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Jon Bronxl is a freelance artist photographer, founder of Locku Noir Studio and The Good Neighbourhood collective, currently based in Milan. Born in Ghana, at a young age he moved in the north of Italy with his family, where he started to study Fashion Design. After years of working as fashion designer, he decided to quit and take time to focus on photography, that best represents him. Now he lives and works as a photographer.

We had the opportunity to speak with Jon about his journey from fashion design to photography, about The Good Neighbourhood collective project and his view on artists of color and opportunities in Milan. Scroll down to read the full interview.

I am tireless, always bursting with ideas and I keep fighting my way through this hard time in history for freelancers like me, but I firmly believe in what I do and I never stop daring.

Tell us who you are and what you do.

My name is Jon Bronxl and I am a young portrait photography artist. I was born in 1989 in Ghana and I immediately moved to Italy with my parents, who always supported me in the choices that made me the professional I am today.

How did you find yourself in photography?

At the end of my Fashion Design studies, I worked at different clothing companies where I gained experience in various fields until I discovered fashion photography. It was love at first shoot, so I decided to dedicate myself to this peculiar photography for the rest of my life.

I work alongside expert photographers, quickly learning different techniques and refining my own style.

What was the transition like for you, from being a fashion design student, working as a designer to photography?

Today I am considered to be an artist: I am the founder of Locku Noir Studio and an art director. Thanks to my personal taste and resources, I never fail to achieve results. I am tireless, always bursting with ideas and I keep fighting my way through this hard time in history for freelancers like me, but I firmly believe in what I do and never stop daring.

I work together with other young professionals in a creative and stimulating work environment: I always try to listen to my clients without bowing down to their demands, and I'd rather ask them to trust me with my vision and work and to prove every single time my ideas are the most successful ones. I employ my earnings to finance myself and travel as much as I can to see different places, learn new things and get inspired.

Thanks to the internet, I had the chance to meet my idol photographers and exchange advices with them to improve my artistic production. I am told to be very a quick learner, which I consider to be one of my strongest points especially during this difficult time when the clock keeps ticking and those who stop or slow down are lost.

"The problem is convincing the customers that even if my photography is different from what they are used to, it is exactly what they need.”

What is your sweetest childhood memory? Tell us about where you grew up.

My childhood was not that sweet, but I still felt a lot of LOVE. I remember one day it was raining a lot and I had my football training after school. My mother put my brother and me on her small motorbike, him sitting behind, me standing in front. She wrapped us in a plastic poncho and took us under the pouring rain. Our mother did everything for us. Even though we didn’t have much money, she did her best to give us the best life possible. I thank my parents for all they did for my brother, my sister and for me.

Then, we moved to Italy and I grew up in Bussolengo, a small town near Verona.

"Sweat and perseverance have been my daily bread, along with the firm belief that what I was doing would take me somewhere."

Let’s speak about Milano. What's the city like, and what is special about it for the community of artists.

Who said Milan is special? Milan is a good place to start pursuing your dream, but it is not that special. Italy is way behind from many other advanced countries, in terms of contemporary art appreciation. Nowadays being an artist means to create an artistic character able to charm the public with his personality, not with an actual talent.

This means that there are a lot of FAKE artist trending, while the real talented ones stay in the shadow because they don’t care to ride the wave of popularity. They just care about creating their best art, whether it is music, photography , etc., and I know lots of unknown but genuine artists like this.

I have to admit, though, that Milan has played a fundamental role for me, because it changed my life: here is where I started developing my artistic photography and where people first appreciated my work. My fame is now growing fast, but I have actually been working and experimenting for a long time. I have started following my passion for art since the age of 15, and luckily my style has always been admired and appreciated.

Sweat and perseverance have been my daily bread, along with the firm belief that what I was doing would take me somewhere.

The only thing I can say is: don't start taking pictures just because you like it, start taking photos because you feel them, you MUST do it for yourself and for those who will look at them.

As a black creative, how do you find the fashion industry here? Is it inclusive and accepting ? How has your experience been? There certainly is a need for more to be done. What according to you should the local fashion industry do, to be more sensitive towards the minorities?

