Karim Theilgaard is a prolific model, actor and musician from London and is our latest StarNow competition winner. Checking out Karim’s impressive portfolio we noticed a spark of creativity and were therefore delighted when he agreed to be featured on Urbanity Chic so we could share everything with you. Read the full in-depth interview below where Karim discusses what he’s been working on over the past year, how he was spotted and what he does to relax when not working.
Q: How did you get into fashion modeling?
A designer in Covent Garden, London, spotted me while I was at university, writing my thesis. I would write at night and hang out in central during the day as I work best at night. I did a shoot for his collection, the results of which he loved so much he asked me to walk for his London Fashion Week show a month later. The week of the show consisted of handing in my thesis on the Monday, doing my final exam Tuesday and walking my first fashion show ever on the Wednesday, my first casting Thursday and beginning a new university course Friday! Off the back of that show I was spotted by an agency and the rest is history as they say. Welcome to the World of Fashion.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
So exciting! The past 12 months really have been some of the most exciting and challenging in my career. I have worked in New York, London and Copenhagen and shot campaigns published internationally. Especially exciting to have been involved with are the film I did and the interest these have attracted. The most painful and physically challenging was the medieval fantasy film “Brother” where I play a crown prince ordered to slay his adopted brother. I was wearing 13kgs of chain mail and having to learn choreographed fight scenes using tempered steel swords. Needless to say, my body was wrecked after carrying that amount of armor all day throughout the length of the shoot and I had numerous bruises from missing from getting whacked by my opponent’s blade.
Q: Who inspires you?
Being surrounded by creative, driven and focused people force me to constantly keep working harder. I thrive on such an environment. I am fortunate to know many talented people but my parents and sister really inspire me with how hard they have worked and their openness towards the career path I have chosen. One of my oldest friends in the business, Ha Anh Vu, is also such a great inspiration. Asides from being a beautiful person on the inside she is also a fantastic model, hosting Vietnam’s Next Top Model, a UN ambassador and has just released her debut album! Another person I admire is Lithuanian designer Milda Cergelyte who is already making waves with her label Mimi.C at a very young age!
Q: Which modern day fashion designers or fashion icons do you look up to?
One of my favorite London designer labels is Bolongaro Trevor. I think it’s safe to say half my wardrobe is from them as I have done several editorial shoots with their collections. I love the rock look and use of rough materials and colors. However, it has largely been music artists who originally developed my sense of style and interest in fashion. I think Billy Corgan during Smashing Pumpkins’ “Adore”-era was one of the first I took notice of. Other bands who intrigued me as a kid with their on stage looks are Placebo and Muse.
Q: Do you prefer to shoot on location or in the studio?
Overall I would say I prefer location. It’s like stepping on to a movie set that I can more easily interact with and be inspired by. But with a visionary photographer doing the snapping, a plain studio can bring about something unique as well. Lighting is often key.
Q: Do you have any interesting stories about a particular photo shoot, or a casting you’d like to share?
One time when I was shooting in New York’s on the streets of the Lower East Side I was wearing some pretty outrageous -- almost bondage style -- outfits. It was hilarious to hear passers by remark “only in New York”, followed by bemused headshaking. A couple of times I thought we might cause a car crash because cars would slow down while their drivers and passengers would gawp with their noses pressed against the windows. I tried keeping a straight face through it all, but it was an amusing challenge. It was such a fun shoot!
Q: How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
I usually start the day off by doing some simple yoga stretching, which also helps to focus and clear my mind. Then at the shoot I’m always pumping the stereo – the best shoots are often a party!
Q: Do you have a favorite photograph?
One of my recent favorites was by Lithuanian photographer Linas Justice who snapped a shot of me right at the end of a two-day shoot while I was sitting on a vintage motorcycle. We took one look at it and immediately we both grinned at each other and exclaimed “Marlon-friggin-Brando!” I love it when you nail it in the first and only shot. The best shots are often the ones that aren’t anticipated.
Q: Who is your favorite photographer?
I’m often amazed at how young some of today’s most exciting photographers are. It’s fantastic to see the emerging talent out there. I always enjoy shooting with Danish photographer Thomas Cato. I also love the twisted drama Nick Knight conjures up in his shoots. Icelandic Saga Sig is an amazing talent as well.
Q: Is there anybody you would like to work with?
