HRY SPACE Talk: PT 1: Art, Self-Branding and Social Media

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On April 5th, from 6:30-8: 30 pm, HRY SPACE in collaboration with SIMPL MAG hosted an art talk under the theme:

PT 1: Art, Self-Branding and Social Media.

At 45 Renwick street in Tribeca/Soho, five NYC based artists/influencers spoke about the recently chosen theme, and what it means to them with co-host So Kim.

The panelists are young, millennial culture-creators working in different fields of social media and art— exploring and paving their ways through the New York hustle lifestyle through talent, identity, and branding.

Mr. Iozo (
Juno Shen (
Milk (
Poster Boy (

Below are three highlighted questions from the event. The full talk can be viewed here.  

Q1. What was the biggest sacrifice you had to make to pursue your current career?

Poster Boy: “My biggest sacrifice was definitely my sanity. Like I said I was homeless, staying wherever I could, being surrounded by toxic people. it was very easy to lose sight once you came here (to New York). Finding a good balance for my sanity was the most difficult thing.”

Milk: My biggest sacrifice was…staying in America, overstaying my visa. That was a decision that I had to make in such a short period of time and I didn’t have money to fly back home (to Korea). The government gives you a week to stay, and after a week, you are considered ‘illegal.’ Then I got into Homies Wonderland, started hanging out with the people there, staying wherever I could. Adding on to what Poster said earlier—your sanity, your mind and your body, and soul are so important to you as an artist and as an individual. If you can't think right and you are around toxic people, then you can’t create or execute your ideas in the right way, the way you are supposed to. It's hard, when you don’t have the money to anything, and you’re staying around people or doing drugs, basically doing ‘nothing’ really. Coming out of that, I think is a very, great accomplishment, because it's a learning experience. You make mistakes and you learn.

Mr. Iozo: I agree with much of what Milk and Poster said, going around couch-hopping, getting involved with toxic people — eventually getting out of that situation…having faith and hope within your dreams and saying ‘I have no one, I have no job, etc. but saying ‘I’m still going to stick around,  hustle it out all the way. To make something out of myself. Accomplishing something basically.

Juno Shen: I think that I grew up privileged, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what I have day to day. I decided to come to the U.S. during my high school years. In Chinese and Asian culture, artists are considered as second class citizens, and to be frown upon by my community for attending an art school was a lot of pressure and weight on my shoulders. Having to ‘brainwash’ and convince my family members to believe in me with what I want to pursue as a career and dream, was tough as well.

Q2. What is your perspective on social media, to your artistic career? Do you see it as a positive or negative impact, please explain.  

Poster Boy: When Instagram first came out, I was just posting posts. As things got more serious, I had to rebrand myself and really think about what kind of posts I decided to post. I think that social media is a great way for the youth to stay connected and it offers a free platform for artists to display their work, regardless of where you are at in your career. We’re changing the rules, the younger generation is showing ‘this is how we do it.’ Social media can be toxic to many kids, but it really depends on how you see it. To me, its a business. It's a way for me to stay connected, to meet people and everyone, bring in ideas and money. A perfect platform to stay connected. You see more now through social media.”

Milk: Social media I feel is a blessing and a curse at the same time.  It is a platform where you can connect and promote yourself, but because there is no divide with people (celebrities vs. upcoming artists) there is no middle, everyone follows everyone. Which means your ideas can be stolen, and you have to be careful, everyone can see your post and stories. It’s a blessing because you have a voice, it's yours, it's your platform, you get to show a little bit of your personality and what you do. To brand yourself and get your work out there. But I’ve come to realize not to post things that are spontaneous, or out from the moment of feeling something. It's about building, now its much more business oriented so you have to be smart with it.

Mr. Iozo: For me, when I first started Instagram and social media, my photography was very much like everyone else's, very commercial. So going around all the photographer/artist profiles, all the images, I started studying and had a thought that ‘I need to stand out, I need to make something different.’ I used my Instagram account more for business, as a portfolio. I would say social media plays a major part of my business, I definitely get most of my business clients/commissions through Instagram DM (direct message). From there, it builds a relationship, we talk, we exchange phone numbers or emails. I do still get emails for work, but Instagram is a very important part of my business.

Juno Shen: Nowadays everyone is a creative director. you create your space, your profile — your social media is a way to let people get to know you, whatever you want to show. In many ways, social media has opened up ways for people to know who I am. I’m a photographer, I code, I do all these things but if you were to have a conversation on just one topic, you would never know. A lot of my opportunities came from social media, it's also a timeline of all my works.

Q3. Following up on the topic of appropriation, we see quite often from today's artists, (e.g photographers creating their own streetwear brands, fine artists building their own furniture brands) and so what are your opinions on the term “multi-disciplinary”? do you view this as a positive, or does it deviates from what you do?

Poster Boy: As for cultural appropriation, I think that the streetwear culture is derived from the Black culture. We see it a lot in New York, how street culture has entered the ‘high-end’ fashion industry, such as Louis Vuitton, etc. is a positive change, but people need to stop taking advantage of the origins and pay respect to the history of whatever it may be. As for multidisciplinary, there are no limitations to art. You should never limit yourself. When you grow up, you are told ‘artists can’t make any money,’ but don’t listen to that, just go for it. I think that it brings better, bigger opportunities when you truly take the limits to the max.

Milk: Going off what Poster mentioned, you grow up hearing and being told ‘you should do this or that,’ but living in a place like New York, you learn that you can handle doing just more than one thing. When you come to New York, you’re here to hustle, to pursue whatever you want to do. You can here for a reason, you cannot limit your end and understand your mind is the tool for everything. As artists, your mind is all you have, your mind is what’s original, your mind is what creates passion, it creates everything and executes through you.

Mr. Iozo: From personal experiences, when I first started photography, I didn’t have a stylist, an art director, etc. Soon after, I had a point where I realized I had to learn to come up with ideas and be an all-around kind of photographer, where I can execute my ideas on my own, and do the production as well. There's also that aspect of photography, or at least in my medium, where when a photographer only does portrait or landscape, they put box themselves with that. They have this fear of their audience not accepting their new style or approach to something new — because its different. For me, I just do whatever I want. From portraits to landscapes, black and white vs. color. To not box myself, to allow my audience and myself to be accepting of what I want to do.

Juno Shen: I think that anything and everything can be art. The same for me, I learned VR through a 3-week boot camp, I learned glass-blowing in a 2-week intense class. whenever I learn something new, that's still me and that's still my art.  I’m just a very curious person, willing to learn and acquire a new skill. In the future, I want to create my own interior design, etc. As humans, we learn new skills and ideas on a daily. For many of my projects, I did the production, I contacted shipping, learned to negotiate with people, built my website, basically all the behind the scenes work — all the photos on my Instagram are all my friends, I edit the photos on my iPhone. Making art and surviving financially is difficult, so we do what we have to do and not limit ourselves from ideas and opportunities.

This HRY Space Talk lasted 2 hours and had seats filled with around 150 people. Over 15 questions were asked to the panelists along with a Q&A session from the audience.

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