I sat down with Zachary Bxllion, founder of ATTRACTIVE STRANGER, and talked about his experiences and values as an artist. Beware, there are plenty of gems. Enter at your own risk.🔞
Zachary Bxllion Founder/Creative Director of ATTRACTIVE STRANGER
Hometown: Buffalo, New York and Louisville, Kentucky
ZACH: So ATTRACTIVE STRANGER kind of started off as a fictional universe in my head. And it kind of came from, again, my passions. You know, I love art, not just art as a two dimensional word...But any time you look at art...You're really looking at a slice of a universe that probably exists elsewhere...another universe. I Always looked at Attractive Stranger as a universe that I was creating.
[ATTRACTIVE STRANGER] is something otherworldly, something very sensual, erotic...an expression in my life that I'm able to build a universe around.
Q: What inspired ATTRACTIVE STRANGER aesthetic?
ZACH: A few years ago I got really into 80s Revivalism, Synthwave, Retrowave etc. And I was just so inspired. But there was a gap. I'm ingesting all this content and reliving the 80s and 90s through film and through media. But of course, there was a severe lack of melanin...Like most things...our culture missed out on this golden era of cinema and media because once again, we were kept away from the tools.
Q: Tell me about your creative process during the early stages of ATTRACTIVE STRANGER.
ZACH: you know...any artist of course knows you just kind of take in what's happening, what's inspiring you...like what's really speaking to you...and you work off of that.
Unfortunately, my mom passed away last year and that definitely sent me down some type of 80s, 90s rabbit hole just trying to get back into that mode. And I think during that time, it was sort of like forcing myself to reconnect with my childhood. [it] helped expand the ATTRACTIVE STRANGER universe because there is so much inspiration to find in anybody's childhood, you know, because it's the basis of who you are.
Q: How has the recent world events affected your creative process?
ZACH: Honestly, the world events of 2020 have not affected my creative process for attractive strangers specifically.
But what has definitely changed a lot for me is that, if anything, I've almost dialed down on creating art and cranked up the heat on the business. I'm a creative entrepreneur and I take both of those words creative and entrepreneur as seriously as possible. And every day I'm learning more and more how to allow those two words to coexist, because it can be very hard to be an entrepreneur as a creative. 2020 made me put the entrepreneur hat back on.
Zach and I began talking about how black creators need access to capital. Zach expanded on his experience with having support from his community and how necessary that support is for any artist but especially black artists, if they have plans to elevate their platforms/artistry.
Q: Is there anything else you think black creatives need during this time?
ZACH: Outside of community support and access to capital, no. I don't think we need anything other than that..like just get out of my way. Let me do this. Let me create, you know. So it's the community support that supports that. If I'm making this art, or I'm making this content...making my movie...making my series or paintings and I know that my community is going to help amplify my voice [all I have to do is create]. So [it’s] just that idea of sticking together... we all need that.
Q: What are your short term goals for ATTRACTIVE STRANGER?
ZACH: We're in a space right now. I'm personally calling sort of a renaissance of black sexuality where a lot of things are becoming de-stigmatized and new conversations are being opened up. Our focus is on supporting this renaissance and highlighting the stories around it.
And I think a huge part of that comes from the #Metoo movement, where especially black women as a group stood up and said, ‘we're reclaiming autonomy over our body… and our story’
And they [began to] control the narrative around image and black bodies. That means if somebody interacts with me in a way that I don't like, I'm not going to not say anything. Now I'm going to ring the alarm. And I'm ringing the alarm not just for me, but for every other woman who is also dealing with this right now in the world.
That's why we're so inspired by the Fenty brand. It's about being sexy..but it's also about ownership. We just want to grow this universe and amplify those voices.
True or False Round
“Anybody can create culture shifting-dope art.”
ZACH: False. In our culture we have a saying where it's like ‘I got the juice.’...These large corporations and these social platforms and these record labels make it look like they’re creating dope stuff...like making great music and things like that, but they're just relying on data to create things that they know we’ll buy. They don't actually have the juice…you're born with it, it can't be taught. It can't be reproduced
“To be an artist is to be poor in finances and rich and inspiration”
ZACH: False. Totally false.
But, you know, often common. Very common. And that goes back to ownership. You know, I was able to sidestep a starving artist narrative from an early age, [and] from an early point in my career, purely because I also had an ownership mindset.
“You are only as good as the people around you”
ZACH: I'm going to say that that's true.
I experienced the success that I experienced because of the people around me and because they're willing to support me, because my peers are willing to support me, because my friends are willing to support me, because my classmates are willing to support me.
You can follow Zach on Instagram for more gems @Zacharybxllion