When I profiled Hal-Con, they mentioned one of their attendees is Drakaina. Drakaina would be considered a model for some, but she considers herself a muse – an inspiration to artists and photographers. She's also taken her interest in fantasy and comics as a guide to some of her work – perhaps the first person I've met to combine geek culture and glamorous modeling. So of course I had to interview her!
1) First of all, let's find out what you do. You're a muse. You model. How would you describe your work?
Above anything else, I have fun!!! Basically what I do is inspire artists in different fields, who use me/my likeness as reference for their artworks. I didn't label myself a Muse, artists started to refer to me as one about a 2 years after I become a Fantasy art Model (in 2001), as it would be very pretentious to wake up one day and declare "I'm a Muse".
I like to tell stories with my pictures, pictures that will touch people's soul in some ways. I don't know how to draw, so I guess you could say I act my ideas out through photography I only work with a few selected photographers who enjoy the creative input I like to bring with me on set.
2) What do you consider the difference between model and muse?
Hmm tricky question, I don't want to offend anyone lol.. To me a Model poses and follow directions, to promote a product, a trend, or sometimes just to promote herself.
She does what she is paid to do, becoming sometimes a props in the bigger picture herself
A Muse inspire ideas, feeling, universes to people, whether they are photographers or artists. She does her own thing and it triggers a reaction in people sensitive to her aura.
As far as how it works in my career it could be broken down as follow:
An artist contact me with a sketch and wants a specific pose done: I am his model. Same goes if a company hires me to model their product(s).
An artist/photographer/author contacts me telling me one of my picture (or a set), my personality or my body inspired him a painting/a character/a story etc : I am a Muse
3) You've managed to combine an interest in fantasy and comics into your being a muse – how have you done that? Has it presented any interesting opportunities you'd like to share?
Well I’ve never planned on becoming a Muse.. that is not the kind of thing you decide to become overnight It kind of fell upon me from one day to the next. True I’ve always been a great fan of comic books and fantasy art, but it was more my secret garden than anything else…
It all started back in early 2001 when I came across Ariock and his dark fantasy worlds The man was offering me to bring his ideas to life.. From paper to flesh…
And this idea was really appealing to me…It was like a calling…and from that moment on my life changed… I started getting request from artists wanting to use my likeness in their artwork
And then something happened… Drakaina.. her world… grew into a sole entity and artists started carving her own universe…. they were not looking to use me as a model anymore but as a Muse… Drakaina the fantasy art Model had come and gone…Drakaina the Fantasy art Muse was born…Inspiring painters, but also poets and writers as well as models back in France, where Fantasy art modeling was finally recognized as a field of work and not a hobby anymore
Your questions also made me reflect on the "milestones" I've reached along the years.. Yes I'd say I had quite a few nice things come my way since my first steps in the Fantasy art Modeling field.
I also met lots of great people, and tremendously talented artists, most of them whom I became good friends with along the years. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Heavy Metal Magazine artists, publish 2 (third one is in production) art books, become a rôle model for aspiring fantasy art models in my native Europe, speak up against animal abuse (I've always said that if one day I « made it » I'd do my best to raise awareness against animal abuse and I had the opportunity to do so, so I took it). As well as being offered movie roles (latest one being a Vampire movie that will be out before the end of 2010). My activities also allowed me to travel quite a bit and led me to relocate to Canada. Oh and did I mention my job is the reason while I met the man I still share my life with 9 years after it all started? 😉
4) Which came first, the model/muse work or your interests in the fantastic subject matter?
My interest in the fantastic art came first.. See I've never dreamed of becoming a Muse nor a model, it was far from my aspirations.. I wasn't one of these little girls that wanted to be a model/beauty queen when I grew up, I wanted to travel the world, hitch hiking with my dog… Miles away from the Glamour life hahaha
But I've always loved comic books and fantastic/dark Tv series, so when I met Ariock (who is still my partner in crimes today) I was quickly seduced by the idea of embodying a strong, dark and sexy female character in his paintings.
