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Morayma Makay – Interview With A Fashion Model

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 1, 2012
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I have known Morayma for close to 5 years, but I’ve only gotten to know her well over the past 2 because of Facebook. Not everyone knows fashion models in person, so I’m honored.


She’s not one of the big names that most of us know but she’s the real deal. You know all those magazine ads with models whose names you never know? Morayma has been modeling for a couple of decades now and still does modeling part time. She’s traveled the world and knows many other models and can talk about the industry from the inside. There are thousands of pictures of her on and off the internet, and she’s been on the cover of many magazines as well.

I think this is a fascinating interview and I’m glad she answered the questions as thoughtfully as she did. She dispels that false belief that models are vapid; this is one small and engaged lady.

1. What was your life like growing up?

I grew up in Santa Monica, California…even though I am a Los Angeles native I didn’t grow up exposed to the Industry. I had a very normal, quiet, and actually strict upbringing so school was what I was expected to focus on and that’s what I did. I did have a love for theater and dreamt of someday becoming a stage actress….so I performed in the school plays, etc. Modeling was not something I ever really thought about, to be honest.

2. Did you always want to be a model?

–Nope. I wanted to be a theater actor or an interior decorator! LOL

3. How were you discovered?

–While I was in college in Portland, Oregon I walked into a talent agency to see if I could get sent out for local work to make a little extra money and they decided I had a look that would work well for modeling. Within 2 months they had sent me abroad to work.

4. What is it like to travel around the world as a model? I know it can’t all be glamorous, based on a few videos I’ve seen of Sports Illustrated models on photo shoots, but I’m assuming lots of it is pretty fun.

— It was amazing. I am not going to lie. I am something of a gypsy at heart, so being on the road and traveling to different places all the time was a dream come true for me. Yes, it was tiring to work long days in either freezing cold weather or sweltering heat (keep in mind you always shoot the clothing collections during the opposite season…so you freeze in swimwear and summery dresses, and roast wearing coats during midsummer).

You are constantly being poked, prodded, pinned, hair messed with, etc. so you have to lose your sense of personal space very quickly. When you are on a job you are a mannequin and that’s that.

Some clients are kinder than others. I’ve mostly worked with wonderful people, but I do remember one time on a booking I had the stylist pull a sweater over my head so forcefully (they were in a tremendous hurry to get done) that I ended up with a pulled neck muscle and that hurt for days!! Rejection is also never a nice thing, but for every job I didn’t book, there would be one that I did book so that wasn’t enough of a reason not to love my work.

We got a lot of privileges and perks….VIP treatment at clubs, restaurants, etc. I made a lot of wonderful friends from around the globe. Ahh….just writing this is making me miss it so much! =)

5. So many people talk about models and how they eat? What’s your opinion on models considered too thin, bad or good eating habits, and the positives and negatives of trying to keep your body looking a certain way? Is the pressure high?

–That has always been a pet peeve of mine…that people assume models don’t eat. I have to be honest, while there are certainly girls that do starve themselves to look as skinny as they think they need to look, the majority of the models I met, lived with, worked with and became friends with had very hearty appetites and rarely worked out.

Honestly, the majority of models are genetically built the way they are. I knew more girls in college with eating disorders than models. Generally, if a model is not naturally thin, she will start to gain weight or reach a plateau in her weight and will eventually either quit or go into Plus/full figure modeling.

I never felt the pressure because I am naturally thin, although one year in Tokyo I was sent home because my agency there told me my hips (34 inches) were too large and wanted me to have 32 inch hips. That was mortifying but I got over it….the ridiculousness of that was laughable.


I think the models that do feel pressured to lose weight or be really thin are not naturally thin so they are trying to fit a mold that they are not genetically predisposed to fit….but like I said, I knew very few girls in the industry that had an eating disorder….truthfully only two (one of which was a roommate of mine in Milan).

