When I contacted Ta'Tiana, she was going to Paris. We met in a café in Madrid before she headed off to London to talk about her experience as December's La Modelo de Mes.


You're a bit of a traveler. What brought you to Spain?

When I contacted Ta'Tiana, she was going to Paris. We met in a café in Madrid before she headed off to London to talk about her experience as December's La Modelo de Mes.


You're a bit of a traveler. What brought you to Spain?
I am here in Madrid on a Study Abroad Program at the Universidad Complutense. Back home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I go to Marquette University, where I study Communications and Spanish. I am here for a Semester and I have just a few weeks left before I head back to the United States. Next week I'm going to London!

How was your trip to Paris?
I didn't want to leave, it was an incredible city. I could even see myself living there someday. I don't speak French though so I felt a little incompetent over then weekend. I am a grown adult, I shouldn't have to point to things that I want.

With all of the traveling, how did you meet Shimada?
I actually heard about Shimada through my friend Dawn. She first heard about him on a blog and later, some of her friends recommended him. When I found out he spoke English and he was from United States, I thought it was perfect. He took out my extensions and I let him style my hair. That was in September, the first month I got here.

How did you get involved with this project?
It’s a funny story. Shimada called me about three times, but I didn’t recognize the number. Finally, I called back and Shimada picked up. He asked me if I wanted to be the La Modelo del Mes for December. I said absolutely.

How did it make you feel when he asked you?
I've only been here for two months, so I felt honored that he chose me. He told me about his project the first time I was in his salon. I was so happy, I thought, “I am going to be a model!"

Have you done any modeling before?
I haven't done anything professionally.  I've only done a few photo shoots for friends and a couple of things for my University.

What were you expecting?
I try not to go into a project with too many expectations. He had total creative control. I said, "Whatever you need, go for it!" Looking at the other previous La Modelo del Mes photos, I had trust that it would turn out well.

Did he tell you what wanted to do with your hair and makeup?
He said he wanted to do a Christmas theme and to utilize my braids somehow. He sounded excited, but I wasn’t sure what he had in mind. Shimada made a Christmas wreath with my hair, it all came together.

How was it working with a "wreath of hair?"
Working with the braided wreath was a bit difficult. He spent so much time on all of the details such as getting the berries in the right place. I didn’t want to move too much. With my long hair, it was a little bit heavy.

During the shoot, what were you thinking?
I was really just happy. I was really curious about all the things he was doing, what type of makeup he was using, everything like that. I asked a million questions, he was giving some tips throughout the whole process.

Where did Shimada take your photos?
We did some of the shoot in his salon as well as around Antón Martín here in Madrid. When we did the video shots at the metro,  it was interesting to work there as there were many people around the station.

How did they react to you?
Most of the people watching seemed a bit confused, wondering why I was running up and down the stairs. I didn’t really pay attention to them. I was just trying to be in the moment and do my thing. I really didn't care what they thought.

Was there anything that surprised you?
The rain! It was just a cold day overall. But Shimada said he got the shots he needed. I trust him to choose the best pictures and get the best out of me. He really gave me good direction.

What were some things he said to direct and encourage you?
He was clear about direction without being restrictive. He gave me a lot of freedom to try different personalities and attitudes. He was really positive about it as well, saying really nice comments throughout the entire process.

What was Shimada's preparation process?
A few days before we did with the shoot, he played with the hair and took some photos for inspiration. He  described some ideas he wanted to do, but it really came together during the shoot. He was able to balance everything, the lighting, the background, hair, and the makeup. With all that, he still managed to give me a lot of attention.

How did you feel about the results?
When I watched the making of video, I was shocked. I loved it! I sent it to my mom and showed it to the other students in my program.  I felt and looked great and you can see that in the photos.

Why do you think Shimada chose you to participate in the project?
We actually talked about this. He said I seemed like a confident person and he picked up on that. Shimada is optimistic and listens. I think it just clicked and that's the type of situation you want when you're going to work with someone.

Do you think that your confidence shows in the photos?
I think it really does. Honestly, this is the happiest I've been in years and you can see it. This is the one time in my life where I don't have to work and go to school at the same time. I just feel free, willing to take risks and try new things. I've traveled all over Europe, but this will be one of the highlights of my time here.

How do you feel now that you're going back?
I'm going to cry leaving here. I've made so many friends from all over.  Being here has changed me, I'm much more positive. With that said, I'll be glad to be back home. I could see myself living in Europe again. For now though, my plan is to graduate and move to Los Angeles in 2014. We'll see what happens from there!

Advice for future models?
Do something crazy and try something new, you have to take risks. When is the last time you have done something for the first time? This project is meant to showcase your individuality and Shimada's capabilities as an artist. For me, it was a breathtaking experience. The next model better nail it because she has a high bar to set for 2014.




Full version Making of La Modelo del Mes Noviembre

Preview Making of La Modelo del Mes Noviembre