RENEE MILFORD: Loving Learning about Make Up

Renee Milford Make Up Artist
                Renee Milford                   Make Up Artist

Photo: Antony Scully Photogrpahy

“I`m not a big make-up wearer, I don`t really like doing it on myself” – a  statement made my Reneé during our interview which surprises me. Further in the conversation she goes on to explain that this is actually part of the reason why her style as a make-up artist is the way it is; the natural, dewy, “no make-up” look. And just like that what initially seemed contrary makes perfect sense.

Reneé creates seamless, silky, second skin looks for her clients. I was not even aware that make-up could look so much like skin before I had my make-up done by her.  In our discussion, I am impressed by the consistency with which she attends workshops to continuously take her artistry to the next level and although to me her make-up is already flawless, like all the greats, she`s always trying to learn something new.


 

EP: When did you start doing make up and how did you get into it?

RM: I would say my very first foray into doing make up artistry would have been in 2005. In 2005 I had gotten a really good deal on make-up and I brought it to Trinidad to sell. I shipped it in and some of it was damaged when I got it. I couldn`t sell them so I used them as testers. I started playing around with it and I realised, and other people realised, that I had a knack for it. After that I just started to do courses and advanced it as time went on.

 

EP: So did you start doing make-up on yourself?

RM: Hardly ever you know. I`m not a big make up wearer. I don`t like to do it on myself but I absolutely love to do it on other people. And I gradually got better through courses. Airbrushing make up is one of the things that I love. I started to do that in 2006. I went to New York and did a class in airbrushing and when I came back home I think there was only one other person who was airbrushing make up at the time here. When I came home from that class, my husband`s friend was getting married and I did his wife`s make up. Lucky for me she was very easy going so it wasn`t difficult for me to work with her although I was nervous. It was very simple clean make up and she liked it.  I`ve done many courses since then.

 

“I`m not a big make up wearer. I don`t like to do it on myself but I absolutely love to do it on other people.”


 

EP: How many courses would you say you`ve done between then and now?

RM: I can tell you the main ones: the ones that I remember that really had an impact on my work. The first one was with TEMPTU in 2006, that`s the airbrush company. After that locally I did the class with Ephraim Hunte, that was maybe 2009. Then I did some more advanced training with TEMPTU in 2010.

 

EP: You`re fairly consistent with doing courses…

RM: I love it. Learning for me is one of the things I enjoy about make-up artistry. In 2012 I did a class with Vanessa Evelyn, the school goes by the name Petra Alexandra Inc. That class really developed me in a bigger way because Ms. Evelyn is a published make-up artist. She has done covers like Essence and Latina Magazine. When I tell you she was detailed. At that point in time a lot of things were still unclear for me technically as a make-up artist. But after that class I could look at a make-up brush and know what type of hair it`s made out of. It really brought me into a different space technically in terms of make-up. The last course I did was with Monifa Mortis which was also really good. I want to do something this year I just don`t know what as yet.

 

“Learning for me is one of the things I enjoy about make-up artistry.”


 

EP: Can you pinpoint a moment when your make- up went to a really outstanding level?

RM: In 2009. Between 2006 and 2009 I was really finding myself and after that I really understood what I was doing and really felt more of a passion from it. And after the class in 2012 with Ms. Evelyn I felt really confident.

 

Renee Milford Make up

 

EP: What`s your favourite part of doing make up

RM: Perfecting skin. Skin skin skin. That`s my signature; having skin looking as natural as possible but still made up. Brows too actually! I love doing brows!!!

 

EP: What was the process behind you realising or deciding what your signature style would be?

RM: From the start it was a personal decision although when I first started I would try different looks. I would try the glamour, I would try the beauty. It was a personal thing for me because I never really cared much for make up on myself, so I always tried to replicate that when I was doing my make-up – to keep it natural and light. I had an experience when I was younger, having my make-up done by someone, and I didn`t enjoy it. The person was rough on my face and that translated. When I looked at myself after I didn`t feel like me, I didn`t feel beautiful. I think that was a real defining moment for me, I said I wouldn`t treat someone`s skin like this. I want to see the person looking like themselves but just a little enhanced version. I`m really big with fiancés of brides because I always make sure that their brides look like themselves.

 

Renee Milford Make Up Leah_sm

Photo: Antony Scully Photography

 

EP: Which local make-up artists do you admire?

RM: I would have to say Kirk Thomas has a special place in my heart because he was one of the first people to support me with make up when I decided I wanted to do this. This was 2005/2006 and I didn`t know him prior to that. I used to say “Kirk let me come with you on jobs” and he said “Ok, cool” and I would go and watch him work and eventually he started to refer clients to me. I picked up a lot of things from him. I`ve always admired him and admired his drive.

I like Nina Alcantara, also my good friend Narvely (Labastide). I really enjoy Arlene Villarule`s make-up. Her make-up is beautiful and precise. I also admire Jaleesa Jaikaran and Jaumark Pierre.

 

EP: Which make up artists inspire you?

RM: From the US I am mainly inspired by Sam Fine and I have a very strong admiration for many of the UK and Australian make-up artists. I absolutely love Lisa Eldridge, she`s from the UK. Also Charlotte Tilbury.  Dick Page, Vanessa Evelyn. Australian makeup artist Merton Muaremi does really really really really really beautiful work.

 

EP: There are so many fantastic make-up artists now…

RM: Yes, and the thing about make-up is, it`s a matter of preference. A client can be more inclined to an artist whose work is more about colour and matte skin but the quality of the artistry can still be on par with someone who uses a lot of neutrals and dewy skin…

 

“Someone who is extraordinary is exceptional at what they do. Someone who would go above and beyond what is needed or expected of them.”


 

EP: Do you have any memorable make-up moments or any favourite images you`ve made?

RM: There is one image that I did with Antony Scully with an Asian girl, it looks like no make-up, but it`s a full face. That was one of the days that I realised how much I put in to having someone still look like themselves and still look natural but just a little bit more polished. So that image actually is one of my favourites.

 

Renee Milford Make Up 3

 Photo: Antony Scully Photography

 

EP: What does being extraordinary mean to you?

RM: Someone who is extraordinary is exceptional at what they do. Someone who would go above and beyond what is needed or expected of them.

  

Follow Reneé here: Renee Milford MUA

Visit her website here: Renee Milford Makeup Artist

STACY BISSESSAR-FORRESTER: The Joy of Make-Up

Stacy Bissessar-Forrester
  Stacy Bissessar-Forrester             Make-up Artist

 

Stacy Bissessar- Forrester is one of those people who knew what she wanted to do before she was going to school. As a child, she would sit and stare at her mother putting on make-up and she says “nothing could get in between her and that”. Fast forward twenty something years later, and nothing has changed; Stacy is still in a love affair with make-up. If anything, it has become stronger. She is dedicated to her art, and as she sees it, it`s going to be a lifelong relationship.


EP: When did you start doing Makeup?

SBF: I`ve been on my own for about seven years now but in all I`ve been doing makeup ten plus years. I started working for Sacha cosmetics as a cosmetics consultant at Pennywise. Then I went on to work at their image centre. I worked for Revlon as well for a short time. After a couple of years, I went on my own. Make-up was my first job; I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist since I was small.

 

“I knew I wanted to be a makeup artist since I was small.”


 

 

EP: How small is small?

SBF: ….Small. Just last night my mother and I were talking and she was telling me since I was 2 years old

I would sit down and watch her doing her makeup and no one could get in my way. I always knew. When I was going to school I would get in trouble for wearing makeup. My friends are not surprised now that I`m a makeup artist.

Once I finished school, my mother sent me to courses in Cosmetology and Makeup.

I find joy when I`m doing makeup. This is what I love. If you speak to any one of my clients, they will tell you when I am almost finished doing a face I start dancing. Just seeing how their face changes, and how they are so happy when they`re finished, it`s a joy for me. I love what I do, I love it, I don`t think I`ll ever do anything else.

 

EP: When was the first time you did someone`s makeup?