My belief is that eating healthy and having an active lifestyle is the only way to go. Should models be thin? It may not be popular to say so, but yes…I think so. Not skeletal, but healthy and thin….models are paid to showcase clothing and a thin, taller model will be able to showcase a garment better than a shorter curvier girl. The curvier girls have their own markets for clothing too…I am talking about couture….Really there are many types of modeling (sportswear, lingerie/swimwear, etc.) that prefer a healthier, curvy body-type….but for straight up fashion, thin is always going to be in. 😉

6. We were talking recently about a guy who dated a model saying she didn’t know how to handle her money. Would you say that most models are good with their money or do many suffer like athletes in that they spend it as fast as it comes in?

–I think it really depends on the girl and how she was raised and how old she is too! I cannot imagine how the baby models who are 14 and 15 years old could possibly know what to do when handed checks for thousands of dollars!!

My parents brought me up to be very responsible and frugal and that is how I’ve always handled my finances. I had college loans to pay while on the road too so I knew that I had to keep good track of my finances since you really do not know when your next check will come or how much it will be for! I actually found it easy to save money and take care of my bills at home while traveling because we were always being offered free dinners via the agencies, eating on-set, free lunches at some restaurants (in Milan). All of my expenses were fronted to me (the agencies then take money from our earnings to pay off what they have fronted us) really all I needed to pay for was my airline tickets!

7. I’ve seen a lot of your pictures and you don’t always look like the same person. But some models we see always look the same. Do you feel your versatility is better or do you think it matters in the end?

–I think my versatility comes from my original passion for the theater. As a theater actor you have to be able to convey emotion…not all models can do that. I do see many models that ALWAYS have the same expression. That annoys me…haha! My agencies have always called me a “chameleon”.

I think versatility is a great thing and it helped me work a lot….but I don’t think it matters all that much in the end because a lot of the monotone-faces (lol) still end up working a lot too and I do think that “who you know” is a powerful tool in this biz…as in many others.

8. What’s the best thing about modeling and what’s the worst thing?

–Best thing? Traveling. Good pay (when you get it!). Meeting interesting people. Wearing clothes I could never afford on my own….aka playing dress-up and getting paid for it. 😉

–Worst thing? How fickle the industry can be…and not knowing when your next paycheck will come….

9. How has your husband and kids handled your modeling? Do your kids even really understand what you do or did, since they’re very young?

–I stopped traveling when I became pregnant with my son….I know other models that do travel for lengthy amounts of time and have kids, but I can’t justify doing that. I will travel to a location for a specific shoot, but anything longer than that is not going to happen. I don’t want to miss these moments with the kids because they are so fleeting…..even though sometimes I fantasize about taking off for a while, for some peace and quiet! LOL!

My husband doesn’t think much about my work one way or the other. He knows I enjoy what I do so he’s happy and supportive when I work, and luckily he’s not a jealous type. My kids like when they see me in an ad or a TV commercial…they think it’s funny, actually!

10. Time to shine; what are you doing now and are you enjoying your life?

–I am still modeling and working on commercials part-time. I like that I can do a job here and there and still be afforded the time to be here for my kids whenever they need me. I am enjoying life here in Los Angeles again…..the sunshine and proximity to my family is wonderful! I like that I can work as little or as much as I want because I don’t have to use this as my way to make a living anymore…..it’s nice not to stress about when the next job will come….my husband is the main breadwinner, so that takes the pressure off.

I am also in the process of seeing what else is out there for me career-wise. I don’t want the ol’ brain to rust! LOL! Toying with the idea of going back into the medical interpreting field as I am fluent in Spanish as well. I did that for a while before modeling took me on the road and I remember really enjoying it.

I also need to get back to my own blog one of these days, now that both kids are in school…I have no excuse to not write again! 😉
 

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An Interview With Writer/Blogger Holly Jahangiri

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Aug 10, 2012
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I can’t tell you how long I’ve known or read Holly’s stuff but it’s been at least 3 years or so. You almost can’t miss her on writing sites and on a lot of blogs, and of course she’s got a lot going on in her own right. Multiple blogs, books, writing projects and the like, and in all the right social media places. She’s someone who shows that if you plan right you really can get a lot done. Don’t only enjoy this interview; learn from it:

1. We might as well get this out of the way first; how many blogs and websites do you actually have? I found a few, including one, a Typepad blog, that you’ve let go. lol

You get right to the point, don’t you, Mitch? I…don’t honestly know. The ones I keep up to date are these:

http://jahangiri.us/2013 – that’s my personal blog, and the most active.
http://jahangiri.us/books – that’s run, more or less, by my imaginary friends – we authors like to call them “characters” – Trockle, Gurgelda, Irma and her guppies, and some that are still in the making.
http://race2hugo.net – it’s a cheeky dare, a periodical, a dream, and an ongoing project.
http://thenextgoal.com – this is the blog I won last year, and it’s a team effort – it’s nothing without Larry, Ntathu, Brandon, Neeraj, and occasional guest bloggers like James Pruitt.

There are a couple on WordPress.com, one on Tumblr, one on Posterous, a few on Blogger… the Typepad blog wasn’t exactly “let go,” it was a step in the migration from Vox (now closed) to my personal blog. I hate to let anything go, though. Does that make me an Internet hoarder? Seriously, they all come in handy from time to time; if someone has a question about how to do something, I can check it out. That’s really how I’ve managed to accumulate so many in the first place – curiosity and the need to try things out for myself, if they sound interesting. They’re not ALL that interesting, in the long run.

2. You are way connected on social media. I get asked this about writing all my blogs but how do you keep up with it all?

You’re assuming I do. I try, but I think you’d have to be superhuman to keep up with everything, and I’m not superhuman. Then again, people think I type 500 words a minute. It’s not true. The secret to looking like you type 500 words a minute is to type in phrases, instead of full paragraphs or sentences – when you’re in IM with someone, keep them busy reading while you type the next bit, and they think you’ve got mad typing skillz. Same thing with Social Media – I write, I try to keep the conversation going, I get friends talking to each other, then I go write some more. And if I miss a few things here and there, well…don’t we all?

3. Do you make your living writing? If so, how are you doing it, and if not what else do you do?

I have a full time job. I’ve worked as a technical writer, documentation project manager, and social media analyst. I “moonlight” as an author – I’ve written two children’s books, Trockle, and A Puppy, Not a Guppy, and I have contributed to several anthologies of short stories and poetry. I blog for fun and sometimes to promote my books, but I have never seriously tried to monetize my blog.

4. You actually won one of your blogs via a contest, beating my buddy Mitch Allen along the way. How did you do it, how did it feel to win and was the effort worth it?

It was an incredibly intense competition – by the end, it was just grueling and exhausting. I remember one day, Neeraj Sachdeva and I were head to head on “who can publish the most posts” – I think EACH of us published nineteen in one day. That was a truly miserable experience – I mean, at the time we were both functioning on adrenaline and fumes and competitive zeal, but I think sustaining that kind of competitive drive over ten weeks left us a little burnt out on it.

We had a lot of fun at the beginning – we bonded as a team and had meetings in Google Hangouts, and it was really something special. Unfortunately, the nature of the game was such that only one would be left standing at the end. We went from being teammates to competitors (and we always KNEW that was coming, but until week 5, we were undefeated, so we didn’t have to face it and I think that made it harder when we finally had to do it). It felt a little bit like being in The Hunger Games, rather than Survivor. We even tried to change the game and eat the berries, but that didn’t fly.

5. Let’s talk about the writing process. Is it different for you depending on what you’re writing?

The process is a bit different, of course, between non-fiction or technical writing and writing fiction or children’s picture books, sure. One requires research; the other requires allowing my “imaginary friends” out to play and give dictation. I suppose blogging is a combination of these two, more or less.

