Love Yourz with MANGOMAAT
IG Handle: @mangomatt
Based: Brooklyn, NY
Our Love Yourz campaign is designed to spotlight up-and-coming creatives, promote growing businesses, and give them a platform to cultivate their success. We have a culture of growth at Brooklyn Cloth, and this filters into everything we do, including and especially our creative collaborations. This year, as part of our Love Yourz campaign, we've collaborated with creative duo, Ria & Alex of KINDRED, a Harlem-based floral design and creative production company, and Brooklyn-based, hip-hop photographer and videographer, MANGOMAAT, to share with us the story of their growth.
Inspired by the song "Love Yourz" by Grammy-nominated artist, songwriter and record producer, J. Cole, Daniella Seminario, Brooklyn Cloth Graphic Designer and creative lead on the campaign, wanted to remind the #BKCLFam that we can experience love in many more ways than just romance. "It's about appreciating what you have, your family, your friends," says Seminario. "By spotlighting these small creators, we're also reminding our community that there's beauty in the process of starting something of your own."
We hope this interview series inspires our #BKCLFam to go after their passions while also appreciating the life surrounding them.
Do you go by Mango or Matt. What name do you want people to know you by?
People call me MANGOMAAT.
MANGOMAAT, how did you begin your work as a photographer/videographer?
I started off in Memphis, taking pictures for my friends - realized I was pretty good at it and I started meeting other photographers. I started off with this girl called 300Visions. She put me onto a lot of camera gear and how to get into shows and stuff like that.
Memphis was basically a playground to sneak into shows. I didn’t have a press pass so I had to prove myself. That’s kind of how you just have to do it. If you don’t know anybody, you just have to figure out your way in. From there, I took my stuff from Memphis and would travel to other places and sneak into shows in those areas.
How long have you been photographing?
About 4.5 years.
That’s a fairly long time. And you’ve gone pretty far with it. How does that feel?
It’s kind of surreal. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am. And it's crazy to experience. Moving to NY is a big milestone for me. I have the world in my hands right now. I can do anything I want to.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
You’ve photographed many important figures in hip-hop and contemporary popular culture: from A$AP Rocky, Lil Yachty, Tyler the Creator, Meg Thee Stallion, the Kardashians…the list is extensive. Was it always your intention to document hip-hop and pop culture?
I started taking pictures of my friends who are rap artists in Memphis. Most of the artists I’ve taken pictures of in my portfolio are musicians I listen to on a daily basis. It’s a cool experience.
Do you have any important memories that symbolize how far you’ve come?
One of the best memories that I have is when I was backstage at Kanye West’s, Donda 2 Listening Party in Miami as part of The Game’s creative team for the night. Before the show, Kanye West, Playboi Carti, The Game, Pusha T, Marylin Manson, Burberry Erry, and I were backstage before the concert started…it was just a really high energy moment.
Have you had any mentors, guides, or important figures in your life that have guided and encouraged you in pursuing your work?
My parents have helped me along the way. Connor Petersen as well, he's somebody that I would ask photo questions about. And 300Visions she was one of the poppin photographers in Memphis when I got started.
How do you show appreciation for the people you care for? How do you express appreciation towards other people, in the spirit of professional collaboration, the hip-hop community, etc.
Whenever someone DM's me about my work, I tell them that anything I’m doing, they can do too. I try to help people that need help, within reason. That’s a way of showing love. In my case, sometimes I’ve asked people for help, and many don’t respond. So if people reach out to me with a genuine question, I’ll respond. Definitely.
Top 5 Things you wish you knew when starting your business and creative practice?
1. You’ll get more love from people that you don’t know than people that you do.
2. When people don’t support you like you want them to you’ve gotta look past and keep grinding.
3. You can admire [others] work but you have to make it in your own way and not just copy and paste what they’re doing. Because people may pay attention to it but, as a creative person, it’s annoying when people blatantly copy what you’re doing… What's the saying? “Imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
4. The vibe you give off really helps in creating relationships for a professional and creative space. Your aura, facial expressions, hygiene, the way you talk to people… in a business about aesthetics and relationship building. Good energy opens you up to new opportunities.
5. I feel like your work definitely takes you a long way but being a good person, having a good vibe to you definitely makes people remember you.
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