Celebrating colorful youth with Jasper Soloff Alexandra Pozdarie September 9, 2022 MESSFashion You might have seen the iconic Gigi Hadid Maybelline campaign he directed, or his vibrant music videos with Billy Porter or Tinashe. There is no doubt that 27 year old photographer and director Jasper Soloff is leading the wave of unfiltered youthful expression. His free and colourful style is a reflection of his own self-championing queerness and self expression. Here, he chats with Mess about his creative vision, his career and emerging talent. How did you get started in the industry? I actually started shortly after quitting ballet, which I left proper school for to do online whilst also dancing full time. I went to Sarah Lawrence College and took a basic black and white darkroom photography class! Absolutely fell in love and haven’t stopped since. I didn’t introduce color into my work until going to Central Saint Martins to study fine art in London. My Tutor Alex Schady saw some portraits I took in color and basically was, like, you’re onto something do more of this! What do you think was the defining step at the beginning of your career? I think shooting my queer friends on my rooftop in NYC. It felt so real and celebratory of our identity! It was a beautiful thing. I then photographed Brandon Flynn through a mutual friend in 2017 and that kind of blew up on Instagram. It was then that I realised my queer colorful style has a place in pop culture, and it all just catapulted from there. What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? I think just all the downtime that comes with being an artist. You really have to stay strong and ride the waves. Confidence in myself, as an artist and creative, is something that I’m always working on. You know, believing that you belong. But I feel great about where I am with my work and I’m excited to keep moving forward. What is some valuable piece of advice you’d give to emerging artists? Create with your friends, find your niche and love what you do. Only then can your work be truly sustainable. How do you think the industry is changing in terms of new talent? I think social media grants a certain power to young people that hasn’t always been there. Now, anyone can blow up without any connection to industry. And I think that can be a really beautiful thing. So I think the new wave of creatives are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and the type of talent being put on a pedestal today is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. How does being queer impact your work? It impacts every part of my being. The freedom that being queer has granted me is incredible. I don’t feel like I need to be held down by societal standards and that I can live freely and openly. And this has transferred to my work in the way I use color, the way I dress, the jewellery I wear, the fluidity in how I act. It’s all because of being queer. What about your career and getting recognition? It’s always been a goal of mine for my work to be seen, and I think it is all the more special that I am seen the way I truly am! It’s special that I’m recognized for being a queer artist and that my identity and sense of self is such a big part of my work. What’s your favourite part about working with huge names in the fashion industry, like Gigi Hadid, Emma Chamberlain etc.? I mean working with iconic names like these is exciting in itself! Collaborating with Gigi and Emma has been so special. Both are incredibly creative, kind and charismatic. And there’s just so much laughter and joy when working with both of these talents, we have fun, and I think that’s what makes the product the way it is. It’s also just so great seeing the joy from our work being transferred to the fans, that’s a really great feeling. To have an idea that starts on a tiny piece of paper, like Gigi jumping from one taxi to another, that turns into something viewed millions of times on social media. That is really, really cool to me! Their behind-the-scenes chemistry and friendship has indeed translated to their fans: on the left, a still of Jasper and Gigi from a BTS reel with more than 16 million views. How does your process look like when you plan an upcoming shoot? A lot of mood boards, a lot of meetings with producers and clients and just a lot of thinking alone. It’s a long process and I don’t think people realize the amount of pre-production work that goes into this. How does this process differ between photography and directing? To me they are similar. I think directing moving image for me is so similar to photography because I’m really super into vignettes and loose narratives. For me it’s about honesty through imagery, whether if it’s moving or not, getting to know the talent, seeing their joy or whatever they are feeling – that is what it is about for me. Seeing people for who they truly are. What projects are you looking forward to most over the next few months? I’m shooting a couple of music videos that I am super excited about. I can’t say anything more but I cannot wait to share them with you all!