Cameron–James Wilson, the CEO of ‘The Diigitals’ — the world’s first all-digital modeling agency — erases the boundaries between reality and the digital. Leading the charge into this new synthetic landscape is Shudu, the enigmatic and undeniably beautiful muse who’s inspiring a new generation of artists, a digital supermodel who recently became a social media phenomenon. Today we are proud to introduce you our exclusive interview with Cameron.
The Fashiongton Post: How did you come up with the idea of getting to the next step of your transformation from being a photographer to creating a digital model? How long have you been carrying this idea before the first photo of Shudu appeared online?
Cameron-James Wilson: It was an extremely organic process. At first I didn’t think I could make a career out of 3D art, I just wanted to learn, but only 3 months after starting I had created Shudu and her image had gone viral. At the time I was still a photographer, but as soon as I saw a way that I could support myself through 3D art I stepped away from photography.
F.P.: When the phenomenon of this digital creation began to rapidly gain popularity, what prompted you to reveal the real identity of Shudu?
C.W.: At first I wanted to gauge peoples reactions, whether they thought she was real or not. However, over time people truly believed that she was a real person, and I had to let everyone know that it was possible for 3D art to be so convincing. I want to bring awareness to the fact that you shouldn’t believe everything you see.
F.P.: Where have you gained the skills in 3D-modeling which allowed you to create such a digital character. Have those been the skills you obtain through self learning or you already had a technical background for that?
C.W.: I have a lot of experience in photography, lighting and retouching, which has helped a lot. It’s my background in fashion photography that really sets me apart. I learnt all of my 3D skills from youtube and forums online.
F.P.: Following your breakthrough in the digital modeling industry, many companies started to copy the idea and create their own digital models, thus making it to become a global trend. What do you think the traditional modeling industry should expect with such a tendency – will it be a complete substitution of the human models with the digital ones or will there still be a place for traditional modeling in the future?
C.W.: I definitely think we will still be using real models in 10 years time! We need real people, but at the same time, there’s some amazing things we can do with virtual models that is much easier. Both can easily co-exist and I think in the future they will benefit each other. However, models and agencies need to be aware of this trend and work to protect the digital likenesses of their models.
F.P.: There are a lot of rumors who’s been the first – Shudu or Miquela? Having a chance to have a conversation with you, we can not help but ask this question to the creator of Shudu. What’s the real story and where the truth lies?
C.W.: I think Miquela definitely appeared online first, however, I’ve never seen her claim to be either digital or a supermodel. As far as I can tell she’s branded as a robot influencer. I feel that although Shudu and Miquela may inhabit similar spaces, they couldn’t be more different.
F.P.: In 10 years from now, will Shudu be getting gradually older like a real model… or her appearance and look will stay the same young as these days?
C.W.: Shudu ages in her own way. It may not be the same as humans, it’s more like an evolution. So far she has gained much more detail since I first created her, in her most recent iteration she has a more humanely proportioned body, and in the future many more changes may happen. She has so many steps to take, so much more functionality to gain.
F.P.: Describe a typical, off-duty weekend of Cameron? When not at work, what place would we find Cameron at?
C.W.: A whole off-duty weekend? Is that possible, ha?! I tend to travel a lot, so often when I have time off I stay at home. When I’m travelling and have a few days off, I’ll definitely be checking out the local nightlife and restaurants. My favorite place to be is L.A., but I’ve had an amazing time in Toronto and New York.
F.P.: With the appearance of new digital colleagues of Shudu within your portfolio, will Shudu still remain the main and the leading model in it or do you see the other characters becoming new digital fashion industry favorites?
C.W.: Shudu will always be our pioneer, she truly has a place in my heart and I’m forever grateful for the way she’s changed my life. I think her being the first digital supermodel will keep her on the top of people’s popularity lists for quite a while.
F.P.: What high fashion brands would be exciting for you and Shudu to collaborate with in the future? What would be the top-three list for you in regards to that?
C.W.: I’d love to collaborate again with Cushnie, they provided some of the garments for Shudu’s first editorial for WWD. I’d also love to work with Tokyo James, who I’ve known for years, but was actually the very first person to post Shudu to instagram! Of course I’d love to collaborate again with Lavie by CK, who helped create Shudu’s most liked image, hopefully we can recreate that magic!
F.P.: Who of the fashion related personalities that you know in person we should definitely interview next?
C.W.: Noonoouri, she’s an amazing virtual character and her creator, Joerg Zuber, is a genius! I love what they’re doing and I think the art they create is really inspirational.
F.P.: Your piece of advice to the readers of The Fashiongton Post?
C.W.: It wasn’t until I focused on what I really wanted to do that people started to notice my work. I stopped listening to all the people telling me what I needed to do, and started listening to what I felt, and only a few months after that, my work went viral. I put my heart into what I do and I truly believe people see that.