The Gypsy Shack

Member Monday: Susanna Mostaghim

The Gypsy Shack
Member Monday: Susanna Mostaghim

  This week we interviewed TGS Model/Creative,

Susanna Mostaghim 


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Tell us about yourself!
Hey everyone! I was born and raised in the 'burbs of Northern Virginia—about half an hour drive from DC. I relocated to New York after college, so I'm an East Coast gal all the way. I work in the tech sector focusing on artificial intelligence as my 9-5 but spend the majority of my free time in the creative world. When I was a kid, I always had a sketchbook in my bag and some graphite all over my hands from drawing. I got into designing clothes and jewelry in middle and high school, but I never thought much about my creative leanings prior to applying to university. As I was preparing applications to probably a dozen university engineering programs when my parents asked me if I really would be happy going down that path. Me being me, I still attended a university focusing on engineering before switching my major to Applied Mathematics. However, throughout college my abrupt change from being creative to focusing solely on STEM surfaced in a form of restlessness. I became a writer then the Editorial Director of my school’s food publication and invested in my first DSLR because I spent so much time running around doing food photography for my writers. When I graduated and moved to New York, I found myself in one of the most photogenic and creative cities in the world and couldn’t resist taking advantage of the opportunity to grow as a creative.

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What inspired you to pursue your current creative path?
I’ve always been a bit of a hodgepodge when it comes to creative fields—I want to do everything but can’t find as much time as I’d like to do it. I love taking a concept and helping execute it. I started modeling a year and a half ago but branched into styling and photography as well. When it came to starting modeling, I was uncomfortable in front of a camera and I wanted to overcome it. Becoming a model for me wasn’t a focus on making it big or anything; I was always told by people I was pretty and should become one, but I always had the conception in my head that I was too short and not thin enough. I’ve found that I’ve become way more comfortable with how I look and what I see in the mirror through this, and I want to help others find that—through the work I create with others and on my own. There are always ups and downs of course, but that’s also just how life works out and one of those downs is actually what brought me to styling and photography! I’m just starting off, but I’m having so much fun with it since I’ve always styled myself for shoots and having the chance to style different people offers a lot of opportunity to grow. I think that my experience modeling helps translate into doing photography and styling, I pay attention to details that I probably wouldn’t have before.

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How did you find out about TGS?
I’m still not entirely sure how I found out about TGS, I remember it popped up on my Explore page a few times on Instagram. Which definitely makes sense in hindsight since I ended up joining and loving the vibes and people around me! 

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Why did you decide to join TGS?
I wasn’t entirely sure what TGS was at first, but I saw an opportunity for a meet last October and signed up. Shortly after, I found out a couple photographers I knew were going and luckily Rhyan clued me in that I would actually need the amount of outfits recommended for the meets. When I got there it was just positive vibes with people all rooting for each other’s success. It was collaboration over competition and I felt immediately at home with everyone. So, I worked on getting my portfolio together and when TGS released their first Unplugged event of 2019 I decided I needed to finish my application so I could apply to attend. It was really cool, I actually applied and was accepted on my 25th birthday! 

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Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw a lot of inspiration from Instagram like many creatives. There’s so much content out there and I have around 15-16 collections for different moods, styles, and poses. Staying inside the social media platforms and just general creative content, I like to draw on art concepts as well; sometimes there’s something executed in a graphic design or a painting that sparks an idea. I do like to draw from my heritage when I can—I’m Iranian and Taiwanese—but it’s a bit difficult sometimes since I feel like I don’t understand all the nuances of different aspects or have to sit and ask myself if people will assume I’m appropriating. Sometimes, I’ll see someone walking on the street and awkwardly snap a picture of their outfit because it sparks an idea of a concept I want to work on. 

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Fave aesthetic, look or theme when shooting?  
I’m all about mood. Not just because I’m definitely a moody model, but I like artsy and moody vibes a lot. They call out to me and I find myself drawn to them the most. I’m working those vibes into exploring my identity as a mixed-race woman. I think that the theme self-expression and exploration of identity is what I’m moving towards as I think it’s important for your soul as well as a way to communicate with people. 

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Do you have creative friends you like to meetup and brainstorm with?
Definitely! My roommate is a photographer, we brainstorm and work together a lot—we’re super comfortable with each other and it’s easy to brainstorm then refine with her without getting offended. We push and encourage each other for the implementation of our ideas. It also makes it easy for us to just do a concept shoot when we need to. I also love working on ideas with the creatives who I attended TGS Unplugged East Coast with back in February. 

Most interesting story revolving around your creative medium?
I don't know about interesting. But, it was kind of a funny moment. One of my favorite photographers to work with started nursing school so he's not doing photography until he's done with his intensive program. However, I wanted to go to this pop-up in SoHo with these awesome neon lights and jokingly said I needed him to take a photo of me. And I 100% meant on my phone since I wasn’t wearing makeup and still had wet hair from showering plus I didn’t want him to have to edit anything with school. But, we meet at the subway stop to head over to the pop-up and he’s got his camera bag with him. He then proceeded to insist that we shoot there and it was just overall a really funny experience. 

Random stuff about you?
I'm pretty addicted to traveling and am slowly trying to fill my passport with stamps. In college I trained service dogs and after a life of thinking I was a cat person realized I'm definitely a dog person. Despite living in a place where eating out is super accessible and easy, I make the time to cook at least once a week—it's one of my favorite things to do and great for helping relieve stress!