SBF: The first person I ever did was at Pennywise. The girl was so fascinated by how I used to do my makeup to go to work. So I started doing the girl in Pennywise San Fernando`s Makeup. When anyone of them got married I was the person they came to. My first client was one of the girls getting married in the store.

 

Stacy at work on one of her Brides. Photo: Gari Barclay of 24 frames
Photo: Gari Barclay of 24 frames

EP: Is it possible for you to put into words what you enjoy about doing makeup?

SBF: Makeup is an art for me. I`m a very artistic person. I can look at anything and draw or paint it. I started doing that when I was younger, it`s calming and exciting. It`s exciting seeing my clients happy and the joy and confidence you can bring to them in such a short space of time.

 

 

 

  “It`s exciting seeing my clients happy and the joy and confidence you can bring to them in such a short space of time.”


 

EP: Do you think there are different levels of Make-up artistry and where do you think you are?

SBF: I think there are levels but I don`t know where I would place myself. I would let my work and years of experience speak for itself.

 

EP: Can you see your own improvement over the years and was there a time when you saw specific advancements in your makeup?

SBF: I have definitely seen improvement over the years. I would say probably in the last four years I`ve improved a lot because I really started doing a lot of practising. I mean I used to take it seriously but I went to another level with how I took my artistry. I would practise on my husband, honestly. I can blackmail him, I have pictures.

 

EP: Are there specific things that you can point to that you have improved in?

SBF: Yes. I never really used to concentrate on skin. Over the past couple of years, concentrating on skin has been a really big thing for me. I spend a lot of time and money now on improving skin prep in my kit. Taking skin more seriously, to get a more flawless look, a longer lasting look. I want when people see my client in real life they see skin. I`ve improved a lot when it comes to skin care and skin prep and I`ve toned down a lot on eyes. Yes, a lot of Trinidadians like bright colours and while I can still do the twenty colours on the eyes, I`m concentrating more on doing beauty makeup and glam makeup.  Soft, blending, blending is key for me. I hate to see harsh lines on someone`s face. I don`t like heavy contouring and highlighting. If you look at my clients you will see. I don`t do that trend.

 

Stacy Bissessar Forrester

 

                                                    

 

EP: Was there anything that happened four years ago? When you said you got even more serious about your makeup?

SBF: Not really. But I always had a support system behind me. My mom always encouraged me from the get go and my husband as well. He started investing a lot in me and my kit around that time. So I started to take my artistry more seriously, I mean I was always serious but I kicked it up a notch. My husband, he supported me financially, emotionally, when it came to my artistry. He really pushed me to do this on my own. Don`t go and work for anybody else, you can do it. Practising on him, starting doing my research, even more research. So he was part of it too. He kind of gave me a little more drive. And then my kids got a little older then. So I was able to have a little more time to do my thing.

 

EP: How old are your kids?

SBF: My son is 12 and my daughter is 10.

 

EP: What are three tips you would give someone who wants to be a great makeup artist?

SBF: Don`t try to be like others, be you. Practice, practice, practice. Don`t try to copy other looks and be like another make-up artist. Two, always be updated. Don`t ever think that you know too much because trends in make-up artistry are always changing. Don`t always think you know everything. Three, enjoy it, love what you do.

 

“Don`t ever think that you know too much.”


 

EP: What are three key skills you think a makeup artist should have? Technical or non-technical.

SBF: Knowing your colours. You should know your colour wheel. That`s very important for make-up artistry. Blending. Blending is very important. Knowing face shape, eye shapes etc. Knowing the anatomy of the face.

 

EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?

SBF: Loving yourself. Loving what you`re doing, loving your craft. Knowing you have a skill, knowing that you want to do something and putting in the time and effort. Making it your own and taking it to another level and being humble while you`re doing it.

 

ANNELIE SOLIS: Wowing The Human Spirit

Annelie Solis
                   Annelie Solis                    Visual Artist

 

With Special thanks to Culturego Magazine.

Annelie Solis is an artist whose art is difficult to put into words. It is something that must be experienced and felt. While her pieces feature characters whose morphology and adornments are reminiscent of aesthetics and visuals from cultures around the world, they also transcend any cultural confinement and speak to something universal. Annelie attributes the profound impact on viewers, and messages people receive from her images, to allowing God to work through her in order for the pieces to come to life. Rebelling against “academic art” at one point as a teenager, she now considers it her “dharma”, and doesn`t see her love of painting ever dying.


EP: When did you start painting?

AS: I guess I`ve been drawing and stuff my whole life.

 

EP: So you`ve been drawing since you were three?

AS: Pretty much. In school I was very defiant and I did not want to choose art because everybody told me that I had to. Everybody was like “Well you must choose art” and I was like “Whatever, I can draw I don`t need to do it for CXC (Caribbean Examination Council).” But then I realised I was not really capable of anything else. *Laughs*. So I was like “Fine, I`ll take art”. It`s only in form 5 when we got a new art teacher who was an actual artist and the way that she taught us, just opened my mind so much. And I think that was when I really fell in love with art.

 

“Then I realised I was not really capable of anything else.”


 

 

EP: Who was that?

AS: Ms. Cozier.

 

EP: How did you find her approach was different to other teachers?

AS: I don`t really remember exactly how it was. I just remember that that was what changed for me. The one thing that I can remember is simple things like, be dramatic with your work, in the sense that, if you`re doing dark, do DARK. Shadows should be black, and the highlights should be white. That doesn`t apply to everything obviously but that`s something that I remember so distinctly. `Cause you know when you`re at school you`re timid and you`re not really sure. She was like “No, do it!”. And when I did I just remember the results being like “huuuuu” *Amazed sound*. Look at that! Just be fearless. She knew about artistic principles. She had a dedication to teaching. She paints incredible portraits. I think that was something too, I respected her so much.

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EP: You said in 2011 you felt more awakened and that had an effect on your work…

AS: At the end of 2010 my father passed away after about 6 years of fighting cancer and I think being faced with that level of loss will always cause you to shift in one way or another. And I was lucky I had and still have my brother who is just this incredible deep deep soul. He started questioning things and seeing things in this kind of enlightened way. And when I might have just been wallowing I was able to talk to him and I was able to open up to a deeper reality. Loss isn`t loss. You really have to question what life is when that happens. I started opening up to the deeper realities of life which are so obscured by society and the way that people live in general.

 

“That showed me the validity of not painting what you think people are going to buy.”


 

 

EP: Did your process change?

AS: Yea. I had had some exhibitions before. Nothing big. And after you leave school you have to think about making money. So I was always painting thinking about what will sell. And then there was this period, 2011-2013 or something like that where I just decided that I wanted to paint beautiful things. I don`t want to have to think about how it`s going to be taken and if people are going to buy it. And all these profound realisations I was having in life, I wanted to depict that. I use faces as a vehicle to show that because I just find that you can connect with eyes.

 

4

 

I`ve never loved landscape paintings although I love nature. So I would kind of personify nature as a glorious nature spirit or something like that. I was playing with personification of spiritual themes. The content of what I was painting was totally different and I wasn`t thinking about making money from it or anything. And I find what`s the most amazing thing was when I had an exhibition in 2013, it was so, so good. It was so successful. People were telling me that they were crying and feeling something so deep and so profound.  I think that`s the kind of work I`ve come to be known for. That kind of spiritual, mystical fantastical work. That showed me the validity of not painting what you think people are going to buy.

 

EP: How would you explain why that work was more impactful?

AS: I guess when you`re focused on getting some kind of recognition or making some kind of money or that sort of thing. To be honest sure that could be like a beautiful talent, but it`s not real art. `Cause I think that real art, real true art, doesn`t come from the artist at all, it comes through the artist. So I`ve been given this talent and I`ve been able to train my technical skills which is so great and so necessary. But my work really expanded when it wasn`t about Annelie Solis trying to create something. It was about opening and just letting God create through me. Which may sound a bit pretentious but I feel like that`s what it is. I just try to be a channel. And when I bring too much of my mind, “How am I gona do this?” and “Who`s gona like this?, Who`s gona buy this?” and “What will people think?”,  then it`s me again, but if I`m just using my skill and focusing on a beautiful intention then I`m just allowing.

 

EP: What were you classifying as sure sellers?

