CONNOR FRANTA

Connor Franta
Photographer: Michael Williams
Fashion Editor: Tiffani Williams
Grooming: Sacha Harford / NEXT Artists
Photo Assistant: Becky Siegel
Location: Dune Studios

(Interview follows photo series)

Jacket – H&M // Top & Shirt – Religion // Shoes – Gola

Jacket – H&M // Top and Short – Religion

Top – H&M // Jacket – WOOD HOUSE

Top – H&M // Jacket & Pant – WOOD HOUSE

Top – H&M // Jacket & Pant – WOOD HOUSE

Jacket & Pant – WOOD HOUSE

Jacket – H&M // Top & Shirt – Religion

INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
WRITER: KATINA GOULAKOS

We at Imagista got to speak with the lovely Connor Franta who uses YouTube as his instrument as his form of creative expression. Through YouTube, he managed to display an act of self-courage, which turned into an act of courage for others as well.

Imagista: How would you describe in a few sentences what you do?

Connor: Essentially, I am a creator. I am a creator of video content, design content and just overall content that I post online.

Imagista: How did you first get into this? Did you wake up one day and say I want to rule YouTube or was it something that happened organically?

Connor: I actually got into YouTube initially as just a viewer. I quickly became obsessed with the authentic, real stories coming out of YouTube and I was an avid watcher for several years. One day I was really bored to be frank, and I was like “well I really like YouTube videos why not try to make one myself” and the rest is history!

Imagista: Do you remember what the video was, and if you had received any feedback?

Connor: Honestly, it was just a webcam video of me talking about what was going on in that very moment, so it literally had no purpose. I posted it up at like ten o’clock that night and I remember just heavily refreshing the video because I wanted to see if anyone had watched it and when I woke up I had a comment, or two comments. That video in its whole lifetime probably got 100 views, so by no means did it get any attention.

Imagista: You loved YouTube and the cult around it, but what is it that kept you going? Do you view it as your own instrument at all?

Connor: Definitely, I used YouTube as a creative outlet, as a way to express my ideas with the world, whether they were simple or complex, they were still mine and everything I was creating was 100% me. I still use it till this day for that purpose and I think that’s kind of what keeps me going with YouTube is the fact that its whatever I want it to be, whatever I put on is up to me, I can put as much or as little into it as I want.

Imagista: In terms of actual content, are there any specific pieces that embody your spirit more than others or that you are more proud of?

Connor: Definitely, the projects that I feel most proud of are the ones that usually have the most thought and time put into them. I made a video called “Life Doesn’t Wait” which was a poetic video about how life doesn’t wait for you and to live in the now, not to live in the past or the future. I made a couple other videos like that called “More Than Just Words” and a more recent one called “New Year, New Me”, which are both poetry slam videos. But the actual most important video I ever made and put out, was my coming out video, because it had the most traction, the most purpose and the most point and people got the most out of it, I think.

Imagista: What gave you the inspiration to make that video? And were you afraid to do it?

Connor: For me, I grew up in the Midwest and I was in a culture where there weren’t a ton of openly gay people. Like being gay was something that you didn’t necessarily see everyday, so the LGBT community was more silent in the Midwest at the time. So for me, being a closeted boy, I went to the Internet to learn about the LGBT community and to see and hear peoples stories. So YouTube was a key part to my coming out process, it definitely fast-forwarded it for me in a way that made me accept myself a lot sooner than I think I would have than if I didn’t have YouTube. It was very important to me and I wanted to give back to the same community that helped me accept myself. The goal was not only to share that act about myself but also to hopefully help my decently sized audience at the time, if anyone was going through a similar struggle.

Imagista: What was your family’s reaction to the video?

Connor: I made the video after I had already come out to my family and close friends. Since I had this large internet of family in its own way, I felt a need to tell them this final detail, to be completely authentic and not have secrets with them. My family knew before the video, but they were incredibly emotional after the video because I think it gave them insight into what I was really going through. They were also incredibly proud that I was able to post that for so many people to see.

Imagista: Do you have any mentors who have helped you along your career or any YouTubers who have inspired you?

Connor: I haven’t had any direct mentors but as for people who have inspired me, a lot of my inspiration actually comes from people outside the community. It comes from people like Steve Jobs who was an innovative genius to Marina Abramović who looks at art in a different way putting herself and her emotions on the line. I look for people a little outside the community for inspiration.

Imagista: You got some other projects in the works, how recently did you launch common culture?

Connor: Its been a work in progress for the last year or so, but it was fully launched in 2016.

Imagista: Tell us about common culture, how did it come about and what direction do you see it moving in?

Connor: Common culture is a lifestyle brand that I have created over the past year and it has everything from music compilations, to clothing, to a coffee subscription service. It’s kind of evolved into this brand that curates and creates a culture of product of its own. I’ve been working on it for a long time and have put out four music compilations with up and coming musicians, the fifth one coming soon. For the clothing, we have had over a dozen products that we have been selling, all of which I have personally designed myself. Then the coffee subscription service came out this last month and it’s a bag and brand of coffee that I have designed myself with a bean that I hand selected and went through a huge tasting process to pick out the bean and when you order it, its delivered to you every two months.

Imagista: How do you find the musicians?

Connor: I focus on highlighting and spotlighting up and coming musicians or people who I think have incredible music that aren’t getting that much attention. There are a lot of up and comers that I think have potential to break and be huge artists and I find them everywhere from SoundCloud to Spotify and even YouTube.

Imagista: How would you describe your own musical taste?

Connor: It’s pretty varied to be honest, but a lot of the artists fall into the pop alternative genre.