Cooler Folio: Aza Shade

Next up in our Cooler Folio series, where we find out what our image makers – the photographers, stylists, hair and makeup people, set designers and illustrators – get up to when they’re not working for Cooler, is Aza Shade. Aza shot our current cover, has modelled for us and shot lots of other fashion and documentary style stories for Cooler, illustrated our last cover, paints, has a band, makes videos, oh yeah and she’ll be exhibiting at the Venice Biennale this year, one of the biggest international contemporary art exhibitions ever.

interview by Britta Burger

You are a multidisciplinary artist, do you think some people are just born artists and can therefore take pictures, paint, do illustrations, make videos, write songs and have a band?

No I don’t believe anyone’s been born to be just be good at and do anything. It takes time and interest.

Some artists say it’s all about concentrating on one thing, becoming technically really good at it and basically being total experts. Do they have a point?

Yes they do, I am looking for the same thing. But then, to be able to find that one thing you shouldn’t really be concentrating just on this one thing. Only when you start to develop it within other things then yeah, I think you should read deep into that. But being total experts is boring and will lead you to nothing, well it all depends on what you do, in some cases technical skill matters, in others it doesn’t.

You do quite a lot of self portraits, why are you into them?

Sometimes when I am at home and bored and it’s too late to ring up girls who’d model, I do it myself.

How come you have a different look almost every time I see you?

I don’t like having just one look all the time. It usually depends on my mood, how I feel and what music I’ve been listening to, or what film I watched last night, and everything all together.

Is London the best possible place for an artist to be right now or would you rather be somewhere else?

I’d rather go explore the USA. Really want to check out NYC. London is definitely the best place for creatives and to find interesting things and people. But I’ve been very bored recently so I want a change of scenery. 

Does the place you live and the people you meet there influence your work a lot?

In some ways yes. But most of my inspiration comes from words, films, music, paintings, pretty much everything. But then I haven’t found my muse yet. 

Which places have influenced you most?

I haven’t travelled much. But my home countries Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are very bold and there’re so many things to look at and be inspired by.

In your new Manflu video you have two Japanese bondage style tied up women next to you, are you a fan of Araki?

Yes, I love his images. I just like to look at them and don’t really have another reason why I like them.

Why are sex and violence so closely related in some of your work?

Violence? I have no violence in my work. Or yeah, if you mean the tied up girls in the video, I guess they represent violence a bit, but it’s just an image, nothing deeply violet behind that idea.

Check out the video to make up your own mind here.

I took pictures of you skating on a roof this summer, do you also surf or snowboard?

I used to snowboard in Kyrgyzstan. I prefer snowboarding because of the mountains, the air, the snow and nature.

What was it like shooting Jess Kimura for our latest cover?

It was fun, really glad I’ve meet Jess Kimura. I love meeting badass people.

Who are your favourite models?

You mean fashion models? I don’t have one. But I’d really love to shoot Leelee Sobieski.

What would be your favourite location?

Russian bazaar (food market).

You told me you wrote a surfer song a while ago, what’s it about?

It’s about surfers taking acid and then surfing while they are tripping and then obviously drowning and dying.

“But then it’s all started, started, started being a mess.
They were all screaming, laughing and tripping on those waves.
It was pretty scary. It was kind of dark.
And those waves felt like teeth trying to bite them.”


On a more positive note, here’s a little gallery with a selection of shoots Aza did for Cooler.

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