Electronic artist and engima Zhu just released his debut music video for “Paradise Awaits.” Directed by Tomek Ducki, the euphoric glow-in-the-dark graphics are made from thousands of 2D and CGI animations of acrylic, watercolor, crayon, and econline paint drawings, in negative. Check it out!
It’s not everyday that you’re taking pictures of Diplo, Skrillex, and Justin Bieber at a club, then filming a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet the next, but for Lauren Engel, this is just another day in the life of a young visionary. Lauren isn’t your average 20 year old. For starters, her photography has been published in International editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, and Cosmopolitan. As an Amerasian born in Hong Kong, attending university in Boston, and living in New York City, not to mention having travelled all around the world, Lauren’s global perspective is well beyond her years, and clearly inspires her colorful, vibrant, and raw photography. In true creative spirit, Lauren finds inspiration in everything, from a breaktaking sunset over the mountains of India, to a gritty French trap song she dug up from the depths of Soundcloud, in her latest pursuit to have her hand at DJing. We chat with Lauren to find out more about what makes this cute little kitty PURRRR, the name of her debut mixtape she made especially for SwayChic!
First of all, we are obsessed with your “meztisa” look! What nationality are you, and how has it played a role in who you are as a person?
I’m half American, half Chinese. My parents met in Hong Kong where I was born and grew up until I was 18. I then moved over two years ago to Boston for college. It’s pretty great-—my dad moved to Hong Kong after he graduated college and is super into Asian culture—he speaks Cantonese, Mandarin, Fujianese, and Tagalog :O My mom has most of her family in the Philippines and it’s cool during breaks to visit them. It has also made me more aware of different cultures and growing up with different traditions was also really interesting.
What is your ultimate career goal (or are you already living it)? How were you able to turn your hobby for taking pictures into booking huge photo gigs, shooting celebrities and getting published in magazines?
My ultimate career goal would be to do data analytics for a fashion company full-time (I’m studying Information Systems and International Affairs in school, haha) and shoot cool lookbooks/campaigns on the weekends. I never really had a mentor to guide me; I was constantly checking out my favourite magazines/blogs which got me inspired to keep shooting and improving. I think once my work started getting picked up by magazines and I started developing my own style, brands who had the same vision wanted to connect with me. A lot of it is just being in the right place in the right time—I was luckily back home in Hong Kong over winter break when my event photography booker in Hong Kong called me to shoot the following night—for Beats By Dre, Kendrick Lamar & Dr. Dre. A lot of it is also being ‘tuned-in’ to Instagram/Twitter/Facebook—seeing who’s in town, who’s working on what. Living in a super energetic cities is great—I feel people’s creative energies are constantly feeding off each other!
That said, you’ve obviously accomplished a lot more than most 20 year olds. What do you think separates you from the pack?
Sounds crazy but having free-time literally drives me insane; the worse feeling I have is being unproductive. I remember a few years back, my family took a vacation to Boracay in Philippines for five days and I was so restless—I couldn’t lie there on the beach and relax. I wanted to adventure and snap pics >:( It’s bad. I am also pretty goal orientated so it demotivates me when I can’t see the outcome of what I am doing.
As a globetrotter (“globetrottress” maybe? lol), what has been the favorite place you’ve been to, and which are you dying to visit? Has travelling influenced your global perspective at all?
Hands down my favorite moment traveling was seeing the sun rise and set in Kashmir, India. Looking back I’m super bummed I didn’t film it or anything. However, maybe in a way it’s better to have the memory in my head since I document so much of my life already. The houseboat where I stayed turned out to be the exact same one Mick Jagger did a few decades previously. I’m absolutely dying to visit Iceland; literally at least every month I check the flight costs—it doesn’t even change that drastically so I don’t even know why I check but I guess I’m just dreaming about it.~~ Traveling has definitely influenced my global perspective; it’s super cool visiting a place and seeing how artists there inspire themselves or even if there’s a particular trend in photography or music that pertains to a particular place.
You recently shot NYFW at the beginning of September. What about fashion inspires you? Are there any cool trends you saw happening, on or off the runway, that you think we should be paying attention to?
YES! I swear I’ve been waiting so long to experience it; since I was living in Hong Kong, I used to livestream fashion shows. Even though I shot press for more female collections, I’m actually way more into menswear. The fashion shows I went to were super different styles—Ricardo Seco was the most streetwear, Parke & Ronen was male resort wear, The Blondes was very glamourous. I feel that I’ve picked up on more trends from fashion week parties I attended than fashion shows—dressing down with minimalistic white, grey, and black shorts, crop tops, caps, Converses, and graphic jackets around my waist, but also a strong red lip and winged eyes, is the look I am currently on. Of the designers this season, I’m super in love with Bei Kuo, especially her holographic stuff!!!
As someone who shares a lot about their life through social media and blogging, what are your thoughts on forging connections with people online?
I think it’s super great, just being able to connect and feed off inspiration from what people post. I swear everything people post is an inspiration—where to eat, what to check out, what people are up to, etc. I have found some very cool looking people on Instagram to shoot just for fun too!
Any current or upcoming projects you’re excited about?
I’m shooting my first film with my model friend Mitzi Peirone who is also a screenwriter. The film is a modern take on Ophelia and Hamlet. I remember for a few years I would stay up watching all these short films on Vimeo, which always inspired me to travel or to create. When I met Mitzi the other month, we immediately clicked with creating art so we decided to collaborate on our first film.
In high school my friends used to think my music taste was really obscure and difficult to understand, so honestly it felt glorious when I moved to the States and found people with the same music taste. The first week I moved to New York I thought I would have heaps of time at home so I decided to get a mixtrack and just see what happened (same as when I started photography, haha). My music friends joke that I lurk soundcloud way more deeply than they do, so just for fun I decided to start learning how to DJ and below you will see my first mix I’m putting out ^.^.
Last words, what’s your motto?
50% Anna Wintour, 50% Goofy Goober