Featured FindSpark Creative: Winston Struye

WStruyeAWinston Struye is a New York-based photographer and an Artist Teacher for Slideluck’s Youth Initiative Program. He navigates his endeavors with a positive outlook and a sense of humor.

Winston joined the FindSpark community when he first moved to New York City (from California and before that, Australia, where he went to college). He found advice, collaborators and opportunities. We’re so stoked to have him as a Featured FindSpark Creative!

Learn more about Winston and his work:

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What sets you apart from other young creatives?

Well to begin with, I’m a lot taller than most of them. But beyond that, I think my desire to reach out to every element of the story sets me apart from a lot of other creatives (in regards to how the viewer is going to see my work, interact with the content, and the direction they are going to read the story, as opposed to just setting a nice photograph on a white page). I’d like to dig a bit more in having the reader be more involved when they are moving their eyes through the content.

The “Snow Fall” story by the New York Times is a great example of this, but I think some print editorials, such as magazines like Monster Children or COLORS, also do an awesome job at letting the user be more involved in the content they are consuming.

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What is your proudest career moment (so far)?

Just over a year ago, I had a solo show in Melbourne, Australia. I went to university and developed a lot of amazing friendships, and had my solo exhibition there right before I left. I actually had my solo exhibition in the same week that my graduation folios were due, and the same week as my graduation group showing. All three of those projects were somewhat of a culmination of my amazing time in Melbourne, but particularly the solo show. I worked really hard on that show, and it was one of those goals that I really put my mind to it, and in the end, I made it happen and was really proud of the work I had in it.

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What’s something cool you’ve done recently?

The coolest thing I’ve been doing recently, I think, is teaching visual communication to a group of under-served youth in East New York with the Slideluck Youth Initiative. Last semester, I interned for SYI, and when the program expanded this semester, I was promoted to be a teacher.

It’s been really rewarding getting to know these kids and being able to be a catalyst in their creativity.

Slideluck is a global non-profit that brings together communities through art and food, and the Youth Initiative branch aims to empower young minds through the teaching of visual communication and photography. There is the class I teach is in East New York, and we’ve also got another class in Harlem. Teaching the kids has been both rewarding to me as a human and beneficial to me as a creative. It’s forced me to think deeper about my own creativity as I try to help others discover theirs.

The whole program is 12 weeks long, and I am still looking for volunteers, interns and guest lecturers! If you are interested, please contact me.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 2.23.09 PMThese photos are by A’Janee, one of Winston’s students in East New York.

What’s something new you’ve recently learned?

Since coming to New York, and largely with the help of FindSpark, I’ve really learned the importance of trudging through miserable weather (in both a literal and a figurative sense). Coming to NYC has really enforced upon me to never stop pushing towards your goal, and that when you get really tired or exhausted, you need to push even harder. That may be a cliche answer, but in the places that I’d lived before, Australia or Los Angeles, it was always easy to run away to the beach, the wilderness, or wherever, but living in New York City you’re just as confronted with your flaws as you are with your strengths. I think that’s the reason that New York City is such a great place to learn about yourself.

Where do you see yourself in in 5 years?

In 5 years time, I hope to be in a position where I am pushed to create and execute unique ideas, making a positive impact on the greater society around me, and to be sharing my work with people who both appreciate what I’ve done and drive me to continue doing it.  Most importantly for the the future though, I plan to never stop exploring, discovering, and learning, just as I am now.

What’s your favorite social media network and why?

Lately, I’ve been a huge fan of Instagram! It reminds me of being a kid and shooting on a disposable cameras, creating quick images that are only meant to be shared for a second or two. I find it keeps my mind active, because I’m always thinking about the next photo I want to post on there, forcing me to be always looking for photos.

What do you do to get inspired?

Go to a book store and get lost! There are few things I enjoy more than digging through magazines and books, consuming stories and ideas from all over the world, and holding that content in my hands (as opposed to scrolling though it on the web). Flipping through pages makes me think that someone else did a lot of work to get this work into my hands, and makes me think I better keep working hard to get my work into the hands of others!

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What’s been your favorite piece of career advice you’ve received?

A wall in my room is covered in post-it notes with inspirational quotes that I’ve found over the years, but I think my favorite piece of advice came from the speaker at my University Graduation. I don’t even remember who it was speaking to us, but I do remember that at one point in his speech, he said, “Isn’t it funny, that the harder we work, the luckier we seem to get?”

What’s your favorite part about being a FindSpark Member?

Community drives creativity and passion, and helps a lot with productivity too! And that’s exactly what FindSpark does for me. In addition, in a city where it’s easy to get intimidated by competition, FindSpark has been a great reference in helping me realize that I can still make something out of myself in the creative capital of the world.

Check out Winston’s work on his websitePaper Sea, follow his Instagram feed, send him a message on Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn

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