I’m Ling, I was born in Washington DC and I’m 21 years old. I creative direct, style, model, do graphic design, videos – just anything creative that I can get my hands on. But what I really love doing is helping people, I like to bring the artist out in everyone else. I learned from being around creatives. I have no formal education, but that’s how I wanted to go about it. I have moments where I feel I should go back to school, but any questions I have I self teach; ask people, go on Youtube... I attend Youtube University (laughs). Something I learned going into portfolio reviews when I was in High School, trying to go to college, is it wasn’t ever about the final piece, but how you got to that piece and why you made it. I go through that actual process... that’s how I learned most things I know today – by assisting, interning and being hands on. If you got “it”,
if you got that drive, you’ll go out there and get what you want.
People call where I come from (DC) ‘a bucket full of crabs’... everybody’s just pulling each other down to try and get up and get out the bucket. Because it was so street out there, I was really prepared for my move to NY and people being cut throat within the industry. When I moved here I was making art, people started fucking with my style so I was getting into modeling and styling. But I didn’t quite know how to be a professional... New York is teaching me that, for sure. I didn’t know how to pitch something, or hit someone up for a casting, make a tech pack, etc. A lot of my friends in New York really showed me how to be a better artist, how to be a better creative.
So the goal for me is this artist collective I’ve started called THRAXXX;
“TH”: the, “R”: real, “A”: artist and the XXX is just the style – raw, edgy, raunchy, blunt.
So it’s an agency of likeminded artists, who have the same believes; who are humble and just want to be artists and come together. A real artist, to me, is someone making art off the love of creation. Obviously they’d like money... everyone’s gotta eat. So I just want that platform for these real artists to promote other likeminded artists, for example you could be a model and another member of THRAXXX could be a rapper and he’s promoting you and you’re promoting him. So it’s just all these artists... whatever field you’re in.
I’ve known plenty of people who start companies with friends and stuff happens down the line and you eventually will be doing something that you want to call your own. But THRAXXX is some thing for every body... that honestly is one of my life goals. I looked it up, what I have on my hands is a start up culture. And it’s someone like me who wants to start a company to give jobs to all my friends and peers. And I want to give everybody a chance... people who can do accounting, or technical stuff, not just artists. That’s another aspect about THRAXXX, we are generally all from that type of area where we know so many good people, who are from the hood, but they’re smart, they’re talented... where’s their chance?! Then society looks at them like they’re doing all these horrible things... they didn’t choose that shit, that shit was given to them and they have to deal with it. That shouldn’t mean they don’t get a chance, just like everybody else.
I’m really just trying to create a platform that will go on hundreds of years after me. Like, all the old rap heads had it, because they were the first of their generation. It wasn’t a big deal back then, Wu Tang for example... no one at the time really looked at it, in the grand scheme of things, but they were the best group ever, to me. They were just so diverse and it was just something about them.
When rappers come out now, it’s as a group... not just one. Or when artists come out they have a collective. That’s actually a beautiful thing, because it’s people fucking with each other. There are definitely still people throwing shade, but that’s what we are trying to abolish... that’s the new generation’s fight; this fucked up industry. That’s the sad thing about it though... is you need money to really be heard or seen, when it’s just a middle-man.
Let’s say, you are a groundbreaking, pioneer of an artist, the next big thing... they’re not going to try and put you on, they’re going to try to take from you and make it their own.
They’re going to leave you out here to be a real, starving artist.
It seems like there’s a lot more people who are trying to be businessmen and there are fewer people trying to be artists, within the art community. For me, I would love to find a businessman who I can trust but that’s hard as shit. I don’t want to be thinking about these things, but the way the world is the artists have to, so that they don’t get fucked over by the businessmen. That’s how it is... businessmen and artists.
But that’s kind of interesting because in the beginning (of anything really) it is those people who are hungry, starving artists, who are really passionate about it and it’s just them. And then obviously as other people, who are totally irrelevant, catch hold of how much money is to be made, then it’s kind of all over. So that’s happening now but
we’re in a new culture! There’s new art movements coming out, new rap movements, new fashion... Everyone is a freshman in this shit and now is the time for a new generation!
But people are still trying to hold on to the old. And the white man, or whatever, is in here making money off of people like us. But it’s going to start fresh with all of us. All these new rappers, artists, creatives, it’s going to start again. And we’re going to be the ones controlling it.
FF- Can you list a few people that are either a part of this movement or an inspiration to it?
LT- Robot Moonjuice – my friend from Harlem, he’s an amazing person... he just does it all. He actually hooked me up with my first ever casting, which got me into WAD Magazine and that was great for me. I kinda co-styled it with Kevin Amato, he shot it. I’m in Kevin Amato’s new book; he’s another person who just put me on. A third person would be Tyler White; he’s been really influential, taught me a lot of things. Jorge (Gito) Wright has taught me a lot of things too... Jorge is probably the most influential person who has put me on.
FF- If you could only wear clothes from one designer, for the rest of your life, who would it be?
LT- I don’t need designer shit, that’s luxury! Fashion is a luxury. So I say Dickies! They make good clothes, the shit lasts, they make work wear and then on top of that, they have a designer line, so it’s like designer work wear. And it’s going to be around forever, nobody can do what Dickies is doing, at their level.
as told to: Olivia Seally // photos: Olivia Seally