interview

Interview: Female Filmmaker Special with Glow in the Dark Films

9:00 am


It's been a hot minute, but we'll get into that another day.

There's something exciting in store today for the beginning of the new year (taking the whole of January off seemed more than fair)! Glow in the Dark Films are a documentary filmmaking trio from London, creating warmth and heart with their creations since studying for their MA together. The trio consists of Anna Snowball, Eleanor Mortimer, and Grace Harper, and together they've answered some of my questions about their journey, how they get inspired, and the kinds of things they like making. There's something about the dynamic of a group working freelance together, especially a group of women, that really appeals to me, and Glow in the Dark Films have completely and utterly inspired me. Keep reading to find out more...

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Magic & Musings:
Hello! And thank you all for taking the time to answer some of my questions. First of all, can you each introduce yourself and what you do?

A: We’re Anna, Grace, and Eleanor and we work as a documentary filmmaking trio called Glow in the Dark Films.

Magic & Musings:
When and why did you choose to form your filmmaking collective?

A: We met at the National Film and Television School in 2013, and joined forces after graduating. We found it was easier to navigate the world of freelance work together.

E: (& we liked each other loads.)

G: And making documentaries can be quite solitary, and when you’re doing it alongside close friends it becomes more fun!

Magic & Musings:
Why the name ‘Glow in the Dark’?

E: Films glow in the cinema, and also it was a warm-sounding name which captures the way we approach filmmaking.

Magic & Musings:
I know you all work in documentary film, but how would you each describe your individual filmmaking styles in three words?

A: Understanding outsiders, prioritising allowing privileged moments of insight to unfold on camera.

E: People-watching, sometimes with animals too.

G: Hanging out with cameras.

Magic & Musings:
What are each of your filmmaking backgrounds? What drew you to the documentary film genre?

A: I did Media Arts at university, where I randomly decided to take a documentary module. I fell in love with documentaries, both making and studying. After graduating, I did a 6 month filmmaking residency at the BFI before starting film school.

E: I had no idea documentary making could be a job, but borrowed a small video camera while I was on my year abroad in Paris, and got completely hooked, spending days wandering the streets filming things I came across. I loved capturing those little accidental moments.

G: I worked as a video journalist/blogger and camera operator, and found myself being introduced to amazing people with incredible stories that I knew could be something more than what I was doing. I’d watched more Buffy the Vampire Slayer than Maysles Brothers when I was growing up so had no idea about the creative possibilities of documentary, but my boss at the time started showing me documentaries and told me about the National Film School and that’s how it all started!

Magic & Musings:
When you started sharing your work with those around you, did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place?

A: It was really helpful to begin making films in academic environments – it meant that my audience size grew slowly – from classrooms, to lecture theatres, to cinemas and online releases.

E: I’m with Anna: film school did help with that. You get forced to show films, even at a rough stage to people, making it easier to overcome that kind of anxiety.

G: I agree with both Anna and Eleanor, but in another way I think self-doubt is normal and probably for me will be there forever. Each new film feels like starting again with all the self-doubt that is normal when you care about something, and that first time you show your work to someone is always terrifying.

Magic & Musings:
What advice would you give to female filmmakers attempting to start out in the industry?

A: Follow your instincts, make films about things you find interesting and keep going. Don’t try and be the person you think you should be, or make the films you think people want. That never works.

E: Yep!

G: Totally! And also surround yourself with people you like and who you want to support and will support you. Filmmaking can become all encompassing, so you want to make sure you enjoy it.

Magic & Musings:
What are some risks you’ve had to take with your career in order to get to where you are today?

A: Investing time and money in ideas to film some footage before any funders have shown interest. It usually works out!

E: Every film you start is a risk as there’s no safe way to get commissioned, but you just have to keep at it and try not to doubt. If you’re interested in something, you can make others interested too.

G: Another risk is that there are always many different routes you can take, and sometimes it's hard to know what’s the best one. It can feel risky to follow your instincts, but it always ends up being the best option.

Magic & Musings
Do you have a particular way of ‘getting in the zone’ when working? Like, a hot cup of coffee, some calming music?

A: Breaking down my list of things to do into manageable chunks each day. It means that I can just focus on the task in hand instead of feeling overwhelmed.

E: Having a little place to work, with things that inspire you on the walls. And tea. Lots of tea.

G: A walk to the studio and lots of music. Lots of Whitney Houston and En Vogue right now.



Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

A: I find it incredibly helpful to talk to colleagues and friends about your project, and show some footage. They can give fresh insight, good advice, and encouragement! I also find that treating my personal projects the same as my commercial projects (paying people to help me out, sticking to schedules and budgets) helps me to take them seriously.

E: I read things, watch things, and try not to get too frustrated with myself.

G: We all rarely let ourselves do this, but I know when I do it’s the thing that makes the biggest difference – taking a break. I always return after a break with new perspective and more clarity.

Magic & Musings:
Are there any female filmmakers currently that strike you as changing the way films are made about women/starring women in lead roles? Are there any that are using film, for example, in ways that accurately express female sexuality?

A: I really enjoyed Andrea Arnold’s American Honey. It follows a teenage girl called Star as she travels America with a bunch of kids selling magazines. It captures what it feels like to be a young female discovering the world. Also Maren Ade’s film Toni Erdmann, which explores a father/daughter relationship. I like how complex the daughter Ines is. A lot of films create a simplistic female role that exists in relation to a male character, but Ines is full and complicated person - likeable and dislikeable, strong and weak.

E: Chantal Ackerman is incredible, and so is Agnes Varda. Their female protagonists are women who refuse to fit into the box society has made for them.

G: Crystal Moselle who made The Wolfpack has made some beautiful shorts with young female skateboarders and dancers that gives a totally realistic perspective on female sexuality, and of course Celine Sciamma with Girlhood – that scene when they are singing Diamonds all together is one of the most personally recognisable scenes I’ve seen in recent cinema. But I’d love any recommendations on this, I love seeing films that accurately express female sexuality!

Magic & Musings:
Can you recommend everyone reading a book you’ve enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

A: I’ve recently finished Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole, which I really enjoyed.

E: There’s a book I’m reading called I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This by Nadja Spiegelman about three generations of women, which captures the complexities of mother-daughter relationships.

G: I’m currently reading a novel called the Art of Joy by Goliarda Sapienza which is actually about a female seductress! And it’s great. And listening to the new War on Drugs album which is wonderful. And I haven’t sat down and watched a film in a while because while I’m shooting I often don’t actually watch films, but I’m really excited about A Ghost Story which is coming out soon.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you all and your work? What’s on the horizon for Glow in the next few months?

A: We’ve all been working on independent projects over the summer, which will be released in the new year. Our website is www.glow-films.com or you can follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

G: Thank you for asking us the questions, it’s been really fun to think about this!

interview

Interview: Savana Ogburn on Colourful Photography, Calming Environments, and Tumblr as Inspiration

12:00 pm


Today's interview is with the absurdly talented photographer, Savana Ogburn, who creates fantastically fun and colourful images straight out of a fantasy world. She doesn't like to confine herself to one medium, finding inspiration online, and creating her own mood boards to get out of a creative rut. I absolutely love her series 'Identity Crisis', oozing some sort of twisted Hollywood glamour and garish shades. I could definitely see one hanging on my wall.

This will be my last interview of 2017, so have a happy and safe time surrounded by the ones you love and all of the best food! I'll be on hiatus at the beginning of 2018, but watch this space for new and shiny things for a new and shiny year...

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Savana! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, will you tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Savana Ogburn:
Thank YOU for having me on your site! I’m a 19-year-old artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. I work in a variety of mediums, but my favorites are photography, set design, and collage.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your photography in three words, what would they be?

Savana Ogburn:
Colorful, wacky, and fun.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into photography? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Savana Ogburn:
I first picked up a camera seriously at age 12 or 13 and quickly fell in love with the shooting/editing process. I was taking the stereotypical shots that most photographers take at first (streetlights, flowers, dogs, etc), but quickly realized that I really loved photographing people and creating worlds in my work. I took a couple of photo classes in high school which were helpful, and I’m currently working on a BFA in photography at SCAD. However, I did teach myself the basics of photography and post-processing before I ever took any classes (just saying this to make a point that it’s totally doable!).


Magic & Musings:
Did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place where you could share your photographs?

Savana Ogburn:
Honestly, I’ve been sharing my work from the get go. My family has always been very encouraging, so in the beginning I was sharing very freely on Facebook and Flickr, and continue to now on sites like Instagram and Tumblr. I’ll occasionally have a photo or two that I’m nervous to share for any number of reasons, but I think that’s pretty normal!

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your projects, which are you the happiest with and why?

Savana Ogburn:
I love Identity Crisis. It's an ongoing project, and I started it as a project for school earlier this year when a professor encouraged me to research Cindy Sherman after he saw some of my self portraiture. This was around the time that I was also starting to get into drag, so it seemed very natural to combine the interests and shoot some really wacky looks inspired by things I love! It’s a very freeing project to do because a lot of the time it’s just me in my bedroom putting on makeup at 1am and shooting self portraits. I love not being on a deadline and not having to answer to anyone (an editor, etc) with this project which also makes it fun for me.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying or non-binary artists and their work. Which photographers, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Savana Ogburn:
My favorite photographer of all time is Tim Walker - his work is what initially got me interested in set design and continues to be one of my biggest inspirations. I also love Cindy Sherman, clearly, and Cecil Beaton. I’m also obsessed with Andy Warhol’s photography as of late.


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Savana Ogburn:
Sure! I can’t work in a chaotic environment, so I like things to be relatively neat and quiet when I’m editing or planning shoots. I love choosing music to listen to while editing based on what I want the images to feel like- I always find myself listening to Florence and the Machine when I’m editing something on the moodier side, and I also tend to listen to a lot of Top 40 and like, club music when I’m editing at night and trying to stay awake.



Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Savana Ogburn:
I typically try to work through it! I’ll look through images that I love (I keep a Tumblr that I use as a running moodboard and to keep track of things that I like), make a moodboard, and start working on a concept. When that doesn’t work I like to print out photos (ones that I took or just images that I love), and cut them up and draw on them until I make something I like. I just try to allow myself to create freely and without worrying if the product will look good on my Instagram or whatever.

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Savana Ogburn:
I love reading when I can, I also like watching a couple TV shows (I’m a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway, as well as Parks and Rec, Broad City, 30 Rock, SNL, and shows in that vein). I’m also obsessed with my friends and love hanging out with them as much as possible.


Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised?

Savana Ogburn:
I have an agenda from Bando that is my literal everything. I always joke that it’s my external hard drive and that I don’t keep any information in my actual brain, but instead in the agenda. It keeps me super organized and helps me prioritize. I also have a steno notepad that I write down ideas, sketch, and plan shoots in. Both of those are always on me! Digitally, I have a few external hard drives that I use to backup and organize work and they are invaluable to me.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in a medium other than photography? Is this something you would consider in the future?

Savana Ogburn:
Yes! I make so much art and would hate to be confined to just one medium. Photography is the medium that I’m most comfortable in and love the most but I have a huge love for set design (sculpture, hi!), collage, and illustration (which I’ve dabbled in as well but am nowhere near being good at it!). I also love zines and they’re a huge part of my work as well.

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out as a photographer?

Savana Ogburn:
To not confine myself to a particular style. When I first started shooting seriously I was very into Flickr and the community of conceptual fine art photographers there (some of which I still keep up with and love), and when I would take a picture that didn’t fit the “moody fine art” look, I would disregard it even if it was a good picture. Which is really lame! I think it’s important to let yourself play in a variety of styles and mediums so that you can find what you really like doing.


Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Savana Ogburn:
I recently read David Sedaris’s Squirrel Seeking Chipmunk and it was hilarious and lighthearted, but also pertinent to what’s going on in the world right now. He’s my favorite author ever. I don’t watch movies very often, but I do listen to a lot of music—I’m currently loving Allie X’s CollXtion II as well as Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Magic & Musings:
I also really like David Sedaris, and Courtney Barnett is absolutely wonderful!
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? What’s on the horizon for you in the next few months?

Savana Ogburn:
My work is on www.savanaogburn.com as well as www.instagram.com/savanaogburn, and everything important is posted on those two pages. In the next few months, all of the work I’ve made this summer should be making its way out into the world (eeeep!), and I’m headed back to school so I’m sure there’s lots of fun new stuff to come. I’m excited!

interview

Interview: Chloe Hall on Freelance Illustration, Social Media Promotion, and Botanical Art

12:00 pm


Fun fact: Chloe and I went to the same university and graduated the same year, but we didn't find this out until the interview was well underway! She's now a freelance illustrator and pattern designer, creating gorgeous, fresh, botanical prints that ooze nature. We talk about many number of things, focusing a lot on books advising creatives on how to run their business, and on using social media to market yourself and your work.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Chloe! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do?

