Strong and Sensitive with LOUISA MENG



Meet the Chinese-American Creative building a world full of mesmerizing characters and stories that will make you feel hot and cold in the most harmonious ways possible. Addressing herself as a “new breed of Creative”, Louisa spoke to us about how she found the essence of her creativity within her roots after taking a fierce turn in her career and leaving her 9-to-5 job in business marketing to pursue freelance photography in LA. She already has clients like Ariana Grande and Madison Beer behind her, however Louisa’s future plans aim beyond just simply working with the top of the industry. She is onto creating her uniform direction and building an authentic team of like-minded Creatives that will help her translate the timeless values of Chinese culture from an Chinese-American perspective into photographs.



What is your story / background in the creative industry?


I was always interested in fashion and I was doing styling as kind of my way to stay connected with that passion but I realized that with styling I wasn’t really able to convey the kind of creative direction I really was passionate about - and I knew that was my end goal, to be the one directing the vision.


There’s actually a lot of things you have to unlearn coming from a business background. Things are very structured, there’s a way people do things. Once you're a Creative, especially in bigger industries like in LA or New York, there’s no blueprint. Everyone is kind of making it on their own and doing what they can. It was just a lot of trial and error at first.



CREATIVE PROCESS


What does your creative process look like and how do you think it will evolve in the near future?


My favorite artists are the ones who really become consistent with the team that they work with. I want to start a ‘uniform direction’. Lots of people think that might come from being the director but if I work with people who help me execute [my vision] then having the ideas is only winning half of the battle. It really does come down to finding a niche group of people that are aligned. For the direction that I want to reflect in my work - being an Chinese American living in LA - it’s especially hard to find [these people].


I have so many roots that stem from being raised by Chinese immigrant parents and Chinese culture but also this sense of making it my own, I really wanted to explore this through my work. I am really inspired by the energy that comes from Asia because it’s such a new and fast growing industry, so innovative but then so rooted in history.

My biggest challenge now is being aware of the people watching. I need to have as much control over what I am showing through my work as possible. I want it to not be influenced by money or commercials. Ideally, I would love to create a team in LA that shares my same cultural values in their creativity, doing things that people never see here.



What would you say is your signature style?

Someone pitched me for a pretty big job and they said this photographer, “she’s strong and sensitive”. I just want that to be the two words that describe me forever. That’s so true to my approach. I want them to feel a sense of like this is strong and powerful but it’s also very sensitive, soft and fluid, and you can’t really tell if it’s masculine or feminine, I love playing on those kinds of dichotomies. Other than that, I just want to represent my journey as a Chinese-American woman. American culture is a part of who I am, so I think [I am] kind of finding my niche within the beautiful art aspect of Asian works, but then [adding] the attitude of American culture.



VALUES /// PROBLEMS


What are three fundamental values that you would like to embrace throughout your career, that you pay special attention to during your work?


Duality.

Freedom.

Culture.


What are three relevant problems that you wish to solve or improve with the help of your work?


Consistency.

Alignment.

Longevity.



METAMORPHOSIS /// VISION


How do you incorporate experiences from everyday life into your work?

I am constantly thinking of the human experience and what shapes our reality. There is value in those stories and those ways of how people live. I’m learning the importance of how there needs to be some kind of a story based on truth. A lot of work is imitation and copying something. Even I’ve had to work on that urge of like ‘I see something and want to make something that looks like that’. I think that happens a lot because of how much we are exposed to imagery and visuals. What I noticed that feels the most authentic and has that longevity is when I am taking something from a very real story in my life, from a real place that other people will relate to because those are common things that we all go through.

I am in the process of starting a photo series of Chinese proverbs that my parents have always raised me on. My parents came to visit me out here [in LA] when I had my own apartment and I had started my freelance career as a photographer. To have that validation of them really believing in me and knowing that everything has paid off and all my decisions have become reality, that was a huge moment for me. They were even saying proverbs while they were here and we started having in-depth conversations about the proverbs, where they came from, how their family raised them, why they raised me a certain way and how that all connected to these cultural values of China. I was like, no, this has to be my first real project.



What is your biggest dream? And your nightmare?


I don’t like the idea of having one ultimate goal. I’m always thinking of the future of course but in the moment - this - this right now is a dream. If I ever get the biggest thing to happen to me I’m going to look back and be like, the journey it took me to get to that dream, is the dream. To work with friends, even the passion and the hunger to create is the biggest gift. Being curious, feeling like there’s never really an end... I would love to always feel like I’m growing and evolving. Having the ability to do so, that I think is my biggest dream.

My biggest nightmare is going back to a 9-to-5.



What is your definition of metamorphosis?


My metamorphosis is me going back to the beginning - realizing that my journey so far to so many places is only to come back to the beginning. Lot of other people might seem like having a huge moment of success, but you know, it’s all surface-level. What truly brings me a real sense of fulfillment and happiness is what I want to create on my own, the things I have held close to me for such a long time. That pursuit is going to take a way longer process, with people that are most likely still undiscovered or don’t have a platform, but those moments to me are so much more valuable.


This interview contributes to a new media format, where Creatives are in full control of their narratives. By exploring alternatives to narrative journalism, GAHSP starts unconventional conversations, emphasizing values and problems that shape our lives collectively.


Written and Edited by Julia Horvath

Image Courtesy of Louisa Meng