MGT's cover photographer. colourful world of Mikey Sin
By DREW Rowsome 12 October 2017
"It's human nature, for our eyes to naturally be drawn to colors and patterns. Kind of like bees being drawn to flowers," says photographer/fashion designer Mikey Sin. "Sometimes you don't understand it, but the attraction is there drawing us in. Sight, colour, sound and energy . . . it's all connected."
Sin's photographs explode with popping candy-coloured energy. And so does his fashion line. I had the great pleasure of working with Sin when he was a photographer for fab magazine. The assignment was a cover shoot featuring the designs of the fabulous Greta Constantine. It was a smooth shoot with spectacular results, so I was excited to hear that Sin was the cover photographer featured in the next issue of MGT, the digital magazine version of MyGayToronto.com. And it meant that Mikey and I got to catch up while I picked his brain about his dual artistic pursuits.
"I learned to sew at the age of eight, so creating fashion designs is something that I have always loved doing," says Sin. "As I got older, it became something I did in order to have something unique to wear." When he began getting requests from friends, Sin mulled starting a business. "Currently the label falls under my own name. But there is a specific name for the label that will launch with an online boutique in early 2018. Right now you can find some of my designs on my esty shop at etsy.com/shop/mikeysin."
The work is labour intensive so the pieces are often one-of-a-kinds. "I use old school techniques like hand beading and applying sequins one by one," says Sin. "The new and current designs are a mix between hand-printed silk screen images on shirts and fabric, and costume showpiece head pieces. I use conventional and unconventional materials including paper for the stage pieces. For the silk screen designs, I often use photographs that I have taken, images that are manipulated from pop culture, or just whatever is inspiring me at the moment."
The bright colours and humour of the pieces radiate a fun retro club kid vibe. "I get so much inspiration from the '80s and '90s," says Sin. "That's where it all began for me. My being a wild, creative child in the '80s, I would make costumes and props for school plays by hand. And for the five years in the '90s and early 2000s when I danced on Electric Circus. Being exposed to the club kid culture really opened my mind to being as creative as I can be. In high school I was also drawn to the Goths and alternative crowd because they were never afraid to play with style and be different. I mostly try to stay off-trend to create something different, but some trends turn out to be really inspiring - it's all about how I make it my own."
Inspiration MGT photo spread also came from a variety of sources. "The photos are based on the designs I created, locations in the city I love, and a bit of Halloween which is my all time favourite holiday. I was really trying to step outside my comfort zone. When I am planning a new shoot I always ask: what can I do that I haven't before? Push my limits further? It's like water, always moving, creating new shapes, never staying the same. I am very hands on when putting a photoshoot together, I do the producing, creative directing, location scouting, pull the wardrobe together . . . It can be very exhausting, so by the time the actual shoot arrives, I feed off of everyone's energy on set to give me that extra boost to get through the day. Everyone involved plays a part in the final product, it's a team effort."
The team effort also extends to the models. "I always use the personalities of the models that I chose," says Sin. "I always love using some of my favourite people, they really trust what I am doing, believe in my ideas, and really know how to embody the character with an infusion of who they really are. When there are new models I haven't worked with before, it can sometimes be tricky in the beginning, but I make the shoots really comfortable and fun, and try to get to know them a bit before working together. The best is when I find new models to add to the favourites that I have been photographing for years."
The MGT shoot went smoothly but Sin implies that there has been drama in the past. "I do love telling stories of what happened on set," says Sin. "There's always a story. So many crazy things happen, but it's part of the experience. I love to have someone filming behind the scenes, to capture what it's like to have a shoot with mikey SIN studios. You can see some of these on my YouTube page if you search '"Mikey Sin" or on my Facebook page "mikey SIN studios."
Sin also does commercial work and even weddings. The trick is meshing his own distinctive vision with the client's demands. "Having found my own style, it actually helps me get clients," he says. "What really draws them in, is my love for color. And I love to make the shoots fun, easy and memorable. I love my photos to speak for themselves. Whether they get it right way or have to look at it a few times to understand it."
The MGT shoot finished, what challenge does Mikey Sin now hope for? "My ultimate or fantasy shoot or fashion design is whatever I create next," he says. "And then whatever comes next after that. And so on. As long as I am able to be creative and creating. It really all comes down to the love of doing it. And the feeling that it gives me, it's magical."