It can at times feel like a sterile world where we are not encouraged to celebrate or express our differences. Advertisers bombard us with images of the “ideal” person to emulate, an “ideal” way to look and to act. Children are taught identical lesson plans while forced to sit still and behave, and artists are bribed into emulating each other for the sake of profit.
As our modern culture attempts to dictate what is artistic expression, art becomes stereotyped and individual expression begins to disappear. Now more than ever we need artists who not only create against the status quo, but because of their profound connection to their individuality, have no choice in the matter. Caitin Stickels is one of these artists.
Caitin is a person of authenticity, and through her authenticity, she shows us a strength and a beauty that can be achieved by embracing our differences, disregarding the ideal construct, and living a life of true expression. She is a model, an actress and a singer, but more that that, she is a person who openly expresses herself in everything that she does. Below is an interview we did with Caitin via live chat.
Above photo by ALEX DERHAKOPIAN
Photo by EVA BLANCHARD
Caitin Stickels Interview
For those that may not know you, can you talk briefly about who you are and the type of artist you are?
Caitin: I’m known as Caitin Stickels or to some by my Instagram name Caitin Kitten which is also now [my modeling name] thanks to my work with Nick Knight for V magazine. I’m an artist of many mediums - I model, I act, I sing, and a have a number of my own side hobbies. I love to work with those where it feels like a dance of inspiration. This is why I dabble in doing modeling for fashion, for artwork, and in music videos. It is why I sing as well as why I act in art projects, short films and movies. I am not just a canvas. I am an artist that infuses themselves as a whole into their own work, hence I am also eternally mad.
What type of people do you generally prefer to collaborate with?
Caitin: people that have heart in their work and that doesn't mean that what they do is soft - by far. But it's far from superficial and exposes something that I would connect with, and then want to share that exposure as well in the art that we make together. Now sometimes they fully know everything that they want in this but I find that the people that I work with the best are more organic like myself and although have the general idea and concept they let things flow and show themselves untarnished on their own.
hm, pardon my typos. When Im home my kitten is often with me in my lap and she loves my hands.
Some of the best images I've seen of you have a feeling of genuine emotion. It's more than just a look. Do you have a certain process you go through to show this emotion to the camera or does it happen naturally from working in this organic way?
Caitin: I’m painfully authentic. I can pretend to not be myself; I can pretend a lot of things. I honestly believe part of what makes my modeling so powerful is that I am actually a decent actress. I can feel, I can move - it's not about trying to look pretty. Besides, that's boring. However, acting as well as modeling - it's an outlet for all of this emotion that I have always had within me. I am very intense and I not only accept it but I embrace it now in my work. It’s infused into everything that I do. I don't think there's much that I can do about it. I could pretend to be more superficial but I probably wouldn't enjoy it.
And there is no reason you should have too. We live in a time where there are not enough people who are unapologetically them selves.
And there seems to be a trend for a lot of people to want to emulate what others are doing. They avoid freely expressing themselves honestly. Why do you think that people, certain people have this hesitation to say and do what they feel?
Caitin: I feel that we've been conditioned to hide our feelings for quite some time now and it is something that I as a child and still to this day find to be extremely disenchanting about this current world, but especially and more so about the American way of living. It is so empty, and dishonest, but we look at it as being pristine and proper. Photo by NICK KNIGHT
We’re honestly quite afraid of what we feel and even more afraid to express it.
Emotion means vulnerability and vulnerability means weakness in the American culture. We have to all be "okay" or else nothing is okay.
What would be the first step that people could take to begin feeling less afraid of their own emotions and begin to accept that we are imperfect, and that there is a beauty in that imperfection?
Photo by BEN CHAVEZ
Caitin: once you realize that you've been limited to only certain aspects of yourself, I would surely hope that you would want to explore the rest. So I suppose the first step is accepting that we've been taught a certain way of living which is repressed and restrictive. It doesn't have to stay that way though. We can start by freeing ourselves of these illusions. It’s okay to feel and it's okay if you don't feel okay too. I know it's hard to believe, but try to live honestly with yourself and even other's around you. Be honest in your art and see how powerful you begin go feel. Who doesn't want to feel liberated?
I think that most people do want to feel liberated and free to truly express themselves. And I do think that there has begun to be a shift in our world where many people are becoming more empathetic and embracing one another’s differences. Do you think that people who have always lived this way and who create freely and openly have a responsibility to lead the way for the others?
Caitin:I feel we are in a shift as well but it needs to feel confident and so in a sense yes this shift requires those who can become Integral leaders that remain uncompromising which prove to the rest that this can be done. Success is never something that is so easily earned, so it will feel like a challenge but one we must take on to see the full movement of a fundamental change in society.
Do you feel like you and your art are a part of pushing this shift?
Caitin: I didn't used to think so but that's because I never thought beyond fulfilling my own endeavors in my artwork. I’ve always been on a mission.
Just to wrap up. What is the main desire that you have for people who experience your art?
Caitin: I want people to stop, think. Stop thinking. Feel. I hope to act as a mirror to humanity and bring us back to our core through my modeling and art forms.