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Tiffany Chung

09 Mar 2021

Text by Tiffany Chung

ØLÅF CITIZENS: Alex Zeta

09 Mar 2021

Alex Zeta is an intuitive creator that transforms emotion and feeling into works of art. In this edition of Citizens, the up-and-coming artist talks to us about how life in Spain, The Netherlands, and the pandemic have shaped his body of work.

 

Hi Alex, you’re the first artist to ever be featured in the new ØLÅF window gallery. Tell us about your installation.

“It’s called ‘Now, but not now, but maybe even never’. It’s inspired by the sadness I felt my first winter in Amsterdam because of the lack of sunlight and the anxious time we are all living in now. It’s a concept called ‘solastalgia’ which describes the anger, anxiety and different feelings you get when your environment is changing around you. So, I created this fountain that combines fabric and liquid representing a kind of fluidity and adaptiveness to change that brings hope and new energy. I also used tanning bed lights to give the feeling of sun and combat the lack of light."

 

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?

“When I was a child, I used to say to my mother that I would be an architect. But I studied graphic design in Spain and worked in a design school for 4 years as a graphic designer. I decided to quit my job because I needed something else. I was more interested in creative spaces, how objects work in spaces, and creating atmospheres."

 

 

Was the decision to quit and move to Amsterdam easy?

“I thought about going to Berlin first. But I visited some friends in Amsterdam and decided to apply to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie instead. I started contextual design but realized that it wasn’t for me. So, I switched to another department called ‘Design Lab’ that is based on material research. It's very open and very free."

 

How has Spanish culture and Dutch culture influenced you creatively?

“They’re really different. I think there’s something very special and particular to Spain, the atmosphere of the people, and I would like to do something creative with it in the future. In the Netherlands, there are many artists from different countries here so this can inspire and blow your mind."

 

Alex in the studio.

 

Where is your studio?

“In Amsterdam Noord. I'm quite lucky because I literally live in front of my studio which is something that I never thought could happen. It's super cool. It's very important to be in a domain for you to develop your things."

 

 

Do you listen to music while you work?

“Yeah, it depends on how I feel. My work is very intuitive, my methodology is guided by emotions most of the time. I like techno or electronic music when I want to keep my energy up, but sometimes I just need something more pop or relaxing. Sometimes I need silence."

 

You seem to work with ceramics a lot. Do you prefer it?

“It’s funny that you ask that because I think that’s the expectation now but it’s actually because of this situation with Covid. I was not feeling very good, being alone every day, not in the studio. Then, I met some people that were working with ceramics and I thought I’d try to just make something out of nothing. No serious expectations, just fun."

 

Ceramic piece from the future.

Table for tea ceremony.

 

 

That’s how you started your @bufffetbufffetbufffet account?

“Exactly. I made some vases, tiny pieces, and then I decided to make candle holders. Basically, I started to post on Instagram as a way to make some income during Corona. At first, I was afraid to post and wanted to delete it, but then I got many messages from people that liked it. So, I continued to do more and found myself selling candle holders."

 

What do you see yourself doing after school?

“I have no clue. I really want to try to explore more things and see what I can do with it. I want to develop conceptually. I want to move to another city too. When you move to a place, you get new ideas. I love Brussels. I think it's a very good city because I like the flow of the people and I like that it’s a bit dirty. It’s also a very queer city. There are also possibilities for creators, like designers and artists. Then, I’d like to go somewhere else like Mexico."

 

Alex working on the fontain.

‘Now, but not now, but maybe even never’

 

 

For our last question, can you name a person, place and thing that inspires you?

“People on the street inspire me. In Spain, I used to take many photos of people and observe how they are different. The pictures are on my @v_____________i______________p account. To me, these people are real heroes because they might look a bit weird, but I think they are very authentic. They are their true selves no matter what. That’s very cool and I wish more people were like that."

 

“Also, conversations inspire me. I learn more by talking with my friends. Many of my friends are artists, so I can talk with them about work and ask how they see things, or how they express things, or what their process is like. I think it's very powerful to have conversations and get different perspectives."

Tiffany Chung

15 Jun 2021

Text by Tiffany Chung

CITIZENS: TYLER ADAMS

15 Jun 2021

Tyler Adams is a multidisciplinary artist specializing in photography, art direction, and casting with a wide array of clients such as Def Jam Records Opening Ceremony, Beyoncé x Adidas. In this edition of Citizens, the LA native tells us about his early creative beginnings and shows us that there is more than one way into the industry.

 

Hey Tyler, you wear several hats. Put these three things in order of importance to you: photography, creative directing, casting.

“Oh wow, okay so photography is definitely the most important because it's what led me into the other avenues of my creativity. After that would be casting and then creative directing. Uh, wait, no. But that's hard to be honest because when I first started shooting, I was doing all these things in my personal work. I wanted to create images, but I wasn’t seeing the type of people that I wanted to shoot, so I started casting for myself. I didn’t have budgets to go to a showroom and pull clothes, so I was either putting together things that friends or the talent were bringing or even pulling out of my closet and putting that together. So, all of it is kind of important to a degree in order to make art. But I guess photography is the most important because that’s how I got into all the other things."

 

Why did you gravitate to photography in the first place?

“It was kind of an innate thing. I say that I've been shooting since I was 5. Growing up, my grandma had an old school Polaroid 600, and I would just run around with it, create, and shoot things. It's always been something that was there and that just started my fascination with it. I've always been a visual kid."

 

Tyler in Mexico.

 

What would you say makes a great photograph?

