[REMMY.] So I just have to say Thank YOU so much for always supporting our vision and craft. You are one of the first to really show sooo much love for what we do and it's an honor to finally get to do this. Well, for the community, tell us about yourself? You're out in LA as well right?
[ANGELINA.] Thank you guys for always showing love for my work and welcoming me into the creative family. I feel so blessed to be a part of a collective with so many talented and humble individuals!
I am LA born and raised, although the San Fernando Valley is my true home. I'm a twenty-three year old fashion designer and photographer. Art's been a hobby of mine since I can remember. I studied drawing, painting, and graphic/web design in my free time before I got into photography after high school. I fell in love with the ability to make my ideas come to life from scratch, from the brainstorming to the shooting to the editing... I enjoy the process, and being able to work with likeminded people that admire your grind is inspiring and refreshing!
[REMMY.] I'm pretty intrigued to hear the answer to this question because I think like most, we may have thought your real passion is photography, but you are really into fashion design, correct? When or where did this passion start?
[ANGELINA.] I actually knew since I was a kid I wanted to be a fashion designer. I used to attend art school every weekend starting at age 4. Every weekend we'd use different mediums for different aspects of art. One time we did fashion design and it stuck with me I guess! I just loved it. I'd get caught doodling and sketching in high school a lot, my teachers would take my work from me 'cause I wasn't always paying attention. I received a lot of "don't study that, it makes no money. Be a doctor. Study business..." remarks and couldn't choose a major 'cause I was too scared of making the wrong choice. Hit a lot of bumps in the road because of self doubt and people from the side telling me it'd be dumb to chase a dream without a guaranteed future, so that's kind of how I turned to photography. In the meantime of me trying to figure out what the right path for me would be, I was going to college for a handful of classes, working at a designer's showroom managing orders, clients, etc. and at night I'd go out and shoot concerts for a magazine. I felt really lost to be honest. I'd sketch my designs in silence and occasionally show them to my parents.
One day, I'd shown them to my aunt (a very blunt woman whose opinion I very much care about), and she loved them so much she showed my uncle, a successful businessman. I'd never received this much support and encouragement from her before, and she'd told me he wanted to pay for my tuition to go to fashion school. It felt like I'd been waiting for their approval for so long, it was the push I needed to finally say, "Yes. We're doing this. It's gonna happen."
The turning point for me was a couple months after this when my family got a call to find out my uncle had been murdered... it changed everything. It really put me into a state of realization. Life is so short and undervalued. I don't wanna regret not taking a chance at my dream. I didn't want any "what if's" in the back of my mind. And my uncle would have wanted to see me prosper and be happy, doing what I love. I just wanted to make him proud. So I enrolled in the program that coming semester. Fast forward a couple years, I just recently received my degree in fashion design. Threw on a fashion show and everything, it was crazy.
[REMMY.] I guess with chasing your dreams it's only natural to run into obstacles. For some these are easy to leap over, but for others like myself they can sometimes be difficult. And what's funny I guess; It's normally not the obstacle itself that's makes overcoming it so hard. I know you've opened up a couple of times on twitter about the battles of depression; is this something you've just recently started to speak about?
[ANGELINA.] Well... yeah, I think so. I mean, I just started opening up about it maybe a year ago but my uncle's death was I think the event that caused it. I don't recall ever feeling so low in my life before that besides being bullied growing up, but nothing compared to this. Shortly after, I had some living complications with my family while going to school and that made things worse. But despite all this I always tried to stay positive and keep my head up. Nobody knew what I was really feeling or going through 'cause my smile never left my face. I wouldn't talk about anything. I'm not the type to talk about my own feelings (and that's a self destructive flaw). I'd just take things day by day, distract myself from my problems, and focus on my grind. Devoted all of my time and energy to school 'cause I felt like I had nothing else to turn to. I avoided coming home 'cause I didn't want to deal with reality.
