exclusive: "it came to me in a dream" – frank ocean creates a visual essay and pens personal letter

The generation-defining artist shoots two covers and a 32-page portfolio for i-D, and contributes an essay about peace, love and Szechuan sauce.

by i-D Team; photos by Frank Ocean
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Oct 23 2017, 8:38pm

This article originally appeared in The Sounding Off Issue, no. 350, Winter 2017.

Over the course of a six-year solo career, Frank Ocean has initiated compelling conversations around creativity, sexuality and identity. Through two standalone long-players – Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange – and 2016's exceptional double-header of Blonde and Endless, Frank has openly excavated his journey from boy to man with increasingly peerless musical depth, charting the shift from precociousness to perception. His lyrical life is seasoned by his emotional honesty, the wavelength of his artistry tuned at a precise frequency of personal transparency. It's this that has made him the most compelling of musical stars. A polymath as much as a visionary, Frank expanded the idea of Blonde to include a visual counterpart, Endless, and the highly covetable magazine Boys Don't Cry. In 2017, Frank spent the summer on tour, enthralling audiences around Europe and the US with a paradoxically intimate festival show. For i-D, Frank has created a visual document that makes imaginative sense of his magical summer festival season. The 32-page shoot is filled with an effusive warmth and redolent energy particular to both Frank and LA, where he shot the series. Paying homage to the team who help realise his creative dreams, these pages are about creativity and collaboration and the power of saying yes.

"You can answer a lot of questions with 'Yes.' But you can answer many more with 'No.' No is run of the mill. Yes is a gem. Whenever I feel alone I watch live television, something about it being okay on their end makes it okay on mine. Onstage one in-ear is my mic feed and the other one is a Tim Ferriss podcast. I go long periods without talking but I raise my voice when the people on the phone are in loud places. I've never given my fans nicknames because the ones I think of are embarrassing. I'm world famous. I had peace in my twenties. Big Pharrell praying hands those weren't mutually exclusive. If you want to make your 30s sound appealing just mention 'sexual prime.' Re: the photos... as Karl Lagerfeld would say they 'came to me in a dream.' Summer two thousand and seventeen. We leaned into it. Bananaberry flavored candies at the bottom of the cup. I'll never know why or what's with campouts for Szechuan sauce at McDonalds. But I'm way into it. Issa Dreamworld. If you liked two thousand and seventeen then you'll love two thousand and eighteen."

– Frank Ocean

Ysham wears hoodie Worldnet.

Image 1: Frank wears glasses and necklaces model's own. Earring (worn throughout) Tiffany&Co. Image 2: Polo top vintage Adidas. Trousers Blackhawk. Ring model's own. Trainers Tom Sachs X Nikecraft Mars Yard 2.0. Demi-Endless, 2017. © Tom Sachs. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery.
Orchestra wear shirts vintage. Boutonniers custom. Trousers Custom Dickies. Shoes models' own.
Image 1: Ted wears shirt vintage. Glasses custom. Image 2: T-Shirt custom. Shorts Comme Des Garçons Homme Plus. Ring model's own.
Orchestra wear shirts vintage. Boutonniers custom. Trousers custom Dickies. Shoes models' own.
Image 1: T-Shirt and hat vintage. Image 2: T-Shirt Gildan. Trousers and belt Gucci. Bracelet model's own. trainers vintage Nike.
Image 1: Vegyn wears hoodie model's own fake fan merchandise. Trousers vintage Marithe Francois Girbaud. Glasses vintage Lacoste. Trainers Converse. Image 2: Buddy wears t-shirt custom. Jeans Levi's. Socks model's own. Trainers vintage Nike.
Orchestra wear shirts vintage. Boutonniers custom. Trousers custom Dickies. Shoes models' own.
Image 1: Clockwise. Image 1: T-Shirt vintage. Trousers Alch Nike. Watch Seiko. Trainers Vans. Image 2: T-Shirt vintage Nike. Trousers vintage. Watch Seiko. Trainers J.W. Anderson X Converse. Image 3: Shirt Alexander Mcqueen. T-Shirt Custom. Jeans Prada. Watch Seiko. Trainers Vans. Image 4: T-Shirt Dj Scotto Nasa. Jeans Prada. Watch Seiko. Trainers Vans. Image 2: Shirt Alexander Mcqueen. T-Shirt model's own. Jeans Prada. Watch Seiko. Trainers Vans.
Image 2: Shirt Adidas. Boxers Hanes.

Image 1: Spike Wears clothing model's own. Image 2: Polo top vintage Adidas. Trousers Blackhawk. Bracelet Model's Own. Demi-Endless, 2017. © Tom Sachs. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery.

Image 2: Boxers (on ironing board) Gosha Rubchinskiy x Burberry. Shirt Adidas. Boxers Hanes. Socks model's own.
Image 1: T-Shirt vintage. Jeans Levi's. Socks model's own. Trainers vintage Nike.
Left to right: Ysham wears hoodie Worldnet. Frank wears Shirt Louis Vuitton. T-Shirt vintage. Turner shirt and t-shirt vintage. Vegyn wears shirt Mimi Wade. Matthew wears T-shirt vintage.
Vegyn wears Jacket vintage. T-Shirt Mimi Wade. Glasses vintage Lacoste.
Left to right: Frank wears shirt Kapital. Jeans Prada. Trainers Tom Sachs X Nikecraft Mars Yard 2.0. Vegyn wears jacket vintage. T-Shirt Mimi Wade. Glasses vintage Lacoste. Ted wears shirt vintage. Glasses Custom. Buddy wears hat model's own. Demi-Endless, 2017. © Tom Sachs. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery.
Frank wears top vintage Adidas. Bracelet and ring model's own. Earring Tiffany&Co.
Frank wears glasses and necklaces model's own. Earring Tiffany&Co.

Credits


Photography Frank Ocean

Styling Rita Zebdi. Creative Direction Thomas Mastorakos. Barber Randy Celestine. Hair Ted Gibson at Artists and Company. Colourist Jess Brown at Chris McMillan. Make-up Holly Silius. Casting Shay Nielsen Casting. Management Mark Gillespie and Dan Gieckel. Production Meagan Judkins and Ilona Klaver. Production coordinator Abigail West. Retouching Venice Post and Kyle Pero.

Spike Jonze as himself.

Band Buddy Ross. Vegyn. Matthieu Charneau at PCM International. Ysham Avdulahi. Turner Barbur at Photogenics. Orchestra Ajani Flowers at M Model Management. Askyla de la Plaine at Freedom. Audre Marvin at The Lions. Austin Feinstein. Dustin Kemp and Egypt Craft at The Wrenn Management. Geneva Natalia at Next. Hannah Kleit and Kwaku Kufuor at Vision. Miles Frank, Summer Thompson and Selena Valesquez at Photogenics. Quincy Saunders at Two Management. Selena Sloan at LA Models. Stage artists Frank Ocean. Julian Consuegra. Chris Cadaver. Thomas Mastorakos. Evan Clark. Aubrey Primer. Chris Wilson. Emma Hendry. Ben Trogdon.

Stage Demi-Endless, 2017 © Tom Sachs. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery.