“Life is such a crazy series of events. Things can get overwhelming really quickly. Whether it’s the crazy high of realizing your aspirations or the pain of watching a dream slip away, it’s all a lot to deal with. The only thing that keeps me sane is remembering that in life there is no real destination. So we have to appreciate the journey. The pain of failure gives us context which helps us value our triumphs. This balancing act is a constant challenge, but its one I gracefully accept”. ~ Soteeoh
Living off a tee-shirt design and selling art, “So-tee-oh” was once a solo entity. His name started as a tee-shirt design. Then later evolved to an account name on social media accounts and it just kind a stuck from there.
Wllnttz: How do you describe/define who you are as an Artist today?
Soteeoh: I have this conversation with people all the time. I have it with young artists who are trying to figure out who they are, as well as established artists that are trying to put their finger on me and figure out what I do. I would definitely describe myself as an artist, however, first and foremost I call myself a Photographer (Street Photographer/Visual Philanthropist) , but I would never be fully content just doing photography.
I need those other outlets, to bounce back and forth between; to make sense of what is going on in my brain. An Artist is a good label. Sometimes I am envious of people who call themselves an ‘Oil Painter’ or a ‘Sculpturer’, because it is so specific and easy to identify with. I think that everyone has creativity but what defines you as an artist is when you make that a priority in your life, it’s not something that you just tap into here and there.
Everyone has a central component to their character and if you make creativity as your central component that’s what allows you to choose to manifest art.
Wllnttz: Do you paint too?
Soteeoh: I do paint. However, my photography and videography comes first, I haven’t been able to balance painting and work that into that mix. I tend to get lost in my painting and lose focus on my work.
Wllnttz: What are your favourite Landmarks?
S: The TD Centre, Mount Sinai is cool building and the Toronto skyline; we have a magnificent skyline.
The CN tower is an obvious one. I have had several conversations about it, some people think its over represented and over popularized.
If you are going to talk about a city, you are going to talk about its most recognizable attributes.
S: I feel like overall as a city we undervalue ourselves. My intention through photography is to set an example and even over appreciate things and see what happens…I think that concept is starting to resonate with people.
Wllnttz: How Long have you been doing your art?
S: I have always taken photography seriously. I have been shooting since 2009. About year ago, I started taking it seriously. I do a lot of video work, graphic design, painting.
Once I really started diving into the street photography, It just made sense. I was able to express to get out what I was trying to get from the other mediums much more effectively.
S: I try to make buildings look significant, as much importance as the Brooklyn bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge.
S: My goal is to portray all buildings as landmarks. I try to make things look like they have significance in the same way.
I am really obsessed by the angel statue at Queen and University, so that is shown a lot in my artwork.
Wllnttz: How has social media played a part of your work?
S: It’s definitely played a part, especially with Instagram. Instagram gave me a system of constraints. I needed the box, the square frame. I don’t use it for the filters. I never add anything to my photos, but it forces you to do things in a square box. It made me limit my imagination and focus it in a certain direction. With a regular camera, with free range there are so many things going through my mind and it distracts me and I get carried away. Missing what I was actually going to take a picture of. Once I forced myself to look at everything through the square box, I was able to figure out, over time, what was catching my eye. And I put my finger on it, making it more intentional.
S: Lately, I have been using less of my phone and shooting more with DSLR. The influence I got from Instagram has developed a certain focus. Its even working its way into my videos. Everything is shot with a phone but it is edited on my phone in different formats (Pic FX, Snapseed, DSL Camera).
S: I usually try to write something that is meaningful to me. Little summaries of writing. I spend a lot of time walking and taking my photos, which gives me a lot of time to think. The summaries are connected to a thought I have.
I like to share my thoughts and start the dialogue and I like to engage people. That’s the power of social media.
S: When a I posted a Memorial to Sammy ( A recent Torontonian who was shot by police on the TTC), a lot of people made comments about it. Some people were supportive of the youth and some people thought that the police were justified.
S: I have also been filming and editing for hip hop videos for 4 years. I didn’t go to school, I just picked it up. I played basketball and that turned into filming and doing recruitment videos. I had some equipment and technical skills so it was natural and translated well into the music scene.
Wllnttz: Who have you worked with in the music scene?
The Bakers club a popular in 3 guys from Toronto and 2 from the US , Element, Smash Bros
Wllnttz: You were born in Toronto, where you lived until the age of 7 then moved to Cambridge. Then returned to Toronto when you were 18. How was that experience for you?
S: It was a tough experience, but I learned. I lot of my friends who group here are somewhat jaded and say that not much is join on here. By no means is it a perfect city, however, I came back right after high school so I had to create my social network. And the art and creativity has brought me in contact with many different people projects and various groups.
Wllnttz: Permission or Forgiveness?
Soteeoh: Be prepared to ask for forgiveness that’s my personality.
You have to be mindful of what you are doing and what the consequences are. I am very adamant about accepting the consequences.
If you’re going to put yourself in a position where you are going to have to ask for forgiveness then don’t cry to anybody if it’s not granted of what the consequences are.
At the same time you have to take chances and risks and that doesn’t always grant you the time to ask permission.
To Learn more about Soteeoh visit his website: http://www.soteeoh.com