Emanuela Amato is the Art Director of DUST magazine. In these photos she highlights moments in between shots on a shoot for the magazine in Stromboli, Italy. She spoke to us about the importance of substantial content and the sustainability of print publications. During our conversation she explained why she believes there is a unique place for print in today's landscape.
Springtide: Where did you grow up?
Emanuela: I was born in Sicily, an island in the south of Italy. My hometown is called Catania, a beautiful city just between the volcano Mt. Etna, and the sea.
Springtide: Where do you live currently?
Emanuela: Currently I travel a lot. I work several months a year in Berlin and every time I can, I go back to my hometown to spend time with my family and enjoy the sun.
Springtide: Can you tell us a bit about the photos?
Emanuela: These photos were taken during a shoot we did for the last issue of DUST magazine. We went to Stromboli, a stunning little island situated on the northern coast of Sicily. Stromboli is a volcano and the whole village is built around the volcano. It’s a very special place with a strong energy. You can really feel the strength of the nature while staying there. You feel that intimate connection we have with nature in the photos. The shoot was a special Louis Vuitton shoot with photos by Alessio Boni and styling by Tara St Hill. I thought this project was the perfect moment to take some pictures to show what happens between shots.
Springtide: Can you tell us a bit about what you do at DUST and how you came into that role?
Emanuela: I'm currently art directing the magazine. DUST is a project I have been a part of since the very beginning. Luca Guarini and Luigi Vitali have been friends of mine for ten years now. We met in Florence, and since then we have always been friends. DUST was established 6 years ago while I was studying graphic design in Barcelona, and Luca was in London. I still remember when I designed the logo in my student apartment with Luca. Everything started with the intention to follow our passion at the time, which was photography. We really wanted to support emerging talents, and everything started like a game. The very first issue of DUST was created through Skype in the middle of the night when I was free from my university duties. See what it’s become now, it’s still unbelievable. In past issues we also had art director guests who I worked with and I really learned a lot from each of them through that process.
Springtide: How has your eye / taste developed throughout your career?
Emanuela: Taste is something very subjective and I think it’s something you’re born with but it’s extremely important to always feed your brain and your eyes with new visual input. Now it’s really simple with all the platforms we have to satisfy our curiosity. Everything is really fast now, and we get bored very quickly by aesthetics, so it’s really important to rely on your own taste and be truthful and honest in your work, I try not to follow the hype.
Springtide: How would you like to see femininity/masculinity depicted in fashion images?
Emanuela: I'd like to always see it closer to reality, I think we are on a good path now. People are bored by the construction of fake ideals of beauty so it’s time to represent reality as it is. Femininity and masculinity are subjective and most of the time they blend in the same individual. I also think the decisions made by several major fashion houses to merge women and men’s shows into one is a very strong statement that truly represents the time we are living in.
Springtide: What do you think the role of a print magazine is today?
Emanuela: I have always had a huge attraction to paper. I love to touch it, to feel the texture and the smell of it. I think now printed magazines have acquired a much higher value, it is something that persists, it’s an object to collect. Nostalgic people maybe understand it better (laughing). I don’t think paper is at its end, although I know most people think that. I do have to say there's no point for a fashion publication to come out every month. I think it’s a bit useless considering the waste of paper in terms of sustainability. I think in general, that if a magazine came out twice a year, or once, the content would be much richer and more interesting than the ones that have to be out every month. They basically just show ads. I think it’s time to give more value to the content and be aware of the consequences that printing less substantial material has on our planet.
Springtide: What are your ideal circumstances for creating things?
Emanuela: It depends. Sometimes I need to be under pressure. I'm a Cancer and we are quite good at postponing things when we have deadlines. I would be lying if I said that a bit of sadness doesn't help as well. Working in Berlin, especially during winter, is not the emblem of joy. The bad weather and cold help me to stay focused and centered in my work.
Springtide: What is an experience that has grown you the most?
Emanuela: My grandfather died three years ago, it was a big loss for me. I've always considered him like a father. Losing him while I was away made me really reconsider my scale of values. Since then I made a promise to myself to be close to my family as often as I can be. To regret something is the worst thing you can experience in life.
October 19, 2017
Christopher Rao, 24, lives and works in New York. We sat down with him at his apartment in the East Village to discuss his current interests, childhood passions, family ties, and the photos he took on two disposables over nearly a year's time.
Alyssa (Springtide): Where did you grow up?
Christopher: I grew up inMassachusetts in a town called Newton, just outside of Boston. The ultimate liberal bubble (laughs)...my parents still live in the house where I was raised.
Alyssa: It seems like in the images you shot for us, your family plays a big part.
Christopher: Yes, major...everyone photographed is family in a certain sense. My closest friends, my immediate family. My sister Bella is visiting me for the summer, from Paris, where she lives full time. Some of these pictures were taken when I was last there, a trip that coincided with a visit my parents were making, so we spent a lot of time together. I think there’s a lot of togetherness represented in these photos, which I love.
Alyssa: When did you first start thinking about moving to New York?
Christopher: I was young, 10 or 11. On what was probably only my second or third trip to New York, my mom took us to see [the Moroccan and Bulgarian artists] Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s The Gates in Central Park. They were so striking...these huge panels of fabric in an incredible shade of orange...kind of Hermès in color--hanging from these strong industrial arches [also orange] following the footpaths in Central Park. I still have the postcard somewhere...and a great photoof my sister and younger brother [Charlie] standing in front of them (see last photo). My grandmother was with us too...my mom’s mother, Joan.
On that same trip to see The Gates, my mom, who has always been the biggest advocate of my interests, ok’d a trip to Versace on 5th Ave, which was, of course, total fantasy land for me. I was obsessed with Versace around that time in my youth...the story, the rise of Donatella, the clothes themselves...then it sort of dwindled as I got older, into high school and college. Now I love it again. Anyway, it was the fucking middle of winter and we were all in snow pants and hats, all bundled up, dragging snow onto the floor in Versace. I think typically it could’ve ended sort of negatively, as retail people know how to play that snooty game, but my luck had it that this woman who worked there, Lindsay, was incredibly welcoming and warm. She gave me a couple lookbooks, which I think are in storage at my parents house.
Alyssa: So how did you get into working in the fashion industry?
Christopher: I did some work for Black Frame and Rodarte starting in high school...unpaid, on a volunteer basis. I remember emailing about a month before fashion week and being so surprised that anyone got back to me. I went down to NY twice my junior and senior year and helped out during fashion weeks, pre-show. One season I worked through Black Frame, another season directly through Rodarte. I stayed with my friend Rosy and her mom on the Upper West Side.
Alyssa: Do you think that you got a good education at FIT?
Christopher: It served its purpose, but to be completely honest, I could have made more of it. My perspective was that school was something I had to do. There was so much more I was interested in outside of school and I didn’t see the possibility of marrying my education to those things. I wish I’d know better, of course, but also that I’d had more advisement.
Alyssa: What were your interests outside of your formal education?
Christopher: It was really important to me to experience the city and be around people who weren’t going to school. I worked full time at Barney's from the time I moved here at 18, basically until the time I graduated. I was interning here and there, going to school, and working at the same time for about three and a half years. I started working during my freshman year of high school, so I didn’t really see the logic in not continuing to work when I moved to NY. In retrospect I definitely wish I’d interned more than I did. I wish I had spent more time on campus. It is what it is, and obviously hindsight is 20/20. I could say the same about not having saved money while I was in college (laughs)...every cent I made at Barney's went right back to the store.
Alyssa: Yeah you have to live through it to learn what you should or should not be doing, and just keep going. So lately you are doing styling for Gayletter?
Christopher: Yes! So for anyone reading who is not familiar, Gayletter is a queer publication, published bi-annually. It was co-founded by two good friends of mine, Abi Benitez and Tom Jackson, and is based out of the Lower East Side. It started out as a weekly newsletter and evolved into a print publication a few years later. We’re currently working on the 7th issue...I have a couple stories that I’m super super excited about. (Issue 7). I started helping on issue 2, but my first solo project was in issue 4.
Alyssa: What was your first solo project like?
Christopher: It was something Tom, Abi, and I had been talking about for a while, probably a year before it came to fruition. My mom has this pale pink Chanel jacket that is really stunning...super muted, kind of dusty in color, with these awesome gilded silver buttons. She wore it to my college graduation, and I became obsessed with the idea of shooting it on a boy. The story basically developed from there, and we ended up deciding to make it a series of tonal pink images--garments in varying shades of pink. We casted all brown boys...the sets were really great. Andy Harman created them, and his partner Vincent Dilio shot the story. It was sort of a dreamy intro to print...still one of my favorite stories and an extremely fond memory.
Alyssa: Is this photo of the Gayletter guys?
Christopher: So this photo is of Tom, Abi, and Chris, the managing editor [of Gayletter] all in drag in this apartment (laughs) on Halloween of 2016. I guess I’ve had this camera for almost a year now.
Alyssa: Yes, it really has been almost a year! But that’s what is interesting…it’s not just a little cropped version or a day in the life kind of thing. It’s a full year and we really have a full portrait of what your life is like.
Christopher: Yes! Totally. It’s been a great year.
Alyssa: It seems like a lot has progressed for you this past year, especially with styling. Have you always wanted to do styling?
Christopher: I really enjoy it as a side project, and I’ve started to do it more and more often, but I’ve never pursued it with enough aggression to make it a full-time gig. I know of a couple people my age...some from FIT actually...who are styling nearly full-time, and independently, and I give them a lot of credit. I’m really happy, and honored, to see my work in Gayletter, especially knowing that the process is one that I get to enjoy with friends...my boyfriends, haha, all four of them. I’m not sure if I see it going beyond that, I guess time will tell.
In the meantime, I work for Marc Jacobs in the wholesale division, overseeing a bunch of ready-to-wear and leather goods accounts.
Alyssa: Those things are very different. Do you enjoy the variety of both roles?
Christopher: Yes. Needless to say, my work at Marc is very very different; it’s highly analytical, super structured at all times...I’m happy to have that duality in my life right now, these two experiences that are so separate. I mean, there are ties. Of course. I work for Marc, Marc advertises in Gayletter, we use the clothes for the majority of our shoots. But those are personal ties, specific to me. Ultimately there’s a clear distinction between the two roles and I feel like this is the right time to be exposing myself to both of those things.
Alyssa: Do you think you learn best from hands-on experiences?
Christopher: Yeah, I think application is super important, and the more the better. There were so many things that I remember studying in college that I learned, via textbook or from a professor, and then immediately forgot once my exams were finished. I didn’t really retain them...like, they didn’t stick...until I started using them in my day-to-day at Marc, or elsewhere.
Alyssa: Where do you start when working on a new shoot?
Christopher: It just depends. I find more and more often that what I want to build on is something that I experienced or loved during childhood, something that is highly personal, like my mom’s jacket, or an artist I grew up with. One of my favorite shoots (from Issue 5) was inspired by Sargent--his portrait of Dr. Pozzi, the Italian gynecologist. This guy was so so elegant...and kind of sexy. My siblings and I grew up going to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, which is the most divine, jewel-like space in, like, possibly the entire country. It’s gorgeous. My sister was named after her. [Gardner] lived there, and housed all her collections there. It’s a Venetian palazzo, constructed almost entirely from Italian materials, and it was left, per her will, exactly as she kept it. So, like, everything is in place...every chair, every painting. She was extremely close with Sargent, and a ton of his work hangs there, that was my intro. I wasn’t familiar with Dr. Pozzi growing up, but once I came across it, on the internet actually, sometime in the last couple of years, I really thought it was the perfect takeoff point for a shoot...especially one for a queer publication. I ended up learning that Sargent and Pozzi were likely involved in some manner, which is kind of hot...makes for an interesting story (laughs). For Gayletter and for history.
We ended up creating this Edwardian fantasyland inside the lobby of our friends’ Brooklyn brownstone, from around the same era I think, and shot the boys on the stairs, on the floor, under the light fixtures. It was such a treat.
Alyssa: How do you normally do castings for shoots?
Christopher: We do some agency casting...street casting. Some Instagram casting, some Grindr casting.
Alyssa: That’s great, I never would think of Grindr as a casting option, that’s the modern way.
Christopher: We’re all for being modern (laughs).
Alyssa: Do you and your friends like to go out anywhere specific in the city?
Christopher: We spend a lot of time at each others apartments, just hanging out. We all live alone, so someone usually has hosting duty. I love the cycle. We get alcohol and make a really great dinner, hangout, and chat. We watch Drag Race together, we watch Transparent. We also watched American Crime Story. I’m really excited to watch the Donatella [Versace] one with Penelope Cruz.
Occasionally we’ll go out to Eastern Bloc, sometimes we go to The Public on Thursday nights which can be fun, both Abi and I live close by. We used to go to Eastern Bloc a lot, which I think has a new name now? Alan Cumming bought it? I really love being at home though...it’s super important to me, I love being independent within my own space. I don’t really see the point in making the effort to live by yourself if you’re always away from your apartment.
August 29, 2017
Matthew Williams, founder of ALYX, lives and works in Ferrara, Italy. The photographs that he took focus on his life there with his family and feature pieces from the label's A/W '17 Collection.
Springtide: Where are you from?
Springtide: Is there a place that has had a profound influence on your work?
MW: CA and NYC
Springtide: Your work has been described as simultaneously sincere and subversive. Do you agree? What do you attribute this to?
MW: Yes because I just live out loud through my work.
Springtide: Do you think that designing for entertainers has given you a stronger narrative outlook on making clothing?
MW: Yes I think so because I often design clothes for the image they will create. However, I want to make clothes people love and wear at the end of the day.
Springtide: How does nostalgia play out in your work?
MW: I always attempt to design for the present, this moment in time. The past and the future mean nothing to me.
Springtide: What are you afraid of?
MW: My children dying before me.
Springtide: Where do you feel most comfortable?
MW: In my studio working or in a room with loud music where I don't have to speak to anyone but I'm still surrounded by people.
Springtide: Have you ever felt misrepresented, misunderstood, or judged too quickly?
MW: Yes. But that was just my bruised ego.
Springtide: Whose opinion do you hold the highest?
MW: My wife and my children's opinions.
Springtide: What has challenged you the most?
Springtide: What makes a good conversation?
MW: Two like minded people.
Springtide: How has having a family changed you?
MW: It has become something I care more about than my work.
Springtide: What does home mean to you?
MW: A place I can rest my head with my family and feel safe.
May 3, 2017
Yasmine Ganley is the founder, editor and curator behind online content platform, anyonegirl.com and Waist Journal, the site's print counterpart. With the disposable camera that we gave her, Yasmine shot a photo series that she titles, "The Language of Flowers".
Springtide: Where did you grow up? How has it shaped you?
Yasmine: I grew up in Titirangi, on the border of the Waitake Ranges on the West Coast of Auckland, New Zealand. My Dad is a surfer so we spent a lot of time driving winding roads, listening to cassette tapes and brushing black sand off our feet. It’s about 30 minutes out of the city. I grew up with a very close knit group of friends, whom I am still very close to. We’d all walk to school together, ride our bikes to each other’s homes, and save up for ice creams in the village. I actually moved back to Titirangi two years ago. It’s my favourite place. I crave the isolation and I love working from home when I get the chance. It’s quiet and lush, and it smells really fresh and floral here at the moment after all the rain.
Springtide:Tell us about what your education was like.
Yasmine: High school was a total waste of time for me. I just was not interested, which looking back now, I totally regret! All I wanted to do was dance. That was my only focus. So, I left high school early and moved out of home to train in contemporary dance at The New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but has definitely shaped me for the better. More recently, I find myself applying similar disciplines and practices (such as concept delivery, body language and impulse, internal monologue, timing and choreography) to my own current work.
Springtide: Do you consider yourself more of an artist or a curator?
Yasmine: Curator, I guess.. anything that finds a way of supporting the people I love and projects I believe in.
Springtide: Are you currently working with a team on anyonegirl, or is it mostly just a solo project?
Yasmine: Fairly solo, although my friend Natasha Mead does all of my graphic design for both the website and Waist journal... which is a huge part of the visual puzzle. We have a great time pushing and pulling ideas. She’s a big part of the overall feel for anyonegirl, and has helped me to shape it into something really special.
Springtide: How does your print magazine function differently than your website? Why is it important for you to have both?
Yasmine: 'Waist' was a way for me to bring to life all of the amazing works I get to share online. Sometimes I felt the level of work on offer was too high to just be a blip in the digital sphere, and I wanted to honor the people behind such work by creating a tangible platform for them that also created a wider conversation with its readers. The print journal is also a way for me to find my own voice. I very much enjoyed having my own work removed from the journal so I could focus purely on the over arching feel and direction of the project.
Springtide:What do you think your audience values?
Yasmine: I hope that they value integrity and honesty, (as well as) a sense of community and generosity between fellow female creatives.
Springtide: How has the project changed as you have gained a better understanding of your audience?
Yasmine: With the website, I just try to remain as honest as possible about what really makes me excited. The more transparent I am, the better the response. I think that’s the main thing I’ve learned over the years. In regards to the journal project, we’re currently working on the second issue now, so still figuring that out! Again, I am relying purely on instinct to drive the tone. The initial reaction to 'Waist' was beyond what I had ever imagined. It certainly helped fuel my desire to make the next one.
Springtide: How do your friends and people you spend time with effect the way you think / work?
Yasmine: They probably effect in more ways than I am aware of. There’s no escaping having everything you come into contact with in some way bleed into your own work and output. But the beauty in it for me, is in how that is all interpreted. I believe it has to have time to mull inside you before becoming it’s own thing. In terms of the way in which we work, I feel like we’re all so supportive of each other, and believe in the concept and the messaging, more so than how we’re credited, so working on projects together is seamless and supportive. I think we take that dynamic for granted too often; it is a really special thing that we should be proud of.
Springtide: What keeps you motivated?
Yasmine: Women who make and create their own offering by encouraging and supporting other female creatives.
Springtide: If you could express yourself through any new medium you have yet to explore, what would it be?
Yasmine: Glass. It is strong yet vulnerable and ultimately transparent.
March 29, 2017
Miguel Becer is a designer living and working in Madrid, Spain. The photos that he took for us feature clothing, shoes, and sunglasses from the Spring 2017 collection of his label, ManéMané.
Springtide: Where did you grow up?
Miguel: I grew up in a little place called Navalmoral de la Mata in the west of Spain.
Springtide: Where did you attend school?
Miguel: I started school where I grew up but I did piano studies and I moved to a big city when I was 16. It was a very special experience. I made my best friends there.
Springtide: What was your education like?
Miguel: I received an education of music and science. Something crazy…but I could choose music and arts when I was 19.
Springtide: Tell us about how you came to design clothing for women...
Miguel: I always loved fashion. Music and fashion are with me all the days in my life. When I finished University I decided to become a fashion designer and create my own Women's Fashion brand.
Springtide: How did you become a teacher?
Miguel: I won Vogue’s, "Who's On Next” contest with my fourth collection and I received an opportunity to become a professor. I said yes immediately because I love teaching fashion. I learn a lot of things from my pupils.
Springtide: Where do you go for inspiration or to pull references when first starting a collection?
Miguel: This is a very difficult question. Everything in my life is an inspiration for me. I tried to create a place when I design clothes for people who can live there. Sometimes it’s about trips or movies and sometimes about proportion, volume or silhouettes.
Springtide: How do you think Fashion is changing?
Miguel: Fashion is so fast and this is so funny. Something is very interesting today and old 6 months later. We can do whatever we want, (create something) very new or try to recover something from a past decade.
Springtide: Who is your biggest critic?
Miguel: I work with a team of 4 or 5 people and we try to talk about all of our decisions. We are each other’s biggest critics.
Springtide: Is there someone in your life that has had a profound impact on you?
Miguel: Beethoven. He put all his soul and brain into creating his music. There was nothing more important in his life than music and I appreciate this so much… how someone can focus all his life into something.
Springtide: How do you think Madrid is different from other cities?
Miguel: Madrid is the funniest city around the world. Weather, culture and parties are very nice. There is no place like Madrid.
