What relationship do you have with your creative practises and do you feel that they inform each other?
Yes. My creative practices allow me to grow naturally (which I'm so grateful for) because I have so many, I'm not constantly looking for the next thing. Ideas and opportunities have made their way to me in random ways, I never really force myself to write music, I just do it when I feel like it. When I don't pick up my camera for a week though, my hands get itchy. Personally, I have an intimate connection with my creative practices, ideas often become inspired by aspects of my life in terms of intrusive thoughts and visuals that are very personal to me. All of my creative practices link with each other. When I'm writing music, I often visualise scenes in my mind. An example could be seeing colours that may resonate with chords, or shot changes that correlate with the rhythm. I work with a lot of musicians for their visual assets, and being able to understand their style sonically helps me to capture them accurately.
One of our favorite things about your photography work is your ability to connect with and bring out a very genuine side of your subjects. What is your approach to photographing a person and how do you curate a successful shoot?
Awh thank you, I'm grateful that you can notice that. I think the basis of it all is that the subject must feel comfortable with the photographer and with being in front of the camera, then everything builds from that. It can be a daunting and vulnerable thing, but it can also feel empowering and the subject can be left feeling confident. A lot of the time it's about how you approach the situation. Before a shoot - I like to allow myself to be vulnerable in front of my subject too. I also leave room to let that person become my muse by looking for traits that I find admirable about that person. My approach is by understanding what their art is, what they/we are trying to create with the visual, their style and getting to know the person. I know a shoot is successful when I'm left feeling really good and eager to see the scans, it's similar to how you may feel after a good workout. It's not the case all the time though, and that's fine.
What art have you been enjoying recently?
I've been enjoying pottery and local jazz rap a lot recently. For me, playing with mud has connected with my inner child, not being afraid of getting dirty and making a mess. The cool thing about clay is that it's all reusable, its source is the earth and you can return it to the earth or you can rehydrate it, chuck it on a plasterboard to dry out, then wedge it back together and start over. I just started learning how to throw on the wheel recently and it's quite challenging and is a real test of patience. There's also something so special about eating out of a bowl you made yourself.
We heard you speak about the importance of surrounding yourself with muses, what does this mean to you and who are your muses?
Muses are people who can be the subject of your admiration. For me, I've discovered that not through seeing somebody's beauty necessarily, but more so noticing people in natural/unposed ways in spaces that they inhabit. Muses usually end up being the subject of my photographs. It would consist of moments that cause me to feel a certain way that desires to make a frame. An obvious example could be taking a photo of an artist at a concert, simply because you admire their music and how they may look in the moment that urges you to capture it. It goes from something you notice to something that ends up sticking. Recently, a lot of people around me have been doing just that, except they're not on a stage, they are in my life. They are people who I admire, who I have a great deal of respect for, and people who inspire me. I am also my own muse, I have been getting into self-portraits and sometimes I feel inspired by the way I behave and my thoughts or it could even be as simple as the way I dress.
Where can we find you and your work?
You can find me on Instagram @ccrystal.chen. If you wanna listen to my music, it's on most streaming services but if you really wanna listen to my music, go to my Bandcamp hehe. You can find my visual work on my website however I am thinking of releasing some prints and am in the process of creating a book.
Crystal wears the Charcoal Brooklyn Oversized Shirt and Austin Pant from our March Womenswear Collection. Available Now.