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Anything but Ordinary: Chindo Words by: Mark Aghatise

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I’m pacing quickly into WhyNot Coffee in the Lower East Side, running late once again because of unreliable trains and mythical “train traffic”. Chindo, cooly, is sitting in the back bundled between two coats scrolling through Instagram for inspiration. We quickly laugh about the erratic transit system and its parallels to the weather while I turn down the volume of my Janet Jackson Best Hits playlist.

The Jamaica, Queens native’s relaxed vibe is completely opposite to the vibrant colors and design of her digital platform “Ordinary Chin”. Bold color blocks, straight lines, and beautiful images of Black women are some of the many characteristics and style choices in her designs. We spend our time discussing the current climate for creative individuals and what marks one as creative, the influences of femininity, and the collective nature of Black womanhood. Also the perks of understanding astrology while being young, Black,and in love. In celebration of National Women’s Month, and more particularly Black women’s contributions and cultural explorations, I wanted to profile an incredibly talented artist, human, and Black woman.

Mark: What’s your sign?

Chindo: Taurus!

Mark: Ha perfect! Good, this means we’ll get along. [laughs] I’ve been getting into lately in understanding both myself and others. What purpose does [astrology] serve for you?

Chindo: It’s funny, I naturally love to learn and understand (including myself), so when I first started learning about my sign, it was more repetitive than anything. But it has been helpful in applying as a lens when I look at relationships and for my creativity.

Mark: How so?

Chindo: Well, Tauruses are creative and manifestors, but we also need time to recharge and find new inspiration. Lately I have been running into this problem of graphic design feeling like work, versus something that’s just fun and that I love doing.

Images Courtesy of Mark Aghatise

Mark: What inspires you to create? Why do you create?

Chindo: I’m tired of seeing what I have already seen. It’s the reason I started my blog and it directs my graphic design. At first, with both, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going to go in, and over time I thought, “Oh, I can try to somewhat make it like a magazine!” I love magazines. I love their visuals, appearance and color, and the images! I just love images. I love images that captivate me and I want to make captivating images.

Mark: So, how do you balance personal projects with work for clients?

Chindo: That’s where I am at now, trying to balance and figure it out. It’s weird watching the thing that you love to do become more of a job. I’m kinda tight about it. It’s weird because it is affecting my motivation too. But that’s why I am thankful for my relationship with God because I ask for guidance in everything, including my creative passions. I’m sure I’ll be shown how to balance the two. But, I also am limiting myself in terms of what freelance work I do pick up. I don’t do random personal work anymore, because I have realized it’s better for me to come into a project with a group or entity that’s already established. I take on projects that I know I can mentally be present for and engaged in, both for their sake and mine.

Mark: How do you think people understand you as a person and artist?

Chindo: All I want is people to know me as Chindo. God has given us multiple talents, so I don’t want to be labeled solely as one thing. Right now I would say I am a podcaster and graphic designer, but those are just vocational titles. I really try to isolate myself from a love of the bs that distracts us right now.

Mark: Are you conscious of how you put yourself out there?

Chindo: Well, I want my work to be able to speak for itself. All my stuff is out there on its own, so if someone wants to work with me they can easily understand my art and have an even easier time contacting me. I don’t believe in having to actively promote myself, I don’t want to have to force or convince someone to believe in my art or me. I’m not with the “pick me” mentality we see currently. I’m not trying to make myself into a product, nor sell myself.

Images Courtesy of Mark Aghatise

Mark: Speaking on the “pick me” mannerisms of creatives nowadays, what do you think of the ways social media plays in our careers?

Chindo: What’s killing me right now is the necessity of a “platform”. How do we define platform? Why is it necessary in the long run? I don’t think these phase will last forever, it’s just a phase. So who will these influencers be years from now? What will be said of the work they created now, in say maybe 10 or 15 years from now? I find a lot of peace in knowing that a lot of this game doesn’t really matter. I just want to keep creating authentic work. Again, I’m thankful that my work speaks for itself and people seem to be able to understand me through it. That’s pretty much how I ended up joining the Hannah Magazine team.

Mark: How has working with Hannah Magazine been, in terms of working in a space by Black women to make something for Black women?

Chindo: Honestly I reached out to the team to offer my services in hopes of joining the team and working with them. They invited me to come to a meeting they were having the following week and things just fell into place. I love being apart of Hannah Magazine. I feel energized working with young Black women making huge strides. WE ARE BLACK GIRL MAGIC. There’s this indescribable feeling of working with other Black women.

Mark: How have other work spaces been, in terms of race and gender representation?

Chindo: Well, right now I am one of the few women in my company, and one of even fewer black women. It’s funny, I do feel comfortable in the company of men. I have always been the only girl, whether family, friend groups, job, etc., but, when working around women who genuinely support you, that experience is unmatched. I’ve had my share of not so great experiences. Back in 2011 when I was interning for Zac Posen, I first experienced a situation of overt racism. So the good comes with the bad. I still very much love models, styling, fashion and beautiful imagery. Sometimes it’s hard to break past the superficiality of the fashion world, but I know extreme beauty can come from it.

Images Courtesy of Mark Aghatise

Mark: Do you think being represented by an agency or group is of interest for your career goals and aspirations?

Chindo: Maybe. I’m reluctant to learning only because it depends on who is teaching me. I like learning, naturally as a Taurus, but I am also stubborn too. I want to learn and absorb as much as I can, so being represented and working with bigger companies and projects would be great moments to learn and grow. But I want to be able to establish my own self, and create work without representation too. If I were to be represented, I would want it to lead me to working bigger projects and greater access versus maneuvering the freelance world.

Mark: Are there other mediums you are interested in exploring?

Chindo: Painting! I love colors, as seen by my work, so I would love to play with colors in that way. I’ve been inspired by colorful things in general lately, so I’m excited for that to be seen in my new work!

Mark Aghatise
Mark Aghatise is a New York based fashion photographer and videographer interested in explaining and expanding Black narratives in contemporary form.
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