And just as I thought things would get better, they would get worse. A year after this, one of my dear friends had been arrested for murder just two days after I'd hung out with him- he turned out to be someone completely different. I had lost friends because I was becoming distant due to my growing depression, they just weren't down for me like I thought they were. I went through a lot of heartbreak... everything just felt like it was falling apart. I hadn't spoken on it enough to keep my sanity and I used social media and photography as outlets to try to recover from my thoughts. I wish I talked it out with my friends and family more. Things might have been different.
I think I've gotten better, but I have a lot of left over residue from the previous couple years of depression. Honestly, it's a blessing being able to feel so much- to be understanding as a human, to be able to empathize with others that feel the same pain or have gone through similar life-altering experiences. I've met some of the most amazing people in my life because of this... it's definitely made me a stronger person.
[REMMY.] I feel like "today's" youth, and I use that lightly because of my own age haha, but let's face it, the new generation is a bit softer. But i don't want to lose perspective of the fact that also, people can be bullied by anyone around the world now. so whereas "back in the day" your bullying, peer-pressure, and outside adversities were more limited, now pretty much the world is coming at you...and that is when i think the "youth" just doesn't know where to turn or how to let out the frustrations of battling the world, you know? -- I guess I'm saying that to ask, how do you deal and handle your own depression?
[ANGELINA.] Oh I completely understand and agree. With social media, you have access to anyone. Complete strangers can come at you at their leisure and for no good reason too, it's disgusting. To be honest, I'm no poster child for overcoming depression. I still am not sure how to deal with my own. Not even my friends have figured it out. I don't take anything for it, I don't really have any vices. At my lowest points I would just write, though hardly anyone ever saw those. I'd just write to get things off my chest. Talking is still difficult for me, and it's taking a lot for me to say all this right now on a public platform, but it's easier for me to write it all down than to address it to someone face to face. I've definitely got a lot to work on myself, and I'm trying to get better at being more honest and expressive of my own feelings. It's just hard when everyone is always out to judge or kick you down, like that's all you know 'cause that's all you've ever felt.
My ultimate advice to dealing with bullying or depression or anything that is bothering you is to talk. I've only ever done it a few times, but they were at my breaking points and I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have such supportive friends surrounding me during those times. I always tell anyone if they need to talk to someone and don't have someone they trust, I'm here. I don't judge, I think I give pretty good advice, and I'm a good listener. Just don't stay in the dark for too long, it's the worst thing you could do to yourself.
[REMMY.] Has turning to your craft/art been the best outlet? I know a lot of good music and art come out of pain haha. Believe it or not, UG was birthed out of depression. Kinda why everything or the color scheme is Black/White. UG is my outlet and machine I created to convert my negative energy into positive energy. It will not allow me to produce negative content. So anytime I feel my "fuck the world" kind of mentality come on, it's a place that reminds me of the mission and vision.
[ANGELINA.] Oh my gosh that is so dope! I love the black and white symbolism. I know art has saved sooo many talented people from being in a much darker place. It's a blessing. Urban Gorillas is definitely a source of inspiration for me, I look up to so many of the creatives on here it's insane to be able to call them my friends.
Music definitely plays a role in helping me go through the emotions. I used to draw a lot or edit every chance I could. I almost always use lyrics in my photo captions because it's what I'm feeling at the time or the song fits the vibe of the set. Everything goes hand in hand- my mood, the music, the shot, the editing style. Everything plays a role in turning the bad into something good and useful. As far as turning pain into art, my friend Chamo inspired me to make some #nostalgictexts (conceptual art where he put old text messages on his photography to represent a feeling or moment from the past- it's dope), which felt like a therapeutic experience and helped me get through some tough times.
[REMMY.] So leave us with a little inspiration, what's a quote, phrase or poem that brightens your day just by hearing it...
[ANGELINA.] This might be cheesy, but I always come back to this song and this line every time I'm going through something. "I might be low for the moment but I will bounce back" from J. Cole's '4 Your Eyez Only'. It's simple and sweet. Always reminds me that there are better times ahead and any misfortune or pain I'm going through right now is temporary.