“I’m smart enough to know there’s still a lot for me to learn.” Now I’m not exactly sure who said that, or if I’m just piecing together things I have heard in the past. In either case, this quote pretty much describes the posture of Tyler Mitchell. In sitting down with him, it was very clear this wasn’t the same kid whose high school graduation party I attended 7 years ago.
While by the age of 25, Tyler has had the opportunity to do things creatively that would quench the deepest fantasies of today’s IG influencer or creative, he doesn’t speak as one who has been jaded by success in the least bit. In fact, the way Mitchell explains his journey, he seems to have an equal high proportion of naivety matched with deep discernment. And this wasn’t just towards the technical aspects of his craft, more so it is to the opulent African American creative lineage that the now belongs to, as well the “Black American” portraits he is looking to depict with his lens.
This was explained deeper as we talked about his recent project which was a 24 hour music and video night called “Night at the Cinema: Americana/I Can Make You Feel Good”. This project was in part due to how over the years he has grown to have a deeper appreciation for both being Black and American pairs with all the nuanced realities played out in this dichotomy. Which completely makes sense when you consider the contrast between films he broadcast like “Boogie Nights” and “Jaws” to Black cultural films like “Juice”, “Hoop Dreams” and “Coming to America” to child like humor in “Goodburger”.
From my vantage point, this conversation, along with his recent project, is merely a look inside the mind and motivation of a creative kid who is looking contribute his perspective of Blackness and America as he knows it. So If you are interested in hearing about Tyler’s highly publicized shoots with the likes of Beyonce’ or Kanye West, you may need to go to a different channel to hear that. More so than the outcome, Tyler and I were able to discuss the actual recipe that produces such genius work. I’m sure you all will enjoy!
– Blair Caffey (@honorrollblair)