Emma J

Published: 01 February, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 169, February, 2009

Emma J or Miss Emma J to use her fetish modelling name arrived in the fetish scene comparatively late in life and started modelling in her thirties. But her age was not a problem at all for the small but perfectly formed model; who set out to get her portfolio full of incredible images by some of the world’s best fashion and fetish photographers.

Emma J has indeed made a big name for herself over the last few years and she is one of the world’s top fetish models who is in great demand and now runs her own business coaching other wannabe models in the ways of posing for the camera.
Whether it was a natural progression from the fetish scene to tattoos is unknown but Emma has started to get inked and found that like many of us; you just can’t stop at one tattoo.
Emma told us a bit more about her meteoric rise to the top of the fetish scene and her current interest in tattoos.

Tell us something about your childhood, teenage years, interests, ambitions and career path prior to the time that you became a full time model.
I was born in London, which is where I live today. My childhood was not the most settled, but it is the past, which makes us who we are today, be that good or bad. My main interest and first love has always been music. Prior to becoming a model, I worked in the TV industry, but behind the lens, I was a techie, if you like.

What made you choose that particular career? When and how did you initially become involved in the industry?
I didn’t really ever have any particular interest in becoming a model. Whilst in my early 20s, I was scouted in the street by someone representing a glamour agency, but at the time had serious self-confidence issues and only modelled for three months before I decided to quit. When I hit my 30s, I thought that I should have some photos taken to mark that point in my life. I did my first shoot with a nice photographer whom I had found on the Internet, and loaded the resulting images onto an online modelling site. This was not done initially because I was looking to do more, it just seemed to be a nice, easy way to share images with friends by merely sending them a link.
Those pictures were seen by a UK fetish fashion photographer, Arwendur, who later invited me to pose for him. That was two years ago. I have always given 150% to everything that I do, and, although this started out as a small hobby, my work has become more and more well known. I have been fortunate enough to collaborate with some amazingly talented people during the journey, which has brought me to where I am today, but it has also taken a lot of work and commitment.

You work within the genres of both fetish and fashion modelling. How do the styles differ and how do you adapt to the specific requirements of the job?
I think that one of the key points relating to how you adapt is to be well briefed prior to the shoot and a good interaction with the team involved is also important. If you look at my work, very little ever looks the same, or rather, I rarely do. Why is this? Probably because I connect with whomever I am shooting with and each of those connections is different and personal. I do not have the automatic switch, which some models seem to have; I can only use the environment I am in to create the look I am aiming to achieve.

During the course of your modelling career you have worked with some of the world's leading fetish photographers. Tell us about that and also about some of the challenges that you have faced. Are there any particular photographers with whom you would like to work in the future?
I have been very lucky to work with some very big names in the fetish industry for which I am truly grateful. Of course, there have been many challenges, I’m older than many models, and not particularly tall, however I conduct myself in an extremely professional manner at all times. I am asked all the time by many ‘new’ models, how was it that I got to shoot with so and so. The truth is that I can never really say why some of these amazing photographers have chosen to work with me. My look is different, and, perhaps being older, I hold a sexual awareness, which younger models cannot yet convey. For my part, I never question why, just enjoy the journey for as long as it may last.

Modelling can be a very competitive industry. How do you cope with the constant pressure of working in that environment, where rejection is commonplace?
It's true that modelling can be very competitive, but that is thankfully not something that has affected me. My style is fairly unique and I am now very well known within the fetish arena, which is my main area of work. I am honest about who I am and what suits me as a model; for instance, I would never go to a casting where they were looking for an 18-year-old girl next door. Being honest about who you are, is I think, generally the key to everything in life. For now, life is good, I am fairly unrivalled in what I do, and long may that last.