AS: Just the kind of “banana republic” depictions. African school children and bele dancers. Which I love, it`s beautiful, it`s just not my experience of the Caribbean. And I think there`s enough fantastic Caribbean artists painting those kinds of things.

 

EP: Which of your paintings would you say are Trinidadian inspired?

AS: I think all of them in the sense that this Trinidad culture is just this big melting pot with all of these glorious cultures. I love Indian culture and I love African Culture. All of the different aspects that make humans so incredible and beautiful. Those are not the things I paint but subconsciously all of those elements have affected my work. So I love to paint these kind of like Nubian queens of the universe…. They are all kind of inspired by where I live.

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EP: How many hours do you spend doing one piece? I guess it won`t be same for all of them

AS: I actually really love to do the small little pieces, `cause I can just zone in for a couple hours and just, from start to finish I`m just there, present for the whole experience. Bigger ones would take a little bit longer but a week maximum.

 

EP: How do you make them so magical? I`m amazed.

AS: I think it`s not me making it at all. To be honest, I`m not big in the art world. Not to say I don`t appreciate art but I don`t go to that many exhibitions and I`m not familiar with that many artists. I just love making art and I love to just sit with a painting that I`ve made for hours and get lost.

 

“I think it`s not me making it at all”


 

I think what`s amazing too is when I make something and somebody gets a message from it or they explain what they see in it. I`m like wow, cool. I didn`t even think about that at all, but it connected with them so deeply. And that`s how I know that it`s not me. I can`t take that much credit. I can take credit for the technical skill and the discipline of meditating and wanting to bring God through my work.

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EP: How many paintings have you done to date?

AS: I really don`t know.

 

EP: Crossing a thousand?

AS: I don`t think it`s reached 1000. Maybe in the hundreds.

 

 

EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?

AS: It`s kind of sad that it would be extraordinary. But just that there are so many people in life who are choosing to live in a negative state. It`s sad that what makes an extraordinary person is somebody who chooses the opposite. Who chooses love and chooses to make the journey not just for themselves- because no man is an island. I think that what makes an extraordinary person is someone who realises that they have the privilege of choice and they are choosing love, and they are choosing God.  They are choosing to find that truth and beauty in themselves and they are choosing to be of service to everyone else.

DERVAL BARZEY: CAPTURING BEAUTY

Derval Barzey Make-up Artist
         Derval Barzey           Make-up Artist

Photograph: Leslie Robertson Toney

 

In 2010, Derval Barzey started her foray into the world of make-up. Apart from attending several make-up conferences over the years, she considers herself a self-taught make-up artist whose passion has fuelled her development. Her make-up stands out for its soft and radiant “second skin” appearance and she can just as easily turn up the volume to create a dramatic look. In addition to her love for the artistry of make-up, she is also keen on environmental sustainability and doesn`t see either of these passions dissipating. While we can be sure to see more flawless finishes from her, we`ll have to wait and see just what evolves through the interplay of these two passions from this environmental artist.


EP: When did you start doing Makeup?

DB: I started playing with the idea of being a make-up artist back in 2010.

 

EP: How old were you then?

DB: I would have been about 21.

 

EP: Were you working then, were you at school?

DB: I had just finished my degree at UWI and was looking for a job. I had gone to Texas for the July August vacation and I went into Sephora for the first time and I remember my first purchase was an Urban Decay Primer Potion because that`s what all the Youtube gurus were using at the time, so I felt like I was so in the game having acquired one. It was a point where you`re just trying to figure out your life, figure out your space in the world. You just finished UWI (University of the West Indies) and you`re kind of wondering “Well what next?” You`re trying to be an adult. *Laughs*.

My first introduction to make up came a bit earlier with a vocational course offered by South UWI. I think that was after I did CXC (Caribbean Examination Council). You`re basically learning to apply makeup on yourself. Then after that I started to do it on my friends. Then I started to get immersed in Youtube and the whole online community and also I started networking with local makeup artists who were starting up around the same time.

 

“When I`m doing makeup I`m just in the moment. Whatever frustration you have, whatever concerns you have, whatever stress you have doesn`t matter. All that matters in that moment is what you`re there to do and create”


 

EP: You mentioned that you are also passionate about the environment, so do you see yourself doing both? Being involved in environmental work and being a make-up artist?

Make-up is definitely one of my passions but I also see myself making a contribution in other spheres as well. I`m passionate about sustainability. My academic background is in Environmental Management and I`m now pursuing a Masters in Sustainable Energy. That centres around sustainable development, environmental protection or management, renewable energy etc.

Make-up has really helped me to grow as a person and to develop. It has exposed me to so much that I would not have been exposed to in my conventional line of work. I just love doing photoshoots. I`ve gone to so many places in Trinidad I probably might not have gone to or seen if it were not for shoots. And you meet so many interesting people. I just love that. And when I`m doing makeup you`re just in the moment. Whatever frustration you have, whatever concerns you have, whatever stress you have doesn`t matter. All that matters in that moment is what you`re there to do and create. Because at the end of the day you`re creating something. Whether it`s for a bride, some other special event or a shoot. You`re creating a moment that you just have to enjoy in that moment. Luckily you have pictures to reminisce on it but…

 

EP: That reminds me of when I did an interview with Yvonne Popplewell and I asked her what her favourite kind of make up to do is. She said she likes doing brides and graduation. She said it`s because they are so excited and so turned on to life and they have no idea the kinds of trouble that can befall them.

DB: *Laughs * It`s like the purest form of joy right. Yes! I want to get married every time I do a wedding because there is just so much happiness and love and excitement in that moment. You forget about what`s going to come.

 

EP: Can you remember any key moments when you noticed something in your technique shifted and it took your artistry to a new level?

DB: While it might be hard to say the exact point that it occurred, I think what really took my artistry up was when I started to focus on skin. Because you can do all the drama with the eyes and the eye-shadow but to me what really makes a look flawless is when you are able to perfect someone`s skin. That starts with skincare. Then recognizing what kind of skin the person has, primer….When you start doing make-up you want to do really bold and vibrant eyes. You have your 120 palettes and you want to use the 120 colours. *Laughs* But I think in evolving and really becoming a make-up artist I realised skin is what really makes a difference. And that`s where my artistry kind of changed because it was less emphasis on being artistic and creative on the eyes, unless that was demanded, and more focusing on making the skin flawless. So prepping the skin, matching the foundation, setting the makeup, making sure it`s not cakey. Making sure it`s seamless. That was where I started to focus and I started building my kit because you have to cater for the full range of persons that will sit in your chair. The person with dry skin, with oily skin, with acne skin, with combination skin. That has been to me a real defining moment.

 

“I think what really took my artistry up was when I started to focus on skin.”


 

 

EP: Do you have a favourite look that you like to do?Derval Barzey Make Up 4

DB: I love doing bright lip colours. Over the years I have encouraged so many women to wear bright colours. I`m all about the bold statement lip. I also like doing Carnival make-up. That is where I get to be very expressive. I get to use all the bright colours, all the glitter and the dramatic lashes because generally make-up tends to be a bit understated, unless you`re going to something glamorous, or it`s some sort of shoot that wants that. Your average client just wants to look pretty, look beautiful. Apart from the smoky eye, there`s not much drama.

 

 

EP: Do you have any favourite looks from your portfolio?

DB: I do. I`ve had really good experiences collaborating with J. Angelique. I`ve done a couple shoots with them and getting to work with her designs and then the photographers that she would have worked with like Cecil Evans. That collaboration has produced some really great images and working with models like Greer Iton for example. But that has really been an exceptional experience for me, working on her shoots.

Also Carnival. And the brides I have done throughout the years. I really like doing brides.

Derval`s three favourite images from her portfolio. 

 Photography: Cecil Evans.

 

EP: Who are some local and international make-up artists that inspire you?

DB: Locally I must mention Arlene Villarule. Her ability to transform and to really bring out that inner Diva. She brings out the Diva when she beats a face. Also Jaumark (Jaupierre)  and Natalie Simone-Miles.

Internationally Pat McGrath, Mario Dedivanovic, Sam Fine, Roshar and Kabuki.

