Copenhagen-based artist Oliver Katibi Stalmans powerfully captures Australian-Sudanese modeling sensation Ajak Deng and engages in a conversation with BLVD, sharing his thoughts on the muse-creator relationship.





  • Leather jacket, Acne Studios; corset, ZANA BAYNE.
  • Blazer, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC.

Tell us about the collaborative process of creating the coverstory together with Ajak and Anna.

The process of creating this story with jak was effortless and we had an instant connection. There was a presence between us which made it very easy to go deep quick. Ajak is very professional and her energy is both fun, intense and easy going.As for Anna we have been working for years and our relation is solid and we have great respect for one another - Anna truly lets me be involved in the styling in ways that can only be played out where trust is high.

Does being familiar with the talent/crew help?

It's essential when working with human beings, if there isn't a connection the outcome won't reach its full potential however the connection can vary - sometimes it can be very quiet on set and the intensity is channel through the silence where other times music is played to help create the mood of the story - it all depends on the flow and the people who are on set on the specific day - when I shoot its always key to really connect to the being behind the camera in ways that goes beyond the product part - to really connect with authentic and a aimed focus within the build up of character is key.

What defines the genuine muse for you? What's the difference between a muse and simply a beautiful person?

It's very rare that I define anything of such - I personally find defining to be a very dangerous tool to generalize the constitution creating a limited space. However, if I were to give some sort of answer I would say we can all be the beautiful person that in the eye of someone else is a muse. For me a muse would be someone who consistently amazes me and keeps the light reflecting when working alongside.

Do you prefer to gather various visual references and prepare the moodboard for the story in advance or to go with the flow ad get inspired by the moment?

It really depends. If Im working with a new team that are yet to understand my universes and where I create from I tend to use a lot of written words to support the vision - I try to limit the usage of pictures as I don't like it when there is too much of an already created picture present - and on the day im def into the flow of the now -  I use sunlight in 95% of my shoots and I LOVE the magic that happens when one aligns completely to the circumstance of the universal forces wether it  be sun rain, cloudy or the mix.

How much freedom of expression you tend to give the model during the shooting? Are you the one who usually sets the mood?

I am defiantly more of the directing type however I always find the moments of authenticity important aswell - but my eye is wired to a very high aesthetic sense so I like to create sculptures with my models and that tends to be followed by me being very specific yet always with a care for the being I photograph.

Who is your ultimate muse? Did you get a chance to work with them yet?

I would love to give som fancy answer but my ultimate muse is without sounding cheesy my mom - moms are the true super heroes of the world.

  • Corset, ZANA BAYNE; boots, Nicholas K.
  • Chain, RJ Graziano.
  • Leather jacket, Acne Studios; corset, ZANA BAYNE; boots, Nicholas K.
  • Leather jacket, Acne Studios.
  • Leather top, Céline.
  • Blazer, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC; corset, ZANA BAYNE; boots , Nicholas K.
  • Pants, Acne Studios; corset, ZANA BAYNE.
  • Leather top, Céline.
  • Corset, ZANA BAYNE.
  • Dress, necklace, all Louis Vuitton; pants, Versace.

Model | Ajak Deng @ IMG models;

Casting director | Neill Seeto / IMA casting;

Creative direction and postproduction | Thrivestudio.


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