Interview with Shelly d'Inferno
Shelly d’Inferno is a multi-talented woman who started out styling and taking “modeling photos” with her friends at age 13. Designing and making clothes at 15. She bought her first Nikon system camera at 18 and started doing more professional photoshoots and liveshow photography.
She is an artist and creator. Her expertise extends beyond her modeling portfolio into make-up and styling, fashion design and photo retouching. Shelly appreciates beauty around her and loves to inspire others and to share her fantasies and talents. She love good teamwork and always put passion into her work and always strives to achieve all of her million goals in life.
Shelly had a three year long education in sewing/fashion/design in Sweden that taught her everything from patterncutting to working with different materials. She has since launched her own clothing brand, Heavenly Inferno which has quickly become one of the hottest and most sought after brands on the scene today.
Make-up is also a natural skill that she has been doing since her early teenage years. She sees the face as a blank canvas and, with cosmetics, she is able to make every feature come alive in different ways. Make up for Shelly is enhancement, NOT colors to just put on here and there as told.
“When I work I want to make sure my make-up goes exactly as wanted with camera settings and light effects. I like to work with a bit of theatrical style make-up to enhance facial features. I’m very easy to work with, I will listen to your thoughts and follow directions completely or let my own imagination do the work.”
Shelly, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are living in the UK now but you are originally from Sweden, is that correct? What kind of a child were you?
And you! Thanks for wanting to interview me. Yes, I’m from Stockholm, Sweden. As a child I was all over the place! As a baby I would throw myself backwards when I was carried, all for a little adrenaline I guess. My mum always tells me that when I was a little girl I’d be so energetic running around playing with everyone and everything, but how I always every now and then came back to sit in my Mums lap, in complete silence and just oversee it all from the outside. She says that was me recharging my batteries! As a teenager I went through all different types of styles and things to do. From a protesting kid with dreads and hairy armpits, to a yoga and film freak, to a little neon rave-girl with an extreme and creative style. Then from a synth-chic with black hair and combat-boots to a hip-hoper with baggy jeans who ran around in shut down factories doing graffiti…and from an acting-class monkey to a massive World of Warcraft geek.
So yeah, a bit all over the place!
Tell us a little about how you first got started modeling?
I was around 13, and mad about the celebrity world. Britney Spears, Pink and Christina Aguilera were to coolest people ever. Me and my two close friends used to pretend to record albums, have big concerts, recording music videos (quite embarrassing to watch now) and then of course, doing photoshoots. The first shoot we did we put a leopard duvet up as a background and pretended to shoot album covers! They’re not that bad! As in..Wow, I’m actually not embarrassed to look at them today. That definitely doesn’t count for the “music videos” though, hah!
From there, it just took off, we kept doing it through the years (not because of celebrities obviously) but we started doing more fantasy and artistic shoots, some of them are actually still in my portfolio!
What is it you like about being in front of the camera?
Obviously I love to dress up and look cool but I love to transform into the character I’m styled to the most. Modeling is A LOT about acting, are you a good model, you’re most likely a good actor. Being able to show a strong character in a photo is good acting. When all the styling is finished I switch character and play it during the shoot. I mostly enjoy quite creative and extreme styling and a strong theme for the photoshoots I do because I like to take on these roles. Other than getting into character I have to say it just feels really good, it’s like a dance…A veeery very slow dance. When you’re posing you use all your muscles to angle your body, and then slowly move around to give some various looks. Thinking about it like a dance feels good!
One thing I noticed in your portfolio is you are very versatile. How would you best describe your style?
That’s right! I love so many different styles and there’s so many cool things about every single one of them. Every styling expresses a different story and feeling and I’d like to try all of them. I never wanna be stuck in a style and then only end up getting jobs for that sort of look. I can’t really describe my style in modeling with a genre, but I do get a lot that a lot of my photos have a very fiery energy and a lot of attitude.
What have been some of your favorite images and photoshoots you have been involved with?
My favorite photoshoot was a zombie shoot I did with photographer James Ellis at this really cool studio called MurderMile. I made a big effort with the styling, plus the location and outcome was just so full-on and perfect. I used liquid latex and contacts to get the zombie-look and wore clothes and wigs from my brand Heavenly Inferno. I really managed to feel the character and I didn’t wanna remove the make-up after we finished! I actually took the bus back home in it and put a few people in chock. Not every day you see a zombie taking the bus. Lazy bastards!
Another shoot I will never forget is the Cover Star runner up shoot for Bizarre Magazine. I remember checking out Bizarre magazines photoshoots when I first discovered it and thinking it was really cool and something I would wanna get into. So being picked out as one of 10 for a worldwide cover was quite a cool thing!
I particularly like an image of you titled, “The Spider”. Can you tell us about this series?
