The eccentric multi-talented model discusses becoming one of the most reblogged images on the Internet. 

This feature is a part of Complex's "Tumblr Generation" Week.

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It's been about a year since we first met Alysha Nett, the tatted 5'7" model from the Midwest and, suffice it to say, a lot has changed. Within the past 12 months, she's managed to move to Los Angeles from Philly, book photo shoots with The Hundreds, Crooks and Castles, and Wildfox Couture, and take on a new gig as a buyer for online streetwear retailer MOOSE Limited. And it all started when she noticed an old (NSFW) Polaroid of herself pop up on Tumblr, a site she was then only casually perusing.

Noticing the amount of notes the photo attained, Nett was inspired to take her image into her own hands and develop her own brand on her blog. Today, 59,000 followers later, the blonde beauty is a bona fide Tumblr celebrity. 

However, Nett's not letting her online fame carry her away. When she's not responding to messages in her Ask box, she's on her grind in the City of Angels, trying to be more than just your favorite image to reblog.

Take a Look at a Day in the Life of Alysha Nett (Video)

As told to Tara Aquino (@t_akino)

How did you get started using Tumblr?
I started using Tumblr when I decided to move from Wichita, Kansas to Philadelphia in 2010. I used it as a platform to display the modeling work I was doing. I already had my Tumblr created; I just hadn't really used it before. Then, I saw a picture of myself come up one time, so I thought, since people were already posting my stuff, I might as well post it myself. 

What was the photo of you that popped up?
It was an old Polaroid of me when I had really short blonde hair. I had an old pair of old RayBan's on. By then, I had already been modeling. It was a photographer in Texas who had taken that photo. It was already on Flickr or something like that, but it got posted on Tumblr.

When did you start realizing that you were developing a fan base?
In 2010, when I was already based on the east coast, I had spent that winter in L.A. When I came back, I remember my roommates in Philadelphia telling me that people were excited that I was coming home because they wanted to meet me, and I thought that was weird. They had seen my photos.

 

I'd say I'm your average girl-next-door that takes crazy pictures.

 

Did you start posting your photos online to get an agency to sign you or was that a way to take charge of your own career?
I was definitely just trying to take charge of my own career. I never thought that I would ever work with an agency because I'm not agency standard at all. I was just trying to use the Internet the best of my advantage. Eventually it got to the point where it didn't matter what kind of photo I posted, they would all just start to catch, which led to more work for me.

Now, I have an agent in L.A., but i would say that 90% of the work that I book is still independently and through social media.

You also have your own store on your blog. When did you decide to start making money off your Tumblr?
I started that two years ago. The goal for me was never to get famous; it's always been to make money. So, if I see an opportunity or if people are asking me for merchandise, then I just take it upon myself to create them and make them. I've never had an investor or anything like that, so I made some shirts, posters and prints myself, just so that stuff is available to people if they want it. I try not to push it too hard because now there are a lot of shirts and stuff like that out there that I've done with different companies.

Do you still handle the business aspect of your brand or do you have a team now?
No I still do. I do have an intern assistant that I just brought on. [Laughs.] Someone told me that I shouldn't hire a team or look for an agent until I have so much work that I don't know what do with it. I'm definitely at that point now, but I'm also transitioning out of modeling a little bit.

How did you get an intern? 
I'm a buyer now also for an online shoewear retailer, so I put out a "Help Wanted" on my Tumblr, looking for an intern that will lead to a position as my full-time assistant at Moose. I interviewed a hand full of people one day at a cafe in L.A. just say in a cafe. I picked a girl from Ohio. She seems pretty rad.

How has your Tumblr success furthered your career?
I think that if I didn't have a Tumblr, I wouldn't even be where I am. Tumblr has made it possible for me to support myself through modeling. I wouldn't have been able to work with different photographers or brands or companies that I've worked with. I've been able to create a name for myself so instead of me seeking out jobs, I get approached for jobs, which is much more convenient for me. I'll hit up a couple of castings a week sometimes, but for the most part, I get hired because of who I am.

Brands approach me on Tumblr and I refer them to my email and I discuss business inquiries there. If I post it on my Tumblr, that becomes a type of advertising for them too because not only are they reaching my Tumblr fanbase, but with the reblog system, the amount of people you can actually reach is crazy.

