Portraits and interview by Kristin Gladney.
Q&A With Khadijat Oseni:
Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Khadijat Oseni, aka KO, and I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I suffer from jetsetter problems and have a heavy addiction to passport stamps (laughs!). In all seriousness, I’m a true urban nomad in the sense of the word as being nomadic is in my genes. Just tracking where I was born and raised is a mini-geography lesson in itself! Was born in California, lived in Nigeria until I was about 10 years old and have hailed from Brooklyn ever since, excluding the one time I decided to live in Australia for about half a year. I naturally have a roaming spirit with a thirst for learning and adapting to different experiences and environments.
How does travel inspire creativity?
Travel eliminates the barrier of a comfort zone therefore shifting and expanding your perspective of yourself, how you view the world as well as how you interact with others around you. Everyone always has a travel story that would have never been able to replicate itself in their “real lives” so traveling is like living in a waking dream state that pushes you to face yourself (both positively and negatively) in a limited suspended space. Depending on how you choose to travel, whether taking a vacation or a trip (there is a big difference between these two), it can either offer a creative pause to quiet the mind, recharge your energy and emotional levels in order to dive right back into your daily routine or travel can invigorate and heighten all your senses in a manner you’ve never experienced before, therefore shattering your entire perception of how you actively view everything in front of you thus completely resetting your priorities in life. You can gain as much or as little as you invest into your journeys as with anything in life and the unknown elements and levels of sensitivity you experience physically, mentally and emotionally when you step out into a new environment is always inspiring in itself. My simple formula: movement =energy=creativity!! (laughs).
How do you describe your self as a creative and the kind of work you do?
I’m a cultural critic & cultivator, writer, curator, connector, problem solver, lover, molder, maker, producer and rule breaker. I don’t invest in titles so much as ideas and people. With the solid combination of a great idea and a core group of people that are crazy enough to subscribe to its potential and impact, there is ample opportunity to create, grow and be reverent. The type of work that I do will always be about cultural preservation for everyday consumption.
You recently left your job as a photographers’ agent at Stockland Martel Inc. What does this job entail? Why did you leave?
Being a photographers’ agent is a very special role and it’s a bit of a secret society because on the surface of observing the business, the average individual doesn’t even know that such a role exists unless you’re in the thick of working within it. Unlike other major creative businesses where advisory roles are divided amongst managers, agents, publicists, sales/marketing executives, producers and so on and so forth, as a photo agent, you wear all those hats and then some including shotgun rider & therapist. What I would say to anyone with the least amount of interest in this role is, it is a lot of fun if you truly love what you do; but can also be an insurmountable amount of pressure if you’re not fluid enough in your thinking, so constantly flex your creative muscles. The best sales people are the ones that are constantly moving on their feet and thrive under pressure.
Despite how much I loved my work as an agent, as well as everyone that I worked with during my time, I decided to transition on because I simply discovered after almost 7 years that it is not my life’s work and I still have unfinished business with some of my other skill sets. May not be as sexy of a story but I’m a gal that’s in it for the long haul (laughs). I found the right opportunity to take a creative break to explore and experiment without boundaries, not many can or are willing to place themselves in such a high-risk position but I damn sure am enjoying the ride and life in general! Creation is about fluidity, movement and energy; you cannot create if you are not moved to change and that relentless aspect brings you pleasure, it’s as simple as that! I would love for everyone to refrain from calling my renaissance an “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure, it’s more of a badass Western set to Jimi Hendrix’s “Stone Free” or Betty Davis’ “They Say I’m Different” thank you very much! (laughs).
What are your plans for the future?
My immediate future plans are to travel and continue to document my perspective of the world thus far via blogging through my “Jetsetter Problems“ platforms on Instagram and Tumblr. Travel is what I’m most passionate about, has always influenced my creative process as well as strengthened my ability to relate to various people. I’ve been blessed to have stepped foot on all our continents except Antarctica which is on my list as well! There is still a lot of mental preparation involved for that trip. While I am not on the road, I plan on expanding my knowledge of social media and digital strategy as a story-telling medium, which inherently is THE world we live in and now serves as our collective unconscious in many respects. As far as career-wise, I have become increasingly fascinated by lifestyle branding and can easily see myself falling into this niche once I emerge from my creative hiatus.
How did you get to where you are today? What has been your career path?
I got to where I am today, which importantly still isn’t a point of arrival and in my opinion will never traditionally be such, by merely not being afraid to end up in the wrong direction. It has been a balanced diet of hard work, dedication, being open and honest with myself, as well as maintaining a healthy dose of humor along the way. My career path has been a beautiful, varied mix of internships, mentorships and salary work in music, photography and the arts ranging from talent scouting, photo & copy editing, artist management, event coordinating and arts-based NGO work.