It’s my favorite pose! This is one of the poses I’ve actually practiced to get perfect. It takes a lot of flexibility, strength and balance to do it, and it looks so creepy and crazy. Just how I like it! I took this photo on my own, I had just gotten back from a shoot and remembered a pose I did that I wanted to ‘explore’ a bit more. I started taking photos of myself doing it with the timer-shutter just to see how it would look the best. After half an hour I was able to get really low and snapped this photo. It looks like a head and limbs so I named it ‘The Spider’.
You have another series called “Provocations” which you handled all the work on. What was your idea behind this series?
This shoot was done back in my hometown Stockholm with good friends of mine. After I moved to London me and my best friend Silje Lingås (whom I’ve done photos with since I was 13) didn’t get to have our photoshoot-fun anymore. So one time when I was home visiting we got together and turned her living room into 3 self-made background sets. One of them was Provocations, and looks like a little white room in a mental institution. It’s got nasty and offensive words written all over the walls and floor. I wanted it to be a shoot full of attitude. Warrior women in slutty clothes who’s got all these provocative words thrown around them but couldn’t give less of a F****.
You are much more than a model. You also are a seamstress and fashion designer. You studied this in school. What first drew your interest in clothing design?
As much as I wanted to become an archeologist, a vet, an actress, a dancer and an elf when I was a kid, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I have a few design-drawings from when I was 12, and even though I was dressing very ‘normal’ then, you can see that my drawings are towards the alternative. Anyway this interest first really took hold when I was 15-16 and all into raving. I was annoyed that I couldn’t find the clothes I was looking for and if I did they were always too expensive or too big. So I started customizing and making my own stuff. It soon became something I did every other day, to something I decided to study in school for 3 year.
You also have your own clothing brand called “Heavenly Inferno”. Can you tell us a little about it?
Heavenly Inferno came to life 2008-2009 when I was 19, I started customizing things more and more while I was studying. Buying and collecting things I found cheap or got given so I could remake and sell clothes. It was when the punk/rock scene had awoken my interest. I discovered these type of clothes were what I really enjoyed making, and I wanted to start branding my creations something. Even though Heavenly Inferno is never supposed to be stuck in one style most of the designs I make lean to punk-rock in one way or another.
The name Heavenly Inferno comes from one of my favorite songs from a Norwegian demo band called Shellyz Raven. I like how it’s got the word Heavenly that can stand for my more clean designs while Inferno stand for the dirty rock n roll crazier pieces.
How would you describe the style and look of “Heavenly Inferno” and who is the audience that would be interested in it?
It’s definitely alternative and different. Mostly leaning to punk-rock with inputs of steampunk, army, baroque, post apocalyptic Mad-Max. I try and do as many things as possible that is more ‘outside the box’ and hasn’t been done before (well, that I haven’t seen!). My latest invention is using shoes as collars. These will be made to chokers alone, and as high collars on jackets and waistcoats. Sounds weird but I got a whole bunch of stuff that will be made with these things soon. Looks so cool!
Can you tell us about some of your favorite, original pieces?
My favorite pieces are these trousers and top I made to match. It’s not the most complicated and crazy things I’ve made but I just feel so good when I wear them. I really feel like they suit me and it’s almost like they’re wearing me, not me wearing them!
Another favorite is a denim jacket I’m working on right now. It’s got the shoe collar I was talking about , also bullet holes and burn marks on a ripped up union jack flag as a backpiece!
Check it out on my page when it’s finished
On many of your shoots, you handle the complete package. You do make-up, styling, lighting, and even retouching as well as modeling. When it comes to make-up what do you think is important when applying it for a photoshoot?
All about what kind of lighting and theme you’re going for, if the lights are really strong you gotta think about enhancing features of the face that you still wanna keep visible, you don’t want it to look to plain. While it’s dark you don’t wanna overdo shadows and might wanna work on lighting up parts of the face and do a good foundation cover, as pores for example would be more visible. It’s all about discussing with photographer and model and see what they’re after. But for a shoot that’s got the usual stuff, nothing crazy going on I like to always use a bit of theatrical methods such as putting some extra shadowing along the nose, enhancing jawbones and brighten up areas a lot, these things usually come out really good in photos the face looks less plain and more perfectly structured (as wished).
How did you first get started retouching? Did you teach yourself?
I’m self-taught, yes. I got Photoshop when I was 15 because I thought it would be a cool thing to be able to edit photos, I was already doing small photoshoots so this was something that would add to the fun. I remember the first photo I ever photoshoped, it came out so good! I sat for hours and tried every single little tool and function, and that’s how I learnt. I kept experimenting until I started learning what different things did and how they worked. After a couple of months experimenting I could think exactly what I wanted to do with a photo and then find all the tools for it.
You find inspiration in many places, who are some of your favorite artists, models and photographers?
