I was immediately captivated the first time I saw a photo of Cassie Meder (aka Casstronaut). It was a photo of her in a Holly Stalder silk gown with a crown of lit candles on her head in the middle of a snow covered forest. This girl has modeled for many of Portland’s finest clothing designers and there’s no mystery as to why . The photos she’s in take on a life their own, and while watching some of the behind the scenes videos she’s posted on YouTube, it’s quite clear that’s she’s not a bore to hang with either!
Her work as a model is something she does because it just works out sometimes, and there’s obviously a demand for her look, but her real career lives through her self-expression as an artist and designer herself. She has a few artsy short films under her belt that seem to have a cohesive theme. Each one has strong ethereal visuals and certainly don’t lack professional quality. She is an artist in the original sense, meaning that she draws, and her illustrations convey surreal subjects in pencil, often on tea stained paper. If that’s not enough, she also designs and makes jewelry: simple, straight forward pieces that adorn the head, along with chained ear cuffs and some Victorian inspired rings. Haunt recently announced that they’ll be stocking some head pieces and prints of her illustrations, and I discovered that she’ll be moving to Nashville, so I asked Cassie a few questions before she takes that huge leap cross country.
I’ve found that in the design world people advise against doing too many things, having too many focuses, because it can confuse the customer, but some designers start out as artists, and that’s what brought them into fashion design, and if done right it can totally work. What is your perspective on this?
Cassie: I think it depends on the artist, really. Saying that is like saying to a parent, “You can’t have more than one kid! You’ll get confused!” An artist’s work is so much like a child, really. Some people like having one child they can shower and dedicate themselves to completely. Others like to be surrounded and immersed, almost overtaken, in what they have created and what they love. It’s the same situation with artists. It’s a way of leaving a legacy and giving something back to the world. Why not leave more than one thing? I also think artists tend to use their work as a means of communication. You may notice that most artists are so much alike, you would think there was some kind of personality fad happening. Most of us don’t communicate ideas or feelings with our mouths or our bodies, so we find other means and if one way isn’t enough, find other ways to make your voice whole and audible. So with all of that being said, it is incredibly hard. It's absolutely worth it, though.
How did your artwork evolve into the other skills that you possess?
I tried a lot of things. I experimented with my voice. I found out what didn’t work and what did. An artist will never be done experimenting, learning, or progressing. A good artist won’t settle with one way of doing something—you must constantly explore yourself and how you relate to the world and evolve with it. Throughout my progress I’ve evolved with myself and with the world mostly trying to discover my purpose. I get closer with every try! I think my artwork is one of the main reasons I branched out into mediums such as film. I love traditional art, but it can frustrate me as much as it frees me. My skills in art have definitely grown, but I still feel somewhat limited, so when I feel that way I move on to something else. I think that is how my skill and creativity has spilled over into other areas.
How do you manage all the facets of your brand? Do you concentrate on one thing at a time based on your mood, or do you take projects as they come, or do you just do it all, all the time?
A bit of both, actually. I’m always doing something, but the pattern is a bit unpredictable. My Instagram feed is a testament of that. Ha. I tend do to things in bursts of overwhelming energy. I’ll draw like a fiend for weeks at a time, or I’ll spend an entire year working primarily on one film, or model for five days a week for months. Every once in a while I’ll accidentally take a day off and binge on Star Trek. But that’s when things go my way. I do have obligations, so when I’m trying to make time for commissions I tend to not draw much of my own design. The first thing I will always put aside is modeling. I take a long time to figure out what I’m going to make a priority for the day ahead.I’ve also been working a lot on my communication skills through a blog in its infant stage, have several commissions collecting dust, and also have a couple of film projects in the works.
How long have you lived in Portland? What's taking you across the country?
I grew up just a little north of Portland, so basically my whole life. I moved to the Bay in 2012 but still spent most of my time in Portland. I moved to Nashville last week to pursue personal and professional opportunities, but also because I fell in love with the place after only a week of visiting!
Although she’s moving far away, Cassie's roots are here, and she definitely plans on returning to visit, take care of business, and keep connected.
To shop Casstronaut visit her etsy shop or visit Haunt.
Her most recent short film, Valle Mortis can be viewed here. If you continue on to watch others, the list includes look books from local designers.
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