I have been wanting to do an interview on Corey Tenold & Ash Walker for a long time. I had the opportunity of collaborating with them on shoots in the past and Corey was in my very first I AM MPLS! show years ago.
Flash forward to their insanely successful careers. Corey being one of the only photographers allowed backstage to shoot the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show and a private dinner in the home of....Anna Wintour. Meanwhile Ash Walker has been in every major magazine and on every major runway. Sometimes I'm following them on social media and I'm like "HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I KNOW YOU!"
You could probably call them a "power couple" but they are humble AF so they wouldn't like that label.
Us "Millennials" use the word "hustle" a lot. A lot. These two have evolved that sentiment in a way that seems a little more peaceful and unique. Do they work super hard and create beauty everywhere they go? Yeah. But they are very in tune with the idea that the future is unknown and have found a healthy and relatable balance to the noise of the creative industry.
My hope for this blog interview is to inspire you. To know that you can be a young kid from Tennessee working the third shift stock at Lowe's and some day be in the private home of THE NAME IN FASHION (Anna Wintour)
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Corey: I'm Corey. I do a lot of things. Most of my creative focus is in photography. So yeah, I'm a photographer.
[Photo of Ash taken by Corey for W Magazine]
Ash: I'm Ash. I'm an international model.
[Ash Walker on the cover of Harper's Bazaar Magazine]
2. Ash-How did your modeling career start?
Ash: I was into acting and modeling. I went with modeling at the time and went to my mother's agent (Vision Model Management MPLS) model search.
3. Corey-How did you first get interested in photography?
Corey: I'm not exactly sure. I do love the ability to freeze time though, and I can do this through photography. I live through memories.
[Photo of DVF and her models backstage taken by Corey Tenold]
4. Corey & Ash- What was the first job you ever had?
Corey: Third shift stock boy at Lowe's. It was one of the most fun jobs I've ever had, probably because we just messed around and there was literally zero stress. And I got to sleep all day and stay up all night. This was right out of high school.
[Photo by Corey Tenold at the Marc Jacobs show]
Ash: I think the first job I ever had was a hair spread for Maureen Anaulf for NAHA in MN. Maureen Anaulh was so talented and truly an amazing woman.
5. Corey & Ash-Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college? What did you study?
Corey: Born and raised in Tennessee. I went to Clemson University in South Carolina for like a year, and dropped out. I was undeclared but taking classes focused in engineering and computer science. I later continued studies in Computer Science in Minnesota. Photography wasn't anywhere in my curriculum.
Ash: I grew up in a small town south of Minneapolis. I didn't go to college after high school. When I was in high school I was out for modeling a lot. It was turning into a full-time job. So I decided to sign with an agency in New York.
6. What was the first moment in your career that gave you the feels as "yeah, this is what I want to do?"
Corey: I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, but this is what I want to do right now. Some days I want to quite everything and move to the country and live on a farm. I think social media makes people think everyone else's lives are perfect and all figured out, when in reality everyone is struggling in some way. If there was a moment though, it would probably be when I realized that photography gave me the ability to capture beautiful moments that would live forever.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I loved that everyday I went to work, there was something different. I would watch Chanel and Dior shows and see these strong women walk so beautifully and these amazing sets and beautiful editorials and that's when I really wanted to start taking it seriously. When I walked for Chanel it was like a dream come true. And then Dior was icing on the cake.
[Ash Walker walking for Dior]
7. What has been the most challenging part of your career path?
Corey: A big challenge is the fact that I'm my own worst critic. I always find myself saying "you can do better." It's weird and it sucks. I'm always trying to look at my work and see it through someone else's eyes. This makes it hard to find closure in a project. I find myself finishing the project saying I could have done this or that better. Then there are the usual things: the stress, getting your foot in the door, etc.
Ash: The most challenging parts of my career were being gone from Corey/family/home for a long amount of time and having to maintain a size 00, which the industry expected up until now.
[Photo of Corey Tenold & Ash Walker] See, they do get to relax! :)
8. Where do you find inspiration?
Corey: I find a lot of inspiration through music. I grew up on hip-hop, and just keeping up with new artists and releases keeps me pumped up. I also believe that change sparks creativity. I moved around a lot as a kid. I went to like three different middle schools and three different high schools. I think changes in your life awaken sleeping neurons in your brain. So, I also find a lot of inspiration when I travel. Also, there's nothing more inspiring than seeing other people in your same career path doing cool shit.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I find inspiration from everything. Anything and everything.
