how-to by The Editors

Filmmaker, photographer, musician, designer Julian Klincewicz explains how he picked up so many skills.

reading time 12 minutes

Julian Klincewicz has a one word instagram bio: “Everything.” This is an accurate description of the range of things he’s done in his career so far, thanks to a creative approach that privileges ideas over any medium. At 22, Klincewicz is an accomplished filmmaker, musician, fashion designer, photographer, skateboarder, and a published author. His stylish lo-fi VHS videos have earned him collaborations with fashion icons Gosha Rubchisnkiy, Eckhaus Latta, and fellow all-rounder Kanye West, not to mention commercial work for high-powered clients like Vans and Calvin Klein. And he has achieved all this without a college education. Klincewicz has learned by doing, with a little help from online tutorials and friendly mentors. Today he explains how he picked up his array of skills, what he learned from working with Kanye, and what creative field he hopes to work in next.

I want to talk to you today about your incredible career as a multitasking artist. What has allowed you to slip into all these different roles?
I think I’m just interested in a lot of stuff and I tend to allow myself to follow those interests without too much expectation of what it’s going to be. I think that comes from skateboarding, actually. Skateboarding is not a team sport. You have to be really self-motivated to go out and learn new tricks. You develop a certain mentality from that. Oh, I like music, I think it would be cool to play guitar, so I’m just going to try and watch some youtube tutorials and see if I can figure out how to play something. And while I’m at it, why couldn’t I write my own songs?

Have tutorials played a big role in your developing all these skills?
Yeah, it’s been a tool among other tools. I wanted to go to college when I graduated high school, but it was too expensive and so I opted to just learn everything from people, trying to learn from every single interaction and opportunity I had. I learned all of my video and photo editing skills from youtube tutorials. You have to be self-motivated to take advantage of that. You need to say: I’m going to learn this thing and then apply it and keep working on it until I can create all the things I want to create. So for me it’s been huge. It’s allowed me the opportunity to learn so many skill sets. I’ve also been really lucky that I’ve had a lot of people around me who supported me to explore all my interests. I think having a really supportive community is the most important thing.

Who was that for you?
When I was younger, it was my mom, who would say, ‘yeah, you should do that, try it.’ And then when I was older, it was my skateboarding friends saying, ‘yeah, you can totally do that trick, try it.’ I’ve also always had mentors that I looked up to and I’ve been able to interact with them on a one-to-one basis. In high school, I had my friend Wes [Sam-Bruce], who creates these really cool forts and structures. He was a huge role model for me. Watching him, I thought, oh wait, you can be this curious and open for the rest of your life! And then I had a skating mentor, who showed me a different way of skating, how creative it can be, and you can make art on your grip tape. And then there was even someone like Kanye, who was a different kind of mentor altogether.

How I Like You, Runway Show (Swipe Left)

What role did Kanye play for you?
Kanye’s is one of the most open-minded and curious people I’ve ever met. He wants to know everybody’s opinion so that we can make the coolest thing possible together. You don’t necessarily expect that of people in such public positions. Kanye is a symbol of what’s possible. He’s like a representative that you can achieve your dreams. And to keep pushing and to never let anybody tell you what you can’t do . If somebody tells him he can’t do something, he’s going to do it ten thousand percent harder and better.

What do you think explains this turn toward working in multiple mediums?
I think right now it’s part of the Zeitgeist. It’s just a really modern way to work — to kind of do everything. I don’t think it’s something that’s all that unique. I think most creative people have ideas for all sorts of things. Past generations maybe haven’t been encouraged to explore them all, so they kind of honed in on one thing: oh, you’re a painter; you’re a photographer. Now people just don’t really care that much about sticking to traditional structures.

ЖУРНАЛ, a book about skateboarding in Russia (Swipe Left)

Do your ideas always come with a medium attached to them? Or do you have an idea and then find the right way to realize it?
Most things come from a kind of meditative self reflection. I make sense of my experiences, and I find a way to relate to other people. Other times it comes from a kind of impulse. It’s sitting down and playing guitar and taking photos and shooting video and writing little poems or whatever it may be. And you just work until it clicks. And then you realize: oh yeah, this could be a series of photos, and this is what they’re going to look like. Or this could be a video and also a song, but this is really the core idea. I enjoy translating things. That means stepping back and looking at an idea, and recognizing, oh, you know what, this makes sense as a totally different kind of work. It’s the same way that if you have someone who draws, you know, they have a bunch of different colored pencils to help them express exactly what they want to express. That’s how I try and view all the mediums.

I Do Too, art exhibition (Swipe Left)

How are you keeping track of all these ideas?
It really depends. I jot a lot of notes and ideas down on my phone. I also keep a journal with me that I write down any time I have something that feels like a revelation or a kind of truth. I much prefer physically writing and keeping notebooks and journals, making my own little zine to keep track of stuff, because it inspires me more. But 50% I’m on the road, so I’m just taking notes on my phone.

What new mediums would you still like to work in?
I’d like to start working in dance actually. I’ve been working pretty intensely with video for the past six months. All that time sitting in front of my computer has become very draining and made me think a out about physical artwork, the unique and energizing experience of sharing something in a public place. I think dance is the best example of that. I don’t totally know how I’m going to do it yet. I just kind of close my eyes and I can see motions that I like and specific emotional cues that I think are important. I’m figuring it out.

To see Julian Klincewicz’s work, click here to watch some of his video work, here to listen to his music, and here to follow his tumblr. Header image by Michael Cukr. 

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