Spotlight: Jakob Alesandro
Jakob Alesandro is a young photographer and musician, based in a city on the outskirts of the Bay Area. His work is filled with NorCal’s aroma, the colors and notes of his images and songs created with the sole intention of expressing what he feels in that current moment, the sheer passion he has for his craft. Running under the name Akira / DJ Cry Fieri, Jakob has no hesitation to communicate to his audience who he is underneath the vessel he calls his art.
He recently spoke to SUEY about his work: the creative processes his mind runs through, the thoughts he has on influence and social media, and his most loved projects in the realms of music and photography. As a Bay Area native myself, I am so glad to share Jakob’s words with you all.
First off, where are you located?
I am primarily based in the South Bay, but I’m in San Francisco often.
How has living around San Francisco inspired you? What are the pros & cons of living there?
Sadly, I do not live in SF; however, I go up to the city so frequently that I cannot say it hasn’t influenced my work. From the inspiring people I’ve met, to its grandiose architecture, to the sheer diversity of its people, San Francisco is one of the reasons why I continue to make music and do photography today.
Creating art is a lifestyle. How have you integrated art into your life? How have you integrated your life into your art?
In terms of music, I always set aside a certain amount of time to record- usually really late at night. Of course, this schedule is pretty strict when I find myself inspired by a profound emotion I feel I need to express. In terms of photography, I always bring a camera with me in case I see something I want to take pictures of. I also coordinate shoots with models and other photographers when I have time, or when I want to help someone else on a project.
Social media is becoming really impactful in the art world; there are so many artists who post their work online, and there is so much exposure to the work of others in this modern, digital world. How has this affected you?
In terms of photography, I feel like social media is a good source of inspiration. However, many times, I cannot help but feel like I am reducing the depth of my work by posting my photos on social media. These feelings lie in my belief that my work needs both form and substance. Because of social media, it is incredibly easy for someone like me to lose substance because I am too focused on form: something I need to be wary about, for I believe that people should have a genuine reason for doing photography.
In terms of music, social media is extremely convenient because I am able to get my music out to people all over the world in an incredibly easy format. In addition, I am able to collab with other artists, and there is no middle man between me and the listener.
To you, what is the line between drawing creative inspiration from other artists and being too heavily influenced by other media producers?
I believe that when an artist is being genuine with what they do, the product will be a reflection of that creative honesty. All artists are influenced by each other to some degree. There’s no helping that. However, it crosses a line when their products are totally indistinguishable from another artist’s work. Whether it be from ignorance or real intent, an artist should always be true to what they actually want to express through their photos, music, etc.
What does your creative process look like? How does an idea eventually become something you exhibit?
For music, I usually write phrases that I think sound nice on pieces of paper. Then I make a drum beat by looping a section until I have a conceptual drum beat for the whole piece. I continue by messing around with chord progressions until I have what is considered a song.
My creative process in terms of photography is a lot more chaotic in the sense that I rarely go into a shoot with a definite set of poses that I want the subject to do. I like to work with the environment I am shooting and put the subject in interesting positions; it’s all very improvised.
How do you differentiate your work from the rest? What makes your work uniquely your own?
I have been asked this question a lot recently, and I can’t really say that I am totally sure what makes my work different from the rest. I suppose that in both my music and photography I try to stray away from trends that I often see on social media in terms of style, or quirks that I notice. I try to only do what I want to see in my work.
What or who most inspires you in your work?
My friends are the most inspiring people I will ever meet, and they continue to drive me to be a better musician and photographer today.
Art is very subjective in nature, and all artists receive some kind of negative and positive feedback from their audiences. What I’d like to know is how have you dealt with negativity, especially when it cuts deep?
The most negativity or critique I hear about my work comes from either my close friends or teachers. However, I rarely take criticism negatively, for I know that my work is far from perfect and I am always trying to improve.
Tell us about what you’ve been working on recently. Any upcoming or recent projects? What have you been experimenting with?
Recently I have been experimenting with mirrors and prisms in order to distort point of view. It’s a concept I have steadily been working on for a zine I am making about how we reflect ourselves through our art.
What projects/artistic endeavors are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the EP I am releasing called “Wind Washing the Trees” under my name Akira / DJ Cry Fieri.
What do you hope people take away from your work?
I hope people can listen to my music, look at my photography, and get a genuine sense of who I am.
What is a tip you have for other young artists who have similar visions as yours?
To be more involved in your communities, you need to go out there and simply ask people for favors and opportunities. Otherwise, they never come.