a celebration of new york's new generation of creatives
For The Post Truth Truth Issue, Mario Sorrenti and i-D Editor-in-Chief Alastair McKimm shoot a portfolio of the artists, musicians, activists and creative minds redefining how we see NYC.
Can you introduce yourself... I’m Beatrice Domond. I’m a pro skateboarder and I ride for Fucking Awesome, Supreme, and Vans. There aren’t a lot of female pro skateboarders? No but it’s growing. Thanks to Instagram girls are getting more visibility and more girls are getting into it. How does it feel to be the first female skater for Supreme? I feel pride. I’m blessed to be here because I’ve come a long way. Where did you grow up? In Florida with my mom and dad and three siblings. My older brother was amazing at everything but he never skateboarded, so it became my thing. When did you start skating? Like seven, super young. Then at 14 I just realised realised like, I’m going to be a pro skateboarder. I was so youthful and naive. Do you think it’s important for you to be a role model? I’m still trying to figure myself out and work out my career. Hopefully people think I’m doing a good job. I’m just trying to do my thing.
Can you introduce yourself... I’m Vinson Fraley, from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m a dancer. Did you have a role model growing up? All of my friends were my role models and they’re still role models to me now. I’ve always been surrounded by a group of people I could look up to. Do you think of yourself as a role model? I have two younger brothers and I see myself as a role model to them. Professionally, I’ve started to think about the ways that I can step up and give back to the people around me. I think that’s important. And if you could give your 16-year-old self a piece of advice, what would you say? Keep a free mind and keep your imagination wild. Be curious and be obsessive and take every piece of experience that comes your way.
Can you introduce yourself… I’m Ama Elsesser, I’m a model, but I don’t want to sell myself short. I’m a good person. Did you have a role model growing up? Tupac. He had so many pretty women around him and I was so jealous. What was your best subject at school? I never paid attention. I was always sneaking off campus, smoking cigarettes. If there’s a 15-year-old girl out there who is similar to me, well don’t do what I did, it doesn’t lead anywhere. What would you advise them to do? Find a friend who will do your work for you! Oh and if you’re gay don’t fall in love with your friends because it doesn’t get you anywhere either. And like sex and drugs too, only do them outside of school. What specific advice would you give your 16-year-old self? That 27-year-old man who tells you that you’re very mature for your age, he’s a dog. Actually never believe anything a man over the age of 20 has to say to you at all. Oh and stop telling people you’re 18 when you’re 16 because now everyone thinks I’m 21. One more thing actually, like if you get caught doing some gay shit, admit to it! There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Kiss your homegirls. Everybody knows you’re gay.
Can you introduce yourself... I’m Cy Gavin and I’m a visual artist, a painter. I grew up in Donora, Pennsylvania, which is on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. What was it like? It used to be a steel town but the industry is gone now. It’s part of the rust belt, it’s pretty depressed. Did you have a role model growing up? I read a lot of books and listened to a lot of music. I got my role models there. Did you feel like you needed a mentor? I’ve found my way through the world. I’ve worked in the opera, in languages, psychology, advertising. I feel like I had a life and then I realised I could make art. Would you recommend that path? I had no delusions about how difficult it would be. If someone’s reading this, looking for some advice about becoming an artist, what would you give them? Find your personal language because that can’t be taught. Is it important to be a role model? I have heroes who are not role models. But I think it’s important to remember the people who came before you produced work in really different circumstances to the conditions we do now. It’s not about emulating their routes but understanding their spirits. And you can adopt or reject parts of that spirit.
Can you introduce yourself… I’m Tayahna, I’m 16, and I’m a DJ, producer, singer, rapper… Where did you grow up? East Flatbush. It’s a Carribean neighborhood. My parents are immigrants. It’s like the middle of nowhere but there’s always music at night, food and smoke and barbecues. It’s cool, it’s cool, it’s home to me. I love being able to celebrate my culture and the people around here are keeping their cultures alive. When did you start to perform? I started doing local talent shows with my brother when I was six. We had this group and we’d dance to rap music. Did you have a role model growing up? My parents for sure. My dad’s a construction worker and he built a club in the basement, he’d throw parties and DJ down there. My mum inspires me to be myself. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? I heard SZA say this: “You’re never as bad as you think you are, and you’re never as good as you think you are either.”
Ant Blue Jr
Can your introduce yourself... I’m Anthony Blue, I’m an artist and musician here in New York City. How long have you lived here? I’ve been here since 2012. I love New York although I hate the winter here. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. It was a pretty routine, suburban life: school, football practice, home, every day. Did you have a role model growing up? I had two older brothers, I really looked up to them. They got me into drawing and painting and music. I learnt from all their mistakes. I wasn’t the best student. I tried to get into the NFL and went to Nebraska but I tore my ACL in college. It was then that I got into arts properly. I found my passion. I figured out where I belong. What’s the best piece of advice you ever got? This NFL player once told me “The more stuff you know the harder it is for them to get rid of you.” So I just realised I had to learn everything. You’ve got to make yourself valuable in any situation. In New York, there’s so many opportunities to take. I want to figure out solutions to everything. I don’t want to be eating dollar slices everyday. Do you think it’s common for the kids in New York to be more business orientated than elsewhere? I do. New York is expensive. You’re always thinking about money. You gotta live. You gotta eat. I’m always thinking about that next dollar.
Can you introduce yourself… I’m Dee Nasty, I’m a comedian and I grew up in New York, in the Bronx, in the Boogie Down. What was that like? I grew up right by the Yankee Stadium. I guess it’s a rough area but I had a sheltered childhood. My mom is a Jehovah’s Witness, she’s very religious, very strict. I got really good at sneaking out at night. When did you first feel successful in your career path? Only recently, I went to Cannes, I was talking in some panel discussions about some shit and some honcho at IBM comes up to me and says, “My daughters love you!” I was like, “I made it.” What was the best advice you got growing up? To be myself. You start getting a bit older, you want to be a bit sexier, a bit more girly, but my mum helped me see that I needed to be myself. I was the class clown, always trying to make people laugh. She told me when I walk in a room I lighten it up. Is there any advice you would have liked to have heard then? Sit up straight and remember that boy’s ain’t shit. That’s is still pretty good advice I think.
Can you introduce yourself and tell me what you do? My name is Kerwin Frost. I am a creator. I create. Where did you grow up? What did you want to be growing up? I grew up in Harlem, NYC. I always wanted to be a professional drummer. What subject were you best at in school? None. I dropped out. When was the first time you felt successful? When my daughter was born, that was pretty awesome. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
Can you introduce yourself… I’m Angelo Baque. I’m New York City born and raised, and I have a clothing line called Awake NY. What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be an engineer. I was a nerd in school, and then I had a moment of enlightenment, got into graffiti and started taking pictures. I fell in love with art but I had no idea what I was going to end up doing. Did you have a mentor? I had one. Bonafide Rojas. He’s a poet and he gave me my political education, he taught me who Eldridge Cleaver and Che Geuvara were. He’d give me lectures while we were out tagging around the Village. Do you think of yourself as a mentor now? I think so. But the accessibility is easy these days, on social media, in the DMs. I always take the time to write back to everyone who writes to me. What was the best piece of advice you got? It wasn’t about my career. No one really taught me how to do anything. All the old guys were reluctant to open the door and be transparent about how they made it to where they were. The best advice came from my mother. She came to New York from Ecuador when she was 16, she worked like a mule. She was my inspiration. So what advice would you give your 16-year-old self? I love you. You got this. Don’t give up. You’re gonna be sick one day. Don’t let anybody get in your way because you’re gonna smash it and you’re still going to have a full head of hair at 40. Do you think it’s important it to be a role model? I think it’s important to walk the walk and talk the talk. We’re all being watched on social media, so you’ve got to stick to your word and lead by example. I try to practice philanthropy in all aspects of my work, and give back in any type of way that I can. That’s what’s important. And finally, what’s the best advice you could give to a young creative now? Be mindful, be present, and enjoy it. As much as I loved being a miserable teenager I wish I would’ve enjoyed the days when I didn’t have shit to do and when I didn’t have bills to pay. Like, don’t take yourself so seriously, go out and get a fucked up haircut. Get a shitty outfit. Go make out with that person you like. Live a life. See the world.
LaToya Ruby Frazier
Can you introduce yourself... I’m LaToya Ruby Frazier, a visual artist, photographer, a teacher and an advocate for art education. Where do you live? I live in Chicago, and teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I grew up in a small steel mill town called Braddock, nine miles outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a difficult and tumultuous place to be born into. I came of age in the post-Reagan era, in a post-industrial society, in a deindustrialized landscape. It was a really dark, difficult time. It shaped the way I see myself and the world, it instilled in me the very deep respect I have for the dignity of working-class people. Did you have a role model when you growing up? I was raised by my grandmother Ruby. She taught me that education was my way out of poverty. She hammered that into me. Would you have preferred a different upbringing? You can’t control the circumstances that you’re born into. But whatever gifts and talents and creativity you have, you have an obligation to use it to help others. Is there anything you know now, that you would have liked to have known then? That the things that made me feel the most ashamed then, would one day be what empowered me. It’s important to enjoy turning the negative into a positive and be the creative change that leads to a creative solution.
Can you introduce yourself... Hi my name is Rebel Spirit. I skateboard, make music, and go to school in the East Village, Manhattan. I grew up in BedStuy. It’s gentrified now, but back then it was pretty dirty. How did you get into skateboarding? This older kid at school had a board. He wouldn’t let me ride so I got my own. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Just enjoy yourself. Enjoy being a kid. Don’t compare yourself to anyone.
Can you introduce yourself… My name is Jon Gray. I run Ghetto Gastro, I’m an artist moonlighting as a dishwasher. Who was your role model growing up? My Uncle Jeff. He took me and my moms out to dine a lot and he had the Benz with the car phone. When was the first time you felt successful in your career path? I need to do better at processing victories but I just keep pushing. I’m grateful that we can make a decent living and pay people doing work that’s meaningful to us. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Take less advice. You’re instincts are your gift. What piece of advice would you give to yourself at 16 years old? Spend less energy on finding reasons to give haters more reasons to hate. What’s the best piece of advice you can pass on? Wake up early, make your bed, brush your teeth, exercise and make it pop. Start the day with an accomplishment. Also put your phone on night mode when it gets late, that blue light is no bueno.
Can you introduce yourself… My name is A$AP Ferg. I grew up in Harlem, New York and I’m an entrepreneur, artist and rapper. What did you want to be when you were growing up? I wanted to be a fashion designer, artist and all around creative. Who was your role model growing up? My father, my mother, my step-father and my uncles. What subject were you best at in school? Marketing. I was always intrigued by moving tribes of people to react. When was the first time you felt successful in your career path? When I was invited to go on tour with Drake. That was super early in his career and mine. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Outwork everyone. What piece of advice would you give to yourself at 16 years old? Trust yourself. Is it important to you to be a role model? It’s important because you never know how you can impact another person. You could be the one to spark a global change. Do you see yourself as a role model to anyone right now? I hope I am. I work hard and try to be someone that any younger artist will look too as an inspiration. What’s the best piece of advice you can pass on? Work hard, stay focused and stay humble.
Can you introduce yourself… I’m Antha. I’m Harlem born and raised, and I’m a rapper and a singer. What did you want to be when you were growing up? I’ve always wanted to be a performer. I think church pushed me in that direction. I spent all day singing. When did you first feel successful? When I first heard a song of mine on the radio. It was like, ‘Wow girl, you bout to be a star.’ What advice would you give your 16-year-old self? My mum’s really strict. Once I stayed out at night past my curfew and she grounded for me a year. It was the worst year of my life. It was a good night out but it wasn’t worth the punishment. Do you think it’s important to be a role model? Hopefully I can be a role model to young girls, like me, who grew up in urban communities. Hopefully they can see me fulfilling my dream and they realise they can do that too. I want to get my message out there to these girls. What’s the best piece of advice you could pass on? Pretend to be who you want to be, and you can become it. Imagination is the closest thing to magic.
Photography Mario Sorrenti
Styling Alastair McKimm
Interviews Declan Higgins and Tom Ivin.