The Model Mayhem Interview: Ophelia Overdose
Ophelia Overdose is a multi-talented artist with an array of skills that make her almost impossible to define. Model, performer, makeup artist, hair stylist and fashion designer are a few of the words that could be used to describe her, but none of these even begin to adequately explain the creative process of her art.
We had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Ophelia during her recent visit to Los Angeles where we discussed her influences, inspiration, live shows, custom designs, the role of social media in her success and much more.
MM EDU: What inspired you to become a model and artist?
Ophelia Overdose: I was born in Germany and I grew up in a working class family, which is very important to mention because it’s the reason why my modeling and my work as an artist turned out to be very creative. I never had the money to spend on fancy things. In conclusion I just made it myself. Even though I can afford all these things now, whenever I want something really outstanding in terms of clothing and wigs I still prefer to make it myself because creating things turned out to be a passion rather than a means to an end.
MM EDU: Could you give a specific example of how your upbringing influenced you?
Ophelia: I remember at around the age of thirteen I started being interested in expressing myself creatively. I wanted to have wigs and hair extensions in all different colors to wear them to school (oh yes, I was the freak everybody was scared of). But the major problem was that there was no place to get all the things that I desired for the simple reason that the market wasn’t as saturated as it’s now. No chance to find wigs that don’t look just cheap and shiny and same to clothes and such. So I started making my own extensions, wigs and hair accessories. A few years later when I got my first sewing machine for Christmas I started making the first items of clothing as well as costumes.
MM EDU: How did you come up with the name Ophelia Overdose and what’s the significance of it?
Ophelia: I totally dig stylistic devices and alliteration has always been one of my favorites. Besides that, Ophelia is a name that I always liked because of its sound. It also reminds me of a character from the movie, Pan’s Labyrinth. The little Ofelia from the movie has quite amazing features as she’s imaginative and her inner strength is beyond this world. I also thought of Hamlet’s Ophelia, which is really the opposite kind of character, but when it comes to my modeling and my work as an artist, I’m a bit of both. I’m strong and I’m weak, sometimes I’m pretty, sometimes I’m not, I’m an icon or just a girl. I try to be as versatile as I can be and that’s why it’s ‘Ophelia’. The ‘Overdose’ represents that everything is over-the-top.
MM EDU: How would you describe yourself as a model?
Ophelia: Well, I try to be as unlimited as possible in what I do. I don’t want to be just ‘alternative’, I don’t want to be fashion or in any other pigeon hole. I just want to express my creativity across many genres. Whenever I feel I kind of get to close to some description of what I do, I try to reinvent myself, because I don’t feel comfortable being narrowly defined. My signature is to do everything over the top, hence the Overdose, but with perfection down to the smallest detail.
Photographer: Hart Worx; Model, Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist, Accessory Designer & Retoucher: Ophelia Overdose
MM EDU: Your profile says that you waist can go down to 17.5 inches in a corset. How is that possible?
Ophelia: Yes, that’s possible, and honestly I get a lot of questions from girls asking about corset training but I’ve never done any corset training.
I’m just lucky because my natural waist is really defined and my ribcage is quite small. I got the right DNA from my mother (thank you mum!).
However, I never wear a corset for a long time – only for shoots and shows. I don’t want to force my body into an uncomfortable situation. So, all I can recommend is to wear a corset for short amounts of time to make sure you don’t damage your health, because nothing is more important in life.
MM EDU: You mentioned earlier that you make a lot of your outfits and on your website it says that you’re a “garment technologist.” Can you explain what that means?
Ophelia: I’m a trained sewer and pattern maker and clothing designer. It’s called garment technology because there’s a lot of attention to the technology of sewing and pattern making.
Photographer: Gary Clutterbuck; Model, Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist, Clothing Designer & Retoucher: Ophelia Overdose
MM EDU: Your portfolio is full of intricate designs. How much of that is made by you?
Ophelia: Let’s say quite a few but I need to mention that I work with many talented designers as well. When I get booked by a designer to model their collection or lookbook they usually ask me to create a complete scene. What I usually do is to create matching pieces of clothing and accessories that underline the work of the designer. I also design wigs, shoes, headpieces or whatever else is needed like shooting props to create the look from head to toe. Everything is bespoke. That’s kinda like my trademark.
MM EDU: Where does the inspiration for some of the costumes and concepts come from?
Ophelia: I get inspired wherever I am. Awake or asleep. Seems like such a dumb thing to say but that’s the truth. Wherever I go and whatever I see new ideas will just pop up in my head. It makes pretty much sense to compare my head to a tree and the cherry blossoms to all the ideas that I have. As soon as I start take a closer look at an idea because I seem to like it a bee flies by and pollinates the flower. My major problem is that there are usually too many apples hanging on my tree and that I don’t know which one to pick. Sometimes it drives me nuts (or apples … heehee).
MM EDU: As well as modeling you’re also a performer. Can you describe what you do as a performer?
Ophelia: Well, I’d say that my performances are a mixture of neo burlesque and entertaining dance shows. It’s not the very typical burlesque. I mix burlesque elements with other types of dancing, like musical and circus to create something unique. The props that I use come from different genres too as I don’t want to stick on the typical things like feather fans. I simply prefer to use everything whatever supports the story that I want to tell on stage. My performances are similar to a short story as they have a clear defined suspense curve. To make sure that every aspect fits together perfectly, I take care of the music selection, the cut of the music and the choreography as well. I usually perform for about 10 minutes but I do classical burlesque routine though.
MM EDU: What’s your most popular or personal favorite routine?
Ophelia: My most popular performance is the Millennium Robot. This act tells the story about the magical Millennium Robot that is also known as the goddess of light. When I am on stage, I like to be smiley and sexy at the same time. I’m not the type of performer that forces herself to be the femme fatale even if she’s not. People say my shows are eye candy.
MM EDU: It sounds like you do almost everything from the concept to creating the clothing and accessories and even the post-production work.
Ophelia: Yes, I do make most of the concepts but it’s still a collaborative process. I am very fortunate to have a great team around me. For example, let’s say the client is a clothing brand and they want new photos for their lookbook. After they got in touch we usually discuss the mood and the overall styling they are looking for. Then I will book a photographer that is suitable for the project. As soon as I am done creating matching accessories, a wig or even costume pieces the shooting is going to happen where I also do the hair and make-up work. The last step is the retouch that I do on my own as well. The retouch is a very important aspect as I believe that the post production it what makes the photograph shine.
MM EDU: You travel a lot for work. Do you enjoy traveling and which venues stand out?
Ophelia: I enjoy traveling more than you can imagine. Traveling is the best opportunity to experience different cultures and to get to know new people and make new friends but what I enjoy the most is to bring my art all around the globe.
The prettiest venue was actually a Spiegeltent from the 1920s in Austria. There are only two of these original tents still left. The historical flair added such a special atmosphere to my show. It was such an honor for me to host my show there. Performing at the Bal des Supplices in Lyon was another great experience that I’ve had. The stage and the lighting were extremely lush and totally comparable to what Katy Perry would ask for.
MM EDU: Where have you been and where would you most like to go?
Ophelia: I tour most parts of Europe annually. My first tour in 2014 took me all over Germany and my last trip in 2013 has taken me to Canada and Los Angeles. New York was such a lovely experience that I need to go there again too. Los Angeles is on my annual list anyway and I definitely need to see Capetown, Thailand and Japan in the near future.
MM EDU: Do you have any highlights from this trip to Los Angeles you’d like to share?
Ophelia: Coming to Los Angeles is a recipe for fun. It’s always a highlight for me to travel to the US. Especially LA. During one of my previous trips I got to model for my most favorite designer of all times. Amato Haute Couture. He is incredibly awesome and super famous. I feel so blessed and I cannot believe that it really happened! But something else but really magical happened just recently I modeled for an editorial shot in the mansion of Michael Jackson in Beverly Hills. Life has so many treats to offer. It’s like a challenge to find the sweetest ones. Eat them and wish that they make u grow like Alice in Wonderland.
