Inside View - An Interview with Josif Nolan

For this weeks interview I thought it would be interesting to check out the modelling side of things from a male perspective. I met Josif just over twelve months ago whilst on one of my most popular and fun shoots to date. At the time he was a full time labourer, working on Birmingham's new New Street Train Station. His rapid climb to an agency represented, internationally published model has been incredible in that period of time but he's still as laid back and down to earth as ever, which is great as he still agrees to shoot with me for fun!

Image by  Harris Nukem

Image by Harris Nukem

Hey Josif, so how long have you been full time modelling for and what made you decide to start?

Well I finally hung up the hard hat and the hi-visibility jacket at the start of this year, so I have been fully  focused on modelling during 2014. It has been an eventful year to say the least, not that I am complaining of course!

Are you agency signed now or freelance?

I am agency signed and seem to have made a habit of collecting them to be perfectly honest; I'm now well into double figures. I wasn't to sure how things worked at first, so went with the more-the-merrier theory. Things started to get on top of me, trying to balance it all, so now I have a manager who is seriously badass and helps me so much. It doesn't fuss me who or where the work comes from, as long as there is work.

What are the pros and cons of being a full time model?

Well one thing that I had to get used to when getting into the modelling industry was the timespan between doing a job and then getting paid for it, I was so used to getting paid weekly in the construction industry. Apart from that I don't think there are many cons. I am a proactive person so I never just sit around waiting for work to come my way. I am always up for meeting as many creative people as possible. I definitely believe that you get out what you put in. As you know, I am always willing to test or work with as many new people as possible because practice makes perfect. The more time I spend in front of the camera or putting myself out of my comfort zone the better.

Do you think it is harder for a guy to take the step? Did you get stick from your friends?

I think that it's not any different, for males or females, to be honest. If you start to think its more difficult because you are a guy then you are only making it more difficult for yourself.

Of course I get stick from my friends, that's what friends are for. There wouldn't be any difference if I changed my job from a builder to an accountant. If friends aren't taking the mick out of each other while having a few beers then I would think something was seriously wrong.

Do you still have your original circle of friends or do you mix in a more creative crowd now?

I have had the same group of friends I've had since primary school, that will never change.

I have met a lot of creative people this year and some people I can now call friends but my core group of friends will never change. If something isn't broken then why try and fix it.

Were you nervous during your first shoots?

Well, I am a seriously laid back guy so I never suffer from nerves; I see it for what it is. I am there to be in front of a camera and someone clicks a button. The same way it would happen when you were at school and getting your yearly photos done, although that may have been more pressure! Plus if you are nervous it will 100% show up on camera. You get a vibe from the photographer, what they are after, then go with it from there. I actually think the majority of the best images are created while slightly in-between movements.

Do you practice you're posing at all or does it all come naturally?

Again, this is where my laid back attitude comes into play again. I have never practiced posing, I have always said if you over-think something then you only put pressure on yourself. I just go to a shoot, follow instructions from the photographer, take inspiration from a mood board and go with the flow. Nine times out of ten I look ticked off in my images, so I seem to be getting the hang of looking annoyed. Some of the cheesier shoots don't come so natural to me, but then again never say never.

As a model you must get asked to do all kinds of strange things. Whats the weirdest you’ve had to do so far?

Well to be honest the majority of the most abstract or highly creative shoots I have done, tend to be working alongside yourself and Kari (Little Orange Loves), so getting painted head to toe or wearing some abstract creation tends to occur on our shoots! But, again, I just have faith in the overall vision. I definitely think if everyone just plays their position, then as a collective you will always create the shot you were after. I just focus on being in front of the camera before second guessing some of the creative ideas too much.

Can we see an image from your first shoot?


What do you enjoy most about modelling?

Well, I enjoy it all to be fair. I love to travel, I was never a fan of routine and with modelling everything can change with the noise of an email coming through. The odd package of free clothes is always a bonus as well. It's great getting to meet a lot of like minded people from all over the globe. Every job has its perks though, most people just don't realise them to enjoy them.