How do you feel about the fact that almost all of the images one sees in magazines have been extensively retouched, and in striving for ‘perfection’, often bear little resemblance to the reality of the original photograph?
Before I became a model and aware of Photoshop, I was an ad campaign’s dream. For every flawless advert that I saw, I was running to the shops to buy the latest ‘miracle’ cream or mascara, etc. Now I too am part of that advertising world and am more savvy. The reality is, if you are selling a product, be that clothing, cosmetics or whatever, advertisers are looking to create the vision of perfection. Many of my published images are retouched; I actually have my own retoucher these days. It’s just the reality of the industry, and as long as you can look at a picture and know that, you will never be too sucked in by the perfection of the image you are viewing.

Has the fact that you are becoming increasingly tattooed impacted either negatively or positively on your modelling career?
The impact has been most definitely positive, my ink now gives me another USP that another model may not have.

Talk us through the tattoos that you have and tell us something about the artists who have done the work?
My first tattoo, which was done just over a year ago, was inked by Pete, then at GB Tattoo. We started with the cuff on my left arm, hmmm; well actually it was a red flower, which grew into a cuff quite quickly. I have always liked symmetry, so we then did another cuff on my right wrist. Pete is a great artist, pretty young, lovely chair side manner, I would highly recommend him.
My dragon came next, that was done by an artist called Stefano at Fulham Tattoo Centre, and we worked on that design together. My current tattooist, Rodrigo, at Self Sacrifice in London, did the next work. I stumbled across the studio one day whilst shopping in Oxford Street and had, coincidentally, been looking for a new artist to do something with my right side, opposite the dragon. The first positive thing to be said about this particular studio is with regard to the warmth and friendliness of the staff. I find it a little scary sometimes walking into a tattoo shop, but here I was immediately put at ease. At the time, I’m not sure any of us expected that we would undertake such a big piece, but I was looking for a Japanese design, and Rodrigo’s book was beautiful. The piece on my right side is taken from one of his many paintings on canvas displayed on the wall, which he had shown me when I first went into the studio. This piece took eight sessions to complete, each stage done carefully and cleverly to allow me to continue modelling, without looking as though I had an unfinished piece on my side.

Is there anything of particular significance with regard to your tattoos or are the designs chosen purely for their aesthetic value?
Two of my pieces I chose myself, the red flower on my left cuff, and the dragon on my right side, the rest have evolved through my connection with the artist. The one thing I always knew was that none of the designs were to ever have come out of a book. Perhaps because I work in an industry that is, in itself, creative, I have wanted the artists who have tattooed me to express themselves too. Both of the cuffs were drawn free hand, and as mentioned above, the serpent and orange flowers came from a beautiful canvas painted by the artist.

Looking to the future, do you have plans for further ink, and if so, what are they likely to entail? Are there any particular artists whose work you especially admire and would like to collect on your body?
Yes, there are definitely more planned. I am very fortunate to have found Self Sacrifice, the guys there really do care what I do with my body. I have suggested some ideas which, looking back, have all been rubbish, and on those occasions we sit down and discuss things, these discussions often involve the input of other artists in the shop. I think they all know me fairly well by now as I’ve spent so many hours there.
So, for the moment I’ve no intention of leaving my existing studio, and yes, more ink will come, just when and where, I do not know.
With reference to admiring the work of other artists, as yet, I am still learning who everyone is, the tattoo world is a new one to me, I have much to learn about who is who.

Is it likely that your modelling career will limit the amount, or placement, of the ink you acquire?
I do have to think carefully, but perhaps no more than anyone considering ink. I was going to have a chest piece, but on discussing this with the guys at the studio, we agreed that this was probably not the best move considering my career. I do work in the commercial modelling world, and whilst everybody seems to love my existing work, this would perhaps have been one step too far.

Are there any ambitions that you currently wish to fulfil with regard to your career or life in general?
With regard to my career, I’m enjoying working with people in the tattoo industry, it's still early days yet, but I would like to become known a model with cool ink. In general, life is good. I have never been a long-term thinker, only tomorrow or the day after.


Skin Deep 169 1 February 2009 169