Springtide: Where do you go to have fun?
Miguel: I really like traveling and its very easy in Europe. Whenever I can, I like to travel to some city that I do not know yet. I love to dance in clubs all night.
*This interview has been edited for clarity.
March 13, 2017
We met the wonderful Marie Stotz one night last August (2016) when she asked to take our photo at Paul's Baby Grand. When we gave her a disposable camera to shoot on in December, she treated the project like her own visual diary for a week. The subjects of these candid photos are a mix of friends, strangers, and "club friends". They were taken at her apartment, Cafe Select, Paul's Casablanca, Beverly's, Paul's Baby Grand, the Blond, and out and about in Chinatown.
Emma (Springtide): So, where are you from?
Marie: I’m from Massachusetts originally. I’m from the suburbs of Boston. I moved to New York when I was 18 to go to NYU and I have been here ever since.
Emma: What did you study at NYU?
Marie: I was a Media Studies Major with a Minor in French. So, I did a lot of analysis of magazines, movies, and things like that.
Emma: That sounds so fun.
Marie: It was great. I miss school all the time, honestly.
Emma: And you have an interesting job now…
Marie: (Laughs) Yes, so… I work for a Matchmaker. I started my job when I couldn’t find a job in journalism when I graduated. Originally it was the classic, “I’ll take this for a few months”, you know? It turned out I was good at it and I kept getting promoted. It’s a great, flexible schedule and it pays well and allows me to pursue my photography and my writing on my own time.
Emma: So, what do you do for her?
Marie: Basically, I do all of the administrative stuff for her and then I also do the matchmaking. So I’m out there making matches. on the phone being like, “Emma I have a great guy for you” …. and I interview all of the ladies.
Emma: What did you expect when you went into that job and how is it different from what you expected?
Marie: I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. I think the description was very similar to what I had dealt with already working in Fashion…. Dealing with difficult personalities and kind of being kind of a mediator. It’s never boring. If you’re a curious person it’s a good way to learn a lot about other people.
Alyssa (Springtide): So, to shift subjects… you hang out at Paul’s (Baby Grand) a lot. What other places do you usually go to?
Marie: I started going to Paul’s a lot. I went there for the first time when it first opened and then I took a break and then I went back and I actually met my Ex-Boyfriend there. He was very into that scene so I would go with him a lot and I got to know a lot of people there and then after we broke up I just kept going…. but basically anything in this area. I live right behind 169 Bar so that has kind of been my home base. Happy Ending is always convenient. The Blond is a great place to go to after Paul’s (laughs).
Alyssa: We just went there the other night. The crowd is different, though.
Marie: It kind of has a Meatpacking vibe. It’s the kind of place where you’ll be at the bar and an Investment Banker will like grab your wrist and bring you to his table and give you a drink. Actually, I remember the night I was there taking the photos… I was talking to this guy and he’s like, “Yeah, My wife is at home asleep with our kids” and I was like, “Oh my god. ME TOO!”
Alyssa: What was his response?
Marie: He was just like, “Wow” and I was like, “Yeah. She’s there…I love being a Mom...blah blah blah” I guess that’s what I love about nightlife too is like, you can say whatever you want.
Marie: Also, Paul’s Casablanca is great.
Alyssa: We had an interesting night there the other night… Sunday night this past week.
Marie: I love Morrissey night. How is the new Morrissey night? I used to go there all the time for Morrissey night when it was Sway Lounge.
Alyssa: It was good. It was a really mixed crowd. There were some really old people and some really young people.
Emma: You would get great photos. It was the epitome of that thing you were saying about nightlife. By the end of the night there was no one there that we really knew and everyone was acting crazy so it was fun to watch / be a part of.
Marie: I’m glad they preserved the spirit of the original Morrissey night because the beauty of Sway was that you would show up on Morrissey night and Chloe Sevigny would be there and also like, the weirdest people you’ve ever seen in your life, you know? So, I kind of enjoy that the freaks are back… and I say that as a Morrissey freak.
Emma: So you see the same people over and over again when you go out?
Marie: Yeah, Exactly. I kind of like it. The nice thing about going out in New York is there is a bit of a community. People talk down about your club friends because maybe you’re all drunk and no one is having deep conversations but I find it to be a very welcoming place, you know? I find that there’s an acceptance at face value there.
Emma: Have you always lived downtown?
Marie: My senior year of college I lived in the West Village when my parents were still paying my rent…. Thank you guys. It was beautiful and wonderful but I didn’t really feel at home there. I was always walking like 30 minutes across Houston to my best friend’s apartment and spending the night there.
Emma: When did you start playing around with taking photos?
Marie: So, when I went home last I was actually cracking up because I actually found an old Holga I had. So I experimented with that in High School but I exposed the roll of film so I never saw the photos from that. But I would always use disposables. I remember. I was never big on digital. In college I would take a lot of polaroids and do a lot of disposables. I didn’t really get started though until my ex-boyfriend gave me his old Yashica and he was like, “You have a good eye. You should try this out”. I look back at my first couple of rolls and I’m like, “This is shit” and he was the first person to be like, “No, this is good. Keep going.”. So yeah, I started from there and then I took a dark room class this Fall, started using better cameras – manual, an SLR… I’m still learning definitely but I love it.
Alyssa: In contrast to a lot of nightlife photography, yours feels very different.
Marie: Definitely. I think that part of that is because I really insert myself in there. If I’m taking photos then I’ll have a couple of drinks and then whip out the camera once I have sort of made people comfortable with my presence. I will say though, I do edit a lot. I don’t edit my photos at all with Photoshop but what I put out to the world is not everything that comes back on my roll of film. I think it’s about choosing what you want to show other people.
Emma: That has been something that keeps coming up in every conversation we have had with people recently… you really have to make a lot of stuff to end up with just a small amount that you’re able to show. So, I think it is discrediting yourself to say that you really edit down, as if everything that comes out of everyone else is amazing when really, it’s not like that for anybody.
Marie: Exactly. I remember in my darkroom class my teacher was like, “Look… the difference between being a good photographer and not is the amount of photos you take and what ends up on the cutting room floor and what doesn’t”.
Emma: It’s such an important thing and it seems so simple to think of it that way but it’s hard to remember that and not let yourself get frustrated or disappointed.
Marie: I think I can be very hard on myself too but if you talk to anyone that’s older than we are, they’re gonna be like, “You’re going to spend a lot of your 20s fucking up and making mediocre shit” but we keep going for like, the flash of brilliance, you know? … Do you guys know Nan Goldin?
Alyssa and Emma: Yeah of course!
Marie: The best. So, her latest book is called, “Diving for Pearls”. She just talks about how with photography most of them are fine or good and you’re always just waiting for that perfect shot. So there is a lot of luck involved.
Emma: My dance teacher when I was younger used to always say, “liking is a luxury” and I never understood until recently what that meant… that it really is a luxury to like something that you create but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep doing it.
Alyssa: Going back to Nan Goldin… do you have any other photographers that really influence your work?
Marie: I actually find that I really identify with a lot of female photographers. I read Diane Arbus’ biography this summer and it really just blew my mind. She was awesome. She was the ultimate psychological photographer… just some of the shit she would do to get a certain reaction. She was fearless. Nan is obviously great. I do love Ryan McGinley’s work… Wolfgang Tillmans. In terms of more fashion photography, I love Harley Weir and Cass Bird.
Emma: What do you think draws you to a subject or makes you want to shoot someone?
Marie: I think that I really like people that have a unique style. I’m not particularly interested in people who are conventionally attractive… although that’s amazing and it can be fun to shoot someone where the camera just loves them. But I like people who sort of have their own look and I don’t know… people who are fun to talk to.
Emma: Do you find that there is a curious part of your personality that drew you to your job and also to this particular kind of photography?
Marie: Definitely. I think that my job is very intimate and photography is also very intimate. There’s something about getting people to let their guard down and see the self that they’re kind of hiding behind, you know? Because we all have our public personas but that’s very different from who we are on the inside. So I think what’s beautiful about photography is when you can catch someone kind of letting their guard down and letting that truth through. I guess it’s kind of the same with love and matchmaking.
Emma: Do you have a story from your childhood that exemplifies that kind of curiosity or inclination to break down people’s barriers?
Marie: I think that it’s probably because when I was a kid I was very shy. I actually had a really bad speech impediment and I was also extremely clumsy. I was in both physical therapy and occupational therapy because I like, couldn’t move. I wasn’t very popular in school at all until I moved to New York. I was a huge reader. I would read, like, a book a day. In High School I would just come home from school every day and watch movies. What are fiction and what are movies other than first person accounts of people’s stories? So I guess I just got really interested in it that way and as I got older started approaching that curiosity with more of a hands on approach instead of just watching a million movies a day.
Alyssa: What are your favorite books and what are you reading right now?
Marie: My favorite book is probably “Bonjour Tristesse” by Francoise Sagan. It’s just great. It’s really short but the brevity is beautiful and the writing is great. If I had to choose my favorite that I could re-read again and again, that would probably be it. I read a lot of biographies. I’m in a book club but it has kind of fizzled out so I don’t have anything too standout from the last couple of months.
Emma: How do you feel about photography as a hobby? Do you want that to one day be your whole life or are you happy having it be something you do just for pleasure?
Marie: I don’t know. I have started to get a few more paid jobs as a photographer, which is great. I would love to have that be my full time but I think the problem with photography is it’s just really hard to keep doing interesting stuff and I feel like a lot of people are kind of doing sort of the same thing right now. So, I mean, it’s like any art… you’re always trying to distinguish yourself, you know? But I would definitely love to have that be more of my full time in the future.
Emma: and writing as well?
Marie: Yeah. Honestly, I think that I’ve taken a real break from writing in the past year since I’ve focused more on this. I recently wrote an article for my friend’s zine and I was just cracking up cause it was so simple.. it was like 500 words or something but I was really struggling. I was like, “I’ve forgotten all journalism!”. But yeah, I would love to go back to my creative writing at some point. Life just keeps getting in the way.
Emma: Yeah, but that’s why it’s so great when you do feel inspired to go back to something you’ve been working on.
