Tyler Mitchell: The Skater Boy Who Made History

Tyler Mitchell: The Skater Boy Who Made History

Get familiar with the 23-year-old responsible for Beyoncé's September cover.

Get familiar with the 23-year-old responsible for Beyoncé's September cover.

Text: Tess Garcia

If you're even remotely invested in the world of fashion, chances are the name Tyler Mitchell has danced across your computer screen at least once over the past few weeks. The 23-year-old photographer, a favorite of Solange Knowles, was rumored to have been commissioned by big sis Beyoncé to shoot her for the cover of Vogue's September issue. Yesterday, speculations were confirmed when the magazine unveiled a collection of dreamy portraits credited to none other than Mitchell, making him the first-ever African American to shoot a cover for Vogue.

But Mitchell is more than a token young Instagram photographer. The Atlanta native is consciously using his work to break barriers surrounding race and sexuality.

“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” he said in a New York Times profile last December. “There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

Tyler Mitchell, Untitled (Topanga), 2017. Via Tyler Mitchell

Mitchell explained to Vogue that he is a filmmaker by trade -- he recently graduated from NYU's film school -- and first fell in love with the art form during his skateboarding days as a teenager. After learning how to film and edit through YouTube tutorials, he first broke into the industry shooting music videos for cool-kid rappers like Kevin Abstract. Mitchell has since created commercial work for brands including Converse and Givenchy, using whatever leftover time he might have (and we don't know how he has any) to create more personal photo and film projects that have wound up in some of New York's most esteemed art galleries. A selection of his work, comprised of portraits of young black men, is currently featured in "2018 Aperture Summer Open: The Way We Live Now" at the Aperture Foundation and will be on display through August 16.

Tyler Mitchell, 2 Men, 2016. Via Aperture Foundation

“For so long, black people have been considered things,” Mitchell told Vogue. “We’ve been thingified physically, sexually, emotionally. With my work I’m looking to revitalize and elevate the black body.”

Even with a resume this impressive, he couldn't help but gush over his opportunity to blaze a new trail with Beyoncé at Vogue. "I cried 3 times already this morning," he tweeted yesterday.

We're tearing up just thinking about the progress signified by Mitchell's mainstream success. Here's to a world of opportunity for kids of every color, class, and background.

Credits: Image via New York Times

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