We had the good fortune of connecting with Gabriel Sweet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gabriel, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina and lived there until I was 18. I feel like one of the biggest things from Argentine culture is that the friends you have are the family you choose. During the Argentine financial crisis in 2001/2002, my family and I moved to Miami. In Miami I was forced to be more outgoing and social, as I barely knew anyone there. After working long enough to buy a car, I decided to go to Broward Community College for graphic design. That’s only before I found a photography teacher that really influenced me. Teresa Diehl pushed her students to really analyze a photograph and work the darkroom like clockwork. She instilled a rigorous work ethic and critical thinking that carries on with me until now. After Miami I applied to different schools and got a scholarship at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, in conjunction with Tufts University. The program was flexible enough that I could nurture every aspect of my creative drives. I got to make video installations, do performance art and drawing. During my last year at school, I was lucky enough to receive the Yousuf Karsh prize in photography. The prize money was a big help to buy a one way ticket to Bangkok, where I started my travels around South East Asia for 3 months and then Europe for another 3 months. The trip to Asia was the biggest culture shock as it was my first trip outside of the American continent. Europe blew my mind. I was so excited by this new appetite for travel while also itching to set roots somewhere and focus on my career. Next destination was Brooklyn, NY. I started assisting William Lamson, an artist I admire, in his Long Island City studio, while also shooting interviews and runway shows. This eventually turned into more freelance work in the fashion industry. New York set a pace that I was used to from art school, reaching deadlines no matter what, working overnight but delivering on time. After 5 years in NY I felt I needed a change. A friend and fellow photographer, Alex La Cruz brought me to LA to work as in-house photographer for Joie, Equipment and Current/Elliott, where I worked to be Photo Director until recently. Now I am freelancing, working on different projects with different clients. Moving so much has taught me to be confident and made me realize how resilient I am. Wherever I go I create my community and taking risks it’s easier with the support of your chosen family. Taking risks can pay off. As an immigrant I don’t feel a hundred percent Argentine or from the United States, yet I learned to embrace both sides of my upbringing and it only adds up to who I am today.
What should our readers know about your business?
I decided to start my own business since after working 5 years with one company I felt I wasn’t learning anymore. I also realized that I thrive working with different clients. I see each new project as a challenge that I can learn from and can potentially improve on. It’s crucial for me to create a good working environment, whereas it’s on set or at an office. If you are going to spend a full work day with a crew, you might as well have fun, or at least have good energy on set, right?
I love working with a team, I feel that working with a good team, the quality of the work can be exponentially better.
Starting my own business has been challenging, of course. But the rewards of working in a streamlined environment and the ability to pick your own team for each project is very rewarding.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I usually love to host and I take this very seriously! I live in the east side so let me think… Friday… Breakfast at Clark Street Bakery, then a walk to Echo Park Lake, say hi to the turtles, hang around for a bit so you get hungry again. Maybe take a little walk to Carroll Avenue to see the victorian houses (and the Thriller house). If you got hungry, walk back towards the park to Echo Park Avenue, where by the parking lot near sunset there is a woman making Oaxacan style quesadillas on purple corn tortillas that are amazing!
Assuming its around 3pm you can walk around the Echo Park farmers market, buy fresh eggs and head home to leave the amazing bounty of fresh veggies and goodies you got.
Next stop, Hauser & Wirth in the Arts District. Maybe feeling a little tired and need an espresso? Try Manuela and visit the art galleries, and bookstore. If you are feeling thirsty after looking at the galleries and book browsing you can go to Arts District Brewery for a fresh beer on the patio.
Later that evening I would recommend going to Bestia for Italian fare, or if you are feeling like going to a more low key spot and you are really hungry, I recommend ordering the party menu at Carousel in Los Feliz; they will fill your table with (almost) all the dishes and never rush you with the bill.
Saturday I would say beach day… Head towards Marina del Rey with some snacks. You can stop at sugar fish on the way there, or on the way back you can have some Hand Rolls at Kazu Nori. You are exhausted but there might be a good show at Zebulon you dont want to miss or you want to meet a friend at Club Tee Gee’s for a night cap.
Sunday, you realize you haven’t taken your visit to have mexican food (except for that delicious quesadilla) so you have to think if they would prefer Guisados for stew-style tacos or Guelaguetza for more Oaxacan goodness. Have them try the moles and the Garra de Tigre cocktail-spicy and smoky.
I would suggest going to a museum, The Broad, Lacma, or The Hammer museum. If there are kids or theres bowling or pool players in the group, maybe stay in the area, have cocktails at Shatto Lanes then head to Quarters Korean BBQ for dinner or Dan Sung Sa for small bites, beer and soju.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
First of all I have to say I was lucky enough to come from a creative family. My dad studied illustration, worked as a graphic designer and art director. My mother was a kinder garden art teacher, designed shoes and jewelry and my brother is an incredibly talented Art Director. My first photography teacher, Teresa Diehl, was a huge influence in my artistic career. Every time I have a chance to go back to the Photography building at Broward Community College I walk around the halls and there is always interesting work up on the walls, even if its from first semester students.
When I first moved to Brooklyn, I emailed around 12 artists that I admired to see if I could help them in their studios. William Lamson was the only one to reply and it was one of the best experiences to share with him. I learned a lot about his artistic process and I was treated like an equal in his studio.
Alex La Cruz, a friend and fellow photographer was a big part in me moving to Los Angeles. He brought me in to the company where I worked the last couple of years and I learned a lot from him.
I also cannot stress enough the importance of all the friendships I made along the way from city to city, whereas traveling for pleasure or relocating from one place to another.