 

EP: What are some of your immense dreams for your make-up?

DB: I just want to continue creating beautiful images. I`m looking forward to rebuilding my portfolio. I want to work with other talented persons in the field. Photographers, designers. That`s on the horizon for me, just creating beauty, or I should say capturing beauty, because it`s embodied in the person and you just bring it out.

 

 

EP: Who are some people you want to work with?

DB:  There are a number of upcoming designers I`ve been observing who I would love to work with. Hands down I would love to work with Cecil (Evans). I like the quality of his work. I would like to work with Mark Gellineau, Keron Riley. In terms of designers, Meiling, Noor, Wadada Movement. And I would like to shoot really artistic work, in the vein of K2K. All the local designers. Delia from Tobago. I would love to a shoot with an accessory designer, because then you can just focus on the portrait, which would showcase the jewelry as well as the make-up. You know you could do really interesting concepts.

 

“I feel like there`s something extraordinary in each of us just waiting to be harnessed or pulled out or allowed”


 

EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?

DB: To be extraordinary is to be your authentic self. Each of us has something extraordinary in us and we lose that when we try to be something that we have been made to feel that we should be. But when you get to the point where you embrace your uniqueness. Your personality, your unique self, that is where you have the opportunity to be extraordinary because you are you, and nobody else is you, and you know the quote that says: “That`s your power”. I feel like there`s something extraordinary in each of us just waiting to be harnessed or pulled out or allowed.

 

Follow Derval here : Derval Barzey Make-up Artist

 

ROANNTA DALRYMPLE: Jewelry x Geometry

 

Roannta Dalrymple Tau.tol.ogy
Roannta Dalrymple                                      Jeweller

 

Roannta Dalrymple started making jewelry on a whim six years ago when she wanted to get hair accessories but found them too expensive. What started simply as a way to beautify her hair at minimal cost, six years later has turned into a jewelry line with an invested following. Now her direction is less happenstance and more deliberate action. Her aesthetic has evolved over the years to a more “essential” and pared down style. Citing as inspiration a well-known designer who now regularly collaborates with the internationally popular footwear brand Reebok, she thinks she has further to go and a lot more to learn.


 

EP: When/how did you start making jewellery?

RD: I started in 2010 but it became a business in 2012. I was unemployed after I did my Masters, I was out of a job for about a year. I had dreads at that time and I wanted hair jewelry and when I priced them online they were something ridiculous like 80US. I said “I can do this”. I got myself a spool of wire, a hammer, and some beads. I was semi employed then and I was still kind of working and finishing up my degree and it was just fun. So I did the hair jewelry and maybe a pair of earrings for myself. Got a job, and then lost that job, and was at home doing absolutely nothing. I think I started to get a little depressed. When you look for a job for very long time, you reach this magical point where you stop looking. You reach a point where you`re like; “You know what, not having a job is what the Universe decided to give to me, and I`m okay with it.”*Laughs* …because the rejection hurts…when you send out 12,000 resumes…

So just to find something to do I was making jewelry. I made a few rings for people because they asked. But I was very much focused on a career and getting “a good job”.

 

“Making jewelry is hard work. People don`t grasp how hard that work is”


 

And then UWI had their Orientation Village. At this time I had a tonne of stock that I was doing absolutely nothing with and one of the girls who shared the tent with me was a girl named Shanice. We got a little close. She added me on facebook. A few days after she messaged me and said she wanted to do another market. But the cost was too much for her and she said it was in South (Trinidad). She wasn`t driving at that point. Everybody she was asking to share with her said it`s too last minute because they don`t have stock. And I was like “I always have stock”.

So I thought “Why not?” I ended up at the market and it was like the worst market ever. If we made $50 dollars we made a lot.

I would credit that chance meeting with Shanice and that chance ending up at that market for where the business is now.

Making jewelry is hard work. People don`t grasp how hard that work is. Especially if you`re doing wire work ….it is just hard work, but those events gave me the zeal to start thinking about it as a business.

 

EP: How many pieces do you think you`ve made from then to now?

RD: Woooooo. I would say in the hundreds. I can turn out hundreds of pieces in a Christmas Season alone.

 

Tautology

 

EP: What do you enjoy about making jewelry?

RD: It is…peaceful.

 

EP: From talking to you, jewelry making seems to me the same way I feel about drawing. .. too tedious.

RD: My attention span is very minute. To this day it`s the only thing that has held my attention for this long. To date this is the thing I`ve been the most focused on in my entire life, and this includes boys. This includes everything. I just get bored of everything else except this.

 

EP: What does Tautology mean?

RD: Tautology is one of my favourite words. It`s actually a math concept. But it defines circular logic. It`s putting something new into an equation and the equation remains the same even with the new elements added. An example of a tautological statement is that the woman is a widow. All widows are women so that`s circular logic. I like it because a lot of my jewelry is very geometry based.

 

“How do I boil this very complex piece of geometry down to the barest essentials of jewelry.”


 

EP: What inspires you?

RD:  I do a lot of research into what is trending in the fashion world, especially in terms of colour. But a lot of things that inspire me would just be the things around. I then go to what`s happening art wise. That`s where most of my jewelry inspiration really comes from. I look at a lot of geometric art, TautologyI look at alot of water colour art. I think one of my stronger talents as a jeweller is my work with colour. So I`m very good at matching and combining colours that won`t normally “go together”. The first thing I do every year when I`m starting a collection is look at the pantone colour of the year. Inspiration also comes from a lot of the abstract work I see, a lot of tattoo work is very abstract now so I look at that a lot too. And then there`s just the barrier of what can I do with that?  Then I have to kind of work within the constraints of that in terms of how do I get streamlined lines from this or how do I boil this very complex piece of geometry down to the barest essentials of jewelry.

 

EP: What are you trying to achieve with your designs?

RD: I am going for a classically minimalist aesthetic. I really want something that while still being outstanding and being very very different, is appealing to everyone because it`s very easy to wear. So I want people to have pieces that are unique but that are at the same time so streamlined and so seamless that they can be worn with almost anything. I intend to make your favourite piece of jewelry.

 

“I intend to make your favourite piece of jewelry.”


 

EP: What is the hardest part of what you do?

RD: For me it`s actually not even the intense labour-because it is labour intensive; my back hurts, my fingers hurt. I`ve hit myself with a hammer numerous times. Really for me, the hardest part of this right now is that my ideas aren`t limited by my skillset, but what I am able to accomplish is limited by my skillset. So I think of what I want to make but I can`t always make it because I don`t have the skill for it yet.

 

EP: Future plans for your designs?

RD: What I really want to do is there is a lady named Melody Ehsani, she designs for people like Nike. I don`t think she produces much anymore, but she does design. So she designs for Nike and some other retail stores. Shoes and jewelry. So that is really the goal. I want to be able to make the handmade pieces as well, but on a smaller scale, by order. But it is really is to influence the aesthetic so much that I can do that. I`m not sure how viable that is for Trinidad. But I do know that that`s what I would want.

What I surmise is that she gets the designs and they do the production. But it is her line, “Melody Ehsani for….”. That`s what I want to become in a few years.

 

EP: Do you have a favourite piece of jewelry you`ve done?

RD: I do. There is a collar I did last year, that is square,  like a bib. My favourite piece of all time.

Tautology

 

EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?

RD: I do not think it is to be special. People think being extraordinary is to be “special”. And I do not think it`s that. To ME. To me to be extraordinary is to really pick that one thing and give it all of your focus. And that one thing can be ordinary. Jewelry is ordinary. But if you give that one thing complete focus and give that one thing all of your capacity, then you make that thing extraordinary. And when you do that you become extraordinary by proxy. So I don`t think it`s that you come special or you are an extraordinary person. We’re all born the same more or less.

“To me to be extraordinary is to really pick that one thing and give it all of your focus. And that one thing can be ordinary. But if you give that one thing complete focus and give that one thing all of your capacity, then you make that thing extraordinary. And when you do that you become extraordinary by proxy.”


