Go Ape Shit With Ari
By Emily Fernandez @1KoolKitten
Chris Arias @FoodEatsChris
Bobby Banks @BobbyBanks
So let’s just start off with an introduction, tell me about yourself, who you are and what you do?
My name is Arijan Dautaj, Ari for short. Most people know me as Ari the Ape. I’m a photographer in New York City and I do graphic design sometimes.
Alright, awesome, so you’re a pretty creative person, what would you say separates you from everyone else in your generation?
I’m indifferent towards the question. I don’t think I’m separated from my generation. I just base on my designs on real life scenarios. With my photography I try to capture raw scenes and emotion. With my graphic design I like to look back into my childhood for inspiration. Something else that inspires me is music, I like a lot of different artists. I like Key, he’s an atlanta based rapper who makes really nice trap shit. Kid Cudi, I mean of course, mainly because he’s ventured off into so many genres. I also like Beck, his cover arts are awesome, they really inspire me. Everytime I look at one, I’m speechless, like “damn.”
Cool, so now I know what inspires you, but I have a different question, you’re an art major, what exactly are you studying?
Photography is more of my hobby for I would say that’s more of a personal study. In school I’m studying Graphic Design. That’s basically learning how to use photoshop, to create your own designs, and really execute your vision.
Well, you probably know these majors are often frowned upon or shamed for so many reasons, what’s your opinion on this, on the direction education focus is heading in?
I don’t fuck with the education system, I hate it. I think the education system doesn’t promote creativity but that’s beginning to change. A lot of schools are getting rid of the grading system and changing it to an evaluation system. You basically get evaluated on how well you do in class, how well you keep up the work, how you think, and more. It was cool because you got greater insight on what you were good in. The system was called ICAPP. My school did this for a year.
How old were you when you started to realize you wanted to stray away from what was expected of you and do your own thing?
I was like 17. It was the summertime after graduating from high school and I had a choice to make, either go to John Jay study criminology and be stuck behind a desk working as a cop which I didn’t want to do, or just follow my creativity and do my own thing with my art. I used to get a lot of shit from my parents but not anymore because graphic design is a high paying job field right now, and they see that i’m taking it seriously and getting good grades.
So how do you encourage someone to follow their dreams?
Go with your heart. As cliche as it sounds that’s really all there is to it. Never agree with something just because somebody is telling you to. Everybody has a conscious and if it’s telling you what path to follow, go down that path. Just do what you want to do. Do you. Whatever your heart wants might even change, in 10 or 20 years. Some people will do graphic design for two years and then move on to something else. That’s the great thing about artists, we always want to learn more about art. We end up being master art wizards.
As artists we get a lot of negative feedback about how far we can get in life, how do you react when someone tells you that you can’t do what you want to do?
That’s their opinion. It’s not gonna affect my opinion. Fuck that. If it’s meant to be it’s meant to be and if you feel that you’re destined for greatness then great you will be. If not you then who?
What would you say motivates you?
It’s hard to find motivation, but as long as you stay determined you’ll look forward to what you do and I think just looking forward to something you want is motivating by itself. If you really want it than you can get it, you just have to work really hard because ain’t shit free and ain’t shit easy.
How can you be so sure you want this?
You can’t and that’s life’s biggest gamble. You never know what new thing you’re gonna stumble upon and want to do.
What are you contributing to society?
A vision of mine that I feel is great, and I hope to inspire people through my art and my photography. A lot of people tell me they like my art and photography, and I hope it invokes feelings of nostalgia inside them.
What’s your end goal?
To build and own a lot of art schools in other countries that don’t have access to them. Especially in my country, it was a communistic society, they’re very backwards and traditional and with my schools I hope I can break them away from that. I wouldn’t only teach art, I’d also teach english and other languages, basic math and science. I think you could make something like Trigonometry interesting if you had a good teacher, and that’ll be the hardest part. I’d probably have to interview them myself to make sure they’re good enough for my school.