Meet the artist capturing his comfort-zone like none other

We catch up with a cutting-edge talent of today’s generation.

Tarique Al-Shabazz might seem just like any other teenager who enjoys having a Sunday pint with mates, attending that odd university lecture, and go to sporadic gigs. And in many ways, he tends to act as such. Though, if you took your time and probed a little deeper into his eclectic world, you’ll get to grasp that he preserves an utterly trailblazing vision, rich of “intimate craving fantasies” portrayed by exploring the medium of photography, used as an expressive gateway. The ground-breaking talent, currently residing in East London, moved from Liverpool around four years ago to study Design at Goldsmiths University. His loony time as an East Ender propelled him to set up his own brand, named Serique. Driven by the fitful behaviours of the British youth and individual interpretation, the brand core values hover around self-expression, freedom and confidence, marching forward an innovative movement, characterised by radical change across the modern-day social landscape. Serique celebrates this philosophy through a profound sense of intimacy, used to augment dialogue, collective empowerment and unity.

“Explore who you are sexually and express yourself without fear of judgement. A photograph has the ability to speak emotions, communicate and connect one another. The more photos we took, the more we became aware of this. It all began by creating stories through our visuals, stories that would not only represent ideas but that could also create a dialogue.” T. Al-Shabazz

What are the best words to describe your persona?

I’ve always taught myself to be hugely open-minded and confident. I feel like these qualities help a lot with the kind of work I do and are probably important for most people trying to reach their full potential. If you’re open-minded and confident, then you’re already building a healthier bond between yourself and the work you do.

Has creativity always been a catalyst during your lifetime?

Yes, however I think creativity is a catalyst for anyone doing anything in life (as cheesy as that sounds). I just feel like we use the words “creativity” and “creatives” as if not everyone is a creative. Creativity is the one thing that keeps us all interested in what we do. A person who wakes up and decides what clothes he wants to wear for that day, has already began their day creatively. We are all creatives and express creativity through countless outlets.

Talk us through your brand…

Serique is all about encouraging dialogue, empowering the youth and communicating unity. I want Serique to almost act like a fresh lens. Through Serique you’re given access to a different view and interpretation of the way our current culture behaves. It’s clear that we’re a generation seeking change. When you look at social media and examples like #freethenipple #blacklivesmatter #heforshe…we’re already demonstrating a capability to break the social norms which have been unwillingly constructed for us. Serique celebrates this movement by providing younger generations a base, from which they can further showcase moments and relationships that highlight the potential for unity amongst us.

When did it start and how has it developed?

It started perhaps two years ago. I was out with friends and I started photographing the types of behaviours that I thought represented a natural unity amongst our group. Since then, I’ve started taking photographs and designing my work to tell stories about more specific issues in the world.

Take me through your creative process…

I think about human behaviour a lot. There’s plenty of things I notice or experience daily that I’ll walk away from and then think about how to communicate them throughout my work. It’s interesting because even though my work comes from quite a personal place, the more I put it out there, the more I realise how together we all are. The fact that so many people can relate to what I talk about, encourages me to keep raising that sense of awareness. I think consciousness and the realisation that we’re not alone in our experiences, allows for an opportunity to communicate with and understand each other… which I think is critical for our progression.

“It’s become a vital culture in London and across the world, to use fashion, music and art as tools for our self-expression and self-identity. Serique is currently moving in a direction where we can contribute to these tools, by building our own brand from our attitude.”

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Name some of your biggest inspirations

I’m inspired by a lot of personalities. Even though I use photography as my current form of expression, most of my work right now is inspired by directors and writers (i.e Spike Jonze, Charlie Kaufman) and artists (Tyler the Creator or Asap Rocky). I find inspiration from the people I’m naturally interested in, whether they deal with the medium of work I use or not. A lot of people think I’m inspired by photographers because I practically deal with photography, but the truth is I’m not really aware of any photographers. I couldn’t name you more than two famous names *haha*. We need to stop categorising people into creative boxes because it causes a lot of pressure for us to work in a traditional manner. I think when you find inspiration from your natural interests, not only will your work becomes more unique, but you won’t struggle as much to be motivated: it’ll all become as a natural desire.

What’s next for you?

Imagine if your favourite night out and your favourite exhibition met each other and then started *fucking*. I’m currently working on the “intangible offspring of sexual encounters”. I would love to eventually start throwing these types of nights not just in London but all around the world!

  • words Chidozie Obasi
  • photography Tarique Al-Shabazz

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