 

We have different life chances etc. People who become extraordinary are people who have given one thing that focus. That dedication. Serena Williams is extraordinary. Not just because she is s tennis player, but because she has given that thing her focus so she is the tennis player. Same thing with Kobe. Extraordinary person. Not because he was born to be a great basketball player but because he gave that one thing all of his focus. And I do think that is what makes us extraordinary. And not everybody has that ability to focus. That`s probably the only thing that`s different. Not everybody has that fibre to just do something repeatedly. Would I say I`m extraordinary? – not yet. Do I plan to be extraordinary- yes.

 

STEVE HERNANDEZ: A Light Obsession

Steve Hernandez Photographer

Steve Hernandez

Photographer

 

Although he has lived for half a century, Steve Hernandez remains innocent in his approach to life and photography. He is not preoccupied with strategy, business, moneymaking or any kind of reciprocity, material or otherwise, as it pertains to his work. He is concerned solely with capturing images as he sees them through his eyes. Which is not to say that he is lazy in his approach to his work. On the contrary, he probably produces as many images over time as individuals who are “professional photographers”. His appetite seems never-ending, eager to capture new images and be surprised by what each new interaction of light and life reveal. With the current pace of the world, and the eagerness to turn everything into a business, it is refreshing to interact with someone who is driven by something else altogether. What is he driven by?…He calls it an obsession.


 

EP: When did your photography start?

SH: It started when I was at SBCS doing a course in media and communications. One day the lecturer brought out some cameras, told us to go out in the streets and shoot a couple of photos and bring them back. And I can`t remember what I shot but it felt so natural and so easy that I wanted to do it again and then I just got hooked after that. It was like an addiction.

 

EP: What year was that?

SH: I think that was in 2007.

 

EP: Would you call it a passion?

SH: I wouldn`t call it a passion. I think for me it goes deeper than that.

 

EP: What would you call it then?

SH: An obsession.

 

EP: How does the obsession manifest for you?

SH: In that I would see something and it would reach out to me to shoot it. Sometimes if I can`t shoot, if I have to work or if I have appointments, there is a build-up of energy and I have to release that energy somehow.

 

EP: You`re 51, have you ever experienced anything like that before?

SH: No.

 

EP: Is there a specific thing that you can point to that has you captivated?

SH: It`s about light. Some people tend to think, “Oh you like to shoot women or you like to shoot houses or landscapes or seascapes.” It`s not about the subject it`s about the light. So the light could be striking a leaf and that will draw my attention.              

It`s  About  Light


 

EP: Do you have any favourite images?

SH: I have thousands of images, but for each photo I`ve probably deleted about ten. That would be impossible to define because it`s about the light so once light strikes an object in a certain way, it will appeal to me, so I can`t have any one particular image no.

 

EP: Do you have a place that you`re trying to reach with your photography?

SH: Yes, it`s not to come to a level of being well known or to make money, it`s liberty. It`s to be free, to have the freedom to shoot an object the way I want to shoot it. And what I have difficulties with is people in Trinidad tend to confine my liberty in regards to shooting. If I ask to shoot something or someone they will ask “What you want to use it for? Where is it going?” and stuff like that. Sometimes it has nothing to do with going anywhere. It`s just that how the light is striking at that time I would want to shoot that particular image. And also people have a tendency to typecast you. So if I say I want to shoot a woman they would tend to think “Oh, yuh attracted to this lady” or “Yuh like nude women” or some ridiculous statement and it`s not about that. It`s about creativity, it`s about art. It`s about capturing something at that moment in time, regardless of gender, race ….regardless, it doesn`t matter what it is, it`s light.

 

Steve Hernandez

 

It`s liberty. It`s to be free, to have the freedom to shoot an object the way I want to shoot it.


 

EP: Do you have aspirations to create images on a certain level? A “master” level.

SH: No. What I want, is liberty. I want to be able to get up on a morning and shoot an object how I see it in my mind. Not based on previous work or on the masters or any first world photographer. But what I conjure up in my imagination and what I want to capture as is.

 

EP: It`s not really about an end goal…

SH: No. It`s a personal process.

 

“They would tend to think “Oh, yuh attracted to this lady” or “Yuh like nude women” or some ridiculous statement and it`s not about that. It`s about creativity, it`s about art. It`s about capturing something at that moment in time, regardless of gender, race ….regardless, it doesn`t matter what it is, it`s light.”


 

 EP: What is your favourite type of image to do?

SH: Low-key. Most of my images I like to shoot are low-key images because they tend to be more dramatic and a glimmer of light will stand out more in darkness as opposed to bright midday sun.

 

EP: I know you work with models, mostly female models, I haven`t seen that many male models. I guess it`s because female models like to pose.

SH: Well not only that, it`s about homophobia too. I remember one time I made an appointment to shoot a male and he jumped out at last minute because it was supposed to be a nude.

 

EP: The models that you enjoy shooting, what is it about them that makes it so enjoyable for you?

SH: What is really enjoyable for me in shooting a model is her ability to be free. Her ability not to be Steve Hernandez 9intimidated by people watching or by nudity. Or by the photographer or his lens. But who can be so confident and full of self-esteem that they will go into different modes or different attitudes without having to be coaxed. That makes the job so much easier. There are few women that I`ve shot that have that ability.

 

 

EP: What is the biggest compliment for you to receive about your work?

SH: That the photograph brings or brought tears to the onlooker’s eyes. And people have said that before. I did a baby shower and the whole company of people who were at the shower when they saw themselves they started crying.

 

EP: Do you think your work has improved over the years? How?

SH: I would say yes because now I have an idea of what to look for. Certain looks, certain positions, certain nuances.

 

 

 

EP: When you`re actually in the process of doing a photoshoot, what`s your favourite moment?

SH: The experimentation aspect. Sometimes a picture might look terrible on the camera but when you take it home it looks different. So it`s like fishing, you`re not sure what you`re going to get.

 

EP: So the surprise element?

SH: Yes.

 

EP: What does it mean to you to be extraordinary?

SH: Well I think it`s part of your identity. It has to do with your identity. It has to do with being unique. Just as your fingerprint differs. I shouldn`t be classed as a normal photographer or be compared to somebody else because I am me. They type of looks, or what you eat or how you express yourself, the nuances …that`s you, I can`t do that.

You can follow Steve`s Photography  Journey here: Steve Hernandez`s Photo Journey

 

 

MARK GELLINEAU: Seeing The World Through Glass Eyes

 

Mark Gellineau

Mark Gellineau

Photographer

 

Mark Gellineau started doing photography in 2007 when his sister got a point and shoot camera which he “borrowed” and never returned. That was the genesis of an infatuation that led to the breath-taking images you see here, nine years later.

After six years of apprenticing, exploring and learning, and three years in the corporate world, Mark is bringing a more focused line of vision to his “glass eyes”, offering top notch image making services. His niche: portraits and journalism.

In this interview Mark talks about his favourite part of photography, what equipment he uses (CANON)  and what it takes to create great images, amongst other topics.

Mark says his dream is to work for National Geographic. In my mind it`s a done deal, but you be the judge…


EP: What do you love about photography?

Mark Gellineau: It took me a while to define what kind of photographer I was; a portrait and documentary photographer.

 

 

What I like about shooting people, and the pride that I take in my work is that I`m able to show people a side of them that they didn`t think was there. That`s why I don`t really like to work with models. And it`s also why I retouch and edit in the way that I do. You will never see the plastic fantastic photography from me. You will never see porcelain skin. You`re always going to see reality. Being able to show people themselves in a way that makes them think is the most rewarding thing.

 

 

“The reason I gravitated towards shooting people, is that I`m able to show people a side of them that they didn`t think was there.”


 

 

EP: Who are some photographers whose work you admire?

Mark Gellineau: Akif Hakan. I was really really into his work when I first started shooting. His colour work was crazy. I followed his work for a long time. When I was huge into the fragments type of images I was looking at a lot of work from Herb Ritts. That is the kind of level I aspire to. Also a guy called Andre Brito. He did a lot of structural nude posing. A guy called Patrick Shaw who I met on Flickr and didn`t know how big he was until many many years later. I got a testimonial from him on Flickr and if I knew what it meant at the point in time….he shoots Vogue covers….I didn`t know. His portrait work is WOW.

