I’m fascinated with people who use their gifts to impact the world in unconventional ways. Sometimes we get distracted by the daily grind and forget to make space to create, search for new adventures, or live a life we will be proud to look back on.
I think it’s important to remind ourselves often of the amazing things happening around us. Sometimes for inspiration in a world where tough things are happening… and other times for a swift kick in the booty to motivate us to share our own gifts.
Your talent, perspective and unique way of putting whatcha do (and dig) out into the world is gifted only to you. Your gift back to the world is when you share that in any way you can.
Tony is going show you how he took a rut in his life and leveraged his budding interests in poetry and photographed into a self project that ended up changing more than just his own life… but 50,000+ people who now follow along with him on Instagram.
Kick Ass Case Study: Tony Ciampa (aka. @EmoLabs)
How A Boy Without A Face Found A Home In 50,000 Instagram Feeds
Earlier this year, I discovered Tony on Instagram. His handwritten poems photographed in front of sweeping landscapes quickly became a highlight in my feed.
For months, I never seen his face; only his palms paired with pretty flowers and handwritten love letters to the world. Ironically, he lives in my city and was photographing it in a way that I had never seen it before.
The movie-like moments in my own backyard reminded me that beauty is always around us if we slow down long enough to look for it. After a few months, I discovered Tony had a few different series.
#FOURPARTPOEMS: Handwritten poems photographed in front of sweeping landscapes.
… and #EATANDEXPLORE: where Tony grabs a good friend (or date) and finds somewhere scenic to set up a table and eat dinner.
I wanted to go behind-the-scenes and see who was behind this beautiful project and see if I could find out the story with this Instagram ninja. Here’s what I asked and Tony revealed. I hope something you find here leaves you lifted, enlightened or inspired to share your own gifts.
Not everything we do has to have a purpose… sometimes we need to do things just because we love them or they are therapeutic for us. You may be amazed at what you stumble into during the process.
Please Give Your Own Gifts In Your Own Way To The World,
Make Today The Day You’ll Tell Stories About
– Tony Ciampa –
[CLICK TO TWEET]
✔ How success is often found in tiny daily actions that aren’t always sexy.
✔ Why you must dive before you know what the hell you’re doing.
✔ Why you should strive make today the day you tell stories about.
✔ Art and creativity is a process that changes (and how flexibility is a part of all great art)
What’s the most challenging part of putting your art out into the world everyday?
That’s just it. Every day. When I started #fourpartpoems, I wrote one every single day and took a photo for 60 days straight. And it was 0-60 too, because I had never written poetry before that, save for high school english class. Now I put out a few each week instead of one every day. If I force them, the quality will go down and I don’t want that to happen.
If you were to sum up your mission when you wake up everyday in one sentence, what would it be?
Make today a day you will tell stories about. I just want to do really cool things that excite me. Granted, I can’t do it every day. That’s just life. Some days I do need to sit in the office all day, and some days I’m sick, etc. But that doesn’t mean it’s not my hope every day when I wake up.
Can you tell me more about “eat and explore?” How did it originate, how you choose your subjects, and what’s the process like for creating those experiences?
Eat and Explore came about around the time when I decided not to do #fourpartpoems every single day anymore. Before the poetry thing started, I did lots of things. I think I’m a pretty well rounded person. But then once the poems started to take off, that’s all anyone knew about me, and I didn’t want that to be the case. So I thought about the other things I enjoy in life and how I could share those experiences. The result was Eat and Explore, wherein I take someone, be it a good friend or a date, and we go find somewhere really scenic to set up a table and eat dinner. I always have the table and chairs and picnic basket in my truck, so it’s often times really spontaneous.
What is a misconception that people often have about you, your art or your life?
Everyone I’ve met since I started #fourpartpoems assumes some girl just destroyed my heart. Which I totally understand, given the content of what I write about. In reality, my longest relationship was four months, and even that ended amicably. Truth be told, most of what I write is observational. I like to ride my bike around town and watch people interact with one another. I can make up quick stories in my head about their relationship and that’s essentially my writing prompt.
What is something in your process or art that currently feels outside of your comfort zone but you are pushing toward it anyway? And how do you keep moving despite the fear or overwhelm you may feel?
I feel pretty comfortable with writing, but photography is not something I’m trained in. I think people may underestimate how hard it is to shoot at sunset when your subject (mine being a notebook) is always less than a foot away from the lens. When your focal point is that close, you really lose all the colors in the sky that are so far in the distance. I definitely have improved, but I have a long way to go to be at a place where I’m actually taking good photos, not just taking okay photos and making lots of edits to them.
What is the biggest challenge ahead for you and your art?
Where do I go next and how do I scale it. There are only so many ways I think that I can keep on expressing the same few emotions. #fourpartpoems probably has an expiration date. Maybe it’s 200 poems, maybe it’s 1,000 poems, but it will come. And I want to be ready with another idea that is equally as exciting to me.
When you look back at all the beautiful things and experiences this project has brought you, what are some of your favorite moments or memories?
Probably the best thing that happened is I went out every single day and found a place in Austin that I deemed “photo worthy.” When I started this project, I was really down on Austin as a city and this project encouraged me to leave my apartment every day and go exploring. Austin isn’t as naturally beautiful as most of the places I’ve lived, so it’s really really rewarding to spend a few hours exploring and find somewhere that makes you realize this city isn’t so bad after all. I would love to make an interactive map of all the “off the beaten path” places I’ve found so anyone could go there. Maybe I’ll do that.
There are a lot of other good memories though, besides just exploring. It’s been a great way to meet people, for one. I can walk up to just about anyone on the street and say “Hey can you hold this notebook real quick,” and they will. I’ve also had some run ins with the police for trespassing, and once we start talking and they see what I’m up to they start to laugh at how unthreatening I am. More often than not they’re extremely friendly and ask for my Instagram handle to show their kids.
And finally, what is one question you wish people would ask you about your project that you rarely talk about?
If someone would ask, “Hey, would you like a book deal?” that would be really cool.
UPDATE: You can pre-order Tony’s book here. Ask and the universe shall deliver 😉
TWEETABLE TAKEAWAYS ::
- Make today the day you’ll tell stories about (Click to Tweet)
- How A 22 Year Old Impacts 50K Instagram Feeds Every Week: (Click to Tweet)
- Slow down, beauty is all around you. A 22 year-old with 50K Followers Shows Us How (Click to Tweet)