9. What are your favorite clothing brands right now?
Corey: I'm kind of on this vintage kick at the moment. I'm really starting to realize how damaging fast fashion is and how many people it negatively effects. So I do a lot of shopping lately at vintage stores. I like vintage Levi's, vintage Champion, and vintage designer when I can find it. I also like to keep my eye on the streetwear scene. I'm currently into retro Jordan's and I love seeing what newer brands like AntiSocialSocialClub are doing.
[Photo by Corey Tenold]
Ash: I will always be a Dior fan. I'm a big believer in accessories being my statement pieces. Vintage is a big interest right now for me.
10. Style icon. (dead or alive)
Corey: This one is tough. I get inspiration from everywhere, so it's hard to pinpoint one person who I really look to as a style icon. I guess the first person that popped into my head was Pharrell. He always seems to be on the edge and does it with confidence. I think it also ties back to my hip-hop roots.
Ash: Hmmm, that's a hard one. I've really looked up to anyone for style. I've always just went with whatever I thought was cool from that seasons trends and past trends.
11. What has been your career highlight thus far?
Corey: Probably being the only photographer invited to an intimate dinner at Anna Wintour's house to take photos of guests, which included icons like DVF, Naomi Campbell, and Bruce Weber.
[Naomi Campbell photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
[Dinner setting photographed by Corey Tenold in Anna Wintour's home]
Ash: Well shooting for the September issue of Vogue was amazing. But also walking for Dior and Chanel were highlights.
12. Corey-you recently shot backstage for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Paris? How crazy was that?
Corey: Yes! It was very cool to have that opportunity. I was very excited to get that call, but also very nervous. Everything was like fashion week but on steroids. Security was beefed up and production was intense. It also felt cool being one of very few photographers allowed backstage. All in all, it was an amazing experience that I'm very grateful for.
Ash: I am so happy and proud of him!
[Photo of Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner backstage at the Victoria's Secret Fashion show taken by Corey Tenold]
[Photo of Kendall Jenner backstage at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show taken by Corey Tenold]
13. What's next for you two?
Corey: Next for me is to keep growing. Keep learning. Keep traveling. But it's best when you don't know what's next. It keeps you on your toes with your mind open.
[Photo of Corey Tenold]
Ash: I have decided to be more body positive with modeling and I'm very excited about it! Being the real me feels great and refreshing. Excited to see where it takes me.
[Photo of Ash Walker]
The American Craft Council show is coming up and I had the opportunity to interview Ashley Schulzetenberg. Ashley will be designing a 90s room vignette for the "Make A Room" program. This year's theme is "In Space and Time" in honor of the ACC's 75th anniversary.
Ashley is the Trend Director at the creative studio Very, Inc. She leads trend direction and product development for fashion, home, and beauty brands. She also creates experiential installations around macro and micro trend concepts for both the retail and advertising industry.
For this interview, I thought it would be cool if I asked Ashley questions, and she answered with an image.
1. Share an image that describes why you got interested in Trend and what you love about it.
Photographers Maurizio Cattelan & Pierpaolo Ferrari
2. What is a misconception about the meaning of Trend?
3. Where do you find inspiration?
4. How would you describe your personal style as of now?
Photographer Helmut Newton
Malgosia Bela photographed by Steven Meisel for Versace Spring Summer 2001
5. How would you describe the Twin Cities in an image?
6. What can people expect to see from you at American Craft Council?
Christy Turlington for Calvin Klein Swimwear 1997
I mentioned that I'm going to start using my blog as a way to tell the stories, inspirations and hardships of people that inspire me. Meet Scott O'Leary. A lot of times we are defined by our work and I think that is because we are measured on what we put out into the world. Scott puts out peace, humility, and positivity and I've been curious if there was a significant change in his life that created this sense of enlightenment. As we all know, life is hard and only gets harder. If you're anything like me, you're always struggling with a sense of balance. Am I doing enough? Do I work hard enough? Do I have enough? Do people like me? If not, why don't they? All of these thoughts are so intense and at times can get in the way of us truly enjoying life and our loved ones. I've been starting to read more (pause for reaction) and am working on finding more balance in my life.
Each morning we wake up we have a choice. A choice in how we are going to first love ourselves and find peace and then how we are going to bring that to those around us. I don't have all the answers (obviously) which is why I'm on a path to seek out others that have some wisdom to share as we all work to find balance.