 

EP: What pointers would you give someone who wants to take great photographs?

Mark Gellineau: Three things. First, do NOT drink the Kool-Aid. Meaning don`t ever take feedback from people who don`t know what they`re talking about. And I mean that in the most innocent way. Don’t take fluff feedback. Social Media for me has always been about showing people how you think, so if you`re trying to show how you think, but you`re showing it to people who aren`t thinking then what are you doing?

Which is why I strongly believe in something that is increasingly rare these days. I believe in mentorship. I believe in people having mentors because I`ve had three major mentors and they`ve really guided me. Wyatt Gallery, who`s a phenomenal photographer. The teaching has always been more about photoshoot experience. It`s tough to get yourself on the productions of more robust photography campaigns but I got that through him. That was my first taste of shooting all day. Working on productions that took weeks of shooting every day.

 

“I strongly believe in something that is increasingly rare these days. I believe in mentorship.”


After that was Mark Lyndersay, who is one of my favourite people ever. He is great. You have to have a thick skin with him. He`s always helped me every step of the way. That`s one of the people I would do almost anything for if they asked me.

Anybody trying to do something great in this life, find yourself under the wing of somebody who`s already done some great things. And mentorship is not pestering someone constantly with dumb questions. Because his style of mentoring is very hands on and “come to me when you already have an idea”, you have a plan and you tried it but it didn`t work. Don`t come to me and say “well what should I do?” He will not respond to that. Different mentors are different but mentors are very important.

My third mentor is Sean Drakes. Great guy. Great guy. As flamboyant as they come.

Secondly you have to consume whatever it is you`re producing. So if you want to  make good photography, you have to consume great images all the time because an important part of being a visual creator is knowing what looks good. It sounds like it should be a no brainer right. It`s not. If you`re a poor editor of your own work, you will end up showing a lot of rubbish. And it`s the hallmark of an amateur: to do a shoot, let`s say you end up with 300 images from the shoot and you`re throwing up twenty images. No, no, no, take them all down, immediately, and put back two.

 

 

Mark Gellineau MFG_JJaikaran-157

 

“Take them all down, immediately, and put back two.”


 

Mark Gellineau_JJaikaran-092

 

 

So that`s the second thing, you have to consume a lot of good work, not to be influenced but to develop your sense of taste, to know what good work is.

And lastly you have to be courageous. You have to be brave because you`re basically telling people that you`re making something and the thing that you’re making deserves attention. You have to be so behind what it is you`re doing that you think it’s worth someone else`s time and attention and money. So you have to develop that self-confidence in your work.  And once you have a mentor and you`re receiving good feedback you won`t drink your own Kool-Aid.  So the pieces all work together. They are all part of a system that should be developed over time.

 

 EP: What is your process when it comes to creating images/doing a photoshoot?

Mark Gellineau: I like minimalism.

Minimalism is present in every aspect of my life. The way I compose my frames. The way I keep my room. The way I structure my processes, my workflows. It`s all about minimalism.

 

 

Very pragmatic, no frills, things just have to make sense. I also try to be ready with my research. So if I`m going to shoot someone I try to do some research. I try to get a sense of who they are by looking at what they say about themselves and how they present themselves online. Research is important to get a sense of what you`re going into. Not just researching your subject, but also trying to make sure that you go into a situation knowing what you want to get out of it. When it is client work that is really important. I would research the person. I would research what other people that I respect have done in this realm of photography and then I try to understand what I want to get from this person based on those elements coming together.

 

“I like minimalism.”


 

EP: What equipment do you use?

Mark Gellineau: Well sometimes you get gear as needs arise depending on what you have to shoot. If tomorrow I get commissioned to shoot something underwater I`ll need underwater equipment. But I have a core kit. My core kit is: I believe in shooting full frame all the way. I do a lot of low light work and full frame cameras simply let in more light. You also get a larger image. I also believe in Prime lenses. They have excellent optical quality, they tend to be faster, their aperture opens up to a much larger point. I like Prime lenses because they tend to be cheaper for having big apertures. That picture with Wasia and the hair was shot at f/2. Because of that depth of field, it gave that explosive effect. If I shot it at a higher f-stop and the image was flat, or her hair was in focus it would be totally different. It would be boring.

Mark Gellineau Wasia Part 2-061

Prime lenses allow you to get a range of depth of field more affordably and they tend to be more well-made and just produce better images because they don`t have to do two things at the same time: they`re specialists. They have one thing to do: take really good images. I have an 85mm and a 50mm. Those are portrait lenses. I believe you really only need three lenses. One wide lens. So I have a 70-40mm that covers the wide range. I have two Prime lenses that cover portraiture lengths: 50mm and 85mm, and I have another zoom lens, a 70-200mm. I`m mainly a natural light shooter but these days I`ve been warming up to studio shoots. I shoot in RAW. I am a CANON guy- flames for Nikon. I believe in keeping gear light because it allows you to try to push yourself. Don’t ever try to solve all of your problems with gear. Try to solve your problems with your brain.

 

 For photography services and to see portfolios of Mark`s work, visit his website-> Gellineau Creative and Facebook page Gellineau Creative

MIQUEL GALOFRE: Mixing Magic and Passion

Miquel Galofre

Filmmaker

 

With special thanks to Culturego Magazine

 “The world is magic you know, but we forget”, a statement Miquel once said to me- which is the only way I can describe his films-magic. If we do forget that the world is magic, we are lucky that Miquel has found his passion in reminding us that it exists all around us, if we are but able to see it. He gives us a glimpse of the magical place we want the world to be, showing us how in some ways, it already exists.

He finds the places where many have ceased looking for anything beautiful, a jail cell for example, and shares the treasures he finds. He reaches into your soul through his lens, and intertwines it with each of his characters, driving home the obligation that each of us has to try to find a way to love each and every human being. We know sometimes this isn’t the easiest of tasks, but he helps us do it by illuminating the beauty of his subjects by telling their story with a mixture of skill, compassion and admiration.


 

EP: You said in a previous interview that when you first arrived in Trinidad it felt like home, but it took a while for you to understand it. Do you feel like you understand it now?

Miquel: Yes. Because when you first reach everything is beautiful and nice and everybody’s your friend but then you realise…I had hard times as well… you realise that people pretend to be your friend but sometimes things go badly. It’s sweet but it’s bitter as well. I was happy but realising everything is not as nice as I thought at the beginning, but now after five years I feel in love with Trinidad again. I get it.

 

 

“The World Is Magic You Know, But We Forget” 

 

EP: You also said that Trinidad is really unique with the mixes and contrasts in its culture. How do you think it is unique relative to other places you have been to?

Miquel:  What happened here with the mix of people and cultures and religions is not normal. It is something that is advanced. I guess the world is going to be like it is here in the next two or three hundred years but you have it in Trinidad right now. How you live together is amazing. How many religions and how many different races. It’s beautiful. Black people excited because it is Diwali and everybody eating doubles and you see that they really interact and they live together and they feel Trini. I love it. I keep telling my friends recently, this is amazing. Look where we live. It’s beautiful. I just love it and I go on a lot of trips, road trips, to south, to the north coast, everywhere and just see beautiful people all over. It’s special.

 

EP: What are some of the moments that have stood out to you in all the projects that you have done?

Miquel:  One moment that was very touching and life changing is when I had to go to the ghettos to film these documentaries. I remember everybody telling me don’t go there. It’s very dangerous. I don’t talk English. I don’t get the code of conduct. I don’t understand when a man is looking at my eyes in the ghetto and I’m afraid. And when I went there I felt so welcomed and so good energy and so much respect, that that changed my life. People are struggling but people are giving so much. Since then I feel I owe something to them and I keep doing works that are showing the nice side of these parts. So that was very touching and I feel very close to ghettos, poor areas and how these families work and struggle; single mums.

