Kickstarter has the clever option for you to narrow the search of projects based on your city and sometimes without any intentions of foraging for anything specific, I like to see what I can find. On one of these casual searches, I came across Ray Masaki, a designer based in Harlem who’s project centered around amassing funds to relaunch a t-shirt line under his fashion company Lowdtown.
I can’t recall the exact amount of days he gave himself to raised the money but I would think it’s irrelevant at this moment since he’s already surpassed the $2,500 he was hoping to garner. He current stands at $3,547 and has 11 days to go.
This belief that photography is an excellent excuse to tour unfamiliar places and meet people who you would have never met otherwise has bee stronger for me now then ever. There are a lot of talented artists out there, especially in New York and any chance I can get to meet up with a few of them, I’ll take the opportunity. After a few back and forth replies on Twitter with Ray, we chose a quaint coffee shop in Soho to meet.
The central topics of conversation with people that I’ve reached out to and met has mostly always revolved around life, their artistic talent and most importantly the realization that even doing what you love can be hard and discouraging, specifically when you’re attempting to make a career out of it. Being an artist in general is difficult because you have to sell yourself and even thought Ray had mentioned he was content with his current job and career as a designer, he’s always had the impulse to extend and apply his talent onto ventures such as his own clothing line.
You can tell a lot about an artist based on what occupies the pages of their notebooks and Ray was kind enough to bring along a few of the many sketchbooks he’s already gone through, so I could get a glimpse of the type of obsessive material he thinks about. As a photographer, there was one particular piece that I instantly connected with which he had still been working on. My immediate reaction to the piece was that it “would make for an awesome t-shirt.” It’s the pen sketch you see above that reads Film Cam.
Ray was very candid in talking about his vision for Lowdtown, about a few bumps he had to overcome which made him go back to the drawing boards several times, until he was truly confident that what he was creating was something special. Having been able to raise enough funds on Kickstarter to further elevate his vision is pretty amazing, so I’m curious to see the final products of the sketches he showed me and the plans he has for them.
After we left the coffee shop, we walked around Soho to get a few shots. I think creative people are some the most valuable assets in business today. They are the ones responsible for driving main projects and conjuring up million-dollar ideas. I love how small talk online has the potential to turn into something else; you never know the positive that could come from it and on top of that, there’s nothing wrong with making an acquaintance out of a complete stranger.