Featured Artist: Jess Ferraro

Jess Ferraro is a Boston-Based artist, performer and model who works with other artists to “create something new and different”. She is involved not only in modeling but in circus arts and we are thrilled to share this in-depth interview with her focusing on her current “emotions” series.

Top left : Sadness – shot by Jen Rose Photo
Mid left : Loniless – shot by Jen Rose Photo
Bottom Left : Anger – shot by Andrew Veenstra Photography
Top right : Isolation – shot by Captured by Ginny
Mid right : Love – shot by Tori Sviokla Photogrpahy
Bottom right : Anxiety – shot by Shutter Bunny Art

How do you visualize how each emotion is represented? Do they have stories that go along with your life?

Visualizing each emotion has been a very interesting journey. I often don’t identify with many emotions, if any at all most days. So I started this project to get a bit of a better grasp on feelings and emotions. I’ve been kind of playing to how many people refer to them and the other stigmas, interpretations and figures of speech that correlate with each feeling and emotion to create some really interesting visuals. For example when shooting love, I had an underlying mood of ‘love is blind” but also other themes like toxic relationships, fake love and similar things like that. When shooting anxiety, I took from some feelings that I tend to run into when my anxiety increases in situations where I feel like my hands are tied and I can’t do anything about the situation at hand. Feeling vaguely helpless, foggy and in a mild panic. It is all a process of interpreting these emotions and feelings in as many perspectives as I can fathom and working with multiple other photographers on this project definitely helps that process.

When you’re working with a photographer on each image how do you explain what you want to accomplish? Do you plan ahead with colors in mind? How much of the photos are edited in post?

I give the photographer’s an outline of the concepts I am trying to portray through the costume and makeup look I’ve created for the shoot. I then give the photographers the creative freedom on how to shoot and edit the shots. Sometimes there will be a few shots I have in mind and we talk about them and see if they will work with the overall vision of that feeling or emotion. I usually show up fully ready to shoot in most cases, unless I need to change or add extra elements once I arrive on set due to transportation.

Photographer: Marc Klaus
Stylist: The Style Astronaut
Makeup Artist: BaelienMUA

When you’re photographing this series, are you focusing on feeling the emotion you’re trying to represent?

I often try to embody as much of the emotion as I can when actually shooting, but mostly try and express the underlying themes and create the imagery I want to portray ior the outcome.

What kinds of reactions do your photos get? How do you feel about those reactions

I have received many reactions, mostly positive and encouraging. Which has been wonderful, but I also tend to get a few odd interactions when I create some images that are a bit more out of the box that people often think I operate in. I often read the mixed reactions as a good sign that I’m making people think about my art instead of just putting something out there and having people not be affected by it. I like that this series has the ability to make people feel something.

Photographer: Andrew MacRobert
Edited by Pengwar
Stylist: The Style Astronaut
Makeup Artist: BaelienMUA

Do you associate certain emotions with certain colors?

When I first started this project I realized that most of the emotions I had on my list were all on the sadder, bluer side of the spectrum. As it expanded and I work with more people, more emotions have connected to more color schemes and have gone in multiple directions. I also tend to correlate each emotion with specific textures and textiles, but I think that might just be the fashion designer in me peeking its way out.

Describe your style in 3 words.

Extra, unconventional, and unique

What is the weirdest thing you’ve done for a photoshoot?

I don’t often think things I do for shoots are weird, but other people probably would haha. I’ve spun fire in the snow at 1am, modeled with loaves of bread, gotten bottles of champagne poured on me in a bathtub, had my head put in fruit webbing, poured milk all over the sidewalk, balanced on abandon rocking horses in a field, climbed inside of washing machines, swam with pineapples, pretended to eat eyeballs, rode the T covered in blood, had my butt spanked with handfuls of glitter, strolled around a cemetery with no pants on. All things that I don’t find that weird, but other people probably will haha.

Photographer: Ginny Cummings
Stylist: The Style Astronaut
Makeup Artist: BaelienMUA

What artists inspire you?

I have had the pleasure of surrounding myself with artistic friends that inspire me every day.

How did you get started modeling?

When I was a kid my parents took me to a casting call for child models. I made it through the whole process and had gotten so bored of it by the time it came to the casting, that I asked if we could just go home. In my later years I picked it backup as a hobby and a way to showcase some of my work when I was still actively designing clothing. I have since expanded my modeling and honed my skills to create other things with many artists.

I know you also take part in circus arts. Does that inform your modeling and art? Can you tell us how you got into doing that? It sounds so cool!

I am a performer, so I guess I got more into aerials through wanting to explore more circus arts. I really enjoy it and it definitely brings other weird poses and mannerisms into my arsenal. I often use my character building skills to create acts and other forms of art. It often brings a fun perspective to new art projects.

What inspires you?

I often pull inspiration from many things; nature, my fellow artists, textures, feelings, fabrics, the reflections off glass and iridescent rainbows. Collaborations, working off each others ideas, creating new worlds and alternate dimensions. I also get a lot of inspiration from space and my surroundings. People watching also sparks some great inspiration, as well as roaming through museums and other public spaces.

What are you working on next?

I feel like I’m constantly working on so many things at a time, but I have a few things in the works that I can’t quite divulge just yet. So you will just have to keep an eye out on my socials to see what I’m up to next haha.

Photographer: Kermen T
Stylist: The Style Astronaut
Makeup Artist: BaelienMUA

Jess can be found on Pengwar.com . Her instagram handles are @supernova_vision and @pengwar and she can be found on Facebook @pengwarart


Featured Artist: Kimmy Lola Cunningham

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!

Photo by Sydney Claire

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. 

Photo by Bob Canto
Model is Kitty Collins
Styling by me and clothing provided by Great Eastern Trading Company

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…

Photo by Chorale Miles for Verb Hotel

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! 

Photo by Paige Miller
partial clothing provided by Lucy in Disguise

I love how unique your work is, how do you feel you fit into the overall trend of modern day fashion photography?

Thank you! 

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! 

Photo by David Morales

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. 

Photo and set design by Ally Shcmaling

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. 

Photo by David Morales

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/.