We had the good fortune of connecting with Zaye and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Zaye, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I believe that risk taking is necessary in the art field. If it wasn’t for the risk takers we wouldn’t have the beautiful art we have today and the technology we didn’t even see coming. All because someone took a risk and dared to think outside the box and it worked in their favor. I have adapted the skill of risk taking lately. I mean, I literally dropped out of college recently because it just wasn’t doing it for me. It wasn’t my path anymore and now that everything is virtual I wasn’t getting the education, in my field of film, that I needed to help me grow as a filmmaker. So, I am now taking the time to really focus on myself and my art career. I wanna invest all my time into my art and see how life just unfolds. I know it will work in my favor because I am taking a big risk not getting a degree, but that just makes me wanna work harder and better. I am taking this time to perfect my craft and start my own business of selling my prints and eventually creating graphic Tee’s with my photography.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

I am proud that I’m not just one thing. I don’t just do one thing. I describe myself as an artist instead of a photographer because I’m more than just a photographer. I’m also a videographer, I can edit videos, I dabble in music production, I model and act, I’m a writer, I like to believe I can paint but I’m still learning, and I sing. I’m constantly learning new things to better my creativity. My next project I wanna learn is ceramics and I know I can learn because I have proven to myself I can learn anything if I give myself the time. I am where I am today because I don’t let fear control me anymore. I used to be so scared of what people would think of me, I would be so scared to share my work. Not too long ago I was hating everything I created. I would delete all my art off of my instagram like once every other month because, at the time, I just thought everything I created was, “shit.” It wasn’t until after I had the worst creative block of my life, I finally created art that I love and still to this day can honestly say I am in love with. From that moment on my photography has gotten better. I was finally proud of what I was creating. The start of my confidence in my photography journey was because of my conceptual photo series, “house of Eden,” that touched on my dark past. That being said, the ride to get to where I’m at now creatively and mentally was not easy at all. I also don’t think any black artist has it easy. We will always have to constantly overcome challenges put onto us, but we are stronger because of it. We learn and grow from the challenges we face and I have grown so much over the years. I learned that fear holds you back and that I just need to dissolve my fear completely when it comes to pursuing my dreams. Also, in the age of social media we constantly look for validation from others that don’t even know us which is very toxic to our mental health and that is something I still do to this day, but trying to overcome everyday. I learned to just live my life the way I wanna live because life’s too short to care about what others think of you, they don’t even know you like you know you, so why listen? I will not worry about how other people perceive me because there will always be somebody who is gonna misunderstand you or just have an issue with you for no reason. We don’t got the time. We are booked and busy! I want the world to know that I don’t let my past define me, instead I’m constantly evolving and healing from my past so I can make a better present and future. My art is very much true to me. Everything you see or feel from my art is everything I see in my head and I have felt before. I create art to help myself heal and to help others as well who might’ve gone through the same things as me, or has felt how I’ve felt in my life.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So, I’m actually not from LA… YET! Manifesting I’ll be moving there very very soon. I’m from Maryland though and if a friend came to visit I would take them to DC because where I’m at there’s nothing to do. There are so many things to do in DC. We would definitely go to art museums and the botanical garden is so beautiful. City aside, I would take them hiking because there are some beautiful trails in Virginia that will take your breath away.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout my mom for being so supportive and understanding at times when she probably doesn’t understand and thinks I’m crazy. During this whole process of dropping out to fully pursue art she has been nothing but supportive and I am very lucky because not all parents are like that. She even told me that having a kid like me, she’s learning to just let go and let me do me. I wanna also thank my amazing friends because they have helped and guided me to where I am today. I am very lucky to have found my people.

Instagram: instagram.com/lilgambino

Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/xavier-simms-022b80188

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpqewZfQr-UzSpHSFnxtNOA

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