Chloe Hall:
That’s okay, thank you for asking me! My name is Chloe, I’m a freelance illustrator/pattern designer. I focus on nature and plants as my inspiration and create illustrations and prints which I apply to stationary items. I love the idea of bringing the outdoors inside through my illustrations and also touching on the benefits nature and being outdoors has on our wellbeing and health.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into illustration? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Chloe Hall:
I always remember being creative, and the only lessons I remember from primary school are the ones where you had to make things! I never knew I wanted to do this until a few months after I finished uni. I chose creative subjects throughout school, because I enjoyed them not because I thought this is what I would end up doing. I did Graphics and Illustration at De Montfort University and haven’t stopped drawing since.



Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your illustrations in three words, what would they be?

Chloe Hall:
Botanical, delicate, and fresh.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your illustrations online, and did you find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence?

Chloe Hall:
Yes! When you first start out you worry about what you share because you wonder if anyone will like it and whether it will suit your brand and online look. But once you’ve found your ‘thing’ people appreciate it and you worry less and just go for it. The longer you do it, the more you get a feel for what your followers and customers like.


Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Chloe Hall:
There’s so many! I love the work of Leah Goren, Porcelain Hope, Jackie Diedam, Camilla Perkins, Sew and Saunders, the list is endless. More locally to me, Rox of Studio NL has done an amazing job of bringing local creatives together at her Hustle meet ups, I have met so many talented ladies who are all running their own businesses.

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Chloe Hall:
Ooh this is tough, because I look back at my work and there’s always elements that I’m not 100 happy with! I really enjoyed creating the A5 minimal print series, as the illustrations are delicate and are all illustrations that are in patterns I’ve created.


Magic & Musings:
I’m interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done? A specific hot drink? A relaxing album?

Chloe Hall:
I work mostly at my little desk in my bedroom at the moment, I do have a shed that I used for a studio for a while, but I now tend to use this for storage and work in there occasionally. Normally I get my laptop up and running and put Spotify on. I have playlist’s on there that really help me get stuck into working, make myself a cuppa or a coffee, and start the day. I start my day by answering emails, then pack up orders, and then depending what work I have on, either work on commissions or create new work for my own products. I work part-time so I work in the evenings after work and then work all day on my two days off during the week. I also try my best to have most of the weekend off, I always end up doing bits and bobs in the evenings though, even if it’s just planning the week ahead.

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Chloe Hall:
If I get stuck, and feel like nothing’s going right I make sure I get outside and go for a walk. Nothing else works! Even if I stop and watch a film and just have a break I’m still thinking about why I can’t get any work done. I think when I’m outside and walking there’s so much to see I can’t think about anything else apart from walking and looking around.

Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your illustrations? Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Chloe Hall:
I love using fine liners, and mixing using water colours and gouache paints to create illustrations. The best books I’ve read so far for running your own business are:




Coming up Roses by Cath Kidston with Sue Chidler.


Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Chloe Hall:
Yes, definitely. Social media is such a great tool to promote your business as it’s free and you can connect with people all over the world in an instant. I started off using Twitter more, but then moved to Instagram as my main promotion tool and believe this has had a massive impact on my business. Instagram's algorithms didn’t phase me when they first introduced them, however I am starting to see a difference. You don’t see the things you used to see, for example many creatives used to post a good morning post which I would love reading every morning, but now I don’t always see them, unless I actively search for them, which does seem a shame. I won’t stop using Instagram in the same way, but it has made me think maybe it’s time to get back out there and meet people face to face and use different strategies to promote my brand. Also recently, I discovered that some of my patterns had been taken without my permission and were being sold on products on various websites by other artists, this definitely made me question how much I use the internet to promote my work and has made me wary of posting certain things in the future. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Chloe Hall:
It’s not going to happen overnight, so don’t worry when it doesn’t and don’t get disheartened when things don’t work out the way you had planned.

Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you’ve enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Chloe Hall:
Ooh...book would be Girl on the Train, I read it in less than a week. I haven’t watched a good film in ages, so I’ll have to go with a good documentary - anything that David Attenborough does! And song, I have been playing ‘Wicked Games - Tom Misch Remix - by Parra fo Cuva and Anna Naklab on repeat for ages now. 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Chloe Hall:
You can find out more about my work via my website and social media links below:


Twitter: @chloehalluk

interview

Interview: Araki Koman on Freelance Illustration and Design, Overcoming Perfectionism, and Some Creative Reads

12:00 pm


This is an interview I'm really, REALLY excited about. The wonderful Araki Koman is a French illustrator, living in London, creating gorgeous designs using character and simplicity. In this short interview we chat about perfectionism, her training to become a freelance illustrator and designer, and what books she would recommend someone trying to feel that creative spark. I think Araki is wonderful, and I know you will too.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Araki! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do?

Araki Koman:
Thanks for having me! My name is Araki Koman, I am a freelance illustrator and designer from Paris, currently working from London.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into art? Was it something that was important to you in your childhood?

Araki Koman:
Yes, I was constantly drawing during my childhood and knew all about Paris art and design schools as a teenager. As an introvert, it was a way to express myself and daydream. I would always invent characters, usually women, who were wearing my dream outfits or look how I wanted to be.


Magic & Musings:
Have you received any formal art or illustration training?

Araki Koman:
Not right away. After high school I did a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in marketing, and worked a year and a half in digital marketing in Paris. It’s only after that that I decided to follow my childhood dreams and embrace my creative side. At 24, I moved to London to study graphic design for one year at Shillington College. Thanks to that certificate degree, I got my first job as a graphic designer right after and from there I explored textile and fashion design, and ended up focusing on illustration few years later through personal projects. 

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female and non-binary artists and their work. Which artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Araki Koman:
There’s so many interesting female artists whose work I admire. Thanks to social media, especially Instagram, I get daily doses of inspiration from the women I follow. Those who inspire me the most and push me to express myself in different disciplines are Björk and Solange Knowles, but I am also a great fan of photography and absolutely love Sarah Moon, Carlota Guerrero, Viviane Sassen, and Nadine Ijewere’s work.


Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools to use to create your art?

Araki Koman:
I use the Muji pen 0.38 and the Faber Castell big brush felt tip pen. It has india ink inside, I love it!

Magic & Musings:
Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Araki Koman:

- Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

- Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon

Magic & Musings:
I watched an interview with you from Visual Interlude where you said you did not worry about being a perfectionist. What would you say to artists who struggle with perfectionism?

Araki Koman:
I am still struggling with it from time to time, but one thing I learned is that embracing the little imperfections in your work can give personality and depth to it. There’s something more human and organic about it that can create deeper connections with the public. I feel like letting go of trying to make something perfect can open doors to new avenues, which will be unique about you.


Magic & Musings:
What have been some of your favourite projects to work on? Of all of your illustrations, which are you happiest with and why?

Araki Koman:
I really enjoyed drawing the Global Couture series. In January 2017, I did one illustration a day, resulting in a collection of 31 drawings of women from 31 different countries and cultures. I really enjoyed researching and finally using my Pinterest board ‘Global Couture’ in which I have been collecting hundred of images of people wearing traditional outfits from around the world for years. I used those pictures as inspiration for the drawings. I loved it!

Magic & Musings:
I'm interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done?

Araki Koman:
It depends which task I am doing and in which season of my life I am in. When I am producing a lot of illustrations I like being in my home studio as it’s more intimate and I can easily be in the zone. However, when writing emails or dealing with invoices, working from coffee shops or libraries is totally fine. I love having a warm cup of chai latte and a Nujabes or Björk playlist in my earphones. 

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Araki Koman:
Going for a walk or doing anything that has nothing to do with art usually helps (washing the dishes or cooking for example) or even going to sleep. The key is not forcing inspiration to come. Starting projects close to deadlines is also a great catalyst to boost creativity but I wouldn’t recommend it all the time (laugh)… 


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Araki Koman:
There’s no one single way to be an artist. Create your own business model and career using the strengths and knowledge that you already have. 

Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Araki Koman:

Albums: Satori by Lex (de Khalex) 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Araki Koman:
Thanks for reading! If you want to keep in touch and discover my work you can find me on:


Instagram: @araki.koman