As much as we hate defining people by their bodies or appearance, in today’s society the truth is that what you look like determines how you’re treated. It’s definitely something that more and more people are rising up to defeat, however it’s still common practice, especially in superficially focused industries. The creative communities have always been an open place for people who are different, however I feel more and more that we’ve got a steady foot in the door even when it comes to the industry that’s most of all appearance and beauty standard based – the fashion industry. Caitin Stickels is one of the incredible people who got in and, in my opinion, is a huge role model of how to not let the fact that you don’t adhere to some standards get in the way of your dreams.
I am an artist at heart. I photograph both film and digital, I paint, I draw, I make jewellery from stones that I either find or collect myself, I act, I sing, and I model – again, I am an artist. Tell me that I can’t do anything and I’ll show you just how wrong you are.
What was it like to grow up with your syndrome?
It was a part of life, but that’s just it. It was one facet of a million others that made up my childhood for what it was. However, I did choose at one point to no longer get medical attention for my syndrome unless it was something emergent with my one functioning kidney, etc. What I never liked? My nose. everyone talks about my cats eyes, my sharp bone structure, my bow shaped mouth, my red hair, my translucent pale skin, my petite size…my cat eyes were going to stay, my sharp features were going to stay, my big nose was never going to fit because my face was not going to grow much more than it had [I’ve always been so petite and tiny, but they said I would grow into my nose…haa!!!] these things weren’t going to change with doctor appointments and the way I looked wasn’t my focus in life. Self expression was my focus. I felt life was at least liberating, interesting and honest this way, while being less intrusive or judgmental.
3. Have you always been this self confident with your own body? What would you tell someone who isn’t? –
I had to be this way to survive. It wasn’t an option for me. Honestly, its not an option for you, either. Love yourself before it’s too late.
4. When did you decide you wanted to be part of the creative industry?
I never got to decide that. I fell into its lap while I was already in my own crazy storm of creativity. It’s been surreal and otherworldly for most of my life…and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. These are happy accidents, as I learned from Bob Ross. This is what happens when you love yourself authentically.
What was your first experience in front of the camera like?
With another person? I remember my only stress being “well this seems too easy, so they must not like me.” which happens to me to this day at almost every shoot [but by far, not all]. I found that the photographers were as giddy as ever to have such incredible photographs without a lot of management in craziness from the model. I started to pick up on this pattern as I worked with more people and had to ask myself “are most models usually more difficult than this? why? we’re all here trying to make visions come true.” But in my experience, now I’ve seen so many become immensely painful to work with even if they are insanely beautiful and I’ve seen this attitudes nearly destroy brilliant artists. I suppose it inspired me to get over my self doubt, the questions of “why me” or “this shouldn’t be so easy.” and go make magic. Go work with these people who felt so inspired by me. I had to stop worrying about the shoot being too easy, or myself not being good enough for them. It’s easy because we’re good and we’re good because we’re honest so I’m going to keep making good and honest art with these people that find me to be a muse for it. It’s intoxicating to watch artists see their visions come alive instead of them fading away.
How do you feel when you’re behind the camera?
Being behind the camera is so intimately similiar, yet it has a different stance. You get to observe more. Watch the magic happen before you and direct you. To me, being in front and behind the camera together, is like a dance and so in a sense they are very similiar to one another, but they have their little differences too.
As for models, I’ve never been treated unkindly. Perhaps it’s because they can sense something familiar with me, maybe with some extra wisdom, but my models or muses have always been wonderful.
7. What are your favourite projects up until now?
There’s so many, some of which aren’t even released yet. There’s also definitely some music videos in there. I could easily list a few photographers that I’ve worked with that I’d kill to again. But it was truly an honor to write for V magazine, act and sing in a film, and model in these incredible designs all in one shoot with Nick Knight. I can’t deny how special that is and was.
8. How did the recent spotlight that was placed on you due to your future in V Magazine affect you?
In a lot of ways, it’s nothing new, except now when I go to a coffee shop or a show, I think I’m in anonymous mode, when I get the inevitable “hey, you’re that model right?” or I think that I am having a chat with a stranger in my Lyft ride but I find out in the middle of the conversation that they’re huge fans of my work. I don’t feel quite as unknown. I was always seen. Always. That’s not new at all. But now everyone knows my name. Now, I’m “someone”, I guess? its a good thing that fame isnt my goal because I think it would be miserable.
9. What would you like people to feel or think when they look at your photos?
To remember something. I won’t tell you what to remember, though. But if the photos do not resonate into your thoughts and into history, then I feel that I’ve failed. I want you to feel and I want you to remember.
10. Do you like cats??
Yes! I love all animals though. But yes!
11. What is the message that you want to spread in the world?
Love and authenticity. We all could use a little bit of love for being untarnished versions of ourselves with one another. We don’t have to like each other, but e can love, and we can accept.
Do you have any role models?
Yes, I have several…
Could you give a few examples of role models and what you’ve learned from them?
Bowie, Cher, Cyndi Lauper. All musicians, but also all more than that to me. They represent humanity on so many levels and we are indeed uniquely multifaceted creatures. Honestly, I could list several heroes and role models, but these have been with me since my childhood. They left everlasting impressions on me and my ideals in life.
14. When are you the happiest?
When I’m so productive and lost in the midst of intense creativity, and when others are lost in this whirlwind with me, it’s the happiest feeling.
15. What is your biggest dream?
I would like to leave a mark on this world, but not as an icon. I want people to remember me and look at themselves – with honesty – and then with love. Life isn’t what you think it is and you only know what you know which we don’t know much at all. Stop pretending to know it all and go live it instead. The rewards that come with that are endless.