Kimmy Lola Cunningham is a model, stylist, art director and self-described “Sustainable Fashion Enthusiast”. Her unique, colorful vision inspires us to create on a daily basis and we’re thrilled to share this interview with her!
Is there an overall theme you try to express in your work, or does it change piece to piece?
I think a lot of people really place me in one or two categories and that’s usually weird and colorful, and although I absolutely adore both of those, I’m pretty much open to anything and everything. To me, the whole play of being an artist/model is having the freedom to explore multiple avenues of your art and what you are really capable of. The more diverse, the better and funner in my opinion.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve done for a photoshoot?
Oh man, either willingly allowing myself to be slimed
or having hot wax poured all over me —- actually yeah the slime definitely wins, it was soooooo uncomfortable.
Do you approach a photoshoot differently when you model versus when you are the stylist?
That’s a great question! I approach things a little bit differently but not by much. My styling is very niché and almost all the outfits I create for photographers and models are ones I’d wear on a daily basis haha. I definitely try to consider other models though when they wear my outfits, like is it 20 degrees out? Okay — how can we still make them warm but still look effortless and fun? Where as if I’m modeling and styling myself I’m way less thoughtful and will allow myself to freeze if it’s for the art. Probably not the best idea…
What things do you look for in a photographer when you plan a shoot?
I shoot with people who are generally open minded to sharing concepts. As much as I love modeling, I also love being able to collaborate first hand with the photographer on ideas and also being a ‘director’. Some of my best shoots are with people who are willing to just explore and bounce off of ideas with each other. I appreciate people who can direct me when needed but still let me do my own thang rather than just trying to tell me what I should do for everything. Not that this style of shooting isn’t acceptable or anything, but it just makes me personally feel less comfortable and less creative.
How did you get started as a model?
Kind of by accident! I was just doing this fun side project where I was documenting my fashion outfits in my upstairs apartment hallway, and then one day my best friend and model Grace asked if I wanted to shoot at a carnival with her and my friend Jaina, and ever since then, things were never the same again! I fell in love with the characters I could put on and the play of emotion you can really capture within a photo. Like hey! That’s my face — I did that!
I love how unique your work is, how do you feel you fit into the overall trend of modern day fashion photography?
I’m not too sure honestly. I definitely don’t disregard fashion trends or anything, but I do try to stay authentic to myself and what my specific taste and vision is and I hope that shows within my art. I really like doing avant-garde shoots and editorial work that kind of bends people’s brains in half because they have to try to make sense of what’s going on in the photo. I think Fashion can sometimes be taken too seriously and being able to make it even weirder than it already is, is definitely my ultimate goal.
I also have been trying to involve more vintage and second-hand clothing within my styling and modeling shoots because it’s an awkward topic that we ignore in America. Fast fashion is dangerous for many reasons but a few to name as that the people who make your clothes are treated and paid horrifically unfairly. Fast fashion also minimizes local designer’s and shop’s hard work and creations, and additionally it wastes so much material and is a further contribution to pollution. Honestly, shopping green, local and second hand too is great because you save so much more money and feel like you’re doing something to help benefit your society while still looking fabulous!
Do you think there is an art/fashion “scene” in Boston?
I believe in the last few years it has definitely grown from like 2% to 5% out of 100%, but we still have a long ways to go and I don’t think we will ever be like NY. I don’t see anyone pushing the boundaries. People are too scared to truly express themselves and cause a scene or stir, fashion-wise.
My favorite fashion icons in Boston are usually people who own vintage stores because I feel like they get it and I appreciate them for keeping alive quality made, one of a kind pieces!
How do you plan out a shoot? Are there poses, compositions or scenes you plan out beforehand?
It really depended on the photographer and how they like to work! I generally like to at-least have an idea or concept or come up with them on my own that way I can piece a look together. But once I have that outfit on or a prop in my hand, the rest just falls into place. Sometimes I like to think of a back story so I can get myself into a state of mind of what this person would be like in real life, and I think that usually really helps aid me in my expressions and poses.
I love your use of color in your work (The all yellow piece is amazing), are you conscious of this before you start working? Do you specifically work with photographers who use bright colors?
Yeah, Ally Shcmaling is an absolute blessing to this artistic community! But no, I don’t usually seek out people who work with color, they seek out me because of my hair, I think! Which is pretty cool, because sometimes people can get a little terrified of color, I’m not sure why, but I love how it can really evoke so much emotion.
Are there any artists who inspire you?
Literally like every artist in the Boston community! We’ve grown SO much these past three to four years it’s insane and so exciting!
On a grander level by biggest inspiration is Nadia Lee Cohen. Like if I could marry her I probably would just because I think she is the coolest person alive. Everything she does blows me away.
Kimmy can be found on instagram @holalalalola and online at https://kimmylolacunningham.com/.