Welcome to our new column! Every Friday you will find interviews with people who are currently on the waitlist to try Spiff. Get ready to discuss happiness, habits, life-goals and money. This week? Meet Shantony, a graphic designer, rapper and photojournalist currently living in Brooklyn, New York.
Full name: Shanthony Exum
From: North Carolina. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY
Education: BGD from NC State College of Design
Occupation: Graphic Designer
How would you describe your life today?
My 'day job' as a freelance graphic designer is great because it allows me the freedom to work on my other passion projects (more on that in a bit). I design for both print and web, while also doing some illustration work. I love collaborating with startups and nonprofits, building brands & concepts from the ground up. On the passion project side I am a rapper, and I also run a body positive photo journal called 'The Every Body Project'.
What do you love the most about your life?
I love that my schedule is flexible, and that I have time and resources to dedicate towards my passion projects. I also love that I have a lot of ideas for projects about new ways to engage with the world.
How, when and why did you decide to start The Every Body Project ?
I have always had a weird relationship with how I view my body, and I know a lot of that is dictated by messages I see through the media about what is the “right” type of body. I decided to choose to create art instead of focusing on the negative self talk. I started the Every Body Project as an inclusive space where people of all body types, races, ages, genders and sexual orientations can find style inspiration.
That is amazing. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey through life so far?
As long as I can remember I wanted to be an artist. When I was a kid I took drama, piano, painting and dance. My parents always supported me and said:
“If you want to be an artist, we are ok with this, but you are going to have to be able to support yourself financially with your art"
"Also you are going to have to be serious about it and learn as much as possible about art history.” So, from a very young age I learned about being focused with my art and I became a member of my local art museum when I was still in high school, so I could be exposed to as many art events as possible. I went to design school for four years, and came out very motivated to make work that shared my truths with the world. If I want to do something, I use all of my resources to figure out how to do it, and work hard to do my absolute best. I wanted to start The Every Body Project, but did not know anything about photography. With practice, reaching out to mentors and reading books, I was able to figure out how to become better. Every day I go out with that project and try to think of something I can do to make it more dynamic and interesting. My journey is about not giving up when things are hard even when I am constantly hitting walls. This is how I get by in the world.
Why is it important for you to promote empowering of women?
Although we all suffer under the patriarchy women often bear the brunt of it. However, I do not like the language of 'empowerment' because it already is viewing woman from a place of not being powerful! We are powerful already, it is the system that lies to us and tells us we are not. The main goal of my work is to speak truthfully of my experience as a Black woman (and therefore maybe helping people find connection and feel less alone) or give marginalized people (women, people of color, older people, queer people etc) a platform to express themselves and gain visibility.
How would you describe your relationship with money?
When I was 12, my parents gave me a checkbook and taught me how to balance it. They would give me monthly allowance and also invoice me for small things they purchased for me through the month. So at a very early age I understood how to budget and plan financially. This has really helped me have a good relationship with money in my adult life.
Do you save and/or invest money today?
Yes I do both!
How could Spiff improve your life?
I think it sounds cool to be able to jointly save with friends for a group trip :-)
What’s your dream purchase?
I do not long for material possessions, but I would love to be able to pay for a large scale music video or art project where my imagination would be my only limitation.
If you could change one thing about the world what would it be?
I would get rid of the word normal. Normativity is a device that is used to separate us and to keep us down. So many people feel alone, isolated and hold themselves back because they do not feel that their bodies and minds are 'normal'. I would love to build a world where each person was true to their own experiences and able to live their truth without fear.
What’s the best life-advice anyone has every given you?
Do what you love, and unapologetically be yourself.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would love to be working on larger scale art projects with a larger audience. So follow me!
Make sure you connect with Shantony by visiting one of the links below: