August 20, 2012

INTRODUCING DAMIEN HIRST'S MUSE, DANI SMITH

D.O.B
August 12, 1988

Lives
 East London/NYC

Hey Babes! What have you been up to today? 
Working like a dog! 

Tell me how you started modelling?
Well, I have been modelling long time now! I moved to NYC when I was 15. 
I am originally from Utah. I met a photographer and he, my mother and I 
went to NYC to meet agencies. The agency told me I could either be a model that comes over summer break and school breaks, or move to New York and work full time. 
I made the big decision to make the move. Of course It was hard on my mother, but we are very close, talk everyday and still have not gone more then 3 months with out seeing each other. I am happy I made the choice to go to NY young and finish school online, I have learned so much, And now Manhattan is my home.



How were you introduced to Damien and Rankin?
I have been friends with Damien for some years and had done work with him before this project. I wanted to do something in the fashion world with Damien. So since he knew Rankin for a very long time, we both figured would be great to do something all together. 
Originally the first shoot was for Dazed and Confused Magazine, but when when we saw the images we were blown away. That's when Rankin proposed the idea of a book and that where it's all started. 

Tell me a little about the Myths, Monsters and Legends shoot you did with Damien Hirst and Rankin…
The book is in my words is a play on Damien's and Rankin's obsession with the unknown and the dark side. Rankin wanted to do something different to his norm. The concept was photographing me as model and turning me into these beings/creatures  that are scary really. Depending on who you ask.  Defining beauty was the idea and I think it was well executed. I look pretty scary. I feel lucky as a model to have had this opportunity, def beats the standard catalogue and editorials shoots! Damien has always used these beasts in his art, so the idea of making this my reality, he loved. 


You look fucking incredible in this shoot. How did you feel?
Well now that the book is said and done, I am sad and so relieved it over!
The first time we shot with all the prosthetics, I had a ball, I didn't even recognise myself. 
It was a surreal experience, to actually look like a monster. We would joke that if j just wondered off on the beach, and found some strangers on the beach, I would frighten them to death, hahaha can u imagine! Hahaha! 

I do have a new found respect for actors, performers and so on that have to wear prosthetics for a job. It's something most people don't think about or realise but it's crazy hard work and severely uncomfortable. I would be in make up for about 6-7 hours. Contacts, fake teeth, the whole thing. Check out the video (below) because photos can always be well retouched. But trust me it was the real thing. 


Was there a favourite myth, monster or fairytale?
I loved the Harpy, because it was the most insane (see video).  I had prosthetic hands, feet and wings. It was also the one that looked least like me. The images are the most ugly but so beautiful to me. 

Was the shoot conceived by them only or did you have some input?
We all had input. We used a lot Damien's pieces, like the Medusa is actually a sculpture of a medusa head. They just cut out the face and imposed it on my head. The spin painted skulls, which are actually real human skulls. rankin would come up with these beasts, and someone would say let's do a mermaid. Nigel Booth is a creative genius as well, he did all the prosthetics and would add his special touch as well.  

How long was the whole process, from conception to conclusion?
About a year.



What is Damien like to work with?
He is the best, he is such a good friend. He does things for people that I would not expect anyone to do. I am blessed to have him in my life. I learn from him and am so inspired by him as well. All I can say is wow! 

How was the synergy between Damien and Rankin? Did fashion and art combine well?
They have known each other for years and make a very cool collaboration. They both brought their best qualities to the table and it was amazing to be a part of that. They are both hilarious, with us 3 together it's all jokes. 

Were there any funny or interesting stories from the shoot?
Everyday and all day! 
My favourite was when we shot with real snakes in the studio, which unfortunately didn't make it into the book. It was like kids in a candy shop. 
Or me in full prosthetics, the jokes and laughs. Me freaking out, "what did you do me?" 
And trying to smoke fags through dentures with fake hands was a sight. Or the perfect quit smoking ads, stop or you'll look like this! Hahaha.


 

What are your plans from now on?
I am modeling still and doing things with Damien here and there. 
Currently at the Tate in London, Damien's exhibition is on. There is a music video of the song "Even Better Then The Real Thing" in the exhibition that Damien directed and produced for U2. He cast me in the video, it's a very cool one, where my face and the diamond skull morphs in and out of each other. Its really cool. 

I am also working with a shop in London called One Of A Kind. Which is located on Portobello Road. It's the best vintage shop, the archive is unbelievable. Containing probably one of the biggest Westwood collections in the world. 
I have recently just produced the entire Online shop, check it out at One Of A Kind. 
The owner Jefferson Ihenacho are going to be opening a shop downtown NYC early this spring. 
A proper concept shop, we are so excited! 



Check out the full video below.


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