What is the worst thing?

Casting queues during fashion week. There have been a couple of times when you would arrive to a casting and stand still in shock at the amount of models waiting to be seen! A topped up music library, an interesting read, and a snack is always needed in my backpack.

I see you've been working out in Milan recently, whats been happening out there?

I have indeed, originally, when I first got asked to come out here, I had a one way ticket arranged and just went with the flow, simply taking it day by day. Its a cool city and has some great clientele based here. Of course there’s a whole lot of coffee and wine consumed while galavanting around attempting to try to understand street names, metro signs and all of the usual issues when in a new city, but that is all part of the fun.

I enjoy the chaos of fashion week, working and meeting amazing clientele and meeting models from all areas of the globe in the model houses. Before I knew it, a couple of months had passed and I am back out here again! Enjoying the perks of the job such as the parties and networking of course.

What has been your favourite shoot so far and why?

I did the look book for Offwhite last time i was in Milan. The team of models where seriously cool and the vibe was immense. It was literally like being in a club with Virgil Abloh DJ-ing throughout the shoot, as well as being the creative director. The sound system was insane and some times you fall in love with some of the items of clothing you get to wear. This was defiantly an example of one of those times.

What has been your highest profile job so far? How did it go?

Well I did some work for Vanity Fair Italia which was cool. After booking the job I simply went with the angle that it is just another person with a camera taking snaps. Having this sort of clientele in my portfolio can only help things, so hopefully it will be the sign of things to come.

Any bad experiences?

No, to be honest. As always, my laid back outlook spills over, but if you do have a bad day or a long and draining wait at a casting then I shrug my shoulders and craic on. Negativity does not do anyone any good and doesn't have a place in my life. There is no benefit from dwelling on things, so the sooner you can refocus the sooner you can move forward.

What are your favourite images to date?

Image by  Harris Nukem

Image by Harris Nukem

Image by  Harris Nukem

Image by Harris Nukem

Where would you like it to take you in the long run?

I would like it to take me to as many cities and countries that is possible, but I think if you focus to much on where you want to be and plan too much then you will forget to enjoy the journey and at the end of the day, that's the whole point!

What would your dream shoot be (anything is possible)?

Well, everyone wants to make it to the top of there industry, so it would have to be a fragrance campaign. Galavanting around, staying in cool cities isn't a cheap experience, so my dream shoot would have to have a dream sized payment that came along with it of course!

Any tips for guys wanting to get into it?

Always be willing to learn. I try to be like a sponge and absorb every bit of whats around me. You learn something new from every new person you meet, even if its the smallest detail. Always be willing to ask questions, learn from your surroundings and most importantly, don't forget to enjoy every experience.

Any models that inspire you?

I don't have an extensive knowledge in the fashion industry and who are the movers and shakers in the male modelling industry, so I couldn't pick one out in particular to be honest. I want to be the best, that I can be - not a half hearted imitation of someone else. A lot of my inspiration comes from the people behind the camera, the photographers, creative directors, stylists, MUA's etc. They create a concept and then plan things down to the absolute smallest of details. That inspires me.

Quick fire favourites:

Website - Sky Sports News 

Drink - bottled water.

Food - Any form of fish food 

Music act - The Streets

TV Show - Match of the Day of course!

Movie - Exit through the Giftshop

Joke - 'why was the washing machine laughing ----- because it took the piss out of the knickers' ( I won a competition at Butlins when I was a kid with this joke. One of my proudest moments) 

Way to spend a day off - In the pub surrounded by all my mates watching the football all day, before cutting up a rug and talking complete and utter nonsense while watching the sun rises. Fixture dependant of course.

Quote - 'Shit happens'

Thanks Josif for spending some time in Milan to answer my questions! I'm sure with your steep rise in the industry over the last 12 months that big fragrance contract is a very real possibility, sooner rather than later! I also did a crazy (as always) shoot with Josif last week so keep your eyes open this week for the release of those images! In the meantime here are a few of my favourite images from his portfolio.

Bath images by Harris Nukem