Marie: Exactly. I’m the type of person that always needs to be working on something. I’m either writing in my diary every day or taking photos every day, you know?
December 1, 2016
Petra Gabas is a Designer living in Prague. We spoke with her in a cafe in her home city about Art School and how intuition guides her creative process. Petra took the above photos on a short vacation that she took in between her practical and theoretical exams in her last semester of graduate school. The garden that is pictured is a place where she often meditates.
Emma (Springtide): This is such a cool place. I would have never found it!
Petra: Great! I’m glad! You know, I was thinking of what would be interesting for you so I’m glad you like it. For morning it’s really chill. It’s really nice and yeah… it’s quite special in this area. There’s nothing similar around, really.
Emma: So, are you from here (Prague) originally?
Petra: No… I’m from close to Brno, actually …My family is. It’s a town in the Czech Republic called Prostejov.
So, I was born in Prostejov and then I was studying High School in Brno, actually. Brno is another quite important city.
I moved here when I started studying at Academy, which I finished last week!
Petra: I’m really glad because it was too long. I was doing my Bachelor’s and then Masters and then I was in New York for an internship… (I’ve been doing my Masters for 4 years).
Emma: What did you get your Masters in?
Petra: Like the field? Ah, it’s Fashion …. Clothing and Accessory Design.
Emma: Is that what you studied as an Undergraduate student as well?
Petra: The bachelors… yes. It was exactly the same. Actually, I was studying in art school for high school as well but it was focused for I’d say clothing, but more about sketching and painting. It’s kind of “Art School”. Like, we were close to the other fields a lot … sculptors and furniture designers so it was nice. It was basically the same here at Academy.
It was nice but now I’m like, “Woohoo! Reality!’. I’m taking a vacation because I really need to find out where to go or what to do exactly.
Emma: That is great. There must be a lot of pressure built up after being in school for so long!
...So when you were in New York, it was for an internship?
Petra: Yes, I was there for like 5 months. It was with Creatures of the Wind. It was very nice. I really enjoyed it. I really love New York. It was the first city where I felt really like just good, you know? Kind of like home but just very different. I don’t know ... maybe it's that it's so open and free. It’s a really nice feeling. I would go there immediately but I kind of can’t right now.
…you are from New York?
Emma: Yeah, I am. I grew up in the Hudson Valley.. just a little outside of the city.
Petra: And you are studying something….?
Emma: I went to art school also, actually. I went to Parsons and I graduated last year. I studied Fine Arts. Alyssa and I grew up together and she went to FIT. So we came up with this idea like a year ago and it has kind of slowly blossomed.
Petra: I absolutely understand. Really like, for me, one year is so fast… We were in touch really like…
Emma: a year ago! It’s crazy.
Petra: It seems to me like it was, I don’t know ... yesterday.
Emma: That’s why it is so great to be able to meet you. You were one of the first people who even showed interest in what we were doing.
Petra: It was really like just, just a good feeling. I have these (feelings) and I kind of, decide like this for most of the things. Like, I just felt it. It mostly works.
Emma: Is that kind of intuition is something that you implement a lot in designing?
Petra: Yes, definitely. I think I work by intuition…kind of. Of course, there are some precise parts of the process which you kind of have to approach more planned out. But I have to use it. Its my … I hope I can say it’s my power. When I cannot feel anything or work with intuition there’s something wrong.
Emma: Did you ever find that difficult, being in art school, because you have to explain your decision making so clearly?
Petra: Yes, in some way. In the last year it became more difficult. Because at the beginning everything was new so I learned a lot but now I have experience from reality and I wanted to create my own rules to use them in reality because, you know, you have to... otherwise you leave school and you are really lost. But yes, it's difficult to use it in school ... so yeah, the last years were a little bit not so helpful, maybe.
Emma: I found the same thing. I feel like I'm kind of an intuitive person as well so in school, when it came time to explain the decisions I made, I found it hard because it was such an emotional decision making process rather than being something that is more calculated. But it's actually an exciting process to think back on something you've made and try to understand where certain impulses or intuitive acts stem from.
Petra: Yes, I love it but sometimes its really difficult to explain something because you realize it sometime later, you know? You see what you have done and you kind of go ... "Ah, yes!". Emotions and these human things are for me, the most important. I'm seeking some kind of a truth, maybe, in things. You kind of cannot count everything ... but, some people are really really different so it is difficult to explain to them, "I really don't know now". I find that in Fashion there really is some purpose to doing it like this (intuitively), because, you really just don't know in the time you are making it... and you don't have to know really.
December 1, 2016
Aurora Anthony is a rapper/ recording artist from New York. He took these photos during a trip to Miami for Art Basel. Aurora spoke to us about luck, making music, and staying positive.
Alyssa (Springtide): So, are all of the people in these photos your friends?
Aurora: The person with the green hair is my manager and then everyone else are just people I was with. I’m kind of cool with some of the people. That’s, what’s his name? Denim Tears… Tremaine. I went to some event with them. I think my manager took this picture. They had rented out this mansion and threw a big party. A$AP performed and this other dude… a little kid named Smooky Margielaa. So, yeah. It was just a big party.
Alyssa: So, you live in the Lower East Side. Have you always lived there?
Aurora: Yeah. I was raised on the Lower East Side so 21 years. I’m 24 now. I was born in California and then I moved there when I was like, three.
Emma (Springtide): When did you start getting into music?
Aurora: Alright, so, it’s funny.., I wasn’t even listening to rap music when I was younger. I didn’t listen to that shit. My parents don’t play that type of music. Like, I’m African. I’m not American Black… I’m Nigerian so my parent’s didn’t really like a part of that culture. So, I listened to like jazz or like, whatever was on z100. I wasn’t into Hot97 or any of that and then I was watching this Hip Hop Documentary. It was just kind of like playing on TV in the background. I was young so this was just before “Late Registration” came out and I’m just watching and they started playing the music and I’m like, “Yo..who is this guy?” and I just went on the computer and did a whole bunch of research and was like, “Yo. I wanna rap”. He was really just talking about how no one really wanted him to rap and everyone was counting him out and no one really cared. I always felt like I was the underdog in everything I did cause I never really had like, a talent. I felt like he was kind of coming out and saying you know, “I wasn’t really talented. I built this over time. I got taught the ropes and I learned how to do this”… and I always felt that, you know what I’m saying? Like, I connected with that and that’s what made me want to make music. So, it’s been a long time coming,,, like 10 years.
Emma: Are there people that you work with really closely when you’re making music?
Aurora: Well, I have an engineer/ producer but everything else is just me… my ideas, my samples. As a creative, I guess, inspiration is random – you never know when you’re gonna get it, you know? I could be watching a movie and hear like, 10 seconds of the movie and be like, “Oh shit. I’m gonna sample this little part and turn it into something”. That’s just how my mind works.
Emma: That makes sense. It’s much easier to create things spontaneously when you are doing everything on your own. It’s also interesting to hear how you find inspiration that way because so many of the people we have interviewed so far are more visually oriented.
Aurora: Yeah, I feel like with me, visuals do help but like, hearing something is just a feeling that isn’t comparable. Like, I was watching “Scarface” and the sounds in this one scene just inspired me… and then funnily enough, The Weeknd sampled that same part of the movie that I sampled for a song… the “Starboy” song. So I was kind of like, “Damn. Motherfucker got me”, cause he dropped the record already. But yeah. I think it’s more about sounds. Sounds go a way longer way than visuals. Visuals come after, for me.
Alyssa: But do you think visuals are important at all in how you brand yourself ? Because I noticed your album cover art was pretty interesting. Do you think about that a lot or do you collaborate with different artists?
Aurora: When it comes to visuals, I have somebody for it but usually I just speak on shit and they’ll make it happen. A lot of people around me are really creative and I’m lucky to have those people. I’m not really good at technical shit but I’m good at the ideas aspect of it, I guess. Even when I’m talking to a videographer, I could be like, “Yo. We should re-create a 1970s horror film type thing” and they’ll make it come to life. I get lucky with the visual stuff.
Emma: That’s definitely a skill though, to be able to communicate exactly what you mean.
Aurora: I’m very vague with shit. I don’t really use the right words but people just understand me, I guess.
Alyssa: Working with people that understand you also helps.
Aurora: Yeah and like all the people I work with …. I mean, I’ve never really paid for anything, you know what I’m saying? They all just do it because they believe in the vision, I guess.
Alyssa: How do you process information if it’s not so much about visuals? I am just curious since we haven’t really talked to many people who are more into music or kind of interpret the world through sounds.
Aurora: I can’t put it into words to explain it to you. You just know when something is going to sound good… I really can’t explain it.
Emma: There is that quote that says, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture”. I guess it's hard to put it into words because…
Aurora: It’s not meant for words. Although, I do put words to what I make but yeah, you just know. There have been so many times where people have asked me, “How did you make this?” and the answer is always, “It just happened”.
Emma: That has been a common thread in the people that we’ve been working with… everyone approaches what they do very intuitively.
Aurora: Yeah, like, I could never say that a song I made was planned out. I make everything from scratch… like, brand new. Everything. So, even when I write it’s not like I pre-write songs. I write it right there on the spot or I just freestyle it. For the most part everything is of the moment… of the feeling.
Emma: Who is the friend that you have had the longest?
Aurora: Well, he’s in jail now. I’ve known him since I was like, 8 years old. He’s still my best friend but he’s just in jail so it kinda sucks. It’s been like 5 months. It doesn’t sound like that long but if you’re hanging out with someone every day for like, 5 or 6 years then it takes a toll. I used to hang out with this person every day. This person lives around the corner from me. I’m in his house every day, he’s in my house every day. Plus, we had a childhood together so we’ve seen both sides of the playing field. When we didn’t understand what women were… now we know what women are. Not drinking and drinking, playing Yu-Gi-Oh and playing Poker. Anyone could have been in that position too, you know? I’m glad that I wasn’t but it just sucks that I lost my best friend based off of someone else’s mistake.
Alyssa: I don’t know what I would do if I lost my best friend.
