Unedited beauty: an interview with model Hollie Wood

Hollie Wood from Sheffield is one of the UK’s newest alternative models, bursting onto the scene with a fresh outlook and a down-to-earth attitude towards modelling. Inkluded contributor Kayla Sutcliffe had the opportunity to chat to her about beauty, photography and tattoos.

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Kayla Sutcliffe (KS): Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get into alternative modelling?

Hollie Wood (HW): I started modelling in March 2013, I was invited to the Alternative Model of the Year competition. I was so nervous as it was my first ever shoot and I never thought of myself as a model or even pretty enough to model. In the end, I had so much fun. When I received an e-mail that said I was in the finals, I was gobsmacked! After receiving images from the shoot, I posted them on Facebook and some clothing companies and photographers got in touch as they liked my style, and it has just grown from there. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do and the support that I have from everyone is so heart-warming, it makes me want to continue and excel in this industry.

KS: You have quite a tattoo collection. Do they all have a special meaning?

HW: Thank you! I would love to get a lot more though! Most of my tattoos don’t have a specific reason behind getting them, I liked the design or explained what I wanted to my artist and we went from there. My pocket-watch tattoo on my right arm is special to me as it is depicting the time that I was born. There is a film reel behind it as I enjoy making, writing and directing films.

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KS: Do you go to the same tattooist or like to try different artists and styles?

HW: I get all of my tattoos done by the Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective team in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. It is my best friend, Emily Dawson’s studio and I have always supported her work, I’m so proud of her. Most of my tattoos have been done by Emily. I’m so happy that I can portray her journey of tattooing through the years as some of her earlier tattoos are in my skin. I have had work off of her colleagues and guest artists too.

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KS: As a fairly new model to the alternative scene what advice would you give to aspiring models?

HW: My advice is to get a decent portfolio together. Ask friends or family to take pictures of you and send them to photographers via Facebook, Purpleport or any other sites to arrange a shoot. Advertise yourself, get your name out there and apply for upcoming shoots. Just remember to STAY SAFE. I haven’t encountered anyone bad in the industry but there are unfortunately some people who take advantage of naive starter models. You can join SafeModel on Facebook and check out people on there and take a chaperone to your shoots.

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KS: What do you like to do with your spare time?

HW: I like to go exploring, have date nights with my boyfriend, relax with a good book and my cats, or travel to see my friends. I do enjoy going to Download Festival as well. It’s such a fun atmosphere and I hate having to go home at the end of the week!

KS: You have been an Alternative Model of the Year Award finalist twice now. Are you planning to enter again?

HW: I have indeed! The overall experience has shown me how amazing the alternative modelling industry is. As some people know, I suffer from anxiety and with the photoshoots and encouragement I’m getting, I feel so much better about me as a person and I’m so grateful for it.

I have re-applied for the AMOTY competition and I’m excited to say that I am now through to the finals for the third time! The catwalk final is taking place in Newcastle at the Student Union Centre in October.

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KS: I know that you have a keen interest in photography too.

HW: I do. I used to take photos of bands at their gigs and I even did some wedding photography at one point which was fun. Mostly I take nature shots and landscape pieces, but I am also interested in taking modelling portfolios… I’d need to buy a new camera and all of the gear first.

KS: Where are you hoping your modelling will lead to?

HW: I’m hoping it lead to getting my images on front covers of magazines, going international and being able to travel the world and do something I love as a living. I’m hoping to get established enough to work with top photographers and models in this industry and to hopefully become the face of a big alternative clothing company. Big dreams but I’m working towards it!

I’m also really interested about getting into burlesque performances and the pole/aerial classes as I’d love to perform as well as model, it looks like such good fun!

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KW: Do you have any upcoming plans you want to tell us about?

HW: I have a few photoshoots coming up in the next few weeks, so I’ll be traveling the UK. I’ll be on the catwalk at Sexhibition in Manchester this month, I’m really looking forward to that.

KS: There have been discussions around extreme Photoshop-ing and editing of photos recently. What are your thoughts on this?

HW: There has been quite a campaign over “real beauty” recently, and a lot of stigma around Photoshop-ed images… I’m both for, and against, it. I often post unedited images as I want people to see who I truly am, and get to know the real me.

Photoshop can be used to enhance beauty and create amazing images. I do see the downside of it portraying unrealistic “goals”. It can be very unhealthy for young people growing up and always seeing these images as it can lead to self-hate and feeling unworthy. I’ve grown up hating my body and the way I look, but I’m learning to embrace who I am. Self-love is the most important thing in the world.

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Words: Kayla Sutcliffe
Model Photography: 1) Alice Blenkinsop, 2) Chris Beasley, 3) Joe Brook, 4) Matthew Harris, all other images by Hollie Wood


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