FFO: A VERY ENTERTAINING INTERVIEW FT WUSIWYG (WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET) IMAGES EXPLORING THEMES IN RELATION TO YOUTH CULTURE… MUSIC, STREET, FASHION… INCLUDING A MENTION OF THE PHOTOGRAPHERS NEW ZINE FT PORTRAITS OF LADS HAVING A GOOD OL’ WAVEY TIME UP IN ALBUFEIRA, PORTUGAL (AND OF COURSE ALL OF THE IMAGES ARE TAKEN ON FILM!)
Who are you and where are you currently based?
My name is Steven Bell, or Maste, or maste17. You can call me Steve.
I’m a 21 year old film photographer. I currently split my time evenly between my parent’s house in Derby and my girlfriends house in Leeds.
(CHEEKY BELGRAVE FEATURE, BIG UP LEEDS!!!)
I originally started my Instagram around three years ago and at that time graffiti was my focus. But, over the time my interests have changed gradually over to photography, so I never really had a time where I decided that I was going to stop graffiti and start photography. There wasn’t really a cut-off point where I might have decided to make a new insta, why fix it if it isn’t broken? The anonymity of the name is something I have kept from my graffiti days, and I have never revealed my face or true name on my account. I can’t explain why I like this, but I think we can all agree maste17 is definitely a more interesting name than Steve Bell.
What is your current photographic work about?
My work is about capturing the world around me, and delivering exactly as it looks through my eyes. It is in the streets where I feel as though I thrive as a photographer, hence many of my images tend to be street photography. As I go about my daily life, my mind is always thinking of what looks pleasing or interesting, and what will make a sick photograph, I see the world as a series of lines and colours, and I line things up as I look around, and then my lens sees them, and captures it.
I am never without my camera, so whether I’m doing stupid shit with my mates, at a rave or exploring a new city I’ll be capturing those moments. So a lot of my photos are of my mates, DJs and of houses on random council estates that I think look interesting or tell a story.
I really want people to look at my work and be transported to the moment at which the photo was taken, feeling the emotions I was feeling at the time, hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, really taking in the whole moment.
A new avenue I have been exploring recently is portraiture and fashion photography, this is totally new to me and I am hopeful to get more involved with fashion editorial work in the future due to my love for people and clothes and settings.
What got you interested into photography and taking images?
My dad used to take photos of our family on a film camera and I remember the excitement of getting to see the photos once they had been developed, as well as looking back at the photos which had been taken years before. This tangible form of the image has always been something which fascinated me.
The nostalgia associated with printed photos is what started my lifelong love of photography, and since I have been chasing this feeling surrounding the photos of my childhood. In fact, the camera I currently use is the one I was photographed on by my dad as a child. I want my photos to be moments that, although gone forever, are immortalised through a photograph, to be looked back on.
So, shooting film was the natural medium for me, it’s such a practical form. The camera literally captures the light of the moment, and I can have that light, that moment, printed, so it exists physically, and to me that is such a beautiful thing. It’s so raw, so real.
Who are you inspired by?
Despite my dad starting my love of capturing moments, the creative side of it came later. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by a creative and supportive group of friends who encourage me when I think my work is shit or I can’t be arsed or I’m feeling down for whatever reason.
My biggest inspiration is my girlfriend Chlöe, she is my rock, my muse and my personal writer, kind of. It’s a little joke we have, cause she’s brilliant and I’m an idiot. She even vetted this to make sure I don’t sound like too much of a dick, she keeps me on the straight and narrow and I love her for that.
More literally, the photographers I am inspired by are the greats such as William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Martin Parr, Terry Richardson and Larry Clark. I am also inspired every single day by my contemporaries, Harry Conway, Reid Allen, Robert Peace, @aboveground, Michels Jordan, Petr Barabakaa and The London Vagabond.
Skate culture is also a keen interest and inspiration of mine, particularly Rodney Mullen, Mark Gonzales and Ed Templeton have made an impression on me. Graffiti was my first creative venture, after discovering works by the likes of Katsu, GATS, Neckface, Utah and Ether I really became engrossed in creating. In fact, that’s where maste17 came from, it was my graffiti name. That’s what really got me started on this mission, going out, skating, creating and taking photos all the while.
What are your future aspirations?
I aspire to shoot more portraits, more raves, more streets, more fashion. I also have a strong ambition to put on a totally self-made solo exhibition, along with my own photo book. In fact, fuck it, I want to do everything I can. Sell shirts, make music, art, fashion, world domination, everything.
My vision is a photo book launch party, solo exhibition, my photos and art on the wall, my music playing in the background. That would be sick. But not in a self-centred way, I just want my art to be self-made and authentic, and the only way to do that is to do it all myself. I just don’t ever want to stop creating. What can I say, I’m ambitious.
So you have a zine being released via Project Upcoming later this month, how did this collaboration come about?
Well, I have been working as the Online Intern and now Artwork Coordinator for Project Upcoming since Sadie put out a post on their Instagram that they needed help earlier this year. This has developed into me putting out my own zine on the label whilst helping other curate their zines and organise an exhibition later this month. Project Upcoming has really been my starting point with taking my photography seriously.
What is your zine titled and what themes does the photo-series explore?
‘Portugang,’ my debut print publication is the product of a wavy week in Albufeira, Portugal for my mate Scott’s 21st. After taking a few photos during the holiday, it occurred to me that this could make an interesting zine, so I began taking pictures with this purpose. We went and had a radgy time and it just so happened I was there with a camera. All week my mates were drinking this lethal gin and Sangria cocktail and being lairy, having a good holiday so it’ll be something for us all to look back on and a display of the kind of shit I get up to. Also, it makes a quality present for Scott’s birthday, sorted. Big up Gingria, try it, it’s the sauce.
‘Portugang’ releases through Project Upcoming Publishing on the 22nd of September alongside a few other zines of some brilliantly talented photographers and friends.
The day before this, the 21st at Doomed Gallery, Dalston from 6-9pm myself and some amazing artists are displaying work for The Juice. This is Juicy Records’ fanzine release party, and Project Upcoming have a feature spread in the magazine and the exhibition. This will be the first time my work has been exhibited, so if anyone is around in London please come down for a few beers and some good art.
What advice would you recommend to young photographers today?
To anybody, young, old, whatever, if you want to get into photography, my advice would be to just fucking do it. Buy a camera, go out and take photos of whatever the fuck you feel like taking photos of. Just keep shooting and shooting and shooting. Do it for yourself, not for coolness or Instagram likes, do it for yourself and nobody else. Also, fuck digital. Film is not dead.