Interview: Cover Girl Nicole Rayner (UK)
Can you tell us a little about you?
Well I’m a cheeky little Northerner. (On that note, Mam, is northern for Mum/Mother/Mammy, and the amount of !!! I use should give you an incite into how enthusiastic and excitable I am!) I’m very outgoing, confident and, well, loud! I personally think that I’m one of the funniest people alive, though sadly, not many other people agree. But I don’t mind, because I’m looking forward to being that crazy old lady that just laughs at all her own jokes all the time! I’m going to have a great time! I try to be as positive as I can and I love nothing more than making other people smile. I think smiles are the most beautiful thing! One way I try to make people smile is through my videos that I post on instagram and facebook, which lots of people seem to like. I am always so touched by the lovely feedback! I am very family orientated, I’m very lucky that I have an amazing family who fully support my job and lifestyle. (Though my Mam doesn't like to look at the pictures that look dangerous hahah). I was an only child for 10 years, and then I became a big sister, I’ve really had the both of best worlds! I have had the country life and the city life. And I feel i’ve had a lot of experience in my very short life already!!! I drink far too many vanilla lattes, I love to do anything FUN! And my main goal in life is to be happy and loved. Also to be a domestic goddess like Nigella - obviously. For the past 7 years I have lived in York - which I have LOVED! (so many great coffee shops!!) I moved here to study, and that path, in its own twisted way, led me to modelling.
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
If I could change anything about myself it would be my nose. I have wanted a nose job since I was 11 years old. I have a great big bump which I don't like. When I was 21, just before Christmas my Mam said, ‘oh i’ve got you something amazing for Christmas this year, you’re going to love it! You’ve wanted it since you were 11!’ - I of course convinced myself that I was getting A NOSE JOB FOR CHRISTMAS! 21 years old and all that.
But, I did’t. And to this day, neither my Mam, nor me, can remember what the actual present was! However, recently I’ve started trying to love myself more. Its already been a hugely empowering journey, and I am learning to appreciate my beauty, so I hope that at some point soon, when asked the question, If you could change anything about yourself, my lovely bumpy nose wont be something I think of.
I will always however, wish that I could change my inability to sing well. My singing gives people the same reaction as the sound of a fork screeching across a china plate. Not good.
How did you start modelling?
I started modelling through photography. During my time at university I found myself in need of an outlet, so through the wondrous mentoring of Richard Egan, I found photography. Richard kindly invited me to share some of the shoots he had booked, which I loved, and things progressed from there and I still love shooting now. I love to shoot models, mainly nude, and I do love a good portrait! I also enjoy abstract photography and shooting architecture. I found a real love for food photography, and at one point almost pursued it as a career, however, things have changed and progressed since then and I’d like to keep photography as a hobby, for myself, for now at least. Anyway, back to the question. While I was shooting these models with Richard, many of them said that I should give it a go. One amazing model in particular, Ayla Rose, really encouraged me. Ayla is one of THE BEST in the business, so I thought, well, If she is saying I could be a model, then maybe I could. I applied to an amazing project with a Photographer called Nick Hardy., Born In Blood. This was an incredibly creative first ever shoot - which I am so glad I did. It was such an amazing experience and feeling. Simply moving, naked, emoting as much feeling as I could, it felt incredible! I wanted to do more! And Nick gave me encouragement also! So I went for it! And Gosh! How happy I am that I did!!! Modelling has changed my life!!! So much! I’ve seen so much of the world, met so many incredible people and have so many beautiful relationships, both professional and non, I am just overwhelmed! Most of the time I’m overwhelmed at how much my life has been enriched by my work and the industry. And I feel so grateful! It has been an INCREDIBLE 4 years, and I can’t wait to see where I go and who I meet in the next 4. In less than a month I’m actually moving in with Ayla! She became my mentor and my best friend and now we have a whole new venture together side by side which is very exciting!
What do you think of the work as a model?
I love the work as a model. I think it is so much more than people realise however. So many people think we just turn up and look pretty. But that is really not the case. It’s a really hard job! It’s incredibly rewarding in so many ways, but still, very hard. Particularly when you are a freelance model. Not only are we self-employed but our service is not a necessity, like needing your boiler fixed or having your hair cut is. Our service is a luxury, an expensive one at that, and there are SO many incredible people in the industry. so, If you want to get the work, you have to work for it! Freelance models run entire businesses and brands themselves, often whilst joggling other jobs, or circumstances, or simply whilst navigating through the world and posing for 8 hours. We cover all marketing/advertising/ health and safety/ travel/ budget and finances/ not to mention all the upkeep it takes, like exercise, training, hair appointments, chiropractors appointments (because your back is a mess from all the flights and mental positions you get your body into). And that is not even the tip of the iceberg. I love my work, I love what I do, but I could very easily make a lot more money in a much less demanding 9-5 position, but I love modelling so I make it work. But I get hugely frustrated when people say to models asking to be paid, that they’re only doing it for the money and not the art! Because any person making modelling their full time job, HAS to love it, as it demands so much from a person. So I adore the work, I love working in unique and amazing places in the world, I love being naked so much, I love climbing naked, I love letting myself go and seeing how I will react to an environment or idea. I love working with people that inspire me and particularly love working with people that value and respect my work as a model. I’m so lucky to be able to say that that has been most of the people I have had the pleasure of working with!
What is your beauty regimen?
In short, my beauty regime is a mess. In long - I go through phases which are dependent on my mental state and how much energy I have. I always try to wash my make-up off before bed and put moisturiser on, and always moistures before putting make-up on too. I have currently been loving the No 7. range at the moment. I use Sudocream for any blemishes I have and it works a treat!! And so cheap!!! You can also get wonderful miniatures which are perfect for the travelling model! I often do face-masks too as its one of my go-to things to do on a night in with my ladies. I usually have my eyebrows tinted and shaped (this changed my life, and my face forever) and I usually have a full set of acrylic nails done. Always a natural pink with an almond shape, I like them to look as natural as possible - because I shoot so much art nude I like to make sure that I don’t have brightly coloured nail polish on. One thing I love about the art nude genre is how timeless an Image van look, however I feel bright nails can date an image. I do try to give myself a bit of pampering but I am not one for spending hours creaming myself to avoid ageing. You’re lucky if you get old. I don't understand why so many people want to try and avoid it. And I think wrinkles are beautiful. One of my longstanding photography projects is portraits of older people. In the hope of showing just how beautiful they are.
What are your personal qualities which distinguish you from others?
Hmmm. Well, my big mouth is probably a distinguishing feature hahah. Frank seems to be pretty well known these days and is one of my memorable traits. (Frank being my vagina. and the memorable part being the fact that he’s called Frank, he's not a perfect or particularly memorable specimen or anything! He has far too much hair to see anything anyway.
I genuinely try not to think about or care what others think. Which is brilliant for my job, as I’m so comfortable being nude around people, or shooting in public, or making a fool of myself - all of which can often result in fabulous images. The other thing that helps my work is my fearlessness, and my determination to get that awesome shot. But mainly the trust I have in myself and my abilities. Some of the things I do can seem very hard, but most of the time, its not because of my strength or my abilities, its more the trust I have in them, which enables me to climb high, or hang, or balance etc. Well, that and the fact I’m super hardcore *pulls gangsta pose* . I have a very positive and upbeat attitude which can often be very excitable. I am an expressive person I almost everything I do - which can be a good or bad thing. I’m very genuine and real, which really does distinguish me from many in the industry I think. Thats the thing people comment on most, is how real I am. However, I think this realness comes from that place of not caring too much about what others think, as I don’t feel as much pressure to be perfect all the time. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I do care,(quite often) and when the words of others do effect me, but I strive to simply be the best version of me I can, and just hope those around me are doing the same. One of my favourite quotes is - ‘Comparison is the Thief of Joy’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson - I try to always remind myself of that, especially when looking at so much outstanding work from my peers!
What are your plans for the future?