You know it’s weird, I can’t come to think of any favorite artists and photographers. I should have lots and know well of these things but there is no names that pops up in my head. There’s loads of AMAZING work out there that I have stumbled across, but I think these pieces of art just leave a visual inspiration in my head and never any names. Shame because I might miss out on someone who could have been my favorite artists and whose work I could’ve followed by now hah!
However I do have two models I guess I could call my favorites. One is Mosh, for her athletic perfect poses and body. The other is Eden Muse, for her character and expression, her face tells me stories, she is also very athletic in her way of modeling.
You were Winner of the 2010 HowCool.com modeling contest and one of the top 10 finalist in the 2011 Bizarre Magazine’s Cover Star competition. How did it feel to with the HowCool.com contest and what was the Bizzare Magazine competition like?
I had no idea I had won the HowCool.com modeling contest! It was funny, I had been active in the competition both when I won the weekly and the monthly vote-out. As I got into the yearly vote-out I had given up on spamming my poor followers for votes because I thought it would just be so hyped. A shopping credit of $5000 was in the trophy, and many of the other finalists had thousands of followers on their pages and could get many votes easily. One day, I see two people writing on my wall ‘Congrats Shelly on the HowCool.com contest!!’, I swear I must have looked like the biggest question-mark. I was confused! I logged onto my old email and saw that the competition had changed to 4 professionals judging all finalists instead, and they had voted me the highest points! I have never been a happier girl getting all that shopping-credit. I spent it all on outfits for photoshoots and some presents!
The Bizarre competition was great, had a really fun day with all the other ladies and I feel very lucky and honored to have had my own page in Bizarre! I put my bet on that stunner Amie Conradine was gonna win, and hell, she did!
Can you tell us a little about your tattoos! Where and what are they and do they have a particular meaning to you?
Jeez, I’ve lost count now! On my left arm I have my favorite musicians Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and then Jaz Coleman from Killing Joke. I did their portraits with halos around their heads, they’re saints to me! I also have a big cross from an album cover, and this all together gives a bit of a religious themed sleeve. It’s cool because they all use and play around a bit with Christianity in their lyrics. I’ve got 2 Fleur De Lys, one in front of my ear, and one on my chest. On my stomach I got Inferno and the number 22 written, it’s my favorite word and my favorite number! I got my hands done too. Next week I’m getting a flower on my back and my right half sleeve done.
It’s funny how it’s like a beautiful spreading plague. I think I’m blinded by the tattooes I already got, I think more about the skin I have left to cover than the skin that’s already done ha ha.
What do you think about body modification? Do you see it as an art form?
I see it like clothes, something you wear on your outside. Something you wear on the outside that makes you feel comfortable and good on the inside.
But to some people, body modification has more of a shallow meaning, it will make them fit in, or they would get it just because it’s seen as “cool”. Same there with clothes, some people wear go to H&M to buy a Rolling Stones t-shirt without knowing who the band is.
Where do you hope to take your talents to in the future?
I just wanna be able to live on what I do. That would be the dream. I don’t need to be rich, hell, I don’t even want to be super-rich. I like challenges! It would be amazing if I could be self employed with what I do, be able to get enough money to make small collections with clothes, maybe arrange catwalks. Have some photography/modeling/styling workshops. It would be so much fun! But the thing is..I know I can do all this if I really really work for it, I know it’s possible and I know I have the talent and brains for it. But like when I was a kid, there’s just a part of me that always gotta have some time to chill out and mumble a little ‘I just can’t be FU*%#D’ to myself.
Then again..When the motivation is back, sometimes a week after, I’m off like a rocket doing a million things again, so we’ll see how far this strategy takes me!
What do you like to do when you aren’t working? Any hobbies or interests you care to share with us?
That’s pretty much what I’ve told you all about already! I have always had a steady ‘normal’ job that I know will give me enough money to pay da billz. So all these things, modeling, styling, sewing, editing, taking photos , tattoos, that’s what I do on my free time. It’s getting there though, this year so far I have managed to only work part-time and my hobbies have paid off quite well which I am extremely happy about! I hope it can continue like this.
Anything else you would like to say?
I feel like I’ve said so much already. I’m honored if any of you readers have gotten this far, Thanks for the interest of getting to know me a bit more!
Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
https://twitter.com/ShellydInferno Twitter, here I’ll post the smallest updates on what kind of fart I just did, to random photos and comments on bigger projects I got going on!
http://www.facebook.com/shellydinferno Here shows all the most important updates. Modeling portfolio pick-outs, any new styling/art/photography work, and of course all my new Heavenly Inferno designs. This is like my webpage.
http://www.modelmayhem.com/shellydinferno A more compact version of my modeling portfolio.
http://shellydinferno.tumblr.com/ This is where I post more story-telling shoots with music and lyrics from both behind and in front of the camera.
And last but not least if you have any questions, enquiries about my clothes or anything else I do, my email address is email@example.com