I met Diane while we both were attending UCLA (GO BRUINS!). I had just moved to Los Angeles from little ole' Grass Valley and was endlessly intrigued by the deeply embedded artist culture of my new city. A culture I have always felt Diane uniquely taps into. It has been an honor to watch her work evolve from taking photos of friends on the rooftops of buildings to producing her one-of-a-kind publication, Suspend Magazine.
Meet Diane Abapo
Editor in Chief of Suspend Magazine
1. What did you study in college?
“I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology at UCLA but that was only after switching my majors the max number of times before my counselor told me I had to pick Sociology so I wouldn’t go over my units. As like any other impressionable college student, I was quick to think I at first would try Nursing (but I’m terrified of needles and the smell of rubbing alcohol) then I thought of trying out for UCLA’s Design Media Arts program (and was brutally rejected in a printed letter that I still turn to when I need inspiration to keep going) and then Psychology (but let’s face it, all those core Science classes were not my jam). I unknowingly had to major in Sociology because it fit the classes I had taken thus far, and to my surprise, I actually really enjoyed my upper division lectures because they all had a common string: the study of people.
There’s one professor in particular whose course has always made a lasting impression on me: Linda Van Leuven, Ph.D., a sociologist, writer, and teacher. I took her Social Deviance class at UCLA and it blew my mind. We would study certain social behavioral practices that fall outside of the societal norm and discuss why and how such practices became considered taboo (like having tattoos, bestiality, incest, etc.). By looking at what made us as a society generally uncomfortable, it forced us to break apart and deconstruct our everyday thinking and look at how we form perceptions of things. I truly miss being in college because I was so amped to learn every single day. Minus the term papers and final exams, my undergraduate college years were filled with thought-provoking lectures and discussions that ultimately fueled my decision to create a magazine based around Culture, Art, Fashion, Music - but above all, people.:
2. Top three L.A. spots?
“I just moved to Downtown last September. Without even blinking, my top three spots would have to be: KazuNori (endless hand rolls), the West Hollywood Library (because that view of the Pacific Design Center from the second floor glass window panel is insane), and The Hundreds flagship store on Rosewood Avenue because a lot of the early artists we featured in SUSPEND all used to work there.”
3. Three tips for beginning photographers?
“This is interesting because I never even used to think of myself as a photographer or was too insecure with my work to call myself that at all. I do think it’s important to be a perpetual student: there is always something new to learn about your craft, and if it happens to be photography then I would suggest cultivating your “eye” and really deciphering for yourself what type of photography you are drawn to. For me, I’ve always been magnetized to oversized fashion and art publications. Interning at Flaunt was a dream come true and gave me firsthand experience of all the inner workings when running a magazine. Second tip: Start shooting. You won’t get better if you don’t practice and get out there. There’s only so much you can study technique-wise before you just grab the dang thing and start clicking away. Lastly: Always carry a spare battery and memory card.”
4. What's your favorite part of running SUSPEND?
“Hearing people’s stories. I’m not much of a talker and am drawn to anyone who can tell a good story. I’ve also learned that the easiest way to get someone to feel less uncomfortable in front of a camera when I’m shooting him or her is to ask them questions about themselves. It immediately lightens up the mood. Equally important to me is that first instance when I can show someone we have featured his or her print feature in SUSPEND. Seeing someone see themselves in a tangible publication gives me no greater feeling and I never in a million years thought that I would be able to provide that. Magazines are magical.”
5. What's the hardest part?
“The editing process. It took me about a year and a half to actually produce ISSUE 05, our latest print issue with Hayley Kiyoko. I had to restructure some of the things that we had done in the past and was also still trying to clearly distinguish the identity of SUSPEND. I didn’t want to rush a print issue for the sake of it, so I waited. A lot of the articles you read in ISSUE 05 were actually shot months ago; the interviews were done months ago but then re-visited, re-worded, and re-answered a few weeks before we went to print. In a way, it was nice being able to catch up with people that I had photographed six months ago like Racella. When I first met her she was super humble about her music and her artistry as a singer-songwriter. Since that initial visit, we ended up attending some of her live acoustic performances in L.A. and also helped document her first music video with Warm Brew for a track she is featured in titled, “A1 Day 1,” (directed by TOPSHELFJUNIOR). We’ve become friends now and even got invited to her wedding! While the process may take more time than I’d like, it also allows genuine friendships to grow because you’re meeting one another on a very independent creative level.”
6. Favorite drink?
“Jameson and ginger ale but usually it’s minus the ginger ale and in the form of continuous shots.”
7. What can we expect this year from SUSPEND?
“More street marketing of ISSUE 05! We are really trying to expand our reach and it’s a little hard since we print in such limited quantities, but I have faith that the content we are featuring will continue to spark more conversations with new readers. We also will be hosting more concerts with friends of ours who are talented musicians like AmirSaysNothing, Blaison Maven, and KAJO… And we also want to start doing collaborative short run print projects with other artists we have consistently been featuring in SUSPEND like the one and only Alexander Spit…”
8. How do you break through creative blocks?
“I get out of my studio loft and head to the nearest beach. Since traffic can be a bummer, I’ll usually opt for grabbing a stack of magazines I haven’t had a chance to read yet and head somewhere outdoors and peaceful where I can get lost flipping through pages of editorials. I also always carry with me a sketchbook and a pouch with these new markers I bought from RAW Materials Art Supplies on Main Street. Sketching is really therapeutic for me because I just turn everything off and focus on the white space in front of my peripheral.”
9. What does the perfect day look like?
“A day with no plans, no meetings, no deadlines, no qualms, just a free as fuck day to do whatever I want. And it usually means getting boba, a manicure, and watching a movie.”
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