6. How would you describe your style, which is a lot different than mine? I have to admit that sometimes it hurts my head. lol

What the heck does that mean? Should I send you a bottle of Advil, Mitch? I like to think my style is an eccentric mash-up of Erma Bombeck, Edgar Allan Poe, and O. Henry, with occasional flashes of Guy de Maupassant, Shel Silverstein, and Tom Lehrer. I don’t know – how would YOU describe my style?

This brings up something I think of from time to time: Is it up to an author to describe his or her style? I’ve heard writers claim to write “classic literature,” but I always thought that one of the requirements of that genre was that the author be dead. I aspire to be read, not dead.

7. Since you have an Amazon account I went to look and saw that you have 4 books up there. What was it like writing those and getting them published, and do you have anything on the horizon?

Well, there are a few others – I think you’ve read Innocents & Demons, right? Hidden Lies is the first published short story anthology. Vivian and I published that together in 2005, and that’s where our publishing paths diverged: She decided to build a small publishing empire, and I decided I was really happy being an author and had no desire to be a publisher! I contributed several poems to Walking the Earth. When Vivian asked if I’d ever found a publisher for Trockleicon – a book she’d read and believed in the minute I wrote it – I had to admit that I really hadn’t tried. I’m really bad about submitting my work for publication. I don’t mind rejection; I just don’t like throwing it into the abyss and waiting to hear something back. So no, Trockle was still just a dog-eared manuscript tucked into my son’s bookcase, and I was thrilled that 4RV Publishing wanted to bring it to the rest of the world. They later published my second children’s book, A Puppy, Not a Guppyicon – that one was inspired by my kids’ pleas for a pet, but also my own experiences as a kid whose parents were slow to warm to the idea of a puppy.

I have a couple of things on the horizon – I’ve got a third children’s book in the works. It’s being illustrated, and should be ready for prime time later this year or early next year (Update: Holly’s third children’s book, A New Leaf for Lyle, was released in May 2014, and can be found on Amazon). And then there’s the race2hugo.net dare – your friend Mitchell Allen started that, and we got Marian Allen involved, as well, and now, well… I haven’t heard from Mitch in a while. Is he still breathing or did he stow away on the new Mars Rover?

8. I was really intrigued by your post Don’t Feed The Trolls. I also remember your position on kind of the same subject on a past Facebook post. You know I tend to believe that free speech goes both ways, and if people get responses they didn’t expect and don’t like that they shouldn’t say those things to begin with. Talk about your position on this and what you feel separates a troll from someone who may just be having a really bad day.

There’s a fair amount of psychology involved, and I’m not sure any of us can distinguish the trolls from the grouches 100% of the time with 100% accuracy. But here’s an example – I got a really nasty critique, once, on writing.com. If I’d had less self-confidence, I’d have crumpled up in a little damp ball of mush and tears, and maybe quit writing altogether. Instead, I read and reread the critique until I felt pretty sure the writer hadn’t even read, and wasn’t commenting on, my story, at all. I read his words with the eyes of someone who has occasionally had a bad day and might’ve been tempted to kick the dog as they tossed their briefcase by the door.

I wrote back to the critic, something to the effect of, “I’m really sorry you’ve had a bad day. Sounds like maybe someone’s kicked you around and given you a bad time, and I hope that doing the same to a complete stranger has helped you, in some way, to feel just a little bit better. Have a happier week!”

In less than six hours, I had a reply, an apology, and a new friend. Sure enough, it was a kid – 17 or so – and he’d had a lousy, rotten, awful day at school. And because I’d responded with a little sympathy – without being angry or being a complete doormat about it – he immediately realized how stupid the attack on me had been, and we wiped the slate clean and started over. He was a pretty good writer, too.

