“There is no limit to what can inspire you” Petit model Isobella Jade talks Model Life, iPhones and more
You wouldn’t naturally link fashion and digital comics, but petit model Isobella Jade has linked these two disparate worlds to create the awesome Model Life, now available on iVerse’s Comics + app. Isobella took the trials and tribulations of her life as a model who is less than 5’4″ and turned them into a series of fantastic autobiographical books and graphic novels which she wrote in an Apple Store in New York and then published online her herself. Inspired by this can-do attitude I decided to ask her just what brings a petit model into the traditionally macho world of digital comics!
What inspired you to write down your experiences of modelling, was there a specific incident that made you say ‘this needs to be a book’?
There were many incidents, mostly my inspiration for my first book, Almost 5’4”, a modeling memoir, came from my struggles and how I had found success and was still striving as a short model. I had an attitude of “If I can you can! But first you need to hear about the grit and not so glamorous moments that were major pit stops and potholes during the journey of being a model.” Writing Almost 5’4” was like therapy, I was laying out on the page my mistakes, things I was embarrassed about, things I had regrets about, things that my mother didn’t know about yet. I was also forgiving myself and letting myself move towards the bigger goals, and I wanted more out of myself during the time I wrote it. Almost 5’4” then inspired my blog and online platform, which inspired me to think about creating Model Life.
Why turn it in to a comic/graphic novel, are you a comics/Manga fan yourself?
I am not die-hard Manga, but I’m reader and I read all types of books and I am a visual person. While writing Almost 5’4” I imagined a certain moment in my past and brought it to life, taking the reader with me, and many visuals and movements came to mind. This got me thinking that maybe an aspect of my own experiences could be applied to an illustrated story, a graphic novel about the journey of a shorter model and writing Model Life was like writing a screenplay. Because I’m in bookstores often and following the publishing industry I noticed that many graphic novels are targeted towards the male reader but not as much for the female reader, and not with as many female heroines taking on the lead. I had built an online following of young adults and wanted to do something that entwined my message and the internet and digital age with the graphic novel world, so the story is told through the main character using social media, text messaging, emails, and also her journal, as a way to communicate with other characters during her modeling journey.
How much input do you have into the art side of things or do you just leave it up to the artist?
I chose my illustrator and discovered her. I love art and artists who are passionate about their work, I was searching on the Internet for illustrators who had a humanistic edge to their work and I found Jazmin Ruotolo’s work. I liked that she came from a fashion background, and she had just the personality and spunk I was looking for to create the day in the life artwork for Model Life. I’d shared the storyline and my vision for the pages and she’d throw in there her spin and talent for expression, it was extremely easy working together. Being on the same level is so important for an author and illustrator, freedom to bring out the best of both is what makes the book awesome.
You famously wrote your first book in an Apple Store in New York, do you still find yourself paying visits to Apple Stores to do a bit of writing and what was it about Apple Stores that made them such an inspiring place for you?
Although I don’t stand there for hours usually, I still visit the Apple store and I can still feel exactly why I wrote my book there. The energy in the store is infectious; it’s busy and makes the mind think and work. When you’re struggling to survive on your dream, finding a place that can be sort of homage is calming and inspiring. It makes a hustler feel hopeful. The Apple store is a broke writers dream, and it’s a place for anyone who‘s striving and wants to be surrounded by innovation and creativity. I was without a computer of my own when I became a regular at the Prince Street Apple store in SoHo in New York City. I was desperate for a computer, a warm free place with a bathroom and free Internet access on their shiny new computers—what else did I need? It was perfect! (I can’t count how many times I prepared for a modeling casting in the Apple store bathroom, and actually I still use the bathrooms sometimes, they are really clean.)
You’ve recently released Model Life on the Comics + app, what inspired you to do that and are you finding it is reaching a wider audience as a result?
It’s so exciting! To be honest I want more teen females and young adult females to read, and read books of all types of formats. I enjoy encouraging those who might not typically have downloaded a comic book app to do so, I like introducing my following to new exciting things. I think you can be rocking the latest fashion trend and also be reading comics and graphic novels. There is no limit to what can inspire or interest you. I like the idea of carrying around inspiration in your pocket and Model Life has an inspirational vibe, and I wanted to bring a female heroine to the mobile space in a way my readership would enjoy and introduce those who already love mobile comics and graphic novels to a new type of adventure and triumphant underdog.
The artwork in Model Life is all landscape was that intentional as a way to optimise it when it’s on phones and tablets or was it just a way to make it different?
That wasn’t planned. It just turned out to be interesting and work out well. I like that on the phone you can read Model Life horizontal or vertical and see each frame separate or as a whole page. Being a part of the mobile space does make me consider the way I layout and format future books and Model Life 2.
How useful do you find digital publishing for someone like you who wants to get their story out without the hassle of book deals and major publishers?
The very first thing that comes to mind is how important it can be for an aspiring author to brand themselves, to capture a niche, to have a passion and apply that to their books. Authors are becoming their own publishers, and the Internet-age and Digital-age has made it easier for those doing it themselves. When it comes to marketing and selling books for an aspiring author I think it’s all about the platform, and connecting with your readers and having quality content. There are so many outlets now to distribute your ebook and digital content to a digital device, and whether you want your content on an iPad, Nook, iPhone, Kindle, Sony Reader, Kobo, etc., it’s easy to make yourself a publisher, set it up and make that happen. The little guy has so many options now, nothing is the end-all, you don’t need a major publisher to put out your content for you, but you better know how to market it and have some PR ability.
Do you find using social networking like Twitter and Facebook helps market the books and find an audience? Were you quick to embrace them as a means to an end?
I use social media to promote all of my books, and creating my online platform and my web presence hasn’t been a major financial investment thanks to social media networking, but it has taken the investment of time, and also noticing which platforms are most effective for my audience. I was on Twitter before people knew what to do with Twitter, and I am on every social media that there is, basically, but I pay attention to how my audience likes to interact best and think about how I can get the most out of each social networking outlet. I think it’s good to figure out what social media platform is best for your audience, and this can involve a trial and error. I notice that Twitter has an older demographic usage and Facebook seems more youthful. I’m selective about where I spend my time and what I share. Personally, although my numbers are impressive, I am not obsessing or basing my success on how many friends I have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, I’m not going to beg people to follow me or friend me. That’s ridiculous. And I’m sure you really don’t care what I had for lunch unless I’m a cook book author. I’m all about building a loyal connection and following and this is what has inspired my growth and success so far.
Are you an iPad or iPhone user yourself and if you are what do you find most useful/exciting about them?
I have so many apps I don’t even use on my iPhone actually, but I love the ability to discover, shop, read and share directly from one device and anywhere I go. We live in a world full of digital conveniences, but I still write in my journal and hold a pen and printed book every day. I don’t think there’s a thick line that divides the way we connect, create and engage—a room can have an iPad on the coffee table and also a floor to ceiling bookshelf against the wall and both can be enjoyed at the same time, it all can live together.
Could you ever see a time when you are just releasing your books via digitial apps and what future projects are you working on at the moment which you can tell us about?
It’s exciting to be riding this digital wave, I am preparing more ebooks currently and a YA book series and yes certain books will be only created digitally. Personal connectivity means a lot to me and it happens by publishing in many formats, it’s hard to measure one publishing platform over the other. Right now I need to be a part of them all. At the end of the day it’s about giving my audience easy access and interactive experiences involving my message about aiming high and striving through the odds.
You can see more from Isobella at her website Isobella Dreams where you can also check out her awesome Podcast. For Petit Modelling tips make sure to check out her blog and YouTube channel, and you can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @isobellajade