"I've seen you on the beach and I've seen you on TV."
-Rio, Duran Duran
By: Falene Nurse
Sometimes a song lyric so perfectly captures a
person's spirit you could be easily fooled into
thinking the musician wrote the track about them
specifically. In this case that's impossible, as
Duran Duran penned the 80s hit when Rio hadn't even
been born. Yet at times it's hard not to imagine
Simeon Le Bon wasn't describing a day in the life of
Los Angeles model and artist, Rio Lund
By day she attends casting calls, covered up in
free-spirited bohemian chic, rocking a natural do. By
night she releases her inner pin-up, donning red
lipstick, a Bettie Page wig and over a dozen body
tattoos. Rio's one of the few girls I know that has
managed the trifecta effect of modeling, success in
the commercial, fashion and urban markets. At a
statuesque 5ft10 with a 34-24-39 frame Rio can't help
but stand out in a crowd, so it's not surprising
she's done over 20 commercials (including Nike, Coke
and Target), dozens of music videos, print campaigns
and magazine covers - with no sign of slowing dow any
time soon. What might surprise you is that if that
weren't enough, she's also a professional and sought
after tattoo artist/piercer here in Hollywood. I
chatted with Rio to see how she juggles these two
very different careers.
Q: Are you originally from LA?
RIO: Yes, born and raised mamma (said with a grin)
Q: You are a tattoo artist, model and a pin-up.
RIO: I suppose you could say that I'm a bit of a
Q: Do you have a preference to work?
RIO: When it all comes down to it I am a true artist
at heart, whatever I happen to be doing. I also
really love trying new things.
Q: When did you start modeling?
RIO: I began modeling at aged 16.
Q: Were you interested in art first or
RIO: My interests in art started in the 2nd grade,
so… there you go.
Q: When did you realize, I can make a living as a
RIO: My big break came when I started to get the big
bucks, booking multiple commercials and print work.
That only happened though when I finally clicked with
the right agency. I had been with other top agencies
prior to that, but wasn't booking so much.
(Rio has an adorable habit of using her hands
when describing words "big bucks" and "clicked." For
a model she is completely unaware of herself, very
expressive and unrestricted. She's happiest if she
can pull a face that will get a laugh out of
Q: Did you always have your own unique style?
RIO: Yes my own, weird, eclectic thing going on, even
when it wasn't cool. Cee Lo and Outkast's style
wasn't around when I was growing up, I'm not saying I
went out in capes and feathers (lol.) But even as a
teenager I never really cared what anyone thought, or
what the trend was.
Q: How do you manage to crossover the different
RIO: For me modeling is just like playing dress up.
You can become who ever you want to be. All the
different categories I've modeled, were something
that I specifically wanted to venture into at a given
time. Just to see if I could do it. Being challenged
Q: You are very tall and
curvy, do you think that helps you balance
between "fashion" and "urban?"
RIO: I used to do fashion a lot when I was
younger, until I was FIRED. Yes from this one
agency for having, and I quote " a BIG butt and
hips." Which quite frankly - I like (laughing hard.)
The main types of modeling I do now are
commercial/commercial print (with all my tattoos
covered up), pin up/tattoo and urban. I don't do too
much runway anymore since to me the requirements are
ridiculous! You practically have to be either 12
years old, or anorexic! I stick to what keeps me
happy, healthy and alive.
Q: You can pass for a lot of different cultures,
Latino, Spanish, African, Mediterranean, what's your
RIO: My moms from Morocco, my dad is Norwegian, and
there's a bit of Spanish on both sides.
Q: Tell me about your tattoo training?
RIO: A dear friend of mine Lou Bone(R.I.P.) got me
into tattooing/piercing, he also pushed me to try
modeling. As he was already an established tattoo
artist he encouraged me into working at his shop. I
recently looked in an old journal of mine from when I
was 10 and it said, "I'm going to become a tattoo
artist one day." Didn't mention the modeling. That's
what I wrote, even then (she smiles a little to
herself.) My mentor was an amazing human being with a
contagious laugh. Typical artist though, so his moods
were often up and down, but he could create anything
- you know. Unfortunately he passed away tragically,
but I have his portrait tattooed on my inner arm.
Close to my heart.
Q: What shop do you work
RIO: Young Guns Studio on Hollywood Blvd.
Q: The 2 portraits on your back are beautiful, who
RIO: Both of my grandma's as young women, they were
Q: On the few days that you get to yourself, what do
you do to relax?
RIO: Surf, dance, yoga, gardening, playing with my
dog. I dabble in a lot of hobbies. I also try to love
life as much as possible, every day. Also did I
mention I'm fire dancing now?