One of my favorite things about this interview is how Scott talks about the smallest moments in his life and how those impacted him. We all have an opportunity to make an impact on a person. Every day. The smallest gestures often do more than you will ever know. A lot of times I'm overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done in the world and it's scary.
I know a popular quote around the Millennial generation is Hustle & Be Humble (or something like that). Which I love and appreciate as someone who works hard. But after reading this I think I need to spend more time aligned with this, "Smile, breathe, and go slowly." - Thich Nhat Hahn
Ok, meet Scott.
Can you first start by sharing a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up, go to school, any notable life experiences?
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd." - Jalaluddin Rumi
I was born and raised in Haverhill Massachusetts. In the 18th and 19th century, Haverhill developed woolen mills, tanneries, shipping and shipbuilding.
The town was, for many decades, home to a significant shoe-making industry. By the end of 1913, one tenth of the shoes produced in the United States were made in Haverhill, and because of this, the town was known for a time as the "Queen Slipper City". It is roughly 35 miles north of Boston and was about a million miles away from those glory days.
I was lucky enough to escape my deep blue-collar roots and attended The Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.
Which happens to be one of my notable life experiences.
I had an amazing high school art teacher. Susan Paradis. My whole life I used art to escape. In high school I took as many art classes as I possibly could so I didn’t have to be in other classes. I had no ambition at that point to go to college. Any college.
I created a lot of artwork because I honestly enjoyed the process. I like making things. In my senior year Susan asked me my plans after graduating. My answer was something along these lines.
“Get a job and drink beer” In what I can only describe as a fit of anger she literally grabbed my flowing eighties hair and dragged me into a closed-door room and bombarded me with a series of F bombs.
Along for the ride were things like you are wasting your talent, your life, and you are better than this. I remember my wise ass and defiant response was “I’m going to have your job” her response was pretty simple. “They can have my fucking job you are worth it.” Was I was worth it? I went home that night and wrote a mandatory essay on why I wanted to go to art school. I assembled my work and I sent it the admission office. I say this with universe crushing humility. Susan changed my life.
I've tried to stop asking people "what do you do?". It seems so dull. So instead I will ask, "how do you spend your time on Earth?" (but also, what do you do for work?)
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Lets do work first. I am a working/thinking/ still making stuff art director/creative director.
I am a father of two beautiful children (notable life experience) Tyler and Paige who have traveled around the sun 26 and 22 times respectively. I am here for them. I am a teacher and a student. There will never be enough time in this universe that I could spend with them.
I am a husband. I met my wife at 15. (notable life experience) We have been married 27 years. We have been on this journey together for 37 years, so I have spent a great deal of my time on earth with her and her humbling beautiful light.
I am an ultra-marathoner. (notable life experience) An ultra-marathon is any race over 26.2 miles. So I spend a great deal of time running. I have run and completed races of 35, 50 and 100 miles. The time I spend training for these races are meditative. I am in nature, usually the woods, by myself, breathing, with an open and empty mind. True story: In the mountains around Kyoto live the marathon monks. Over a seven-year training period, these "running Buddha’s" figuratively circle the globe on foot. During one incredible 100-day stretch, they cover 52.5 every day. And the prize they seek to capture is the greatest thing a human being can achieve…enlightenment in the here and now. That is why I spend my time running long distances. It is my Zen center. I have experienced moments that I can only explain as enlightening.
I am an obstacle course racer. Spartan races. (notable life experience) The Stoics believed that the obstacle is the way. Within the struggle of getting through, around or over anything difficult was the birthplace of joy, understanding, and happiness. That is why spend so much time training and racing. I have never found out more about what I am and what I am not than in a Spartan race. Obstacles don’t create, they reveal.
I am a seeker physically and spiritually. So I spend a lot of my time exposing myself to great teachers. (notable life experience) Stoicism. Buddhism. Taoism. Hinduism.
I think a lot of people working in the advertising industry can get their soul sucked out of them but it seems you have found some peace or enlightenment. How did/do you do that?
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” - Jalaluddin Rumi
Mine was sucked. I decided at the darkest moment to suck back.
This book was recommended to me, The power of now by Eckhart Tolle. (notable life experience) A large spiritual fire was started and I haven’t stopped feeding it. I started walking and running the path. It was that easy and that hard. Forward!
