Photographer Tyler Mitchell joined Studio Museum of Harlem Director and Chief Curator, Thelma Golden to discuss representation, inclusion and the Black image in fashion.
Golden opened the convo by asking the 24-year old when the moment was that he first realized he was an artist. Mitchell responded, “I struggle with calling myself an artist. I know I’m a photographer and image maker, but, the word ‘artist’ seems so far, and the fine art world seems so far off from where I am right now.”
Mitchell shared that while growing up and searching Tumblr and Instagram for inspiration early on, he noticed that the black body was missing from the landscape. As a result, Mitchell decided to use his art to make a conscious effort to fill this void. Tyler also created Deborah Willis for inspiring him and creating a lineage of black imagery that inspired him.
“I know I’m a photographer and image maker, but, the word ‘artist’ seems so far, and the fine art world seems so far off from where I am right now.”- Tyler Mitchell
Like many young creatives, Mitchell is multidisciplinary. He told Golden, “being multidisciplinary seems as simple as breathing air. Technology has always allowed me to have both options on the same machine. This technology ultimately will enable you to live in both spaces seamlessly.”
Mitchell closed out conversation by reflecting on his game-changing career highlight of being commissioned to shoot the September cover of Vogue with Beyoncé. He remembered getting a phone call from Vogue’s Creative Director, during which, he was informed that be would make history as the first African-American to shoot the magazine’s cover. Mitchell says he instantly felt like he was meant to take on the job. He also vividly remembers anxiously wanting to know the details of the shoot to prove that it was real.