Thursday, May 31, 2018


Mark: My style can be described as everything from stag films to rodeos. I really like to take the imagination and push things as far as I can. 

TorontoVerve: What's the best advice that you've been given?

Mark: My father told me: "you can't save your face and your ass at the same time." 

TorontoVerve: Why did he offer that to you?

Mark: 'Cause I was always trying to save my face and I just needed to save my ass.

Follow Mark on Instagram.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Interview with Fashion Model Kelleth Cuthbert

In an industry as fickle as fashion modelling, it’s remarkable that Kelleth Cuthbert is still living her dream. Three years ago, she sold all her possessions and left Toronto for Los Angeles. That fearlessness and determination inevitably got her signed with Wilhelmina in Los Angeles and continues to drive her successful career.

I spoke with Cuthbert about the modelling industry, photo retouching and social media.

TorontoVerve: You’ve been a fashion model for over a decade, what would you say is the biggest contributing factor to your success?

Kelleth Cuthbert: I’ve consistently placed importance on being professional—being early to [my shoots] and being very adaptable for my clients. I think that’s definitely the key to longevity, being very easy to work with.

TV: What’s the most significant lesson you’ve learned in recent years?

KC: I think I’ve always known this, but I grew up with a focus on traditional values, believing I was obligated to follow a post secondary education in order to get a normal 9 to 5 job. This was the most important thing that one must pursue in adulthood, and I’ve discovered that I absolutely wanted no part of that. I wanted a different kind of life than my parents and peers had. I’ve learned to not be afraid of completely upheaving your life to pursue something different. 

TV: What is it about having a 9 to 5 job that’s unattractive to you?

KC: I feel like I’m an easily adaptable person. I could fall into a life like that and I could probably find some level of enjoyment from it. But if I’m truly being honest with myself, it’s not something I’ve ever desired. I think it’s such a luxury to not have to show up to the same place every day, and not have to see the same people every day. I don’t even know what city I’m going to be in a week from now—and that’s both terrifying and thrilling. I love the spontaneity of it all.

TV: You have a bachelor’s degree in social work…

KC: I do, and I used to work in mental health and addiction counselling.

TV: How has your background in social work been helpful in your current profession?

KC: I think it’s made me a better listener. I feel like I’ve always been a person that people feel comfortable sharing their stories with, and being on set can be kind of an intimate experience. You’ll travel with teams of people and spend a lot of time with them. It’s a good quality to be able to relate to everyone. I spend a lot of time with hair and make-up. I hear a lot of make-up artists’ stories [laughs]. It’s made me more in tune with what other people are experiencing.

TV: What is the biggest misconception that people have about being a fashion model?

KC: That it’s easy work, you just show up and stand there. It involves a lot of travel. Sometimes you have to work for no pay in the hopes of getting paying jobs. Everything is very last minute, so it’s hard to have any social life and make plans in advance.

TV: What are your thoughts about retouching in fashion photography?

KC: I have this theory about retouching: if something is temporary like a zit, it’s OK to take it out. But if it’s a birthmark or scar, then it’s up to the photographer to keep it or not. I think scars are interesting.

TV: It’s interesting that you say that. I retouch my street style photos, but I won’t erase someone’s birthmark or scar. I think I have more of a responsibility as a street style blogger to capture someone’s true self. 

KC: Yeah, it’s photo journalism.

TV: Exactly. I don’t want someone to be excited about getting their picture taken only to be disappointed that I took out their mole. I don’t want them to ask, “What’s wrong with my mole?”

KC: That’s true. Your responsibility is to document what is. Fashion photography is fantasy.  

TV: I captured your street style back in November 2010. If you can go back and tell your younger self anything, what would that be?

KC: Not be afraid to be myself. When I started modelling, I thought I had to be a blank canvas and I took that to the extreme. I tossed my personal style aside and I dressed in a neutral way so clients could envision me however they wanted. With Instagram, clients fortunately do want to see more of your personality and who you actually are. I think that gives models a little more room to experiment with their own personal style instead of being a blank canvas, and that’s exciting!

TV: Does Instagram enhance or hinder a successful modelling career?  

KC: Instagram is what you make it. I always tell people who are against it that you have to adapt or die. You need it to book jobs now—especially in Los Angeles. When you go to castings, a lot of clients want to know how many Instagram followers you have. It definitely factors into whether you book certain jobs. It’s a sad reality that it’s not just about your modelling skills anymore. It’s about your Instagram following and how other people perceive you. But it can also be a great tool. Clients don’t only see your book, which is what your agency selects as the way you should be seen. With Instagram, you can represent yourself as you want to represent yourself. Personality is now a thing. When I started 11 years ago, it didn’t matter what your interests were. People just wanted you to show up, throw on their clothes and shoot. Now people really do want a personality on set for these campaigns. 

TV: You’re married to a photographer, Christopher von Steinbach. How did you guys meet?  

KC: In 2010, I was in Los Angeles on vacation and I was looking for a few photographers to shoot with, and he was one of them. We went out for a shoot and got stuck in traffic—as one does in Los Angeles—and we just hit it off. I felt he was the best person I’d ever met. A year later, we both confessed our feelings for each other. He visited me in Toronto and then moved there two months later.

TV: Wow, must have been love if he moved from Los Angeles to Toronto.  

KC: Yeah, it was quite the sacrifice—especially because it was a brutally cold and grey winter that year.

TV: What’s it like being a model and having a photographer husband?  

KC: It’s pretty handy, but I think it’s annoying for him because I’m always bugging him to take my photo for Instagram [laughs]. His opinion is also very valuable to me. He’s informed my decisions about agencies. He’s definitely improved my portfolio.

TV: What are you most happy about these days?   

KC: I’m happy that I’m living a life that at times terrifies me. I don’t want to ever not do something because it’s difficult. I knew that this is the life that I wanted to live every day. I don’t want to be tied to anything—and I want to do everything. 

Follow Kelleth on Instagram.