Aurora: There’s nothing you really can do. Also, when you have money it just makes shit easier. His bail is like, half a million or some crazy amount. But like, if you had money you’d have a paid lawyer. The legal system is weird when you don’t have money. His court date was like 2 days ago but they didn’t get to see the judge because there was like, a fight or something and now he has to wait until March. That’s life though. You don’t really get to pick the hand that you’re dealt but it’s up to you what you do with it. You just have to have the wherewithal to try to make it to the top.
Emma: Or the luck…
Aurora: Luck is a very big factor. But you know what it is? No one is really lucky. Some people just know when luck is around and when to act. Luck is around everyone but it’s only around for a limited amount of time. It might be around you today but you’re not doing shit with it then you lose your chance. That’s what happens to people. They don’t understand that if right now is the time for you to be doing something then you gotta do it.
Emma: Do you feel like there have been specific moments where you have acted on a strong feeling of luck being around you?
Aurora: I feel like I am very lucky that I act on my luck. I’m just one of those people that seizes opportunity. If I’m in a situation where I see that I can gain then I am aware of it and I won’t fear. Some people are just scared to move forward in their lives because they can’t take rejection. There are so many people that are great that were rejected a million times before they were great. It’s very rare that the first time someone does something it gets praised at all. Every opportunity is an opportunity whether it’s bad or good. It just teaches you for the next time. So yeah, I just know to act every time. Being blessed it up to the person. That’s why we have free will. You gotta just know. You can’t leave it up to anything.
Emma: I feel like it’s very easy for people to take a passive role in their own life out of fear, basically.
Aurora: Yeah and sometimes you should go with the flow with certain things but if you’re doing something that you love, you shouldn’t be afraid to put it out there whether people like it or not. You should just know. You can’t not believe in yourself and want other people to believe in what you do. Usually when that happens people go crazy. People have mental breakdowns when they get criticized because it’s like… you didn’t believe in it enough or you only believed in it because other people did and now that people are criticizing you, you’re like, “What the fuck?”. Not to use Kanye again but that’s why he always wins… because he never gave a fuck. He knew where he was going to be and he made it there. People will be like, “Kanye’s crazy” but then a year later everything he was talking about comes to fruition.
Emma: Do you feel like believing in yourself and liking everything you make are two separate things?
Aurora: Yeah. They are. Not everything you make is gonna be cream of the crop. Some shit is gonna suck, obviously, you know? It might not effect people in the way you want it to because not everyone is you. It’s about believing in yourself and still knowing that you have the talent to make it to a higher level doing what you’re gonna do. That’s what it’s all about… being at to the highest level of you. And not everything is gonna come out like that, you know? You have to make a thousand things so you have a hundred things that are at that highest level.
Alyssa: Do you think that even if something isn’t “good” it can still be important?
Aurora: Of course. Everything you make is important. Even if it’s not good it shows you, “Ok. Where I made a mistake here… I have to go left. Where I went right, I gotta go straight. Where I went straight, I gotta go back” you know? Everything is important. Everything. Even the evolution of the human being… it wasn’t fucking perfect. You have to adapt to a situation and evolve.
Alyssa: You’re very positive.
Aurora: You have to be. It doesn’t make sense to be negative, to be like, “Woe is me”. While you’re thinking about the problem you could be thinking about how to solve the problem. That just makes sense every time. Every time. You know what it is, too? Sometimes people don’t understand that nothing is always good, you know? Bad is there for you to learn. You might be going through something and the universe gives you a situation so you can learn from that situation. Most people don’t think about it like that because they’re worried about the next person. They’re trying to match up their life but no… this problem faced you because you need to learn. When the same bad thing happens to you 10 times it’s because you haven’t learned yet. You just have to not be stubborn and understand that everything is everything. That’s what I like to say.
December 1, 2016
Cerise Zelenetz is an artist and illustrator living in New York City. Her photos, taken in London, reflect the same sensitive observation and subtle humor with which Cerise approaches her drawings.
Emma (Springtide): Where are you from?
Cerise: I grew up in Vermont and my parents are New Yorkers so I’ve been back and forth growing up. Then I went to school in Paris for three years, and then two years here.
Emma: How does text play a role in what you do?
Cerise: It’s definitely a big part of it. Something that has always played into my work is the idea of explaining (the drawings) and telling a story. With the illustrations, I try to create these characters and I think the text is just sort of like a way to give a description of them that isn’t what you would expect. It’s just something you wouldn’t know about them, necessarily. The text is always like little descriptors of these characters that are just glimpses into another life. They’re all fictional. It has just sort have become a ritual. When I wake up, it’s the first thing I do. I have all of the drawings stored in my phone and I’ll pick one to post and then I’ll just come up with a story. The stories aren’t written down. I don’t have any idea what I’m going to in the morning … it’s just what pops into my head. So, I like that idea of writing without anything in mind and then you sort of think about what it meant afterwards. They all end up sort of relating to something that’s going on in my life, like, it comes from somewhere obviously, but its all very subconscious.
Emma: That’s really cool. You don’t see that much work now that is super narrative in that way.
Cerise: I think the more you over think things, the less interesting they become or the less you feel proud of them or you end up not liking something or not doing something because you don’t think it would be good. I think it’s just about doing things that make sense to you at the time and figuring it out as you go along.
Emma: How do you feel criticism is beneficial to you or not beneficial to you?
Cerise: I mean, I’m always open to it. I think my aesthetic is very subconscious. It’s not overt. There’s no (planned) meaning really, so getting feedback on what people think of it always adds something different because it’s something I wouldn’t think of. Some people won’t like it obviously but it’s interesting to hear why.
Emma: Is that ever frustrating though, because it’s coming from such an honest and subconscious place?
Cerise: I think the most frustrating thing to me is when people just say that it’s cute. A lot of people just think they’re cute doodles and then you’ll read them and it’s like, this person just broke up with someone or something. It’s deeper than a lot of people try to think about it… they just think they’re little cartoons. Because I use color and I like brighter images it doesn’t mean that there’s not a real subject matter there. It’s funny… I feel like actually, the group show I was doing the other day… I did all of these really great watercolors of different characters and the guy that was curating the show came up to me and was like, “These are really dark”… I’m like, “what are you talking about?” and he’s like, “The eyes. Everyone looks so depressed”. I was glad he noticed that. I have heard a few times that the eyes never look directly at anything so I guess it sort of is about avoiding things. So yeah, that was an interesting comment.
Emma: So, all of these photos are taken in London?
Cerise: Yes. I was there for a week on a trip visiting a friend. So (the photos) are kind of random observations. I realize now there’s so much dark green…
Emma: I know. It’s cool to see how that happens, though. Especially since you were just talking about the Kelly Green wallpaper in your apartment where you do all of your drawings.
Cerise: Yeah, I’m very drawn to green in like, everything.
December 1, 2016
Leo Vega lives and works in New York City. The photos he shot for us are taken of everyday street scenes between 16th Street, where he works and Washington Heights, where he lives.
Emma (Springtide): Where are you from?
Leo: I’m from New York City. I was born and raised in Washington Heights.
Emma: What was the first camera you ever used?
Leo: I don’t remember the model but it was a Fujifilm point and shoot camera that took AA batteries and it was heavy as fuck. I hated it cause it was too heavy to carry around but it was cool. I was probably like 15.
Emma: What would you shoot on it?
Leo: I remember one time it was freezing outside (mid-winter) and I had a close friend of mine model for me. She was wearing this Burberry top and I had her outside. That was the first organized “photo shoot” I remember having.
Emma: What has your formal education been like / how do you feel about it?
Leo: My formal education was shit. I went to public school my whole life. My Middle School was in the hood. It was the first year that they opened so they basically turned a big school into modular… like smaller schools. Then, High School... I never went. That was my biggest problem in High School. Class was always easy for me though, when I did go.
Alyssa (Springtide): Did you go to college?
Leo: I went to two semesters at BMCC but I just enrolled again, actually. I start next month. I’m excited. It’s not that I really feel like I need a formal education or a degree or anything. I just feel like I still need to learn how to learn more and to critically think and be better. So, it’s more about learning how to learn again than about the actual material they’re going to teach me.
Emma: Do you have any interest in working in other mediums besides still photography?
Leo: I like video a lot. That’s something I’m getting into playing around with, but anything else is not really my style. I like photography because its basically capturing a moment that you can’t find again. That’s why I like snapshot photography instead of like, editorial work or shit that’s like so … posed. That’s not fun to me. It’s cool as shit, like, I love Fashion but I feel like whenever I shoot that style of photography it doesn’t feel like me, and my photos don’t give out the vibe I want them to.
I like catching random subjects. I took a photo the other day and this woman caught me and so it came out with her covering her face. I thought that was so cool.
Maybe when I’m in my 50s I would like to shoot a film. I feel like shooting a film in your 20s is like, “you don’t even know anything yet, what is your film even gonna be about?” It’s always either something that’s done already or there’s no real authenticity to it. I want to write a book one day too but as of now, I just like taking still photos. We live in a world of motion so we need still photos to truly capture that moment.
Emma: Is there a subject you keep coming back to in your photography?
Leo: I like taking photos of homeless people. I know that people always say that it’s exploiting them but as New Yorkers I think we’re so desensitized to homelessness. We walk by them 10-20 times a day. The most you might remember is a song or some crazy shit they were doing but I feel like giving them more visibility could make a difference.
Emma: Yeah, I guess it’s important to have documentation of their life. A lot these people don’t have family albums or really any documentation of their existence at all.
Leo: It’s also just showing the opposite things. In the world I live in, everyone is shooting like High Fashion or a luxury lifestyle and like yeah, that’s cool. Those guys are fresh as fuck and living a nice-ass lifestyle but sometimes you have to remember that it’s 10 degrees outside and there are people without shoes on. So, it also just balances shit out.
Alyssa: During your day to day, do you ever think of moments you wish you could capture? And if you could do you think you would share them or keep them private?
Leo: Recently, I’ve been making it my goal to always have my camera on me. So I’ve been shooting a lot. Probably within the last three weeks I’ve shot over a thousand photos of just random stuff. I want to share them with the world but I feel like my photos won’t be appreciated now, so I’ve just started creating an archive. I’m working on Archive I , which is just photos of everyday life. One day, I would want to take a gallery space and show every single photo from my whole Archive. But I just feel like it’s not there yet. I want you to be in a room with probably 10 thousand different photos on the wall, so no matter what type of person you are or what type of photography you like or whatever type of imagery would touch you or effect you, that photo would be there. I don’t care about my photography now; I care about my photography 10 to 20 years from now when people don’t remember what 2016 was like.
Emma: So for you, is it more about the process of documenting things rather than the individual photograph?
Leo: It’s both. Sometimes you take a photograph and you’re like, “Wow that’s a fucking cool-ass photograph. This is amazing. How did I take this?”. But then what am I supposed to do with one photograph? It might affect you differently than it would affect someone else so one photograph is not enough. You have to keep shooting. But yes, to answer the question properly, I do think it’s more about documenting for me. I think it’s the idea of someone finding a hard drive 20 years from now and being like, “ Oh Shit, look at all these photos”.
Emma: What are your Top 5 favorite movies?
Leo: “Pulp Fiction”, “Paid in Full”, “Space Jam”, “Aladdin” – I really like “Aladdin” that’s probably my favorite Disney Film. I’m trying to think… I’m a nerd so I like superhero movies. “Spiderman 2” was really really good to me. I was like 12 years old and I remember waiting on line to see “Spiderman 2”. I know my movies might suck, like, there's no artsy film shit but these are the movies I fuck with.
Emma: “Spiderman 2” was good. So was “Aladdin”!
Leo: I like “Aladdin”. The genie is probably my favorite Disney character ever.
Leo: He’s funny as hell. He’s just mad goofy the whole movie and he doesn’t take shit from Aladdin. He’s always joking on him no matter what but he’s a true friend. That’s what friendship is. If you heard me talk to my best friend you’d be like, “Damn. That’s mad harsh”, but if I can’t joke around with you, I don’t want to have a friendship with you.
Alyssa: What books or magazines are you reading / do you read?
Leo: I mostly read a lot of online articles but I just bought two books since I’m going on vacation tomorrow – “The Autobiography of Malcom X”, because I heard it’s a fucking powerful book and the other book is called, “All War Against Puerto Ricans”, which I haven’t started yet but it talks about how Puerto Ricans were the first citizens to ever be bombed by the US. I’m excited to read that, just to know more about the oppression of my people.
Emma: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Leo: I'll be 28 in five years so hopefully i'll be chillin'. I want to live a decent lifestyle where I'm comfortable. I hope I'll be creating art for sure. I just hope to be in a place where i'm truly happy and at a good place in my career whether its working for a company or working for myself.
December 1, 2016
Evelyn is an Artist living outside of Sydney, Australia. While she was living in New York she worked in various capacities in men's fashion design. We emailed with Evelyn and discussed memory and what she values most.
Springtide: We know you live outside of Sydney, but can you describe the environment and what you like about living there?
Evelyn:Sydney is actually huge. Where I live (suburbia) is still considered 'Sydney' though if this was Europe... maybe it would be a whole different town!
I was born in Sydney and I feel pretty fortunate to call it home. I really like living here for the people, the weather and the ocean, amongst lots of other things. Sydneysiders are pretty happy-go-lucky and friendly, most of my friends and close family live here. The weather is almost always good! There is ocean along the entire coast, I think you forget about how great the ocean is until you're in front of it again.
Springtide: Would you say growing up outside of Sydney exposed you to a lot of different cultures?
Evelyn: Sure - because I think this country is built on immigrants, including Europeans who arrived here something like 200 years ago. My parents came here in the 1980s from Malaysia, and our backgrounds are from all over. There are so many villages within Sydney, it's like this melting pot of people and cultures which is great. Right now, I live in a Chinese/Korean neighbourhood.
Springtide: What is the first piece of art (film, book, image etc.) you remember resonating with you personally/ emotionally?
Evelyn: Dumbo, that Disney cartoon, is the first that came to mind. I remember feeling very sad and sorry for him that he was made fun of because of his big ears. Roald Dahl books also meant a lot to me when I was a kid. They were just really magical. You could get lost reading for hours.
Springtide: Have you had a particularly memorable teacher? If so, what did they teach you?
Evelyn: I have this one teacher from University that I actually work with now. He's taught me to shut up and just do it. We have a love/hate relationship!
Springtide: When did you last make a friend?
Evelyn: I'm really into other people and making new friends. I'm happy to say that I've met lots of new and interesting friends over the last two years (since moving back to Sydney from New York). Laura is one new friend I've made. I took her picture on this roll of film. She's wearing a flowery headscarf in the photo.
Springtide: Do you write or keep a diary/journal?
Evelyn: I always carry around a planner - I write everything down. I'm a bit crazy like that. I think it stems from high school when they would issue us with high school planners. I also keep a diary on my laptop for moments that I really want to remember or thoughts that I feel need to be seen in words. But I tend to write them only when something really dire has happened... it would be a tragic read for anyone who were to read it!
Springtide: Is there anyone who has opened you up to new thought patterns, or a new process to work with?
Evelyn: There is an Arabic calligrapher that I've newly learned about named Mouneer Al Shaarani, who picks out non-religious middle eastern poetry and philosophy that he feels illustrates human feelings. He interprets these into these beautiful abstract works. I think it's a really eloquent expression of his thoughts.
Springtide: What is most valuable to you?
Evelyn: I've always placed high value in people and relationships. If there isn't this then I'm not sure what the point is.
Springtide: Is there something that you have lost or misplaced that you still think about?
Evelyn: In terms of possessions, I do miss this framed portrait I used to have. I was studying in San Francisco then and I bought the portrait at a market in Bernal Heights from this nutty Filipino lady. The portrait was this childlike drawing of an androgynous person with long blond hair and a face like David Bowie. I bought the portrait for laughs but ended up really liking it because it was the first thing I saw waking up from my mattress on the floor every morning. I think about it now and then and wish I had packed it with me.
(*See last photo of the Portrait that Evelyn left in San Francisco)
December 1, 2016
Daniel Regan lives and works between Los Angeles and New York. The photos he shot for us are taken of interior and exterior spaces in both cities.
Springtide: Where did you grow up?
Dan: Venice, California.
Springtide: Where do you live now?
Dan: Between Venice, Downtown LA, and New York.
Springtide: What brought you there?
Dan: Life... I try to stay as close to my neighborhood as possible. I draw a lot of inspiration from there. My soul and heart is there with them, the places that are left and the people that are left - downtown was about separating and creating a safe place, a sanctuary... a place of peace, where I am fully in control of my environment. My studio is there. New York is my transition, my even further place that I get to call home that is so far removed from my upbringing - where I have the most pure potential to do what I do.
Springtide: Do you have a quality that gets you in trouble?
Dan: I am trouble - but in a good way - I am hard on myself and hard on the people I care for. I also have a short attention span , I like to be challenged.
Springtide: What do you find interesting or intriguing about a person? Does a specific type of beauty interest you?
Dan: Real people are what I find the most beautiful - authenticity. When people's reasons for living / surviving are authentic and genuine it shows through and I am so attracted to that. Most of the time special people haven't realized they are so - watching the way they move and grow becomes a real honorable thing to witness.
Springtide: Have you studied formally or informally?
Dan: Informally. I was a drop out so everything I do I've been self taught / no school.
Springtide: What style of education has been most effective for you?
Dan: My mentors, youth and my self have been my greatest teachers. The people I seek out, young or old and unknowingly... I learn so much from them.
Springtide: Have you had a memorable teacher who’s ideals stuck with you? If so, what did they teach you?
Dan: Charles. He told me that sparrows fly south for the winter and that one sparrow always waits so long to leave the nest - so by the time he leaves the nest his wings froze and he fell from the sky. When he fell he landed in a barn. Once in the barn, a horse came along and shit on the sparrow. The sparrow became upset thinking this is how his life would end but slowly the shit warms up the sparrow and his wings begin to move so he starts singing this beautiful song. A cat hears this song coming from a pile of shit so he starts to dig and finds the sparrow and eats him - moral of the story is not everyone that puts shit on you is your enemy and not everyone who takes shit off of you is your friend.
Springtide: What is the first piece of art – film, book, painting, sculpture etc you remember thinking was good/ made an impact on you?
Dan: Very young thing was Tupac. He was a complete artist to me at 9 years old... his music, his poetry, his acting, his charisma...he knew what he wanted to say and he lived it.
Springtide: Do you consider yourself a photographer?
Dan: I don't like to - I think I'm just an artist that photography makes sense to as a medium right now. It allows me to tell the truth.
Springtide: How did you come up with the idea for No School? Do you have anyone you consistently collaborate with?
Dan: No school again comes from my lack of formal education and really about the message I want to send to the kids - it's ok if you don't have money to get to art school - life is your best teacher. Surround yourself with people you want to be like and soak up all the information and skills you can and you can teach yourself anything you want.
As far as collaborating, I have a few art director/creative director friends I'm constantly working on projects with - they're all people I respect and admire their path and we kind of just find each other over and over again. Also, subject wise for photography I try not to shoot people I don't believe in or understand well.. (with) a lot of my subjects our bond goes way beyond photographs.
Springtide: How important is working with a team?
Dan: I love surrounding my self with people that elevate what we do; however, I am selective and sensitive to who those people are.
Springtide: Do you let your intuition guide your creative process/ decisions on who to collaborate with?
Dan: Always. If my gut doesn't feel it or my heart, I can't be in it. I try to check down on those things as much as possible or insulate myself.
Springtide: Do you prefer to work digitally, with film (photography), or with video?
Dan: Film for now - video is to me the highest form of communication so I love getting the opportunity to make photographic videos - it's such a commitment that style of story telling. Photo is just easy to me at this point.
Springtide: Where do you like to go out?
Dan: Places with history.
Springtide: What possession of yours have you had for the longest amount of time?
Dan: Sage my blue nose.. we are going on 6 years. She's my constant and my angel.
Springtide: When are you the happiest?
Dan: When I am outside in my neighborhood making things with people I care about and believe in.
December 1, 2016
Kevin Buitrago lives in Brooklyn, NY. These photographs were all taken in New York and are a combination of staged portraits and candid photographs of friends.
Alyssa (Springtide): So, where are you from?