 

The second one is ‘Songs of Redemption’ filming in the jail, filming inmates.  You have a chance to talk to them, to know them and they open themselves and the moment that you realise that they are persons and they did a mistake…then in your brain something is like, “wait wait wait wait wait! Can I feel friendly… can I have feelings, care about someone, who did what they say that he did…?” and then you realise man, there are no good people and no bad people. There are just people with problems. And that was another point that changed everything again in my brain.It’s beautiful to break prejudices and open your mind.  And it`s difficult but I`m lucky because my job allows me to do that

 

“It’s beautiful to break prejudices and open your mind.” 


 

Third big thing that changed my life in my work. First time we went to the school in Laventille, Success Laventille. We did interviews with kids.  And we did an interview with the most beautiful girl, Isis, twelve years old. Big eyes, amazing face, and she says- I don`t have anything to be happy about. I saw myself there. I was in front of me, 30 years later, with the opportunity, to talk to me.  Then is when I thought, we have to do something, I have to do something, and then is when the documentary was born.

 

EP: Is there a special technique you use that is guaranteed to get you great footage and provoke emotion?

Miquel: You have to get ready to get magic because magic is everywhere and you don`t know where it is. You have to get ready to get it. Open your eyes, get the best of the people that are in front of you and be open to get surprised. Any script you have is rubbish because the script is in the heart of the people that are in front of you so the only trick is LISTEN. LISTEN. Open your eyes and listen.

 

 

EP: Which project are you most proud of?

Miquel: Art Connect. Art Connect is my project. I think I have been, all my life, getting ready to do Art Connect. That`s how I feel it. The only one that is my idea. I did seven documentaries, none of them were my idea, only Art Connect was my idea and I said what I had to say, what I had inside.

 

 

The script is in the heart of the people that are in front of you so the only trick is to listen.”


 

 

EP: Do you feel a level of accomplishment now as a film maker?

Miquel: Yes and no. Yes because I learnt to film, I have learnt to tell stories, I have learnt to edit and provoke feelings. I don`t feel I`m talented but I have the passion that allows me to work really hard.

So I know that working hard I can make it but it`s no because it`s almost impossible to make a life doing that. I cannot make a living off doing documentaries.  It`s a fight and the hardest part is to get the budget that allows you to make the story that you want to tell. Actually I don`t think it`s hard, I think it`s impossible. I don`t do what I want, I do what I can. None of my documentaries were what I wanted to do, it`s what I could do, and it`s the closest I could go to what I wanted. But, it`s very very very hard.

 

 

EP : What does it mean to you to be extraordinary? 

Miquel : For me to be extraordinary means to be yourself because there is nobody like you. So if you are you, you are always going to be extraordinary.

 

For a comprehensive catalogue of Miquel`s work visit: miquelgalofre.com

 

CONRAD PARRIS:Transcendent Thespian

 

 

Conrad Parris

Conrad Parris

Actor

Photo Credit: Alvin K. Henry

 

At 40, Conrad has been acting for close to two decades.

On screen he is the complete embodiment of the character he is portraying, in person he feels like a vessel coursing with spirit; an energy that permeates the air and could stretch out into infinity but has chosen to remain in the body known as Conrad Parris. No doubt this “permeability” is directly related to his ability to transform into different characters as an actor.

“I define creativity as “giving of yourself”. This is what I was taught to do as an actor, invest myself . . . …..build this thing that transcends the physical self and becomes immortal”. Which is exactly what he does.

Conrad reveals that the journey of becoming “an actor” was unplanned and unfolded gradually.

Now after twenty years of “investing himself”, a seasoned actor, how does he feel about the journey so far? Is he satisfied? What`s to come? …..

He answers these questions and more…

 

EP: How did you become an actor?

CP: It was something I’ve always wanted to do but I didn’t know I really wanted to do it until I turned 21 and had my first job. Outside of going to work and going home I was bored out of my mind and wanted something to do. Trinidad Theatre Workshop was actually in the Old Fire Station which was just across the street from where I was working in the Red House. I joined their New Actors’ Program and that lit the fire up in my belly.

 

EP: But you were acting all the time before that…

CP: Not really, at least not consciously. Through primary school I had represented my school, ‘Morvant Anglican,’ in various pursuits: Spelling Bee, Music Festival, Art competitions…

Then in secondary school I tried to avoid all of those things: I still ended up in the choir and in cadets. I Ieft school after I did ‘A’ levels at St. George’s, and went to work.  Then I went to UWI. When I left UWI in 1999 I decided to put myself out there as an aspiring actor. Fortunately through my experience with ‘Trinidad Theatre Workshop,’ I had made contact with people in theatre. Bernard Hazel, put me on to ‘Westwood Park’ and my first play called “Mixed Nuts” with “Immortelle Theatre Company”.

 

EP: Was there a specific moment when you realised that you liked theatre more than your other endeavours?

CP: That didn’t really occur to me until I reached UWI and was reading for a Linguistics Degree. The first year was cool and then the second year was markedly different; it seemed to be intensely clinical and I was losing my mind.  I was like, “Jesus!” However I was minoring in Theatre Arts and that is what seemed to take precedence, when the semester was out I would fall in with a theatre company and try to find work. Eventually I started working with Raymond Choo Kong. Just from being around, visiting different people and showing them my interest, saying “I want to be an actor, I want to work on stage”. They would say, “Work backstage”. Some people would be put off by that, I wasn’t, I was willing to do whatever was available just to be in the environment.

 

EP: When did you realise that you couldn’t go back to anything else?

CP: For about the first three or four years I was kind of throwing one eye over my shoulder thinking “Maybe you should get a job”.

 

EP: And after all of those years of work, things seem to be going well for you at the moment…

CP: I think they are going well. I’m a radio announcer on 107.7. I do that every day. I’ve been doing that for a little over a year now. I’m doing ‘Story of the Nation’ which we started a couple months ago. It’s still kind of a blurry place that I’m in now though. The climate of theatre and film practice is evolving in Trinidad and Tobago and it’s a very interesting time.

The way I work has changed. For example, I used to do a lot more theatre let’s say eight years ago. I would do six, seven, eight productions during the course of a year and maybe, somewhere in between, I might do something for television or I might do a film. Now the first half of my year might be theatrical pursuits; two or three productions, and the second half of the year will be something for television and something for film or in this case something for the web like ‘Story of the Nation’ which we are in talks to bring to television; finger toes and unmentionables crossed. So my career is evolving and the way things are done is evolving as well. It is exciting but I don’t really have the time to do cartwheels, because I`m trying to still navigate.

 

EP: Who are three actors you admire locally and three actors you admire internationally?

CP: Locally Raymond Choo Kong, Penelope Spencer, Richard Ragoobarsingh and Cecelia Salazar. That’s four. Raymond is absolutely amazing in how multi-faceted he is. Even though he is a master behind the mathematics of comedy, he is also a master behind the mathematics behind real drama and he displays that both as a director and as an actor. He has a lot of depth: experientially and knowledge wise and emotionally as an actor and he is not to be underestimated at all. I draw a lot of similarities between him and Robert De Niro.

Take De Niro, now you see him play these really subtle nuanced older men as opposed to the more bombastic characters that he played as a younger man. You saw the depth then, and you see even more depth and experience and emotional intelligence now and Raymond has all of those things too. So does Penelope Spencer and Cecelia Salazar even though they are two very different women, and two very different kinds of actors, their wealth of experience and empathy is amazing to watch. Penny may give me a very hard clout if she hears this but ….Penny’s approach is very gutsy, she just dives, all into a character, into an interpretation and Cecelia, Cecelia’s approach seems to be very calculated, she will find physical things that she may associate with what she’s clued into, in her character analysis and she will build a character from this piece of physicality. You’ll see this thing blossom during the course of rehearsal and you know you have to face these forces of nature that are Penelope and Cecelia

And internationally, Al Paccino, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep and Denzil Washington. There`s a clinicality to how all of them approach characterization but there’s a, particularly with Meryl Streep, there is an adverb a reviewer used, and I thought it was very appropriate. Even though we’ve been watching Meryl Streep for however long there’s a glee with which she plays a character now. There’s a kind of free-form that she has developed now, with all of that empathy and all of that experience and all of that knowledge, it’s just easy and she has become that much more effortless, even though you know that they have put in this kind of scientific work. There’s a way that they break it down and build it back up that is just effortless and wonderful to watch and those four really do that for me every time I see them regardless of what it is they do.

