Saturday, June 22, 2024

Artist turned model-photographer

By Kiyanna Noel

Kiyanna’s Kulture is a biweekly column that highlights different kinds of fashion. 

Fashion isn’t only about the clothes you wear or the runways you walk. Modeling or sketching out different styles and aesthetics help create unforgettable looks that reflect not only who you are, but where you come from. Jerrel Telesford, ‘23 alumnus of Rutgers University, has been drawing since his early primary school years in Trinidad and Tobago. Starting out with suns in the upper right-hand corner to drawing characters from his favorite anime series, Telesford first got his inspiration from the mangas he read. 

“I always loved to draw and sketch. I would go to my mom’s job with her and she would just give me printer paper and a pen to keep me busy. Little did she know, it helped me see the world differently,” Telesford said, recalling his moments of drawing his favorite characters in different clothing and accessories. 

Moving to New Jersey in the third grade from the small island in the Caribbean was a big transition for Telesford. Not only was he coming into a new country, but a new school with a new sense of style. However, he didn’t let this discourage him from dressing the way he desired. His talent of drawing encouraged him to style himself the way he wanted to be perceived. 

“To me, it didn’t matter how the world saw me as long as I liked what I saw. The move itself wasn’t that hard, but knowing I would know no one made me want to change my style to stand out more and not just be a little skinny kid with glasses in my uniform,” Telesford said. 

His aesthetic is a combination of neutral colors and denim, but always with the signature accessory of a touch of gold. Despite growing up wearing a significant amount of silver, when he turned 17 he knew he wanted a different look — something small, but attention-grabbing. While enjoying the baggy look of the 2000s, Telesford insists that a touch of gold or any jewelry makes all the difference, which is why he is barely seen without it. 

Eventually, Telesford found his fashion-forward friends. Among them is Jazmine Castano, who heavily encouraged Telesford to pursue photography. From elementary school to college and beyond, the pair have been inseparable, and their connection between fashion and photography has strengthened their friendship in indescribable ways. She commends Telesford for his persistence and hard work over the years taking her photos and others, even working with brands of the years. 

“JT is definitely an interesting creative. A perfectionist, for sure, but it’s appreciated because the end result is flawlessly executed,” Castano said. “His photography is diverse with modern day streetwear and editorial style which also displays in his sense of style and everyday life.”

Not only has Telesford taken the photos, he has also modeled for a few companies such as Global Heartbreak and Comma Crazy Clothing. 

“When I first began modeling for Global Heartbreak, it was more for fun and wanting to support a friend’s brand. We had been boys since high school and this was something he had always talked about so I figured, why not. Soon enough, GHB took off and we all started taking it more seriously and really worked together to promote, model and represent New Brunswick in a positive light,” Telesford said.

While modeling is still a part of his life, Telesford is more interested in being the stylist and the photographer. He still draws in his free time, but recognizes that designing clothes isn’t for him. Telesford acknowledges that while many people can create art, it doesn’t always mean that it is the career for them, as he had to make several career changes.

“Anyone can dress. Anyone can take a photo and say it’s art. But not everyone is like me, and that’s how you can tell who has it and who doesn’t. Some people don’t have the passion, the drive, the mentality for the blood, sweat and tears of the designers,” Telesford said. “I know photography is the direction for me. It always has been, and you never know, it may always be.”

Jerrel Telesford
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