What brands have you worked with so far?
I've worked with The Hundreds, Crooks and Castles, SSUR, Huf, Wild Fox Couture, Hall of Fameā€”if you name it, I've worked with them. But I like working with start-up brands, too. If I dig the product, then I'll shoot in it. I try to stay away from getting exclusive with people; it's just the way I make my money.

Besides modeling tips, what do people ask you about on your Ask section on Tumblr?
I had to turn the anonymous feature off because it was pretty ridiculous. [Laughs.] It got to the point where people were just being bullies. Nowadays, I get questions regarding my tattoos, what they are, what they mean, advice on how they can do what I do, people asking me to look at their work or check out their music, just all kinds of things really.

What kinds of mean things would people say?
People are just mean. They'll pick apart your appearance, or people who don't know anything about me will judge you for putting yourself out there and allowing people in. 

Did you ever have an apprehension posting because of that?
When I started modeling, I waited a couple years before I allowed myself to really put myself out there. I waited unit l felt like I was confident about it and good enough to be able to defend myself against anything. 

You also have the web-cam photo tab enabled. So would you say you feel completely comfortable being out there out?
I like taking web-cam photos because they are just me as I am. They are just silly photos. You'll never see me post a nude photo of myself on web-cam; I leave that for professional photographers. I think web-cam selfies give people a sense of realness. I'm a normal person and I'm just hanging out and taking pictures on my web-cam like everybody else does.

Do you like interacting with your followers?
Yeah, I love interacting with people. I like people to know I'm there and that I'm actually reading what they send me. Also, I like to answer questions as much as I can; Twitter is really good for that. On Tumblr, I get thousands of them and I can't keep up, so every once in awhile I'll empty my mailbox and start over again and try to keep up with the new ones. I get a lot compliments, which I don't necessarily want to put all over my blog, so I thank them privately so they know I appreciate it.

What's the weirdest question anyone has ever asked you on Tumblr?
I always get a lot of weird sexual questions. [Laughs.] I don't answer them very often. I also get questions from people who may know a friend of mine from back home. It'll freak me out because they'll try to relate to me on a personal level. 

Since achieving a certain degree of celebrity, have people been coming out of the woodwork trying to be your friend?
That does happen sometimes. One thing that I like about living in L.A. is that most of my friends out here don't use the Internet in the same way that I do. They'll see that I have a ton of followers on Instagram, but they'll just assume that I'm an Instagram model. Whenever they put two and two together they always trip out on it. They don't know that side of me really, so they don't care. I can just be myself.

But I mean, I definitely noticed an increase of friend requests from people from high school. [Laughs.] I don't accept them, though. I'll gradually let people back in, but for the most part, if you weren't an essential part of my life, I don't see a reason to have you around.

Do you interact with any other Tumblr celebrities?
Hattie Watson is a really good friend of mine, she's also a model on Tumblr. And Mike Lerner is a photographer that I see a lot. We try to keep in touch with one another.

Did you meet them on Tumblr or did you meet them beforehand?
I knew Hattie beforehand. We met in real life and then became cyber friends. Most people I met online and then transitioned into real life friends.

What are your thoughts on the Tumblr community in general?
I think that the community itself is actually full of a lot of different communities, if that makes sense. I only know what I see, and the blogs that I follow, and I try to only follow things that interest me, and things that are relevant to my life. I feel like I'm most involved in the rap community. 

You mentioned being part of that rap community, does that tie into you modeling a lot of streetwear?
Yeah, I think the fact that I like hip-hop helps me, in a sense that I can just relate to people a little bit more, because I feel like that definitely ties into streetwear. All that was just something that I fell into anyway. I didn't grow up living, breathing streetwear. I grew up in the country. It was something that I came to learn, but it was something that I appreciated. When I was younger, I was a part of hardcore scene. It's all kind of the same thing, that exclusivity, that feeling of belonging or having something that other people don't have. But yeah, I feel like hip-hop ties into street-wear which is kind of how I fell into doing a few videos, but that just happens to be the music that I like to listen to.

What music videos were you in?
I did a video for my friend, Alexander Spit for his song "Facemelter"; I did a video with Casey Veggies for "Sauna"; I did a video with Pac Div and Mac Miller, for "Black Acura." Then I did one for Green Day.

