Diane Abapo — I couldn’t have met anyone as sweet as her! How we linked up was through my really good friend Leslie Corpuz founder of THE NBTWN been doing her hair for 3 years now, changing different vibrant fun colors. With Diane being a photographer and Leslie being a stylist I knew all of us would create a BADASS picture. I’ve always been into photography, Graphic and Web Design, I went to school for a couple basic classes in all three so watching photographers shoot is so inspiring. Diane and I collaborated on a shoot together back in November, and the rest was history we will forever be friends!
Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Orange County, California, Diane Abapo’s early fascination with cinema, art, and portraiture is prevalent in her ongoing work. As an editorial assistant to former Flaunt Magazine President, Keith Jacobs, Diane’s exposure in the publication industry while still attending University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) led to her interning for celebrity photographer, Michael Muller in the mid-2000’s. Her formative years at Flaunt and assisting the studio of Michael Muller proved to be essential as she then started her own independent bi-annual print publication known as SUSPEND Magazine in 2011. Today, Diane has shot with clients such as Zooshoo, NEXT Models, LA Models, and noted artists such as Warm Brew, Alexander Spit, Garth Trinidad of KCRW, and most recently – Miss Lawn, the Co-Founder/Creative Director of street-wear brand, HLZBLZ. Diane orchestrates industry mixers and has curated events with The Rooftop at The Standard Hotel (Los Angeles), Mauro’s Cafe at Fred Segal, and more. She currently resides in Los Angeles where she operates from a studio loft in Downtown and serves as the Editor-in-Chief of SUSPEND Magazine, which she also photographs editorials and features for.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Diane, I was curious to know what goals she had, biggest challenges, how to be successful, and what advice she had for aspiring artists trying to be the next shot in the industry.
How did you get into the Photography / Art industry? It was after a huge “failure” actually – although looking back on it now, I’m glad it happened – I was rejected from UCLA’s Design Media Arts Program while getting my Bachelor’s Degree and it was a huge blow to my ego because all throughout high school I had thought of myself as a creative person. Cartoon Editor for the high school newspaper, had my own t-shirt clothing line that I ran out of my parents’ kitchen… I thought I was hot shit.
And then at UCLA, my whole bubble of confidence imploded and I realized there were double-major students who could paint masterpieces and construct complex art installations with their eyes closed. I decided to start interning while at UCLA and I sought a creative outlet outside of a college campus. Since UCLA is located in Bel-Air, I started driving and exploring every pocket of Los Angeles… I ended up landing an editorial internship at Flaunt and that magazine really opened my eyes to the Fashion / Art industry in Los Angeles, and I became hooked. My eye has always been drawn to editorial photography even at a young age sifting through magazines at my grandma’s house by USC. I just didn’t know they were called editorials. I wanted to take those photos of the full-page fashion ad campaigns. So I just started shooting.
What is your biggest challenge with other competition?
I don’t really like to refer to other publications as competition because, in actuality, magazines are a huge source of escapism for me and I appreciate anyone who can adhere to the hurdles, challenges, and deadlines faced with maintaining a magazine. I applaud other magazines that still strive to exist in print. Seeing a barrage of new magazine titles at any newsstand I walk by is an immediate rush.
What would be your goal within the next five years?
I want to own a small place in Los Angeles and not have to pay for rent every month (practical goal). From an editor’s standpoint, I would of course hope to magnify SUSPEND Magazine’s readership by a truckload and hope that we are visible enough in the U.S. and other countries where I can then just travel, shoot, and eat for a living – but I’m pretty sure that’s everyone’s generic 5-year goal.
With this magazine being your sixth issue, what do you change or get inspiration from to make each issue better than the last?
I’m still so young in the publication game that every issue we put out feels like I’ve landed myself at a new notch of a ladder each time. There are so many early mistakes I made when I came out with our first print issue and I constantly battle between inserting more fashion editorials and more interviews with artists and brands, that I forget the budget constraints of not being able to print a 250+ page edition in a short limited run. I’ve learned to concise everything.
What advice would you give to other artists coming into the Photography / Magazine Publishing industry?
Have a business plan. Make a budget. Learn how to make spreadsheets. Don’t let your creative spirit overrule your business knowhow. Learn how to negotiate rates, and communicate clearly with anyone you choose to collaborate or partner with. Listen, don’t interrupt. It’s okay to clarify things you are unsure of. Ask questions. Stay curious. Do your research. Admire the History that has already existed and lives in the local library, or online, or in old books and periodicals. Trust your instincts. Always carry your camera. Bring spare batteries. Take care of your wrists.
Congrats Diane on Suspend Mag Issue06
coming #ONTHEBLOG next…