5) How have you turned this into a sustainable career?
I wouldn't say it's big money, just that it's steady. Mind you, I'm not in for the money and never was. Yet the Art books are selling well, and so do the Drakaina paraphernalia.
6) You seem to embrace the web and social technology. What has proven to be the best tools for promoting your work?
Most definitely. The internet, through my official website, allowed me to work with artists from all over the world while remaining in my native France through "cybermodeling". Artists would send me a sketch and a general idea of what they had in mind and we would shoot the pictures for them, send them back and they would have the reference they needed for their artworks (That's the model part). They could also access my private galleries and draw inspiration from the various photo shoots posted there (that's the Muse part of my activity).
Interacting with other artists on various message boards, also proved to be a very good tool in terms of meeting new artists and photographers, as well as new fans too 😉
At the same time, social medias have proven to bring a little bit of chaos in – what used to be at some point- the special and somewhat elitist relationship between models and artists. Now pretty much every model wants to be painted by an artist, it seems to be the « new in thing to do » and social websites such as Facebook and Myspace are making it much easier for girls to proclaim themselves models and contact artists to ask them to paint them.. I find it a little sad, as, with every new thing that emulates interest, it also brings a load of posers and jealousy… When there were only a few of us we had a real sense of camaraderie (love you Veronika ;)), , now it's getting crowded and there is a lot of -unnecessary- competition aka « oh you worked with this artist, so will I » or « I will « steal » the artists you work with and be the new pack leader type of thing… Then again, aside from the slight headaches these « faux-models » bring along, the artists know who the real deal (read the professional/reliable Models and Muses) are
7) Your work also seems to leverage what is called "Personal Branding" – establishing a kind of business identity. What advice do you have for people seeking to stand out?
First and foremost find your own identity, your own niche… Don't just go and copy what other people do. Imitation might be (said to be) the most sincere form of flattery, but it won't get you very far… You don't want to be known as yet another model copying so and so.. Find what makes you interesting, what makes you special..
This is also why I registered Drakaina® as a trademark, to preserve it’s uniqueness : therefore , there could and will only be one Model and Muse for artists named Drakaina®
8) What would you say to people wanting to follow in
Well as I was saying, find your own identity (I've even had models copy past part of my bio and pages of my website to put on their own… Needless to say they didn't last very long hahaha ;)). Then define what universe you want to represent in your photos, team up with a good photographer who gets what you have in mind and start shooting… Looks do matter but not in the traditional sense, as they artists already have plenty bombshells to choose from, be it on the net or in the medias. You have to go further than just being yet another pretty thing, you have to convey some emotions in your pictures. Have fun, be yourself, enjoy yourself. Introduce yourself on message boards, talk to artists, trust me if they like what they see and are inspired by you, it won't take long for them to ask you if they can paint you/use you in their artworks..
A small warning when it comes to contacting artists: Please keep in mind that if these artists will most likely be flattered by your interested in their work, they are professional living from their art, who, if you inspire them will paint you on their spare time…Sending them a mail to congratulate them on their talent is one thing, stalking them until they give up and finally paint you is a different story..
I am only saying that because I was talking with some of the artists I work with and they told me that some (amateur models) are being very insistent and incorrect with them.. If you want to be drawn so bad, why don’t you commission them instead (aka you pay for an artist to paint you) ?!? Rest assured that if an artist does find you attractive/inspiring he will most likely contact you himself. Once again contacting an artist to tell him you like his style and would like to one day be painted by him is fine, the rest is plain wrong…
9) Finally – how did you end up invited to Hal-Con?
Well simply through talking to one of the Hal-Con's officials, I introduced myself and he invited me as a guest of honor. I am very honored to be part of this big adventure that is going to be Hal-Con
10) Thanks for your time!
Thanks for inviting me in your domain, and thank you for giving me the opportunity to share a few thoughts about my job
You can find Drakaina's website here, including galleries, a blog, and more. Warning, some of her work does contain tasteful nudity.
– Steven Savage