I tend to think it works best when an artist and I both have something to bring to the table and our synergy creates something more than either of us could have done on our own.



Who is a photographer or artist you would love to work with, that you haven't yet?

Narrowing down my long list is hard.
Photographers I’d love to work with are Nick Knight and Sequoia Emanuelle, and artists I’d love to work with would be Laurie Lee, Gerald Brom, Tom Bagshaw, or Michael Hussar.



What can we expect from you in the future?

Lots more travel is planned in the future. I’m working on my own photography work and a few more video projects lately.



Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies? Or are you partial to some other treat?

I love a nice warm slice of banana bread with butter alongside a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Butterfly painting by - Redd Walitzki
Chainmaille Helm photo by - Chad Michael Ward
Blue haired knight photo by - Kindra Nikole
Fox Mask photo by - Darren Eskandari
Black and white photo of my face/ scars by - Olivia Lazer
Purple hair with sunglasses/black lipstick with teeth by - Olivia Lazer
Painting with my hand raised by - David Chiefetz
Black bathing suit pink hair - Al Lin Hayashi

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