Could digitally cloning models be the future of fashion? It seems possible as a celebrity photographer has revealed the beautiful black ‘supermodel’, Shudu Gram, is actually his own computer-generated creation. If we can create models digitally, will this hinder editorial opportunities for real black models?
Dubbed “the world’s first digital supermodel”, Shudu Gram has amassed an impressive 53,600 Instagram followers and has even attracted the attention of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty. With her deliciously rich dark skin tone and doll-like features, the social media world has been mesmerised by Shudu Gram’s beauty and believed she were a real model.
However, photographer Cameron-James Wilson finally came clean about his incredible digital creation recently. The 28-year-old, from London, carved out a successful career for himself in the fashion, beauty and celebrity photography before teaching himself how to create three-dimensional art online.
Explaining the inspiration behind Shudu Gram in an interview with Isiuwa, Wilson said: “I wouldn’t say that she had any real purpose, it was just because I wanted to. I’m driven to create beautiful depictions of women, I don’t really know why, but as long as I can remember I would sit and draw women, my school textbooks were more sketchbooks than anything useful to my education.”
The photographer continued: “I didn’t know at the time but in creating her it really helped me to deal with things that I was going through at the time. Feeling out of touch with my own work, underappreciated and that I had talent but I didn’t know what to do with it.”
Not everyone is convinced by Shudu Gram, with one Instagram user commenting: “This is problematic. Instead of hiring a black model, the photographer created one.”
One other agreed: “A white photographer figured out a way to profit off of black women without ever having to pay one.”
Sharing their disappointment, another wrote: “Digital? After all this time I thought she was real.”
Another optimistically commiserated: “It sucks she’s not real. But I bet there’s someone out there who looks like her!”
Wilson remains confident in his work of art and told Isiuwa: “I think that though her purpose has changed since I created her, what started out as just me creating the most beautiful woman I could imagine has become something empowering for lots of people. To see someone like them depicted in a way that’s glamorous, regal and a little sexy too has really meant something to a lot of her followers. I’m so proud to be adding to a movement where people of all shades can feel beautiful.”
What are your thoughts on Shudu Gram?