It’s OK. My head’s still kinda spinning, too. There’s this girl. You might have heard of her. Susan Coffey? Yeah, she’s really pretty and talented and stuff. Anyway, if you don’t know who she is, there are some pictures of her lying around here somewhere, because she’s a model. Look around, you might find ‘em.
Miss Coffey (oh benevolent Miss Coffey) offered to do an interview for us so that we can get to know her a little better. And you know what’s fun? This getting-to-know-her thing just makes me adore her all the more! So everyone give a great big round of, uh… applause… at your computer… for the Unrivaled… the Captivating… the Beautiful… MISS… SUSAN…. ahhh COFFEYYYYYYY!!!! yay
You’re sporting a healthy amount of traffic on your DeviantArt and Facebook and sparking all kinds of twitterpation all over the Internet. Honestly, how does it feel to have so many fans?
The weird thing is, I don’t feel much at all about it. I appreciate the support, but it blows my mind that anyone follows my work at all. I think the problem is that I have no idea how to feel about it.
Have you ever been recognized while out and about? Anyone ever ask for your autograph?
I have been recognized while at work a few times. It always surprises me to hear it. I have had a bunch of messages sent to me requesting autographs on signed pictures and whatnot. I have yet to send any though, because it would feel too ridiculous.
When and how did you first decide to start modeling? Were there any people who were instrumental in that decision?
I wanted to get into modeling when I was 14 or so. I had a basic portfolio shot but it never amounted to anything because my parents didn’t have the time to escort me (which is necessary if you’re under 18). The next time I got into modeling, I was 18 and working at Victoria’s Secret when one of the girls I was ringing up recommended a photographer to me—Mike Kortoci. I went to him and had an initial portfolio shot. Even after that, I wasn’t shooting because I wasn’t sure of how to get my portfolio out. A month or so later another stranger asked me if I was a model and informed me about Model Mayhem. After I got on Model Mayhem, I started setting shoots up as much as I could fit them into my schedule. I feel like I owe a lot of my career to chance, because I could very easily have voted out of showing up at a studio’s doorstep with no idea what to expect, or been too skeptical of setting shoots up over the Internet.
What was it like on your very first professional shoot as a model, with Mike Kortoci?
Modeling at first was very awkward. In person I am shy and having all the attention on me was uncomfortable. But I ended up shooting with Mike a few times and by the end of it I felt more confident, especially after seeing how some of the photos came out and what I was capable of.
What are some of your favorite shoots and photos thus far, and why?
My favorite shoots are the ones at good locations. Going out somewhere and exploring is an adventure and it makes the shoot more memorable and fun. However, I am going to be disappointing and conclude that I cannot pick a favorite.
If you could set up your own shoot exactly as you would want it to be, what would you choose as the style and location?
I really, really want to do a retro-Victorean-style shoot. I would need a couture-ish Victorean dress and all out with hair/makeup/accessories. Location would be a vintage looking grand piano with a vintage, possibly decaying background. The reason I haven’t done it (which may be obvious) is I don’t have access to any of those things. I have considered sewing the dress myself but it would be a huge project to take on, so we shall see.
What would your dream-come-true modeling gig be?
My dream gig would be modeling full-time for designers. Although I do value variety, so I would mix in artistic and alternative shoots as well.
Some of your photoshoots appear somewhat simple, while others look like they took a buttload of work. What kind of preparation goes into getting ready for a typical shoot? What was one of the most challenging?
For some shoots it’s just a matter of throwing some outfits in a bag and showing up at the right place and right time. Others, however, can be a lot more intensive. First, I usually ask the photographer what he/she has in mind and work out what they are picturing with what I have/need. If it’s a team of people (stylists, MUAs (makeup artists), hair stylists) then scheduling itself is a challenge. Even after setting a date, I can’t tell you how many shoots fall through because someone drops out. Sometimes the grander the plan, the less likely it is to ever happen, which is really disappointing when I am looking forward to a shoot.
The night before a shoot I am usually packing up my makeup, outfits (some of which I have, others I have to go out and buy), and looking up directions. The morning of a shoot, I start getting ready up to 2 hours before so I can arrive with hair and makeup already done and leave a lot of time, in case I get lost or hit traffic. Overall, planning shoots tends to make me anxious, but in the end it is worth it.
Do you enjoy doing your own hair and makeup, or do you prefer having an artist involved?
I always prefer having a hair stylist and makeup artist, mostly because it takes a lot of stress off of me. When preparing for a shoot, I already have enough things to remember and worry about. I have more confidence in the professionals to achieve exactly what the photographer wants. Plus, it’s nice to get pampered a little
Have you made any of the outfits that you’ve worn for a shoot?
A few pieces here and there in earlier shoots. I have gotten more and more busy over the last 2 years and haven’t had much time to devote to sewing.
What are some qualities in a photographer that you admire and appreciate?
Creativity, without a question. If I look at someone’s portfolio and it looks like everyone else’s, then I really have no drive to work with them. If I am impressed by the creativity, then that is something I admire and want to be a part of. I also appreciate a photographer who knows how to communicate with and direct a model. If there isn’t healthy communication, then it will show in the results of the shoot.
What do you think is the most common misconception about models and modeling?
Specifically, the “all you have to do is stand in front of the camera and get paid” line. What people don’t realize is that I spend time researching, planning, spending my own money, preparing the morning of, traveling, and dealing with unexpected circumstances that prolong or prevent shoots from happening. The ones that do come together almost always consume an entire day. Not to mention that half of the shoots I do I do not get paid. I do them for myself and for you guys. The amount of time I put into modeling is amazing when I actually think about it. So no, I do not spend the whole time “standing in from of the camera and getting paid.”
Can you tell us about any new projects coming up that you’ll be working on?
I have something very exciting in the making right now, but I won’t be announcing it until everything is confirmed. A little hint is it will involve flying to California.
Tell us a little more about your love affair with the piano. What style do you play? And would you be willing to offer up a sampling for us to enjoy? Pleeeeease? I even have an Audio link up there at the top of the site, just ready to go.
I mostly play contemporary music that I am listening to at the time. Lately, I have been challenging myself with Ben Folds, but some of my older favorites to play are by The Hush Sound, Coldplay, and Jack’s Mannequin. I also appreciate classical and jazz piano and am devoting more time to them. I have been meaning to get around to recording a video of me playing something to post on youtube. It’s on the to-do list :p.
If you had 30 seconds of air time on primetime, syndicated TV that would be broadcast to millions of people, what would you say?
Everyone should stop being a scumbag and save the planet (call me a hippie or whatever, but seriously…).
If you were stuck in the same day over and over again (kinda like a hilarious movie you may have heard of) what would you do with it, and how do you think you would change as it repeats?
This is going to sound stupid, but I would use the time to learn. Firstly play piano until I can play anything I want (which might actually happen in that movie), then maybe guitar, ukulele, accordion, whatever strikes me. Next, I’d like to become fluent in a few languages, commit myself to a few arts like drawing, painting, etc, although I would probably still be terrible at them.
Of course I would also have to do ridiculous things (in a world with no long-term consequences) such as rob a bank, humiliate myself in various ways, be unnecessarily reckless… and at the end of it all I would probably be somewhat the same, just with a sudden unexplainable amount of knowledge in music and language.
What are three things that your fans probably don’t know about you?
- I’ve been a vegetarian for 3 years.
- If I could have any hair color I wanted, it would be baby blue, but it would change periodically.
- I talk to myself, probably too much.
I have an iTunes gift card. Tell me which album I should buy.
Jose Gonzales’ self-titled album, As Tall as Lions’ self-titled album, anything by Ben Folds (as long as you don’t take it too seriously), and Broken Social Scene: Forgiveness Rock Record.
What can we as a community of your fans do to best support you?
Keep doing what you’re doing! Support me, spread the word, leave me suggestions when you have them.
Thank you again, Susan. There’s a very good reason why we consider you to be the best.