So you got all of these because of the connections you've made through your modeling?
Exactly, for sure! Absolutely, all of them! But all of the hip-hop videos that I've done, you know I did a video with Alex through The Hundreds and then same happened with the Casey Veggies video. For the Green Day video, they messaged me via my Facebook fanpage and asked me. 

Have you always been into photography and styling?
Definitely. When I was growing up, my styling interests came from having to be really creative with my outfits because we didn't have a ton of money. I didn't get to go shopping whenever I wanted so I used to go to the thrift stores a lot and I would find cool one-off pieces to make my outfits look cooler. It got to the point where I would buy the weirdest shit just to see if I could make it look cool.

As far as photography, that comes from being in front of the camera for so long. You eventually start to learn things about it, pick up on it, and then want to do it yourself.

You've also done some hosting gigs too. 
[Laughs.] Yeah, I've done a lot. I did some hosting at SXSW last year. But I've been working really hard at the buying position to re-brand and bridge the gap between street-chic over there at Moose. 

What's the next step for you?
It's hard to say because two days ago I was going to talk to my boss about getting salaried position and being a real adult and having a real job, then the next day I got an interview for a TV host position. It's really hard to tell. As far as modeling is concerned, I'm going to start trailing that off in the next few months and really limit myself to the jobs that I decide to take. I'm probably going to focus a lot more on buying and the career aspect of that, and go behind the scenes a little bit more.

So would you feel comfortable walking away from your Tumblr fame or is that something you want to keep doing?
I think that Tumblr fame is kind of a silly thing, to be honest. It's no different than MySpace fame. It doesn't really matter. Like any social media, every thing's going to come to an end and I'd rather be prepared and have a real solid career going than have to depend on a Tumblr thing for a paycheck.

 

I think that Tumblr fame is kind of a silly thing, to be honest. It's no different than MySpace fame. It doesn't really matter. Like any social media, every thing's going to come to an end and I'd rather be prepared and have a real solid career going than have to depend on a Tumblr thing for a paycheck.

 

You once mentioned your greatest challenge was differentiating yourself because people categorize you with models like the Suicide Girls. What have you been doing to set yourself apart?
Just keeping my clothes on as much as I can. I don't mind being naked, but other people will categorize you as that particular type of model. It sucks because there's nothing wrong with feeling sexy and feeling awesome about yourself, but I'm always concerned about the next step. So I work hard at creating my own brand for myself and being in people's faces so they couldn't not see me. [Laughs.] 

How would you define your brand?
As somebody who is like an everyday, normal person, but not. I feel like I relate to people because I am normal and I do normal things and I live a normal life for the most part, but then there's also this appeal of getting to do more lavish things that other people don't, that makes people interested in what I'm doing. Oh gosh! I'd say I'm your average girl-next-door that takes crazy pictures. [Laughs.] 

That people like and reblog.
Yeah that people like and respond to. [Laughs.] That's my original brand!

Speaking of reblogging, is there one particular shot of you that got reblogged the most?
There are a few. I just looked at one the other day that my friend Julian Berman took of me. I'm just pulling on my boots, wearing a jersey, sweatpants, and a beanie, and I think that got 25,000 reblogs.

How many followers do you have?
Like 59,000 followers on Tumblr.

And then a lot more on every other social media platform?
It's like 40,000 on Facebook and 81,000 on Instagram. Twitter is the hard one. I have 20,000, I think. The reach is there, I'm just still trying to figure out how to use it. 

What kind of advice would you give to others who are trying to break out on Tumblr?
My best advice is to post your own work, post original content, work with good people, create flawless images, and just keep doing it. You might not get a response the first time, but if you keep posting good work, and if you use the tags to attach your name to things, people will see them and they'll eventually catch on.

How do you, then, not just be a Tumblr celebrity? How do you transition the way you did?
Geez Louise, I'd say the best way to not just be a Tumblr celebrity is to continue to do other jobs that don't have anything to do with the Internet necessarily. Continue to seek after brands, try to work with companies, try to do other things than just take a pictures with a photographer and put it on the Internet. Make sure whatever you're shooting has a purpose. Shoot for a magazine submission or a brand that you like. Maybe they didn't hire you the first time, but keep shooting and keep sending to them. Maybe they'll hire you someday in the future. You just have to think outside the box.

ADDITIONAL CREDITS: Video and photography by Jonathan Lees.

Alysha Nett x Tumblr Generation Week: The Extended Photo Gallery