What advice would you give to someone running an agency as it pertains to taking care of their employees?
"It is not that we have so little time, but that we lose so much. ...The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully." - Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
Treat employee’s time with the utmost respect and care.
It is the most valuable resource we have as humans. And the most wasted. Allow and encourage time for vacations. Encourage and support employees needs to chase their passions outside the job. Create an environment that respects time with families and friends.
What is your relationship with social media? How do you use it?
"Radiate boundless love towards the entire world." - Buddha
My relationship is focused. Outside of a few sports posts and some arrested development humor. My goal is simple. Put good into the World. My life has been changed and significantly made better by a series of singular gestures.
My teacher cared enough to confront me. I went to college and have an amazing career and give my family a life I never would have dreamed of back in Haverhill at the age of 17…One conversation.
I received an email from a friend asking me to run a 35 mile race. I wasn’t even running at the time. I hadn’t run since high school. 10 weeks later I ran 35 miles in the snow in Wisconsin. Followed by the humbling honor of running 50 and 100 miles and am training for my second 100…One email.
A friend said, you should read this book. I read that book. And I haven’t stopped searching for more teachers since…One suggestion.
Never underestimate the universe changing ability of one post, one recommendation or one conversation. I passionately throw a series of one things out into the Universe. Humbly hoping it helps someone. Like I was helped.
If someone is struggling with balance, what advice would you give them?
"Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides." - Lao Tzu
Impermanence: the state of being impermanent.
Embrace it would be my advice. Be humbled by it and grateful for the life you have. When you hold that word, that definition, up against almost anything, I have found balance pretty quickly.
This is all a gift. A miracle that we exist and that the vessel we exist in works the way it does, how it does. This is going to be taken away without any guarantees. There is no changing the outcome.
So when I struggle with the everyday problems of a modern society and world I just lean heavily into my demise. It helps me quickly separate the unimportant and helps me focus on the important.
You seem to have an insanely dedicated physical work ethic. How did that start? What's your favorite part about it?
"To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." - Buddha
It started out of desperation. I hated a lot of things. The list was long.
I was an athlete as a kid and through high school. I love sports. I stayed somewhat in shape. But I just had nothing else to lean into at the time so I made a decision.
I just woke up one day a few years ago. I was physically and mentally toxic. My mind and body were both in pain, I just didn’t know it.
I simply said to myself “I am going to get in the best shape of my life.” I threw myself into that escape pod. Little did I know at the time that my whole life was going to change once again. (notable life experience)
My favorite part is suffering. I say that humbly. Society, technology, science and medicine do everything they can to eliminate it from the human condition.
We comfort ourselves from suffering and then, when it arrives, we act surprised. Why did my dog die? Why does my sister in law have cancer? Why do people kill and hate? Why does my knee hurt? Why is it so cold out?
I like the process of inflicting it upon myself. I love what suffering reveals, both physical and mental weakness.
I love what suffering eliminates…The ego. Being reduced to fighting for air and dealing with excruciating pain is an intensely humbling experience and forces immense focus and gratitude for all we are given on a daily basis.
Favorite part runner-ups.
I have cried inexplicably on long runs at the beauty of trees. Watching the sunrise. Being continually exposed to nature and all its healing powers and wisdom. Transforming into a vegan athlete. Being sober for one year. Gratitude. Immense daily appreciation for the gift I have been given to use this machine.
You post a lot of beautiful quotes that I've reposted because they need to be heard. What is your favorite quote or saying? What does it mean to you?
First, thank you. That is very kind and humbling. This is an extremely tough decision. I’m going to have to pick two.
"Smile, breathe, and go slowly." - Thich Nhat Hahn.
One of my favorite teachers and this collection of words, no matter what, always seem to be the answer. Just reading it brings me peace. It’s a spiritual crutch for me. To perform this act is to be peace.
"Fear is a liar." unknown
This is my bulldozer when I need to get through imaginary walls.
I didn’t understand the power of this until I stopped listening, believing and being afraid. This is another big part of my physical and spiritual journey.
Continually exposing myself to situations where fear thinks it has a chance to convince me of it lies.
If you could give advice to a generation of people working in the advertising industry what would it be?
Breathe. Create with joy.
Finally, if you were to describe yourself in a painting, song, poem, building structure, geographical location, etc. What would it be?
"You know how it is. Sometimes we plan a trip to one place, but something takes us to another." ~ Rumi