With Friends: William Yan

This is the inaugural featured friend for my website. Will Yan is a life long New Yorker, an amazing photographer and someone I always try to catch up with in NYC. This past trip we got to eat some Regina’s Grocery and talk:

B - Do you remember where we met?

W - I’m bad with that. Was it at a party?

B - Yes. Nepenthes. We talked sneakers.

W - But I had heard of you before, maybe from my friend Marcus Troy?

B - I met him at a popup in MN so could be.

W - Yeah somehow you and your belts came up. Parties like that were how you met people not the internet.

B - For sure. That was like 7 years ago. I feel like people were more into going to parties, hangin out at the Ace and shit. The group that came up then actually seemed to like spending time together.

W - Now people to cool to hang just to hang.

B - What’s new with you? You just did that show for XLarge?  I know you hate talking about yourself but…

W - I HATE talking about myself! I’m doing nothing! People should be ok with taking time off . Ask the hard questions about what makes you happy. The XLarge show came about through a friend who was doing creative direction with them. I shot my part of the show all on my iPhone. I shot XLarge pieces on real people keeping it kinda old school because that’s what Xlarge is. I wanted to keep it real, a lot of people are lost about real is.

B - EXACTLY! I rant about that all the time. Back in the day you had to decide what was cool for your fucking self. you couldn’t consult Instagram or the internet.

W - Now your checking sites, IG an everything else to see who’s wearing what so you’re cool.

B - So if everybody’s cool is anybody?

W - No! You gotta say fuck it. Shit comes around in circles. In the end you need to support brands that you share something with. That make you feel a certain way.

B - I feel like everyone thinks they’re a designer now. You have an entry level job say at JCrew and someone asks your opinions about buttons. Now your bio says “designed at JCrew”

W - I’m a designer! Somebody cut me a check! To me it’s the same with titles. I take pictures but I don’t call myself a photographer. I paint some, I don’t call myself an artist. I used to write on some walls. Am I a graffiti artist? All those things and more fuels my creativity. Who care about the titles make cool shit!

B - Yes! I think one the reasons we’ve become friends is that we both want to make cool shit without worrying first if we can monetize it. In the end I just want to hit shit with a hammer and hope my friends like it.

W - Great way to approach life, just hit things with a hammer. You need to ask what really makes you happy. Social media gets people lost by comparing what they do or where they go to other people. Thats one of the turnoffs knowing influencers, maybe being one at some point. Its like teenagers game comparing yourself to others. Fashion feels very high school lately and its a turnoff.

B - Amen. let’s get back to you. What else are you up to?

W - Nothing.

B - Well what about old things? Like who was the big name you shot awhile.

W - Nobody.

B - C’mon

W - It was Oscar De Lar Renta. But that was a long time ago.

B - The reason that sticks with me is your humility. A lot of photographers we know would work that in with there pizza order.

W - Maybe when I was younger I was more like that. But now I just want let my work come out on its own.

B - You also are known for your early picks of...

W - You gonna make talk Kanye? We aren’t best friends or anything. But some people just know me from those photos. When he wore suits, his Rosewood era.

B - They gonna haunt you forever.

B - Any advice to the kids on the come up?

W - Be everything and nothing. Listen to Bruce Lee, be like water. Read books and stay off social media some.

B - Ok i’m gonna force a weird segue, have you ever used one of my belts for something other than holding up your pants?

W - HA. No stays around my waist!

B - Well if you were going to be creative what would you use it for?

W - Oh man, I don’t know maybe hand ties?

B - Haha ok I’ll move on.

B - This is where I pay the bills. What piece(s) should folks go purchase right now.

W - So much good stuff. I’d stay with the classics. A sterling cuff, definitely belts.

B - Any particular belt?

W - Love that black nappy suede.

B - For sure , I love it paired with burnt nickel buckle.

W - so good.

B - Thanks for helping me launch my first ever website, now lets grab some beers.

William YanWilliam Yan