Well I have a few years of modelling left in me. Which I hope to spend travelling the world, seeing more stunning places and making memories with more inspiring people! And I have many other ventures which I wish to explore. I mentioned posting videos on Facebook and Instagram, and they often get a brilliant response so I’d like to explore that, take it further and see how I do in the world of Youtube. I’ve been filming vlog footage for 2 years and am finally getting the confidence to just put it out there and hope people will like it! I am lucky enough to have a wonderfully unique life which I think will be interesting to see first hand. I also want to take my work forward as a photographer and videographer. I want to mentor more models before I retire. I’ve mentored 4 wonderful models so far and it is so so rewarding to see them grow so I’d like to do more of that. But as much as I love modelling, it is a lonely job and it can be very stressful being self-employed, so I would like to have a more settled and stable career in the future. I have a 1st class degree in Literature and a Masters in Poetry and Poetics, though I realised (after 7 years of study) that I don't actually enjoy reading. I adored the work I did and the discussions I had and the things I learned at university. But, I don't like books. Why the hell was I pursuing literature?! I realised through more life experiences and through self reflection, that it was never the stories, nor the language I cared about, but the authors, the characters, their minds, their behaviour. I looked through all the essays I wrote and they were all mainly about human behaviour and relationships and feelings. That’s what I loved to analyse, not the text, but the people within the text. I explored this more and took a psychology module during my masters, and it became very clear that psychology is the better path for me. Consequently, I will soon enrol onto a conversion course and study psychology. I plan to study alongside modelling again, in the hope that when I retire from modelling I will be qualified in a more stable and long term career. I also plan to have many dogs in the future and many children. I hope to be a great Mam and I will build my children a treehouse one day, hopefully with their father. I may invite their grandmother to help build it. Maybe the neighbours can join in too if they’re nice…..I digress…..
What are some of your favourite experiences so far?
Oh My!!! How to choose! I’ll talk about 3. The first, was in Switzerland. It was 35degree heat, I was walking up a mountain on route to a glacier, topless with Shades on, living my best life. We reached the top and a magnificent waterfall was presented as per backdrop, mountains dwarfing us, and the sky as blue as ever. I lay naked on a stunning blanket of ice, I expected to become instantly cold. but no, I was laying on my side, so it really was amazing how half of my body was cold from the ice, yet the other warmed by the sun. It was bizarre, and wonderful as I lay there with my body in confusion, taking in the beauty around me. It was very special. Another memorable experience was the Merry-Go-Round. Myself and Richard Egan got up very early one morning to shoot on a Merry-Go-Round situated in the middle of York - It cost Richard a bottle of wine to use and the guy even gave us a free ride! It was so much fun. I love anything daring and this really felt that! I love the shot, particularly as its so unusual for Richard to shoot such bright colours, he normal loves the muted and black and white tones so its a special images for us. And the final experiences, has probably been my most daring! Which was shooting Nudes in Time Square with Ken Litchtenwalter. It felt so thrilling! We even shot nude in a phone box with a police car behind us!! I wanted to ask if i could pose with them and their car, but Ken wisely thought it best to move on. We finished the shoot in time square itself - we have crowds of people videoing and watching as I posed, with all the lights and screens around me, I felt like a celebrity! It was pretty epic!!! But Almost every shoot I do is an incredible experience, and I feel so blessed to be able to say that, but yes, above are some of my favourites.
Do you have any advice for those who want to start modelling?
The best advice I can give is to know yourself. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses, and know your body. I had 1-2-1 ballet lessons in the hope of being able to do more nude on point work and ballet poses. I had 30 hours of training, but I just wasn't seeing enough improvement. I was trying to do these poses but was not confident in myself, I knew I was just forcing something that I was never going to be amazing at. And lets be honest, 1-2-1 ballet training is not cheap! But then I asked myself, ‘why are you doing this? Why do you want to be able to pose on pointe?’. I realised that the answer was because other art nude models could do ballet and poses on point and I wanted to be able to do that also. But I realised that when I was shooting, I was spending more time trying to do these ballet poses, and not really happy with the standard of work I was doing, I’d feel bad after shoots. So I told myself to JUST STOP! Stop trying to be like the other models, it’s not working for you. Just appreciate what you ARE good at, and focus on them! And from then on, that’s what I did, and do. I know my strengths and I push and use them to the best of my ability. And I work on my weaknesses behind close doors. It’s also important to know you cannot please everyone. Sometimes a photographer just prefers redheads. Or they really need a size 0 for the specific dress they’re shooting. So the other best advice I can give, is know that you can’t please everyone. And yes you’ll get rejected. But if you carry on and work hard, you’ll get plenty more acceptances who do appreciate you!
What do you think of the magazine?
I think it is a beautiful collection of work. I think it is a great place to find artists, creatives, inspiration, and entertainment. I think that standard is super high quality and the artists presented are fabulous (she says having just wrote an interview about herself). But what I love most about that magazine is how representative and inclusive it is! I love that is about supporting and sharing artists that are passionate, and that those are the only requirements you need! I’m very honoured to be featured! And very grateful. Thank you. And thank you to those that read my interview. Gosh. the ‘I’ button on my keypad is a little worn. Light and Smiles. Nicole x
Instagram: @nicoleraynermodel // @nicole_in_the_nude
Youtube - Will be launching a youtube Channel in April