Cole Barash photographed one of our favorite things we’ve ever printed in What Youth.
You can find it in What Youth Issue 7,
it’s called 6 Girls, 6 Cities
and features 6 beautiful girls in London, Tokyo, Paris, Sao Paulo, Moscow and New York. It’s beautiful photography and it was no easy feat to juxtapose the two the way he did. Cole’s also released a rad North Shore themed zine called Talk Story starring John John Florence
and other characters and details you rarely see from the North Shore. He also somehow was on our Nti Sheeto trip in Bali,
by way of Japan and Russia or some crazy itinerary like that. The dude travels. And the dude documents. And someone told us he got his start in snowboarding, which has since melted into a very eclectic mix of lifestyle, surf personality, fashion and art photography. But that’s probably boxing it in. He’s an artist’s photographer. As you’ll see. Below you’ll see some of that talent, and learn that he and Warren Smith are good buddies.
What Youth: We know a lot about Warren Smith, thanks to our candid chat, but tell us something else we might now know.
Cole Brash: On long flights (preferably Qantas) he loves to watch movies and order milk and cookies to provide the ultimate dunking/viewing experience.
You went on the Nti Sheeto trip and were one of a bunch of photogs and surfers. What made it special?
I have been on a lot of trips, a lot of different crews but this one was different ’cause the whole vibe the entire trip was so rad. Everyone on it was bouncing ideas, laughs and good times off each other the entire time. Everyone was in the same creative realm and loved to shred/ drink lots of buntings so it was a proper recipe. I think that piece will forever be one in the memory bank for me. We should probably get round 2 going soon.
What do you think about Instagram photographers?
They do not make real work. They are high on themselves throughout the number a provides them (likes, followers). Focusing more on cranking their colors, shooting open roads/sunsets, taking really predictable photos and insuring social media applause than creating any kind of real ever-lasting work. They are part of an uncharted feed of bullshit that is forgotten as soon as the thumb is at the bottom of the feed. However, some of them are so cocky it is amazing. I am not saying I don’t respect them as people — there are some good dudes and chicks that are to the bone solid people — but their work I have no respect for because it’s gutless. I am guilty of contributing to social media, of course, but I try to separate it a bit and focus on making — or at least trying something tangible and repsectuful to the people who I respect.
What is this “real work” or “respectful work” you speak of?
I consider it work that isn’t “on trend” or that is cohesive and strong enough to stand alone for years. Work that you can come back to as a whole and revisit for years to come. A body of work that has a true style and aesthetic/view that isn’t a gimmick. I’m still trying to create my first body of it.
Living in NY: a good or bad thing? Crucial or optional?
New York…I always said I would never live there: to far from the beach, dirty, etc. Well now I have been here for 4 years and I wouldn’t trade this time for anything. It pushes you, exposes you, humbles you, and beats you down to make you nothing but stronger and more aware. The best of the best come through here (music, art, etc) so it has amazing resources to have access to see all of that very easily. I am not planning on being here forever but I think its been a valuable experience of the grind its provided.
How is the process of making books different different than internet output?
Its a pretty amazing mental and physical excersise to put your brain through. You start to learn how important the sequencing is in presenting a body of work (actually become obsessed with it). Its also very tedious, hard and possibly the hardest part of making work. As art photography is so subjective it can lead to a lot of mind fucks when you get legit opinions on it. Also, seeing the details and every part of it all the way through to the finished piece (design, paper type, size, cover, alternative mediums within, etc) makes it very rewarding once its done. Its also something tangible which in my eyes is crucial for putting a stamp on the map. I only want to make work that is respected by the people I respect. I don’t make work to see how many $$ signs I can flex or large companies I can shoot for or new equipment or consumberable goods. I make for the sole reason of having a medium to produce a vision or feeling from my gut. It may not be popular or people might not get it or it might suck but its the only way I can creatively progress within, as the only person I’m up against at the end of the day is myself. Anyone out there making work from their gut, putting time and energy into work that doesn’t see the dime of day or is experimenting I have full respect for.
Why have you never shot surfing?
I think surfing is my only outlet in life as a true reset. I want/need to keep it that way. Something about the humbling mother ocean, the salt water, and the solitude of hunting ‘lil tubes that nothing else does anything close for. I grew up shooting snowboarding so long that I no longer enjoyed it and I would never want that to be with surfing. With that said I’ve got a lot of respect for people that do — the ones that huck themselves over the falls, swim hours on end, and constantly put themselves in the spot. Russo, Lawrence, Glaser…ya lads!
What are you currently working on?
For the past two years I have been working on a body of work about a small island in the arctic circle, Grimsey. 6km long, 95 people, and a 7 hour ferry from land. I am working with Silas Finch on a 80 page hard cover book offset printed that is coming out this September at the Art book fair in New York. Hopefully I don’t fuck up and it actually turns out legit.
Dion, Craig and Creed…
Are fuckin good cunts! Miss em.
Whose work have you been into recently?
Christopher Willimas, Tillmans for sure, and Michael Tessier.
What about in surf?
Well, I like Quinn’s [Matthews] work a lot. That kid Woody Gooch from Australia too. And I like how that one guy from oz shoots waves but not Clark Little style, more abstract and swims solo when its big and middle of no where. SA rips, I think? Emailed him for to buy a print but never heard back. Sweet. [Laughs]
Where are you and what’s down the track?
Currently living kind of remotely back home on Cape Cod which I typically do for 6 or 7 months. Good place to grind out in the studio and make new work, focus, and have the beach a few minutes through the woods. Can get in and out when I need to. It’s also a quiet humble place that I really respect and probably will forever live. Next moves? I don’t know. I think probably moving somewhere different and a bit odd where I don’t know anyone for a little while at least. Somewhere that hopefully will push me from a bit of combo of struggle and exploration. Maybe Berlin, Maybe Mexico City…who the hell knows. We shall see once winter comes closer.
What’s next for Warren Smith?
Probably a combo of surf dog, dark room vampire, cobra snake and tacos. Possibly a non profit?