It is not a matter of being white or black or yellow or blue. It is the person who makes the difference. Young artists, today, don’t know what it means to be HUMBLE, and BEING HUMBLE is the basis of every relationship, in my opinion. They don't know what it means to work to survive, and this makes them devoid of basic values, such as respect.

As a black artist, I have always been good with people. I don't like to fight, I like smart confrontation, which can happen only when talking to smart and humble people. There are only few, but they exist.

I suggest the young black community to go beyond the issue of skin color and focus on creating a good, smart, respectful character.

Find out what you like and be an interesting person: you will no longer see what color you are, but only WHO YOU ARE.

What would your advice to the starting photographers be? What is important in this search for the individual perspective and vision ?

The only thing I can say is: don't start taking pictures just because you like it, start taking photos because you feel them, you MUST do it for yourself and for those who will look at them.

Create emotions through your shoots.

The most beautiful moments you will keep forever with yourself are the ones in which you felt a strong connection and emotion. I don't know what a "classic" photograph is, I have not studied photography: I just happen to have a good eye and I can use it to create art and emotions and make a few pennies out of it.

Nowadays, real art is dying because artists do all the same things based on the current HYPE . I call them FAKE ARTIST, name that also applies to those who only care about appearances to become cool main artists of the moment.

We are here to be remembered and to set a good example, not to be on social networks just to be cool. You are nobody until you gain the power to change the lives of many, to change them for GOOD.

Which topic you always wanted to shoot but didn’t have a chance yet?

I don't have a specific topic that I'm really waiting for shooting. I usually get carried away by what I want to do when I come up with an idea. Sometimes I want to send a message, but most of the times it is just art. Art doesn't necessarily have to make sense.

We noticed that your main focus is portrait photography, spiced with fashion, irony, humour and surprise. Tell us a bit more about what type of stories do you love to work with.

Hahaha, yes I see, you have a good eye. I would say, I am an impulsive photographer. I see someone on the street, I stop them and the instant they speak, my brain is already visualising the photo with them as a subject. In my opinion, every subject is a piece of art. The personality, the smile, the hands and all their movement is unique to each person and is a work in itself. I don't usually look for subjects based on specific topics, but rather let the person in front of me inspire me. That way in my opinion each work has an almost perfect balance.

How does your Ghanian culture and heritage as well as being brought up in Italy affect your style?

The only part of my culture that has had an impact on my work and life was the fairly strict education I grew up with, the same my parents received when they were brought up. If I can consider myself as a respectful and humble person, it is only thanks to them. Growing up, I was an angry person, but look at me now: I always smile. Don’t trust the appearances though, ahaha, you would better not to piss me off.

I might seem to be a little bipolar but it actually takes a while to get me angry. What has helped me is that I don' t tolerate other people's bullshit anymore.

What is the most challenging aspect you can face on set, and whats the easiest for you?

On set I am a very chill person.

Till now, I have not found anything difficult or easy, when it comes to work I just click.

Do you think where to put your feet when walking on a clean road? I guess not. It's the same philosophy for me when it comes to photography; it comes naturally to me.

On my set I want to work with people like me. If by chance I happen to be with someone who doesn't behave, then I won't want to work with them anymore.

I also like working with beginners and trying to teach them what I know so that they can give their best on my sets and improve their technique.

Tell us a bit more about The Good Neighbourhood Collective.

The Good Neighborhood Collective is a virtual collective I founded where other young artists and I create posts about the afro lives of youths who already made it or are making it, in order to inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps.

One of our mottos is: “The future is the result of what you decide to do today.”

But it doesn't stop there.

Soon, we will start exploring other fields: food, lifestyle, music, art, history and much more. It is growing slowly because we, the people who work behind it, have our real lives to manage as well, but we are doing our best to give content and entertain our most loyal followers!

What are your plans for this year?

I have no plans because you cannot plan an artist’s life. Besides, I am very impulsive, so if tomorrow I decide to travel to another country, I will pack my things and leave all of a sudden.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on some fashion brand campaigns, some professional portraits and of course my personal projects. I’d rather not reveal anything, but when they come to light I am sure you will hear about them

Lastly, what does DARE mean to you?

As a word, for me Dare means to try and get to where you want to go. Dare means not being afraid of getting where you MUST get, the finish line.

To view more of Jon's work or to get in touch with him, visit his instagram.

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