Kevin: I was born in Colombia. I moved here when I was five and I grew up in Long Island.. in Montauk. I went to high school there. I’ve been in New York for more than six years now, since I started school. I went to college here.
Alyssa: Where did you go to school?
Kevin: I went to FIT.
Alyssa: Did you study photography?
Kevin: No, I didn’t. I went to the business school. I studied Advertising and Marketing. But yeah, I’ve been shooting since I was like 14, kind of just as a hobby. I wasn’t really shooting that much since I got to New York and I was like, “There’s so much that I can shoot”. So I kind of just kept it going. I first learned on film and then I started shooting on digital and then I kind of like, went full circle and started shooting on film again. It just felt more natural to me. It’s the way I learned. I learned all dark room and analog photography. I like not really knowing what the outcome is going to be when I am shooting with film, like just shooting and hoping for the best. Its funny the way I kind of went back to that. The way I shoot now is kind of the same way.
Emma (Springtide): Would you say you are a photographer full time or are there other things you do too?
Kevin: No, I wouldn’t say I’m a photographer full time. It’s weird for me because I don’t think I can classify myself as a certain thing. I have so many interests and so many hobbies and you know, limiting myself to one title is kind of difficult for me because I can go from, “All I wanna do is photo” and then next thing, I’ll be like, “I want to do something in Art” or like, “I want to put this show together with my friends and curate the show”. So, yeah, I’m not a photographer full time. I freelance … I do graphic design, I assist occasionally on editorial shoots and I just do photo here and there.
Emma: What interests you in terms of subject matter?
Kevin: Lately, I’ve just been interested in just faces in general. I’ve been working on a street casting project… its kind of ongoing. I’m constantly looking at people – on the subway or in the street. Everyone to me is interesting. It’s a bit difficult to define what I find interesting. For me, I would say, usually it’s not the norm… faces that don’t fit the standard of beauty that is current right now.
Alyssa: Some of the people who you shot are your friends and others are strangers. Does your relationship to the subject you are shooting change how you photograph them?
Kevin: Yeah, I think people definitely inspire me in different ways and when I do shoot them, I think it does shift depending on who it is. I think who I’m photographing and in what way they inspire me does affect how I shoot them. Looking back at these photos for sure that was happening.
Alyssa: The ones with your friends eating you definitely see a playful sort of approach to them and the others feel more serious.
Kevin: Yeah the others who are of people who aren’t necessarily close friends but more so people who I was just inspired by were definitely more serious, more staged, more kind of like, “Let me just capture your essence”.
Emma: What kind of magazines or books do you read?
Kevin: I don’t read as much as I should read. I used to read a lot and then I started getting more into photo and I became more of a visual person. I just don’t have the patience for reading anymore. That was kind of tough when I was in school because the major I was in required so much reading and so much writing. Half way into school I started realizing that I’m a very visual person and thought about even switching to an Art major but I was like, “I’m in this major I have to finish this business degree”. So now, I don’t really read that much. When I do buy a magazine I really just look through it. Sometimes I’ll force myself to read the stories because, you know, I did pay 50 bucks for a magazine so I might as well read the words in the magazine.
Emma: If you are a really strong visual communicator, which you clearly are, so much can be communicated visually and without words so I totally understand that.
Is English your second language?
Kevin: It is. I grew up speaking Spanish in Colombia.
Alyssa: Another question we wanted to ask you is, to what extent is criticism beneficial to you?
Kevin: I think that I don’t get critiqued enough. Which, for me, is kind of hard because I know you shouldn’t really be influenced by what people think of your work but it is beneficial for you to know what people like or don’t like. So for me, I didn’t really go through art school so I’ve never experienced that critique process that people usually go through. Currently, I really have no way of people critiquing my work so sometimes I really don’t know if I’m doing things right or wrong and there is really no way for me to know. I have to form my own opinion about my work and have to be my own critic. With social media, you can kind of tell what people like or don’t like. Which can be very deceiving I guess… because the audience that follows you can be very niche in terms of what they like so if you post something that you think is good but that doesn’t click for them, its not going to get attention. So it could be a really interesting subject and a good photo but people won’t give you that attention so you think it’s a bad photo.
Emma: This doesn’t have to be related to your work but, is there something that you have lost or misplaced that you still think about?
Kevin: Let me think about that one. That’s a tough question. I like it though. Does it have to be something that is still lost or something I’ve lost but possibly have found?
Emma: That works!
Kevin: So, I’m about to go pretty deep but… obviously, I grew up as an immigrant. I came here when I was fairly young. When I came here I kind of felt like I lost my cultural identity. Growing up I kind of had a tough time understanding whether I was very American or very Latino. That pulled me in several ways growing up because I obviously wanted to blend in with the crowd, like, the white kids that I grew up with. That was tough because I felt like I was neither here nor there. I grew up in a very white town and then coming to New York where there are tons of people of color that I could relate to, I kind of felt at home in a way. It felt like, culturally, I re-found myself. I guess, what I’m trying to say is, I wasn’t exactly confident in you know, my identity. When I moved to New York I kind of realized it was okay to be Latino and grow up in America. Lately, I have been using my background in my work more and I’ve been focusing more on subjects that are people of color. Drawing from my background, I feel like, has helped me bring a bit of uniqueness to what I do.
December 1, 2016
Dozie is an Artist and Product Designer living in Brooklyn, NY. While looking over the photos that Dozie took for us, we talked to him about his background, his influences, criticism, patience, and self promotion.
Alyssa (Springtide): So we know you have your work but obviously these pictures were focused on kind of a social element, which I thought was really interesting. Was it at one event that all of these pictures were taken?
Dozie: A majority of them were taken at my friend Michael Goldberg’s birthday which was held at my friend Daniel’s new apartment on Bond St. but then the rest of them were just random. Random nights.
Emma (Springtide): Alyssa probably already asked you this, but where are you from?
Dozie: I’m from Houston, Texas. My dad is Nigerian. He moved here when he was 21. My mom is also Nigerian but she grew up in London, so I consider her English. She moved here when she was 25 I believe.
Emma: When did you move to New York?
Dozie: Right after I graduated High School. I moved here like 2 months later.
Emma: Did you go to school here?
Dozie: Yeah, I went to School of Visual Arts … on a partial scholarship. I got into the University of Texas and almost went there to study pharmacy cause my parents wanted me to ... but I couldn’t (laughs).
Alyssa: So, were you interested in pharmacy?
Dozie: No…. That was around the time I was just looking at salaries online and stuff, like, “How much do people get paid?”... but I really want to do something that I enjoy.
Emma: What did you study at SVA?
Dozie: I was a Fine Art major, focused in Set Design. So that’s sort of how I got into furniture, cause I was designing sets.
Emma: So we sent you some questions earlier ... were there any that felt especially pertinent to you?
Dozie: I liked the question, “To what extent is criticism beneficial to you?” and It’s funny that you asked “Are you impatient?” because I’ve been really working on sort of mastering my emotional state in situations, cause, you really can’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Emma: I feel like making furniture is such a long process that there is no immediate gratification. Does that ever frustrate you or is it more theraputic?
Dozie: Not at all. I’m not into instant gratification. If I was I’d be like, posted up on Instagram everyday with thousands of followers showing my outfits off and stuff (laughs).
Emma: So the criticism thing ... what were your feelings about that?
Dozie: I think that criticism is only beneficial when it's from someone who knows you. I feel like a lot of the time there are critics that blindly criticize someone who they know nothing about. They don’t know they’re background, they’re just criticizing the work and that’s not helpful. It’s not helpful at all and it’s just wrong, kind of. I think when you’re in that position it should just be more like critical analysis. You should just be analyzing what you’re seeing. You shouldn’t be really criticizing ... but people who know you know who you are and what you’re capable of and what you should be doing ... they’re the ones who can judge you, sort of. I don’t think anyone should really judge anyone but I feel like they are more fit to judge you. You know?
Emma: Is there someone who really influences you? Either someone that you know personally or someone who you just look up to?
Dozie: There are multiple artists who I aspire to .... not be like but just admire their career trajectories ... like the way they were able to jump into different industries like Tom Sachs, for example. He was able to collaborate with Nike and do things for the Brooklyn Museum and do things with other artists. Like if you didn’t notice, in the Frank Ocean stream that just came out, that’s (Tom Sachs’) installation. Honestly, anyone who is able to develop a visual language, whether or not it's something thats like me or something I’m about. I just think that having a visual language is really hard to develop. It’s not like style. Style and a language are two different things. When you have a language, I think, it’s so much more broad. There’s so much more you can do. You really have a career if you develop a language. It’s not like a style where it’s so fleeting, you know?
Alyssa: So you see more longevity in having an actual language that you’re creating?
Dozie: Yeah that’s why (Tom Sachs) is still here. He has a language. You can look at something and be like,“That’s how he talks”. He’s speaking without saying words.
Alyssa: Are any of your friends an influence to you? Like, would you say there are social influences as well?
Dozie: Well, I grew up in Missouri City, Texas and one of my good friends in High School was Travis Scott. He’s like a rapper / producer. I guess it was at that age...14, 15, 16, that he really decided, “I’m gonna do music seriously”... and then he did it. Like, 6-7 years later he’s having meetings with record labels and meeting Kanye West and stuff. That was really inspiring because it’s not that I didn’t believe that you could really do what you set out to do, but it was proof.
Alyssa: I’ve been in a similar situation where I saw people who weren’t necessarily people who I expected to be successful, become incredibly successful. It’s kind of crazy to see what can happen if you just put all of your energy into it.
Dozie: All of your energy has to be put into it. Every second. You sort of have to radiate what you’re doing. That’s totally what he did. Every conversation from that age was about, “How I’m gonna make it:”, you know? Or ,“How can you help me?” and if someone had no incentives or like, anything to offer him, he kind of just dismissed them.
Alyssa: Which is good and bad I guess.
Dozie: Its good and bad but … he got there.
Emma: Do you think there is a right or wrong way to promote yourself?
Dozie: Definitely. There’s sort of a lot of thirst happening right now with people promoting themselves on the internet. I think there’s a much more genuine, subtle way to like, let people know you’re here. Cause that’s basically what everyone wants is to prove that they exist.