Danish photographer Anders Brogaard is definitely someone I would like to shoot with soon. I love Tom Ford’s incredible eye for aesthetic and would love to shoot with him as well.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion brings freedom to express. Our moods, creativity, passions, emotions – everything can be reflected in what we wear. When I was a kid I was the outsider. I didn’t really have a peer group that I could really share my interests with. It was when I went to music college and finally saw “hey, finally it’s not just me who thinks it’s fun to wear something outrageous and mess around with cameras” that I really started to indulge the interests I had long harbored for aesthetics and expression. There was this fantastic Norwegian singer, Jørund, there who became my style guru. Later on, my best friend from college and band mate, Mette, took our glam rock outfits to new extremes!
Q: How would you define your personal style?
I dress according to what I’m in the mood for so it can vary a lot from rock n roll to laid back country-western to black, blues and greys across to lots of colors! Overall, I would say there’s always music in my style.
Q: Where are you based?
I tend to be based out of London most of the time, but I have traveled and shot all over from Australia to North America and Europe. This year I will be based in Paris as well.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Ha ha, well that’s quite a complicated question seeing as I was born in Brazil, my mom is South African-Indian and my dad Danish. I grew up in Brazil, Denmark, Switzerland, Albania, UK and went to American schools. I guess you could say, “colorful and multi-faceted!”
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
There have been so many. My best moments have not necessarily been doing the biggest, most widely publicized shoots but the ones that were the most fun and creatively satisfying on a personal level. One such example was on a shoot I did in St. Tropez with British photographer Nick Fallon. At the end of the weeklong shoot the whole crew ended up jumping in the pool – cameras and all and partying till the sun came up.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve over the next 12 months?
Asides from taking a break to study an MA I aim to get involved with the development of several feature film projects to shoot in 2013 and possibly attending my first Cannes screening of a movie (if the post-production is finished on time). I will also be releasing my debut as a solo artist, which I’m really excited about!
Q: What do you do to relax?
I like to read, doodle on my guitar and listen to music. One of my favorite things is to sit in the company of a friend by the waterfront and hang out as the sunsets and shoot the breeze.
Q: Where would your favorite holiday (vacation) be and why?
Right now I want to visit Vietnam and Kenya. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is somewhat of a family tradition and I still need to do so!
Q: What songs are on your iPod at the moment?
The soundtrack to the movie “Drive” is so haunting and the title track is amazing! The director, who’s also Danish, Nicolas Winding-Refn is certainly someone I’d like to work with at some stage. I like movies and directors who have a firm musical current running through the film. Other firm favorites are Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Kurt Vile, some New York buddies of mine The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, The Danish bands Giana Factory and Kashmir whom I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with last year. They’re such great and down to Earth girls and guys. I’ve also been listening to Chet Baker recently because I was doing research for a film I shot this year where I play him around the time when he was assaulted and had his front teeth knocked out after a gig by a drug dealer.
Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies?
I like to photograph -- mostly reportage type of stuff and live music photography. I’ve done a bunch of shoots with Fashion Beat TV.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring models what would it be?
You must have thick skin and always take a step back and stay grounded when someone is trying to hype you on something. There are so many people out to make a quick buck in this industry off of inexperienced newcomers. I also encourage models to take an interest in things such as styling, photography and art direction because having an understanding of how everyone else on a team thinks will ultimately make you a better model.
Q: What motivates you to do what you do?
My passion for creativity and expression. I love putting together concepts and the process that goes in to completing and executing them. It’s such a rewarding feeling and I have been lucky to meet and become friends with so many amazing artists.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
If you would like to stay up to date and follow my progress in fashion, film and music come check out my Facebook Page. I’ve got several films coming out this year as well as my EP so it’s going to be an exciting one! Thanks for your interest and keep on inspiring each other!
Editor’s Note: Karim Theilgaard has an enviable array of artistic and creative talents that are nurtured by his appreciation of aesthetics and style. Make sure you check out his news feeds on YouTube to find out how is blossoming career is progressing.
If you’d like to learn more about or contact Karim Theilgaard just follow the links below:
twitter link: www.twitter.com/karimtheilgaard
facebook link: www.facebook.com/karimtheilgaardofficial
soundcloud link: www.soundcloud.com/karimtheilgaard
Youtube embeds: www.youtube.com/karimtheilgaard
Acting website link: www.karimtheilgaard.com