In celebration of the launch of Affinity’s new Arts + Culture sector, I’ve decided to debut a new series of ‘Stars To Watch’. This weekly segment will highlight young creatives on a mission to fulfill their dreams, inspire creativity, and give them a platform to let their voices be heard!
Over the past few years social media has played an extremely important part in the discovery of some of today’s most influential celebrities. From musicians, models, and dancers, even actors, actresses, photographers, artists, and stylists! As a young creative myself, it’s hard to ignore creativity when it appears on your timeline. As a writer, something like working for Affinity Magazine has given me hope that this “dream” of being discovered through social media isn’t really a dream. It’s very real…
For sometime, I had been following a mutual under the moniker “@Nicokartel“, and our shared love of fashion, music, and pop culture was a given, however a part of me admired his hidden craft. His ability to produce breathtaking edits of celebrity images from the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce, and a plethora of others, as well as his talent for setting a mood to the most basic photographs amazed me. It wasn’t until late January when he had finally nabbed his dream camera, the HD Mark II and tweeted out some images from his first spontaneous shoot that I knew right then and there.
“He’s The Next Big Thing”
After watching other people I followed such as “@Fucci“, “@SalemMitchell“, “@Barbiegutz“, and more go on to achieve success through social media, it became a mission for me to score an interview with the next one up, before he hit it big time.
In an intimate conversation through DM’s, we delved into conversations about creativity, art, and photography. All beginning with a simple question.
“Who Is Nico ?”
“Nico is just a boy, a boy that was raised in South Florida all his life by a carribean family” he replied. “My mother and father were periodically in and out of my life, so I was raised mainly by my grandmother and aunt here”
“I always want to capture things in their natural format. Documentary style, so to speak. I also love me a clean and minimalistic visual”.
As mentioned earlier, I had been following Nico for quite sometime, and I had personally been able to experience his excitement for the debut of his journey into photography. After the warm reception his first set of photos received it prompted me to ask.
“How did you feel shooting your first shots, and what was it like seeing all the positive feedback?”
“Oh my gosh, I almost cried when I opened my package and saw my camera. It was so beautiful. It was such a soul soothing experience. I was happy” he recalls of opening the package. “I kept having flashes of these great visual of detail in my head as I was out and about shooting. I was also shocked when I posted my first photographs I took from it and the major feedback it got. My mentions were flooded with love from so many people, even people that didn’t follow me”
“What are your plans as a photographer? Where do you see yourself taking your craft?”
“I definitely am lenient on working for a major publishing magazine or just sticking to being a freelance photographer. I definitely wanna take my talents to New York to connect with people who have similar dreams and goals and can help make the the vision I have work, so not only they can grow, but I can grow as well.”
“In today’s society, with every new talent there’s a story behind there craft. What’s yours?”
“There’s beauty in the struggle..”
“I’ve overcome a lot within my life, the only thing that really makes me happy is being able to exercise my talent”
“Would you say your passion for photography has helped you through some dark moments?”
“It has. I could be in the most terrible mood, but once I grab my phone and my camera and just snap pictures of anything that inspires me, I just get a rush of excitement. In that moment, I just know that i’m gonna potentially produce something great. And I can’t wait to share it with the people that matter to me the most. My supporters.”
“What advice can you give someone with talent who isn’t quite mentally where they would like to be?”
“Never give up. Things are rough, life hits you with obstacles like a domino effect… But hang in there, the only thing that could get you out is your talent. Use it to the best of your ability.”
Once I had learned a bit more about Nico personally, it became obvious that I had to have his opinion of a few topics concerning today’s society. Ranging from LGBT+ creativity, to the recognition of creativity by moguls, within the educational system; we began the second half of the interview…
“With the success of people like Fucci, how do you feel about the slow rise of creatives being discovered through social media”
“Man, people don’t understand why I’m so religiously active on Twitter. Twitter has the opportunity to dramatically change your life before you know it if you use it properly. I look at Farren and he’s truly one of my greatest inspirations, when that Paper Magazine spread dropped I was in the back of a Lyft on my way to work… I almost cried, not only because I was super happy for him but because I know his story. He’s come from a lot, he’s faced a lot and he’s done a lot. So I look at him and I truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to & if you use social media to the best of your ability and create a loyal following you can get to the places you’ve always imagined”.
“When it comes to the newer generation the talent has always been there, however the resources have not. Artists such as Chance The Rapper, Rihanna, and Kanye West have been huge advocates of education, and art for the youth. How does this attention to creativity make you feel?”
“It makes me feel great, honestly. They’re creatives in their own right as well. So for them to use the impact that they have on culture and use it to give back to the young and the hard-working, it’s really an inspiration.”
“That’s a dream of mine some day. When I reach a high pinnacle and point in my career, I want to establish my own art studio in New York, Build it from the ground up and use it as a way to share my love and admiration for the young people that are using their talent to grow out of the adversities they face in their every day lives”
“As a young creative of the LGBTQ+ community, what is your role, and what advice can you give?”
“I’m a visual artist. I’m a creator. I create and convey emotion and sensuality through images. My advice to people like me, especially of the LGBTQ community is to always be unapologetic. So many of us go through so much whether it’s just in the world, with our families, at our jobs… We go through a lot. But don’t allow people to belittle you and make you feel like you’re supposed to be “this” or “that”. Fuck the standards that society has created for us, We can be more than that and we WILL be more than that. We’re on the come up, we’re doing great things and we’re only getting greater as time goes on.”
“Also, the LGBT community has given so much to the world, from art, fashion, music, and even the everyday vocabulary of people around the world. Despite our impact why do you think it is that we’re still treated as second rate? What are your hopes for this community’s future?”
“People aren’t ready for the LGBT community to take over the world. We’re on pretty much every runway, every television screen and every endorsement across America. They’re afraid of us becoming a “normal,” every day thing. So that’s why they always take what they can from us and rebrand it as their own as heterosexual, or as America would claim it, “normal” people. It’s fucked up, I know. But sooner or later, that’s gonna come to a halt and it’s gonna come to a halt REAL soon. Keep your eyes peeled”
Consider this to be the spark to the light the flame as this eccentric photographer begins his journey into following his dreams! Representing for the LGBT+, and West Indian community he leaves readers with a final message. See a a few of his shots in the gallery below!
(Turn page at the bottom)
“Be smart. Be great. Be loyal to yourself. Don’t ever put your dreams on hold for anyone else. Be fearless. Always trust yourself” – NICO KARTEL