MM EDU: When are you coming back to the US?
Ophelia: I am going to be back in Los Angeles in May. Chicago might be on my schedule as well. Right afterwards I’ll be in Edmonton and Vancouver. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like to create some magic with me!
MM EDU: What else is coming up in 2014 that you’re looking forward to?
Ophelia: I try to constantly challenge myself therefore all things exciting and new are more than welcome. Doing more video appearances like music videos, short clips and tutorials are on my list for 2014. I just finished working on a huge collection for some upcoming fashion editorials. Moreover I managed to work on some new corset designs for my shop somehow. Phew! Time flies.
About two years ago I launched my online shop, which you can find at www.miss-overdose-shop.com. I’m really happy with how well it has been received. I’m constantly adding new products from wigs to costumes to latex to print. My latest addition are A2 prints, costume pieces and my new collection that consists of 12 one of a kind corsets with matching accessories.
MM EDU: What types of things do you sell?
Ophelia: It’s all about things that you might desire if you wish to underline the uniqueness of your personality. It’s totally up to you if you want to transform in someone totally different by purchasing a whole costume or if you just wish to pimp your own outfit by getting a wig that draws all attention to you. Next to costumes and wigs I sell corsets, latex, headpieces and other pieces of accessories. Everything is made to order. The memorabilia section with posters, art prints and my calendar has been launched just recently.
MM EDU: How do you view the rise of social media and, as an artist, how do you use it?
Ophelia: Social media is more important than ever. I like Instagram and Facebook the most, but Deviant Art, Tumblr and Twitter are also necessary if you want to reach a large crowd of people. What I enjoy most is the fact that you can share your work as well as behind-the-scenes and work-in-progress so easily. It’s all about giving inspirations and getting inspired. Dealing with social media is still a challenge because everyone can see and read whatever you post. But I do my best to show the ‘real’ me by posting candid and short videos from time to time.
My very first social media profile was my deviantART account that I started to use after I did my first shoot. People seemed to like what I did and most of them haven’t seen a model/artist like me before. It was astonishing to see how much positive feedback I got. I am very thankful for the smooth start I’ve had. About two years later I signed up on Facebook. The story behind my Facebook page is kind of unusual because I never really wanted to have a FB page back in the days. At the time when I was only using deviantART and someone sent me a weird email that I didn’t understand because I’ve never been in touch with that person before. After mailing back and forth I found out that he is a designer from London that booked me for a job in London via ‘Ophelia Overdose’ from Facebook. He told me that he was very disappointed that I didn’t show up. When I told him that I wasn’t using Facebook he was totally shocked. Fake profiles suck! This experience made me create an official ‘Model Ophelia Overdose‘ on Facebook.
MM EDU: What does Model Mayhem mean to you?
Ophelia: Model Mayhem is the biggest modeling community in the world. It’s important for me to be part of that because this is where professionals from all over the world meet. Whenever I’ve got some new upcoming trips planned I post travel schedules as well as casting calls. That’s an important aspect to me since I get quite a lot international bookings via MM.
MM EDU: Before we go, do you have any tips for new models that find you inspiring?
Ophelia: I’d say building a very good portfolio is the most important thing. It’s all about improving one’s own skills in all aspects like posing in front of the camera, doing make-up, hair- and wardrobe styling and so on. Imagine you are climbing a latter. Every professional started with the first step down at the bottom. After I did my first step I combined a lot of hard work with pure passion but I guess that I had a little luck of being in the right place at the right time too.
Photographer: Stefan Gesell; Model, Makeup Artist, Hair Stylist & Clothing Designer: Ophelia Overdose
MM EDU: And, any last thoughts?
I would like to invite everyone to take a look at my website www.miss-overdose.com. As a passionate blogger I update my website with a lot of fun stuff weekly. You can catch a glimpse behind the curtains of a photo shoot or see what project I am working on at the moment. As soon as I launch a new collection you’ll find it right there… and so much more.
See you there!