Artist Interview: Muqbil Yabarow

Artist Interview: Muqbil Yabarow

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Get to Know Artist Muqbil Yabarow!

Muqbil Yabarow aka Swizzy Yabro (@Swizzysworld) is a Washington, DC-based photographer that has dedicated his time to traveling the world photographing monuments, landscape and candid moments in remarkable places. He is most known for immersing his subjects in flood-like environments -- adding a creative perspective to otherworldly views. Feel free to find more of his work on his instagram.


What kind of messages or emotions are you trying to convey with your work?

I try and recreate the certain vibe that I felt when I initially took the shot. Capturing that sense of place and having a platform to show the viewer brings life to my work. Nothing is consistent through different lenses.

What message or advice do you have for young creatives just starting out?

I always tell young creatives to be true to themselves and their art. Do not allow others to misguide you and lead you off your path. Artists are prone to following trends. It will be more satisfying if you create art following your own creative direction rather than others’. Everyone has a different perspective, we want to see yours.

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Who inspires you to create; where do you draw your inspiration from?

I am constantly inspired by life and all things around me. It can be something as simple as a person’s jacket color that pops out to me or a magical sunset with a strong silhouette in the distance. I stay inspired by finding the beauty in the ordinary, we are surrounded by wonders every day.

Explain some hardships you’ve experienced as a creator.

At times, the most difficult thing can be getting yourself out of a creative rut. The way that I tend to deal with this is to completely step away from my creative process— you can’t force it. Spending time on other hobbies away from the creative industry usually helps me find my inspiration and get back on track. I normally spend more time in the gym or playing basketball whenever I stagnate. Taking a break is healthy and you usually need to recharge.

If you were to give advice to a rising photographer, what would you say? What wouldn’t you say?

I would say to not lose focus on what made you fall in love with photography. The stronger you can hold on to that, the more fun you’ll be able to have throughout your journey.

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Aside from photography, are there other artists that inspire your work?

I gain inspiration from a ton of different artists including many versatile musicians— a few of which happen to be my friends. The inspiration and aid assists and inspires my editing workflow. I’m also inspired by my brother Alakkuu who is a very talented poet - his wordplay helps me think of a potential visual equivalence.

Do you prefer shooting individually or with a group of people?

For me, it depends on my vibe, every day is different. If I’m feeling pensive and reflective then I’ll shoot by myself. If I want to create something with multiple elements then I’ll include more people on the shoot.

Do you take photos more for yourself—or for others?

I take photos for myself! Every image I take is one that I wanted to take. Granted I’m happy to collaborate but for now my work isn’t compromised— I shoot when/what i want.

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Describe the art community where you live.

The art community in Washington, DC is really amazing at the moment. I feel like we have come a long way and we have a lot of super talented people doing tremendous things. It is only going to go up from here!

Tell us the story behind your @username!

When I was a kid, my friends used to call me Swift because of how I played basketball – I was known for being pretty quick. Over the years, my siblings started to call me Swizzy instead of Swift, and now I use Swizzysworld as a play on words to invite people into my creative world.

Do you see aspects of yourself, your identity, or journey shine through in your work?

I feel that my identity, journey and unique perspective all shine through in my work. Having traveled a ton growing up and seeing so many different cultures definitely helps me communicate my visual story with a twist that’s shaped by the various experiences I’ve been fortunate to have. It all comes with time!

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Focal Collective: Artist Interview Series

Focal Collective would like to thank our contributing artists! This recurring propensity to create and growing community continues to inspire us. Are you interested in sharing your story? Feel free to apply to our Artist Interview Series with your portfolio, IG, and a brief introduction via our contact page. We'll look out for your message!

Focal Points: Adventure, Tutorial, Gear

If you enjoy our artist interview series, feel free to check out Focal Collective’s other adventure, tutorial, and gear review sections from our blog section Focal Points! We also have free adventure and tutorial content on our YouTube channel!

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