The rise of Instagram and one-tap photo editing tools have made it painfully simple for anyone with an iPhone to call themselves a photographer. But few have materialized the finnese-ability of the Internet into a full-time position at RSVP Gallery’s creative department, a portfolio of music videos for Lucki Eck$ and Leather Corduroys, and tours with Vic Mensa as his right-hand cameraman.
Meet Jake Osmun, the 20-year-old Chicago transplant who’s done all of the above and then some. He handles most of Vic’s visuals, has snapped backstage shots of Lil B and Jaden Smith, and directed a number of impressive editorials through RSVP.
Before he can legally drink, Osmun’s smart utilization of resources has allowed him the life of his dreams, and now, his overriding goals are to craft time-defining work, openly communicate with aspiring creatives, and spotlight the power of youth.
How did you start working with Vic Mensa?
I listen to Vic’s music a lot, and have before moving to Chicago. When I came to Chicago, no one really knew who I was, so I had to build myself up and meet as many people as I could. The first time I met Vic was after a meet and greet around when Innanetape dropped, but we didn’t end up connecting until later, it really just fell into place and came naturally. I think because of just how we work, it meshes well.
What’s your relationship like?
The biggest thing that brought us together was that we’re both kids. We’re part of this next generation of people that want to change mindsets and be more forward-thinking about society.
How do you want to be recognized?
As a creative. I think it’s difficult to be recognized as more than just a photographer because people always try to box others into a certain lane. I started doing videos, and once I started working at RSVP I gained more respect and understanding for clothes, fit, design, colors, and all that. I’ve started to dip my hand in that, but people will still recognize me as a director or photographer. It all comes with time.
Which one of these channels is most rewarding?
What I love most about all of my creative work is getting to know an artist and making myself a part of their creative environment, being comfortable with sharing ideas and growing. It makes for a much better product when you know a person on a real level. Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had have been while working on something with an artist or at the galleries I’ve had in a few different cities. It’s really fulfilling to meet people and get respect in a different situation than just the internet.
When you work with different artists on projects, how difficult is it for you to mold your style around their varying personalities?
I don’t think it's that difficult. First it's about learning about the individual and how they work and create. I’ve worked with a lot of different artists, and the only way to make it work is to be yourself. You just need to be a regular person because they’re just regular people, too. Stay true to yourself and other people will understand that and respect you.
How has your content changed as you’ve amassed a following?
I’ve been focusing on growing as a person and an artist, just like anyone. Twitter is a big outlet for me. I try my best to inspire other kids. I always welcome kids to email me to reach out with ideas, for advice, or just to talk. When I first started, I loved talking to artists whose work I followed, so I think having that communication is really important.
In general, if you were to give one piece of advice to someone who may want to be in a similar position as you, what would you say?
You just can’t give up, ever. People are always going to try to bring you down in some way, doubt you, whatever. You just really have to commit and dedicate all of your time and energy. If you were an athlete, you’d practice every day to get better; it’s the same thing. You can’t just say you’re something and not do it. It’s about being 100% committed and going the extra mile. Being nice also goes a really, really long way. A lot of good things will come to you if you do those two things.