There is this guy everyone wants to know more about. We have even been getting requests from people hoping we would manage to get into the mysterious mazes of Trevor Maingi’s mind and asking us to try. See, this Kenyan photographer is just kind of extra much not like anyone else. Most of the time you have no idea what is going on and what is coming, except that it is very trippy and that he really seems to like pizza cheese and bacon. We are not exactly sure what Trevor puts in his cheese and bacon, but it seems to bring out an aesthetic world we didn’t even know existed. It seems to be a spice called courage and mad talent. Meet Trevor Maingi, we know you want to.
How would you describe yourself to someone who is not familiar with you and your art?
TM: I really don’t think I would describe myself especially when it comes to me and my art. The question is how would you describe me through my art. I AM WHO YOU THINK I AM. I try to present myself through my art. Picture yourself sleeping on the ground staring at the clouds trying to figure out what a specific cloud looks like. One person will see a duck, the other will see a bunny. So when it comes down to art, my main mission is to let my art speak for myself and let people describe me through their eyes. How I want to perceive myself through my art. The answer lies in my art.
Has art always been a path that felt natural for you to pursue?
TM: I really don’t know. But somehow looking at where I am, I would say yes. Music has always been a way I can express my artsy self but again, I have never perfected my skill so I ask myself has it always been destined?
What character traits or mindsets/perspectives in you are most important to you as artist?
TM: I’d say experimenting is the mindset I’m always on. Out to see if curiosity really killed the cat.
What gives you confidence? And is personal confidence and creative confidence the same?
TM: Well, I’d say the thirst to create is my fix. I’d love to think of personal confidence as the root of everything. The rest (creative confidence) follows/depends on the first.
How does the creative climate of Nairobi influence you?
TM: It pushes me to be a better version of me. Blink and you lose.
Do you have a dream project?
TM: I have all kind of dreams but I get paralyzed because my expectations are high constantly asking myself, “will I meet them?”
What is the purpose of art?
TM: For me, it’s to escape reality and tap into my dreamscape. It’s how I get to express myself.
Where do you look for inspiration? What (or who) are your main sources of influence and inspiration? And when you feel uninspired, do you embrace the feeling or try to find inspiration?
TM: We, as unique individuals, draw our own inspiration from tons of different foundations and express ourselves in many different ways, through music, art, people, movies, anything. Inspiration is a reaction, similar to emotions. Point is, there’s always inspiration out there. Sometimes when I feel uninspired I will either try to embrace it or change how I perceive things.
If we would plan an exhibition with your work and I asked you where you want it to be and which other artist’s work would be exhibited – what would you say?
TM: The answer would be between a “Yes” and a “Can the earth swallow me now?” Sometimes I look at myself and know I can do better I believe that I still have lots I need to tap into. But yes, I would probably agree to it. The who and where is the mystery.
You love enigmas and mysteries. Why? : )
TJ: There’s something about mystery and keeping you on your toes. For me it keeps me ticking. The more the why’s the more happy I get. It’s like solving a Rubik’s cube.
Is there any other form of creative expression that you would like to explore?
TM: There is always a loop hole. If I can perfect both my drum skills and guitar skills, then I’d be a happy man.
You have just returned from a trip to Egypt and you have been sharing the most amazing photos from that. Beautiful landscapes, portraits of new friends, spiritual moments like hiking Mt Sinai. Tell us more about that trip?
TM: An opportunity presented itself and two thirsty adventure seekers grabbed it. This trip (6 weeks) has been one I’d call chasing the version of me I want to be. Learning how to glide in a road I haven’t been to. One friend (@Petersize10) and a whole country in my hands. I got to learn a tiny fraction of things about me I never knew and met strangers that ended up being family. I’ll probably share my experiences on my blog. Keep your eyes peeled.
I’m more of an impulse shooter and I really get trigger happy
making me getting lost in the moment.
If you could go anywhere to shoot next week, where would you go and who would you take with you?
TM: I want to take out my leash and run wild, go on a trip with no plans. It’s really sad how the “world” looks at Africa like a tragedy. Not saying I won’t go to other places if the opportunity presents itself, but I think I really want to explore Africa more, then head out. With who, well, that I don’t know. But I’d love to go on a trip alone. The experience of finding myself is something new. I opened Pandora’s Box and looks like I am trapped there.
What is beautiful?
TM: Does this get any harder than this? I really can’t place a finger on this. Have I seen it all? Felt it? Experienced it? I’d say It’s every pixel in color, being in awe, getting excited, a distortion of life, it’s being free. It’s the feeling of calm even when drowning in the unknown. WE ARE BEAUTY.
There are a lot of portraits in your gallery and one of the thing that strikes is that they are incredibly different and often have a super-natural relaxed vibe (and then there are some very crazy artsy detail-obsessed ones too). What is your secret? How do you make people feel comfortable in front of your camera and what is your goal with your portraits?
TM: Photography is a blessing with a curse to me. Having social anxiety, the camera has helped me break the physical and emotional barrier. Slowly as I started taking portraits, I realized that it’s a view of ourselves that we love to sell to the world and keep who we really are hidden. So my secret is making the both of us comfortable and getting to know the other person more.
Speaking of portraits, you and the Kenyan hip hop artist Octopizzo work together a lot with some very vibrant portraits as a result. Can you tell us a bit more about this collaboration? What is the creative shared plan you guys have for your work together?
TM: I met Octopizzo through Instagram, we decided to plan for a shoot and since then we’ve been working together. He comes up with the location, then I get to work my magic. The thing with him is he has an interesting style, so that’s a plus for me when it comes to working with people. With that said (our mission) he really has this vintage/old school feel so it’s basically a walk back in time.
What do you wish the world knew about Kenya?
TM: There’s a lot of untold stories. There is much more to all the negative the world see, a hidden beauty one can only experience for and by themselves.
How would you spend a perfect weekend in Nairobi?
TM: The perfect weekend would be lost in the wild.
Last question. Why do you love doing what you do?
TM: Photography has helped me break out of my cocoon.
Thank you so much Trevor for sharing your thoughts and mysteries with us. Keep taking us with you on trippy mind travels, please.