Of course, writers love to get a reaction – so who knows? Maybe I’ve mistaken a few trolls for fans, over the years. I think the most cutting comment I ever got was something along the lines of “This is boring. Stop now,” on my blog. But they were outnumbered, so I ignored them. 🙂

Trolls, on the other hand, knowingly taunt and harass people to get their kicks. They delight in getting people emotionally spun up; it’s just a game to them. I really believe that people who live to make others feel bad must feel pretty rotten about themselves, but I’m not a shrink, and it’s not my job to save the world. I’d rather shut down the conversation before it gets really ugly than to see good people get hurt.

Freedom of speech exists for several reasons – being trollish is not one of them. Freedom of speech exists to protect the exchange of ideas, primarily political or social ideas, that may be unpopular. The kind of stuff that may constitute “though crimes” in other countries. But with freedom comes responsibility. Trolls don’t want to communicate, they want to dominate – and that’s the antithesis of “free exchange of ideas,” isn’t it? My blog is not “public property” and the First Amendment doesn’t give trolls squatters’ rights.

9. Your stuff is so creative. Do you walk around like I do with all these ideas of things to write about, or do you have periods where you struggle to find something to write about?

I do have times when I feel like my head is just empty of anything worth writing down. What that usually means is that I’m hanging on too tight, trying to control the action, and my characters are balking – refusing to help me tell their story. Instead of struggling, I find other types of creative outlets – photography, painting, scrapbooking – I just let the ideas simmer instead of beating my head against the proverbial wall.

10. Time for you; talk about what’s coming up, your business, you, and what you’d like your future to be.

This is how you ask a grown-up “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s an interesting question, because the fact is, I’m pretty happy right here and now. I’ve got a good 15-20 years before I even think of retiring, and even then, I can’t imagine not staying busy. Of course, I’d like to know that my kids have found a way to do whatever it is in life that makes them happy. I’d like to have a few successful books to my name. I’d like to travel. But there’s really nothing “missing” now.
 

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Interview – Mark Dyson, Spinland Studios

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 8, 2012
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Ask me why I love Twitter so much. I met Mark Dyson of Spinland Studios on Twitter (I keep wondering if I met him at a local conference; oh well…) and we started talking a little bit about technology, got around to blogging (I picked on him for not writing enough lol), then started talking about what he does. I thought it would make a fascinating interview because I don’t know anyone else who does all that he does (though our friend John Garrett does do some 3D images, along with his other artwork. Mark’s specialty is 3D computer animation, and he’ll tell you more about it in the interview below:

1. Tell us something about yourself.

I enlisted in the USAF at 17, earned a commission partway through my tenure and retired as an officer after 23 years. I hold a graduate degree in Computer Science. I’m married to a beautiful Utica lady and love living in the Mohawk Valley. Our three children are all twenty somethings living on their own, but we do serve as staff to four cats who are all gifted with way too much personality.

2. What drew you into 3D animation?

As a child I spent a lot of time drawing and, by high school, was sketching posters of rock stars for friends. When the “computer age” hit I was mostly drawn to the potential for doing digital graphics; as an undergraduate student in the 1980s I managed to work in an elective class on the subject. In graduate school I added another such class and this time, in addition to math and theory, it included creating actual 3D content on a Silicone Graphics machine. I was hooked. In the ensuing years I worked my way through a variety of 3D creation tools as the state of the art progressed and, by the time I was ready to retire from the military, I had a side job creating and animating add-on aircraft for the Microsoft Flight Simulator games. I love being able to express myself creatively, and crafting compelling animations is an exciting medium for doing so.

3. How do you come up with ideas for your creations? Are they always yours or do you get guidance from your clients?

For work that I do for pure pleasure, of course the ideas are generally my own. I’m often inspired by something I’ve read or seen but sometimes I just get a fun idea and it sparks the motivation to act on it. For content I create for clients, it’s a collaborative process from start to finish. My job is to realize my client’s vision, not my own, but frequently they don’t know exactly what they’re looking for so we need to work together to nail that down.