“Yo, I’m a person. I’m an individual.”… that’s what everyone’s screaming, you know? But there’s a way to do it.I feel like a lot of people get popular without having a talent and then they try to like, back door with the talent afterwards. That’s not the way to do it.
Emma: Everything is super fast now and it’s almost like the media outlets that we have to express ourselves produce a cropped or truncated version of everything. So I feel like part of what we're doing is looking at people who are making things or doing things and like, lengthening that out and asking, “Ok, What do you actually have to say?”.
Alyssa: Especially for people like yourself who work on a project that is so time consuming and it’s not an immediate gratification thing. So much goes into it that you don't see.
Dozie: Exactly. It goes through a computer rendering, then you get the materials, then you go to the fabricator… It’s really satisfying actually. I’ve done it a few times now and I know I’m going to get to a point where its just second nature. The first thing I did was those chairs. That was like a six month process and I finally did it. Then I made a few other pieces ... artworks. Now I’m working on my next big piece which is called “Cube”. It’s like these two marble cubes that I actually picked up the other day from Jersey and they’re on wheels. They look really cool ... they oddly go really well with the chairs that I made, even though they are two different pieces.
I also try to do black and white versions of everything I make. It’s sort of like the white is angelic and black is very dark. White is like feminine, black is like masculine ... and you have in America you know ... white and black ... white privilege, black people coming from poverty. I don’t know... I like having the dual aspect.
Emma: Where do you hang out when you aren’t at factories in Jersey?
Dozie: When I do hang out its mostly Chinatown, Lower East Side area or Little Italy area. I really just get wine with my friends...just get wine and talk really. But it's weird, all of our conversations are just working, really. We’re always just hashing out, “What do we need to be doing? What are we not doing?”, you know? Things we need to be looking at...things we need to be paying attention to, stuff like that.
December 1, 2016
Bradley Soileau lives and works in Los Angeles, California. The photos he shot for us are from behind the scenes of a shoot with Tinashe, styled by Brett Alan Nelson. We talked to Bradley about his influences, making friends, patience, and what he finds interesting in other people.
Springtide: Where did you grow up?
Bradley: I grew up between Baton Rouge and New Orleans through my youth.
Springtide: Where do you live currently?
Bradley: Currently, I live in Los Angeles.
Springtide: What brought you there?
Bradley: I moved to Los Angeles for a failed marriage LOL
Springtide: What is your earliest memory of friendship?
Bradley: It was my friend Jake. Jake the Snake who peed in a lake. We used to bow hunt turkeys and throw sticks at cars when we were extremely young idiots.
Springtide: What was your first job?
Bradley: My first job was mowing a few of the neighbors’ yards in my neighborhood.
Springtide: Have you made any mistakes that have helped you out later on?
Bradley: Maybe we can circle back to my failed marriage. Huge mistake…. But if I had never come to Los Angeles, I wouldn’t have started making clothes and doing some of the other things I do at the moment. Not saying that I would have never made clothes, but timing is everything.
Springtide: What was the first piece of art – film, book, image, album etc. that resonated with you?
Bradley: The first album that ever really changed me was a record from a hardcore band that only made one record… “Carry On – A Life Less Plagued”. Sonically and lyrically it changed my whole way of thinking. The first movie was Alejandro Jodorowsky’s, “El Topo”. I was sober and young and had never seen anything like it in my life. The first book I read that really moved me was Patti Smith’s, “Just Kids”.
Springtide: What do you like most about yourself?
Bradley: Hardest question. I’m still searching for that answer. Maybe that I’m still here growing and doing what I want.
Springtide: When did you last make a friend and where did you meet them?
Bradley: Robbie! I met him about a month and a half ago first time briefly at The Oaks then officially at La Poubelle. He’s fucking hilarious
Springtide: What is something you find interesting in other people?
Bradley: I think I like the darker sides of people. I’ve always found beauty in the darker side of life… how some people’s minds are just so nuts you can see it working overtime on their face. You can see their crazy or their insecurities or whatever other misgivings they have.
Springtide: Has anyone in particular influenced the way you think in a big way, or opened you up to a new way of working?
Bradley: Yeah.. my best friend Philippa helped me see the pros in my way of thinking instead of the cons and how I can literally do anything I want to.
Springtide: Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
Bradley: I think it depends on my mood and the weather and my bank account and my workload.
Springtide: Are you impatient?
Bradley: I do seem to find myself being extremely impatient at times. I fully think it depends on the situation… like waiting for samples to be finished and photos to develop and like, shoes to come in the mail. Those things make my skin crawl with impatience.
December 1, 2016
Dusty grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and now lives in New York City. We spoke with him at his friend's apartment in Gramercy where he has been staying. He talked to us about the art of finessing and how to stay advanced.
Alyssa (Springtide): So you’re from Maryland… How did you end up here?
Dusty: I was maybe like 20 when I moved here. I saved up and moved here. I wanted to do styling at first. Now I kinda changed my mind.
Emma (Springtide): Did you do any styling?
Dusty: Yeah, I did. I styled for Bullett and JARS when it was like, lit at the time and The Fader...I interned.
Emma: What were you doing in Maryland before you came here?
Dusty: Well, at that time I was working at Walmart (laughs) and I was depressed as fuck. So I saved up and I moved here and I ended up fucking going back because I spent all my money going out every fucking day because I just moved here and I was like, “Oh I’m in New York! I’m finally here!”. But it was the wrong decision. So I ended up going back. Walmart took me back and then one day I just didn’t show up to work and I got fired. I got unemployment. I took my unemployment and I came back.
I definitely don’t want Walmart in my damn interview though…
Alyssa & Emma: No that’s interesting!
Dusty: Oh, it is interesting? Ok yeah, fuck it. I finessed Walmart. They had me in the Arts & Crafts section. I was like, the best. No one else was an artist who was employed there so I was the best one.
Emma: This is like a chic Walmart outfit you’re wearing right now.
**See last photo of Dusty's outfit that night taken by Marie Stotz at Paul's Baby Grand**
Dusty: It definitely is right?! I made it. Actually, I got the patches from Walmart..
Emma: See? Perks! I like it.
Dusty: Yep. Went back to the section when I was in Baltimore. I was like, “Oh, MY section.”
Alyssa: So where do you go to hang out in New York?
Dusty: I like to go to Paul’s (Baby Grand) a lot. That’s like my favorite spot cause its like so low key and like, every time I go I know my outfit is lit as fuck so… I feel like I’m just known as the person to go there and just like, give looks. So they’re like, “Oh, we like him” and I get free drinks all the time so that’s why I like to go.
Alyssa: Right now, are you doing anything for work?
Dusty: Alright so, basically, I’m just finessin’ through life. I get like a little money every month and I just use that shit on clothes… because I’m addicted to clothes...and I’m doing music and modeling.
Emma: What quality about yourself gets you in the most trouble?
Dusty: I don’t really feel like I get in much trouble.
Emma: Ok, so, what quality keeps you out of getting in trouble?
Dusty: I don’t know. Probably my finessin’. I’m a really good finesser. It’s all about how you carry yourself and I’m very confident, so…
Emma: Where do you get your confidence from?
Dusty: I don’t know. When I look good, I feel good so no one can tell me nothin’. Like, I know I’m pulling shit off that other people can’t pull off or like, don’t have the confidence. And I’m like, “You can do it...you just not bold enough”.
Emma: Where did the name Dusty come from?
Dusty: From my grandmother. It’s after a wrestler named Dusty Rose. So I’ve had it since like 1 year old.
Alyssa: Were you a wrestler?
Dusty: No, but I used to love wrestling. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker…
Emma: What’s your birth name?
Alyssa: Do prefer Kyle or Dusty?
Dusty: Dusty is my personality. But Kyle is kinda what helped my finessin' in a way and made me carry myself the right way. Then once I’m starting to drink and shit.. I’m Dusty. I’m like, turned the fuck up. When I come to the door and I know everything,…the facts and all that, I feel like I’m Kyle.
Emma: What possession have you had for the longest amount of time?
Dusty: Damn. What possessions do I be having for the longest amount of time? I always lose shit. I’m clumsy as fuck. I be buyin' shit over and over.
Emma: That’s actually the perfect segue into our next question, then. Is there something that you have lost or misplaced that you still think about?
Alyssa: It doesn’t have to be physical, either…
Dusty: I lost a buncha shit. My chargers… I coulda been had like 20 chargers already! My grills…I lose them all the time. I just got a new pair so, add up like 10 pairs of grills…that’s probably thousands of dollars. Damn.
I guess it depends on the moment I lose the shit cause I lost a Stussy hat in a taxi before and I was like, “Ugh, I want that” and now it’s like, Stussy is kind of like played to me.
Emma: But it was devastating when you lost it?
Dusty: Yeah. I just got that shit and it was NICE. But I saw like 5 people had it at the same party and I mean, I wore it better but I was like, “Damn guy... But you know, you did it, you got your picture. Let it go”.
Alyssa: This picture where you have the blue glitter on your face.. were you dressed up to go somewhere?
Dusty: I wasn’t going nowhere. I just knew I had this blue suit and before I had painted my face all red for Halloween so I was like, “Now I got the blue suit so imma do my face all blue”. I don’t like to wear the same shit constantly so I thought I was gonna sell the blue suit after I got the picture but then my friend was like, “You could wear that shit for Fashion Week” and I was like, “I can, but what the fuck I’m gonna do with it?” I’m not gonna paint my face blue again cause I already did it DOE.
Emma: Where did you get the suit?
Dusty: I got it from a vintage shop in Baltimore. They were like, “You need this suit. Its so 80s. Its so you. I don’t see no one else buying it here” and they tell the truth so I was like, “Yeah. I need this suit.” I was gonna wear it to Afropunk but I didn’t.
Alyssa: So once you do something, you don’t like doing it again?
Dusty: Yeah. I be done. After I have fun with it, I’m done with it.
Like, “Did that. Next thing”. I think advanced that’s why my shit say, “ADVANCED NIGGA” in my damn bio. Like Rihanna…do you you see her? She do that shit then she be on to the next. That’s how I think … like a celebrity.