How did you figured out your path thus far? Was there anything thing or anyone in particular that influenced your life, therefore gave you direction?
As cheesy as it may sound, I have always been able to figure out my path by following my heart and intuition. It’s the plain simple truth that is elusive and can’t be bottled up but always yields a 100% of a positive result. As a creative, it is always important to align yourself with progressive thinkers who are passionate about what it is that they do and remain open and humble to seeing every task you take on, big or small, as a learning experience because this is the genesis of building character and longevity. Some of the best advice I have ever received as well as the career opportunities that have paved my path thus far have spawned from the most unlikely encounters, just genuinely listening & connecting with people and being present in the moment.
What does living a creative life mean to you?
Living a creative life means having the freedom to be open to your inner child-like mind of just sheer curiosity of figuring out how objects and emotions work together on a basic level from the birth of an idea/feeling to the eventual relevance the result has to the human eye/mind and getting to deconstruct and reconstruct this medium over and over again in different forms in order to curb from reaching the point of boredom. It means wanting to ask along with also wanting to experience why things feel, smell, taste, sound, look a certain way and why you and others have a connected, visceral reaction to them on a subconscious level.
What are you currently working on?
I’m beginning to open up my years of experience in numerous fields as a creative consultant currently on a special case-by-case basis, working on starting to blog my travel adventures for fun during my creative hiatus along with also collaborating with a couple of artists in various mediums that include but are not limited to photography and textile design. Lots of experimenting in the works and it’s all been fun so far.
Describe your style.
In terms of fashion, I’m definitely a mood dresser so the color palettes, patterns and textures I wear on any given day are guided by my headspace in the morning. Apparently today I decided to roll out of bed as an urban peacock! (laughs) My style is also influenced by my travels, music, art, and general cultural environment. Vintage naturally falls under this umbrella and I’m usually drawn to fusing unusual colors and patterns together in a classic yet edgy manner. As far as my business style goes, as the title of one of my favorite musical compositions by Thelonious Monk reads, “Straight, No Chaser”!
Any aspirations? Something you’ve always wanted to do or someone you’ve wanted to collaborate with or a dream client or dream assignment?
Hmmm right off the heels of discussing travel, a dream assignment would be to go on a street food tour in Asia with Anthony Bourdain…that would be epic! We’re still dreaming right?! (laughs)
An aspiration of mine would be to align myself in a mentorship role through my next career hat that empowers young people to travel at least just once in their lives as a means of self-discovery. I’m still amazed by how many people I know that have never owned a passport in their lives.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
One of my favorite creative routines is to simply rest my mind between headphones and drown inside a tune. It’s a great way of grounding the concept that not all passing thoughts need to be caught, if they get lost, it simply wasn’t part of the melody.
Any interesting stories about the work you’ve done or an experience you’ve had?
The most interesting experiences that I’ve had thus far have come from being about to meet and work alongside some of the great minds that I studied in history books and that helped influence my love of the arts. It makes everything come full circle. One of my fondest memories was the time I had the honor of meeting the master photographer, Irving Penn during my college days as an intern in the visuals department at The New Yorker. I was entrusted to head down to his studio to receive and deliver one of his noted, original prints. Expecting to pick up and sign off from a prime gatekeeper, out comes Mr. Penn himself along with his assistant to personally hand over his valuable print to me. He shook my hand as if I was an equal even though I was an intern and graciously and gently introduced himself and offered to get me a cab to complete my delivery. That meant everything and still does till this day not only because he was/is one of my creative heroes, the moment was especially potent since I was not bearing a “title” demanding that level of respect yet received it nonetheless.
How do you define success? What has helped you to become successful?
Success means understanding that the act of succeeding is a transient process that constantly needs to be reworked. Therefore, failure in some form or another, is always a natural reality within this equation. Those who are successful over a sustained period of time are people that are not really concerned about failing, are crazy enough to actually invite fear into their space, take risks and enjoy the process of feeling uncomfortable in the hopes of an unimaginable height/outcome. It’s spirited, trained endurance and hard work towards an unmarked finish line.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Try not to lose sight of nurturing your inner light throughout the process of whatever it is that you do. At the end of the day, you want to enjoy the person you have become as well as your output. Time neither speeds up nor waits for anybody so move at your own pace, if you’re shifting with energy that is authentic to you, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be so just keep your rules simple on the road- quality over quantity always wins and people matter.
Would you like me to provide a link to your website and/ or blog?
Sure, come along for the wacky ride! I will be tracking my upcoming adventures as well as lamenting about previous ones pretty much daily on Instagram (@jetsetterproblems) and sporadically via Tumblr at http://jetsetterproblemsworld.tumblr.com/. I also have a fun, freeform, creative mood board space on Facebook called KO: https://www.facebook.com/setsailwithko. I may be shifting its focus soon though, we shall see!