4. To me, the images you have on your website look like video game stuff; is that a bulk of what you do?

In my early years I was focused mainly on flight simulator games, and that’s reflected in my gallery of past work. To be sure, the gaming industry is a prime employer of 3D artists but these days I’m not as interested in that area. My primary focus is on telling a story, whether it be for advertising, something instructional, or just because.

5. I’m a total novice to this type of thing; how long does it take to create some of your work, both image and video?

Everything in this sort of work is time- and labor-intensive, to be sure. A huge time-saver is being able to leverage models from your existing library, and every 3D artist I know spends time amassing and/or building a broad collection of stuff that might be useful down the road.

For fresh 3D content, depending on the complexity of the build a model might take a day, or a week or more to create. Beyond just assembling the shapes, there’s mapping (defining what parts of a texture image applies to what parts of the model), rigging (adding controls so the model can be articulated and animated), and creating the textures that cover the model according to the mapping. In a large animation studio you’ll generally have specialists for each step of the process; in my case I do it all myself.

Once you have the characters for your animation, the sequences themselves have to be set up, the scenes lit properly, and then the animation frames rendered. Again, the time varies widely depending on the complexity of the shoot. A straightforward flying logo animation might only take a day or two to light and animate, but a complicated scene with several characters lasting several seconds might take a week or more to get right.

The final time sink is actually rendering the sequences–this often can represent well over half the total project time. Most animators use “render farms” of varying sizes to spread the frames across multiple computing cores to speed things up, but that’s costly to set up and maintain. My own “farm” represents over half of my capital investment and I’m by no means done adding to it. When estimating time consider that a typical animation is around 30 frames per second, and each frame can take anywhere from a few seconds to over two hours to render depending on the lighting effects and complexity.

6. You told me you have your own servers; do you recommend that because of the type of work you do or was that something you just felt you had to have?

I prefer to have complete control over my assets, and my operation is small enough that’s not an unreasonable goal. There are services out there that provide rendering assets “in the cloud” that you can rent ad hoc, but to date I’ve not been involved in a project so large that my own little “farm” can’t handle it.

7. What kinds of recommendations do you make to potential clients looking for the type of thing you do?

Number one is to think of this as an investment that will provide a return, not as an expense. My rates are a small fraction of what the larger houses charge but, even so, I sometimes see “sticker shock” after providing a quote to a potential client. I recommend comparing prices with what you’d pay for a large newspaper ad campaign, or a radio spot or billboard ad, and then decide whether the advantages of having an animated ad that you own and can use over and over provide value added.

8. What kinds of recommendations would you make to people who might look to do what you do, since many of them are probably younger than you?

Get good instruction, take advantage of student prices on software and hardware, and practice. Then practice some more. Just like sketching, painting, and sculpting, this is an art form and you need more than aptitude to master it to any degree. Put in the time, and find out for yourself whether you truly love doing this work enough to treat the long hours it’ll demand of you as a pleasure rather than as a burden.

9. What kind of software/hardware do you use to create what you do?

My primary machine is a 17″ MacBook Pro connected to a 27″ Apple Cinema Display. There are more powerful Macs available but I like the flexibility of being able to pack up and take my work with me. I use a couple of different mouse controllers plus a Wacom digitizing tablet. My “render farm” is comprised of Mac Mini Servers with four CPU cores each.

My primary modeling/animation application is Lightwave, but I’m also in the process of learning to use Maya and have done a few pieces recently with that. For texturing work I use Photoshop Extended, and for post-processing work and final video composing I use After Effects and Premiere Pro.

10. Okay, your time to shine; give your best marketing pitch!

Why settle for a 2D solution in a 3D world? A common phrase in marketing is, “Don’t tell them–show them!” With digital animation together we can create literally anything you can imagine, and bring it to life so you can show your customers. With me you can deal locally, keep your marketing dollars in our community, and spend a small fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere.
 

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