Join us on our journey to unite elmwood talent and those we admire in one-to-one chats spanning everything and anything creative in our series, Creative Conversations.
This interview below takes place between Elmwood NYC Design Director Amelia Cheung and NYC-based Photographer Mischelle Moy.
So Amelia, Why Mischelle?
I’ve been following Mischelle and her work for quite some time and love her content, particularly her collaboration with Welcome to Chinatown and Wow Project. As May is AAPI Heritage month in the U.S., it was the perfect opportunity to feature Mischelle, her work and highlight what it’s like to work in the creative industry as a POC woman.
You have a wonderfully colorful style with a modern bright aesthetic. It feels so fresh yet authentically Asian, especially when paired with culturally rich subject matters. How did you develop your style of photography, what influenced you?
Thank you! I think my style stems from me always being the black sheep and doing things differently (just to see how that could change our perspective and way of seeing things). Being the first-born first-generation child has also pushed me to learn and adapt to my surroundings more quickly and vigilantly than my siblings have, and of course focusing on the fine arts my entire life has also helped shape my critical eye. I never stop thinking about how things are made or viewed so I also enjoy admiring other artists’ work which influences the way my gears work. Currently my favorite inspiration comes from vintage Chinese cookbooks and Walter Wick’s I Spy imagery!
Your commercial work with the Asian community here in NYC helps bring small businesses to a new younger audience. How important is this type of work for you and how did that connection come about?
Reaching the younger audience is super important to me as I get older because they are the future. I feel like a lot of campaigns these days are relevant just because they are trending or capitalizing off of current events (which are valid and need attention), but what I feel is always going to be relevant and relatable are the elements and matters that derive from our own blood, background, and culture especially when all of it is happening in our backyard. These parts of our history aren’t going away, especially when people want to erase or displace it, so the education and translation work for our generation, and future gens to grasp is a connection worth the labor. This goes back to me being the first-born, where I am often caught in between communicating and translating for the older gen to the younger gen – a lot of it is new information to me too. If I could help us look at things from a new perspective whilst preserving and passing down our history, it brings me a lot of joy and honor to be able to.
What is a high and low point so far that you’ve experienced as a creative/commercial artist?
The high point is definitely being able to establish my own brand through my work and getting to meet so many cool people through it – it is the most rewarding and I am so grateful.
A low point is the growing pains that comes with working for yourself, by yourself. Going through lockdown and dealing with these Covid times do not help me expand at the pace I want to. There’s also a lot of internal struggles like often fighting for yourself with clients, and making boundaries to protect myself and separate work and life. But all experience is good experience because they’ve taught me what works and what doesn’t!
From one POC woman in the creative industry to another, what frustrates you about the industry?
Good question! For me, I feel like there is a lack of business knowledge and etiquette to be shared or passed to us. My time in art schools has never once offered a foundation business class so there was a lot of terms and practices that I had to find out the hard way and teach myself. I’m certainly not the only one who feels that information like industry standards or rates are gate-kept and should have more transparency. Luckily nowadays, I’ve noticed people are speaking up and out about their experiences and using platforms like TikTok to call out things about their work or the industry.
Something else that frustrates me is still seeing other creatives shut others down for not knowing such standards. We should be more understanding and emphasize that not everyone gets the same education or experiences. We could be more helpful by lifting each other up.
What’s your favorite fashion era?
Right now it’s the 1970s!
Do you have a dream creative to collaborate with, dead or alive?
Dali and Hiroshige!
Behind the lens or in front?
What’s your favorite spot in Chinatown?
Grand Deluxe Market!
Check out Mischelle’s feature on our Instagram here.