ok........this is tough because words can never describe the lovely and talented claudine gossett. she is one of my girls, has a cozy place in my heart & can make me laugh, cry & open up like few can. here is my attempt at showing her magical spirit.
here's the back story: we were 21 & living in san francisco and were both dating guys who went to high school together. the boys made plans to meet up at murio's trophy room and wanted claudine and i to meet. to be fair, ok, and unfair as i was a bit judgmental; i was not looking forward to another girlfriend of my then boyfriend. why? well, i of course, was a commes des garcon wearing fashion student going to art school and they were usually sorority girls who were former cheerleaders and really our worlds were far apart. but, to my great surprise, in walks claudine with an almost shaved head, bomber jacket & skateboard! she was way cooler than me and to this day i believe i was with him in order to meet this girl who would become a friend for life.
to see & be apart of her journey through life, many transformations, professions and interests is a gift. so, please meet my incredible, amazing & beautiful friend & all around talented artist.
former souchi gm chris nardone, me, claudine gossett
1) you have had a wide range of jobs in the art world. how did you decide on photography?
I was working as an illustrator/concept artist at Industrial, Light & Magic and Lucasfilm and was getting really burnt out. Three consecutive Star Wars movies and long work hours began to dim the spark that originally brought me there so I left to take some time off to figure out what next. I had always taken photos and been the documentarian amongst my family and friends... it just seemed like people started asking me to shoot things with greater frequency so a natural shift in creative medium started to organically unfold. I found a lot of joy and excitement in the process so I knew I was moving in the right direction. I was also fortunate enough to work with some great photographers to learn the ropes and get my technical chops up to snuff.
2) what are you most excited about with your photography?
The one thing I never expected is how much photography would force me out of my shell. The life of an illustrator can be a pretty solitary one. Whereas the type of photography I do requires and demands I step up and assert myself to get people to engage with me. I wasn't expecting that. It was actually pretty painful for me in the beginning. I would get so nervous. But I adopted the "fake it 'til you make it" approach and "pretended" to be confident like I knew what I was doing and soon enough I wasn't pretending any more. I also love connecting with people in a deep and meaningful way and realized this was not only a helpful asset to my work but one of the reasons I love what I do so much.
I'm also incredibly fascinated by the anthropological aspect of my job. Photography is just as much a life course in cultural/social anthropology as it is snappin' photos. I get to be in a different room with different people experiencing different things almost everyday. Getting to photograph Barack Obama was a trip - witnessing the elaborate, intricate choreography that surrounds his every movement. I'm continually intrigued by this crazy human experience we're all involved in...
3) where do you find inspiration to push yourself further?
I think most creative people have an insatiable hunger and drive to continually evolve and push their work. The inspiration to push myself comes from my own incessant internal nagging to do more and do it better. Most creative endeavors I've done have a fairly short window of time afterward where I'm content with the end result. Soon enough I'm either picking it apart or thinking about how I'd do it differently. The only difference at this point is my inner critic is more constructive in it's "tone".
4) how do you unwind after a shitty day?
I have a super cozy bed tucked up in a loft in my cottage that is the ideal respite after a crazy day. My downtime usually involves lighting some aloeswood (incense) and bringing an assortment of snacks, drinks, music, and documentary movies up there with me. :)
*author's note: yes, this nook is a place for tea or wine, late night talks of all things mystic, crazy & of course boys.....
5) what is your greatest escape destination... past or future?
I'm definitely drawn to warm climates. If I'm claiming vacation time, it's definitely gotta be somewhere warm but I'm not one for just sitting on a beach and doing nothing. I like to be immersed in different cultures... to see and feel something new. One of my favorite trips was to Brazil - I spent a month cruising through Rio de Janiero, Salvador, Isla Grande, Lençóis... My heart and mind was blown open by the beauty of the people and the musically-infused culture. I'll never forget one steamy evening dancing at the Democratica Samba Club in Lapa, watching a guy create an insane beat using a knife percussively on the back of a saucer plat grinning ecstatically from ear to ear. I was freaking out in the best kind of way. People are born with music in their blood in Brazil. It's intoxicating.
6) our fave question: what was a defining moment in fashion for you? the outfit that made you feel you just nailed it. good or bad! we need a true visual: hair, make up, accessories & the music you were listening to at that time.
My mom sewed the majority of my clothes up until 8th grade which I now realize was completely amazing (!)... but unfortunately at the time it felt increasingly more uncool as I got older (sorry, Mom). We spent the summers at the fabric store picking out all of the patterns I'd be wearing for the new school year so by high school I was ready to start defining my own style. I'll never forget how excited I was when I bought my first pair of Dr. Martin creepers. The rest of the outfit: a boy's white t-shirt, my dad's old 60's mohair black cardigan sweater with a vintage "Batman" pin on it, a black on black skull print mini skirt, black fishnet stockings, little white socks, a rosary necklace, big hoop earrings, and some kind of 80's pompadour-esque hair-do. The soundtrack: The Specials, Selector, Fishbone, Bad Brains, old Bob Marley, & Desmond Dekker.
7) what new music are you listening too? and, what album or song is your go to for pre-party adventures?
I love a wide range of stuff but the immediate go-to artists of the moment (old & new): Michael Kiwanuka, Gary Clark Jr., Charles Bradley, Tommy Guerrero, Sharon Jones, Tinariwen, Fela Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, John Zorn, The Black Keys (or anything Dan Auerbach is involved in). In general I love lots of 60's soul, reggae, latin, brazilian, & afro beat stuff. I've also been making it a point to listen to new artists I find on Daytrotter, NPR's All Songs Considered, and through my friends.
When I'm setting the pre-party tone (and in my mind's eye doing karate chop warm ups) I'm listening to either "Check Your Head" by the Beastie Boys or "The Ecstatic" by Mos Def.
8) if you've already saved the world, fed the world & provided shelter, eliminated the desire for war in everyones hearts and you had unlimited piles of money... what would you buy or how would you spend it?
I'd love to create an experiential global tour with a bunch of my friends that incorporates unusual or exotic locations with incredible people, music, food, visuals, performance, etc. For example: Head out in the Saharan desert by camel where John Zorn and Tinariwen play a private concert in a lavish gypsy tent, have a hobo train car party with Tom Waits on the Ferrocarril Mexicano train line, and a bunch of other ideas I haven't thought of yet… and most importantly photo documenting the whole experience and doing impromptu photo shoots with my friends all along the way.
9) ok, it's all about me... here is the souchi fall '12 collection. which style would you choose? why? and how would you wear it?
The zen thigh warmers! I'm all about being warm and cozy so those leggings-o-luv are right up my alley. I would wear them with anything and everything I could get away with.
*author's note: yes, late nights with tons of wine & dress up & i can say, claudine can rock the thigh warmers with anything but my fave was when she was also prancing in my 6" fendi's with full body tattoo's. perfectly cool.