“Great’ I feel can be subjective. I think perspective is very important, not so much composition, but I mean like my personal chase. Like what I may think is a great image may not be a great image to you. You may be into colors or compositions or location, but all of that has to do with your perspective and what makes the most sense to you or what you move to personally."

 

Do you have a favorite photograph?

“Yes. Actually, I do. My favorite photograph of all time – I get so excited thinking about it – is Richard Avedon’s portrait of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before he was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In New York, it's a picture of him on the basketball court. He's tall and lanky. His posture and everything is so elegant and beautiful. It's the freshest thing. I've tried to recreate the essence of it in my own work a couple times."

 

So, do you prefer to photograph people?

“Professionally, I do shoot a lot of people, like fashion portraiture. But I still have some weird tether to wanting to photograph cityscapes, different vignettes of buildings, or graphics and shapes. I usually try to make them both kind of work together in my work – people, spaces, and architecture."

 

Drake Jazz by Tyler Adams.

 

You've worked with a lot of brands. Any favorites?

“That’s a tricky one. I don't want to play favorites but if I had to choose...Opening Ceremony was one of my first big fashion clients. Just being a fan of the brand, that was like one that I really wanted to work with. I shot with them for a while, I did some social and editorial stuff. Then, they let me shoot fashion weeks and I worked on a couple of their shows. So, that may be my favorite one because that got me to where I am today."

 

Was it hard breaking into the industry?

“Oh my god, yes. My friend and I laugh about it now. Photography has changed. It's mind-blowing how different photography and the whole industry is now versus what it was like 6 to 10 years ago. At the time when I was in college, the mindset was that you went to school, you built your book, you took your book and you moved to New York. It wasn't until you worked in New York that you would pop off and actually get to work. But out of college it was like you assisted somebody for years and then at some point you move from being 30th assistant to 1st assistant before having your break or whoever you are assisting being like, ‘I have a job that I don't want to do, you can do it’, and then that's you’re beginning. I didn’t go that route because I was like if this is what it's going to take for me to put food on the table, it’s going to take a while. But I didn't want to move outside of my creativity.

SO I started helping a really close friend of mine who was an upcoming stylist. She occasionally needed help and I feel like that’s what changed it for me because being on set in that capacity is different from being a photographer's assistant. When you assist a photographer, they don't want you to speak to the client. But everybody else has a different relationship, when you're with the stylist and those people for 8 hours on set, you actually get to know people by name. It allowed me to build relationships and be like, ‘oh you know I'm helping the stylist, but I actually shoot.’ Photography assistants can’t do that. They can’t say, ‘yeah check out my work’ because it feels like he's trying to take the photographer’s clients."

 

Opening Ceremony by Tyler Adams 1/2.

Opening Ceremony by Tyler Adams 2/2.

 

 

What’s your most memorable shoot?

“My second time in Paris was pretty memorable and cool for me because the first time I went to Paris I didn't shoot which I was bummed out about. I always try making an effort when I go somewhere new or somewhere different to actually create work in those spaces. So, I was with Kendall, and we shot in the Tuileries Garden. There was a carnival, and he just grabbed his skateboard, and we were just chilling. It was an evening in June, so the light was amazing, the weather was nice, it was a good time."

 

When you cast people for a shoot, do you keep diversity and representation in mind?

“Always. That's the first thing. When I was starting out there wasn’t any. Even now, if clients ask for diversity, there aren't a lot of options of people who look like me or people who come from the areas I come from. In general, I'm usually trying to extend opportunities and bring more people in, to experience being on set and working, or being in front of the camera. The cool thing about today is that you don’t have to look like a runway model to book a campaign or to get work."

 

TStyling for Highsnobiety Magazine.

Styling for Exit Magazine.

 

 

What do you do when you're not working?

“Not working? I don't know what that is. Ha. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but I feel like my work isn't necessarily work all the time. I'm usually at home or I go to the beach, I go for drives and look at architecture, I see my friends every now and then."

 

Instagram filters. Like ’em, hate ’em, or no opinion?

“I don't use them in my work, but for stories and selfies they’re super fun. I don't get tripped up by that shit, they’re fun. Also, Instagram is a tool. If you have a business or if you’re an artist, it’s a quick way to get going."

 

Complexcon photo with Pharrell.

Maison jumpman. paris, 2019.

 

 

Do you see things in black and white or shades of grey?

“Wow, that's deep. Definitely shades of grey. I think that two things can be true at the same time, it's never as cut and dry as things may appear."

 

What's the last song you listened to?

“Introverted Intuition by Lance Skiiiwalker."

 

Name one thing in your closet you can't live without.

“Damn, I can't live without any of it. I'm not a hoarder and I don't have a crazy amount of things, so none of them can go. I do have this pair of cargo pants that are always in the rotation, and I wear a lot of shoes. I’m a shoe person.">

 

Young Tyler.

 

Can you name a person, a place, and a thing that inspires you?

“My mom is really inspirational. She encouraged my creativity and to do the things that I wanted to do. She wasn’t trying to get me to be the person that she wanted me to be. Instead, she gave me the tools to be who I am and to develop the things that make me happy. I haven't been to Tokyo. Tokyo inspires me from a distance. I feel like they live in the future. It's 2021 here, but it's like 2025 there: technology-wise, lifestyle, and how they lay out their space. Being a digital kid, it just always felt like that was the future and everything is cooler there. It’s just a city that looks cool, there's a different light there. It just feels cool, clean, peaceful, and modern. The thing that inspires me is architecture. That's where I get most of my inspiration from now. It makes me happy. I like how people think about the allocation of space, how people interact with space, and how cities are laid out. All that stuff is super inspiring and drives me crazy. I go through a rabbit hole of architecture and design and when my day is over that's usually where I'm at. "