Aaron Vasquez: It is not about your peers. It's about you.
Aaron is an art director, photographer, and filmmaker who works with BKLYN1834, Deux North, Thom Browne and other artists. I've been following Aaron on Instagram for a while now and I've always been interested to know more about him and his work.
When did you start taking photos and making films? What got you into it?
Everything began in college. I got a Flickr account right around the same time I got the first-gen iPhone. I liked the community on there and wanted to become better. I, by no means, considered myself a photographer back then. But, I wanted to be as good as their featured photographers with my composition and command. So I found photos and styles I liked, studied how they got their best shots, and went out and experimented at every occasion.
At the same time, my roommate had bought a Canon T1i (which was one of the first entry-level DSLR cameras at the time) and I had bought a MacBook Pro. We shot an ongoing series focusing on my baby nephew and posted it on Facebook for only our family to see. I became addicted to making these video and eventually I began to make videos about most of the major experiences in my life. Longhorn football and basketball games, road trips, quiet moments, snow in Austin, all were posted on a Vimeo and Tumblr accounts I had created.
Eventually, some local rappers reached out asked if I could make their music videos and I said yes. I sent those out to other rappers I loved in NY and LA to see if they would be interested in working with me. I started to get some work, and that turned into a lot of work in both LA and NY. At that point I was still enrolled in college, and it was clear by my grades that I wasn’t focused on my school work. So I left school, and moved to New York City to become a director.
You work with Deux North and Thom Browne, correct? Some people take years to hone their niche and find the right audience, but you manage to cater to people from different parts of the spectrum. How do you do that so successfully?
I’m not sure. I know that I’ve always wanted to be doing work in different circles. I liked taking things I’ve learned in one circle and spreading it to others. But I also care about the circles I’m in, whether it be music, film, adventure, fashion, etc. So anything I worked on, I wanted it to be the best that project could be.
For example, working with Deux North, we had to find a way to rise above with beautiful imagery and inspirational storytelling. With Thom Browne, his vision had already taken care of both those things, so we tried to stand out by finding the style in which to tell the story and execute that to the fullest.
You were also at NYFW back in September. How was it?
It’s always cool. There are parties, shows, tons of energy, and the best looking people wearing the most beautiful things! You leave each event feeling on top of the world. It can be overwhelming, though. This year, the only show I went to was Thom Browne’s, because I was swamped with other work.
What's the toughest part of working in a creative industry?
Being a self-starter. To me, that means having the willingness to work hard, be a pleasant person to work with, wanting to become better at what you do, putting yourself out there constantly, and being persistent about your goals.
I find myself looking out a lot at other creatives, seeing what they are doing, and comparing where we are in our careers. But when that happens, you have to ask yourself some questions: Why are you doing this? Are you happy where your work is? In what areas do you want to grow and how? What is your next step? Are you headed toward your big dream?
It is not about your peers. It is about You.
What's your typical workday like?
I work from my home in Brooklyn so I’m usually there editing or writing. Pretty boring stuff. But I’m lucky enough to fly to various places to shoot and film. In the last 12 months I’ve gotten to go every where from Spain to Shanghai for work. Taking an adventurous and creative trip somewhere is a nice change of pace from being at home constantly.
What do you do to wind down after working on a big project?
A two things. Some of the time it is go out with a friend and take photos for myself. For whatever reason, it makes me feel like I’ve recalibrated. Because there is no agenda or expectation, you’re just free to create and explore with a friend. That’s a good space to be in.
Most of the time, though, it’s playing video games. That is my favorite! I’m not an online player, because I like the solitude of playing alone. For me, a good video game can be like a good book, like the Arkham or Metal Gear series. I’m also into FIFA and NBA 2k manager modes, because it is like a strategy based RPG, but with sports!
Do you have any filmmakers and other artists that you look up to?
@Trashhand - Gorgeous and gritty style. Let’s his work do the talking.
@GrantLegan - Can make any moment look like a dream.
Nabil Elderkin - Surreal filmmaker. His work is brilliant, gritty, and emotional.
Hiro Murai - He always creates a beautiful world for the song or piece to exist in.
And Christopher Nolan & Quentin Tarantino.
Do you have anything coming up soon?
So I work for a company called BKLYN1834, as the art director. We have a music project coming out entitled “Comp_01”. The project has 7 songs from 6 different artists, and I am the director of 6 of the 7 music videos that are paired with each song. Those are going to be coming out all fall and into the winter. We’re also beginning production on “Comp_02” soon.
I’m also directing two music videos for an RCA artist.
On top of that I’ve written some shorts, and filmed two, as part of a larger personal project.
Where can people find you on internet?
But I obviously would want you to follow me on Instagram (@aaronisnotcool).
My handle is @aaronisnotcool everywhere else (except Snapchat) so feel free to follow me wherever if you like my work or me in general.