The virtuosity that they display in their work is astonishing. You’ve seen them grow over the years and they set the barre very high pretty much from the moment you saw them right up until the last thing that you’ve seen them do and it’s amazing. That only comes with experience and going through the stages.

 

EP: Do you feel a level of satisfaction with your career? Do you feel a level of confidence in yourself as an actor? How do you see the future in terms of your career?

CP: I do feel a lot more confident than I did twenty years ago when I started. My confidence has certainly grown. Of course that isn’t to say that I feel I’m all that.  I still feel like there is so much to learn and that’s fine, ‘cause I mean my father who was also an actor, he always taught my brothers and I that, life is a learning experience, you should be a student of life. But I still feel like there is so much to learn and so much to do. I used to be a little terrified of that but now I am in a place where I am not so terrified as long as you’re alive and you keep your mind open, you will be in a learning space and you will find yourself in situations where you learn different things. You won’t necessarily be bored or frustrated or driven to distraction because you’re open to experiences as I figure you should be as an actor, or well, as a person. So, I am not terribly certain as to what the future holds I could only tell you some of the things I would like to do. I would like to do more film, more internationally acclaimed work. It would be great if I could meld internationally recognized work with locally produced work. I think particularly in the film industry, we are evolving into creating opportunities for that, where we could create locally produced work that will be recognized internationally. We are finding our voice slowly but surely and well, we are gaining our footing and I think our steps are becoming a little bit more rapid, so maybe ten years down the road we will be running and ten years after that we’ll be flying and hopefully I’ll be alive and be a part in that veteran stage, to be able to add my expertise and hopefully glee as a performer in that regard.

 

STEPHANIE RAMLOGAN: Questioning the Critic

 

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Stephanie Ramlogan                 Fashion Stylist

 

As stylist Stephanie Ramlogan expanded her portfolio within fashion, she started writing pieces centred around “observing the challenges, risks and triumphs of Caribbean and Latin American designers, creatives and followers”. Seems harmless enough, but Stephanie has become a bit of a rabble-rouser with her frank assessments and opinionated articles.

Her blog –“No More Fashion Victims”, gets people fired up. Just the name of her website is enough to make you self-conscious and question your sartorial savvy. While some comment that she “says exactly what they are thinking”, this is not the unanimous opinion, as Stephanie herself says: “people either hate me or love me”.

In a society where many are afraid to say what they really think, unless anonymous, Stephanie seems un-phased and unrepentant about sharing her opinion on various facets of fashion in Trinidad and Tobago.

But what makes her think she can speak with authority on these matters? What is she really trying to achieve with her blunt commentary? Who does she think she is?

We find out…


Who do you think you are? Or in other words, what do you feel gives you the authority to speak to the fashion industry in the way that you do?

Sometimes I feel that I’m coming across like a parent because people refer to me as things like: “fashion guru”. I don’t claim to be that. In the description of my blog I made sure to say I am an observer because my role in fashion is first and foremost that, because I am a customer. I have gone to school in fashion and I am also somebody who wants to make a living in fashion, so I get very frustrated when I see certain things. If you study to be a doctor you pick up your briefcase, you go to work and everything is in place. There is a system. With fashion here there is no system like that. It’s frustrating to me because I want it to be like that with fashion. You get your degree, you go to work in the fashion industry and you make money. But that’s not what fashion is here. If you have a clothing line you are the designer, the marketing manager, visual merchandiser, everything in one.

So I’m an observer and if it comes across preachy it comes from a place of: so many of us went to school together, we all have the same footing more or less…why is it that I can see what needs to be done and you are so comfortable half-assing it? Anything that comes across preachy is from that point of view. It’s not “I’m better than you and I know more than you”. It is we know the same things, but why aren’t you applying it? Don’t you want to make money? Don’t you want this to be successful? Are you so rich that this can be your hobby and you can just play and have a good time while other people have to actually work? It’s not that I think I know more at all. I know so many of the designers because we were classmates. Why am I wanting to apply the things we learnt more? Why am I wanting to read more? Why do I want my business to reach somewhere? Why are you so happy being a snow cone vendor?

Are you deliberately trying to upset people with your commentary?

No, definitely not. First of all I didn’t even know people would read this thing. Initially when I started doing the blog people said they appreciated my honesty. But that’s just my personality. Another comment is my blog sounds so much like my speaking voice. That is intentional. I want it to sound like I’m talking to you. In my natural speaking voice some things might sound offensive. I’m a straight person, I don’t beat around the bush…I don’t see the point. I definitely am not trying to upset people and I try not to be impolite. I don’t feel like I ever cross the line and go into rude or disrespectful territory. I am conscious of that because I wouldn’t want somebody to do that to me.

I’m critical because I expect better, especially from people who I may come across as being harsh towards. I expect better because I think they have more potential. The people who throw the biggest hissy fits are the people who are least prepared to run a business because they are not professional, they are not mature and… Listen, if you cannot take my critique … I hold back a lot. There is a lot more I can say about a lot of people that I do not. And if I had to, I would have to get deported. I don’t think what I say is that mean. When people get hysterical about things I say I am in utter disbelief.

For a lot of these designers I am the perfect model of who they want to buy their clothes. I am that consumer. So if you are not pleasing me, you should see this as an opportunity. It’s almost like a very focused group. Look at me like your focus group. If I have something bad to say you should think to yourself “let me fix that”. I want to buy everything. You want to make me happy. If you are not making me happy and I am spoon feeding you and outlining what the problem is, just go and fix the problem!…Sometimes I feel like I have to put a buffer blog post in between because it can come across as all angry. Laughs.

 

So what you are trying to achieve is …

I want them to fix it!  That’s all it is!  I’m telling you exactly what to fix. Trinidad is full of mamaguy; “It’s so nice!!! Oh, it’s so great!” At school we had to critique each other’s collections and people would say things like:  “I like this one because it’s my favourite colour”. That’s a critique??!! A critique is pulling out the strengths, the weaknesses, outlining what will make it better, what consumers want to see.

“I like this one because it’s my favourite colour”. That’s a critique??!! A critique is pulling out the strengths, the weaknesses, outlining what will make it better, what consumers want to see.


Are you concerned at all about posting comments that may not come across as “positive”, especially in a society like this, and also in light of the fact that you are also building a brand?

Yes. I am. I’ve been with a group of people liming and a designer who probably got offended came up and hugged and kissed everybody except me. I don’t like that. It’s not nice. Also with my store I have to be very sensitive. I am serious about fashion and I want to make a living doing fashion. I can only be successful when the industry is uplifted. My whole purpose is to make sure everything is better.

What are some of the major things you want to see change in the industry?

The main thing is there needs to be a lot of editing down of the players. I also want to see a better network generally. I want to see people diverting into different areas in fashion. Design is not the only option. I want to see merchandisers, I want to see PR people, I want to see producers, manufacturers, branding managers. I probably want to see less designers and fewer businesses and these fewer businesses being strengthened.

The next thing would be I want to see a better system and seasons established. Seasons are necessary for buyers. Each designer has their own seasons. That needs to change, there should be set times during the year that designers show their clothes to buyers.

I want to see designers applying more design techniques and I want to see better clothing. There’s a lot of laziness. Everybody is making an ankara circle skirt because it is easy and the print is doing the work for you.  There is no detailing, not even a little stud somewhere. I want to see innovative ways of putting on the clothes. I want to see designers knowing who their audience is and designing for their niche market. I want to see that kind of thought being put into the work.

I can only be successful when the industry is uplifted. My whole purpose is to make sure everything is better.


Can we expect more irritatingly incisive posts from you in the future? 

Well I am going to be splitting the website so that No More Fashion Victims (NMFV) will be an online store and my other work will be featured on the Stephanie Ramlogan website. I will continue with the blogs but NMFV will have more store focused posts and the other website will have its own blog.

Any last words…

I don’t have any last words, I think I said a lot. Ok,  I have some ; I’m not a bitch ok, I’m actually very nice.Laughs