The gear bag is a quintessential necessity for any creator that is on the move, regardless of what they are creating. Every artist, journalist, or musician carries essentials that help them navigate the complex world they are observing and eventually bringing to life for their own audiences. Virginia is home to some intrepid creatives which have changed the way people interact with all aspects of the Commonwealth’s collective culture. The creative corridor along 64 between Richmond and Norfolk remains one of the strongest in Virginia, and the collaborative spirit between the two is coming to define a new generation of creator.
RVA Mag wanted to get an inside look at what some of the premier creatives in Richmond and Norfolk carry on their day-to-day travels as they seek to influence and inspire the vast landscape surrounding them. What we found was an array of personal and professional items that reflect the character and charm of each creator.
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I’m simple… for me, I only carry the essentials. My typical day revolves around the use of my iPhone, Mac Pro, AKG Perception 420 Microphone and a pair of AKG K240’s. Additional must-haves like a sharpie, notebook to write out my visions, a lighter, weed, and a stone are all imperative for the vibes. Plus, being a full-time artist and songwriter, these items are obvious extensions of my creativity and hey, without them all, I may cease to exist.
I keep all my junk in my handmade Ransack Leather bag that I’m currently obsessed with. In it you will find: a tape measure for when I’m thrifting frames to see if they’ll fit my canvases, my Patsy Cline mini sketchbook and cattle dog pen for when the bad ideas strike, my grandfather’s switchblade, keys to the Range on my ‘Don’t F with my Shit’ Marc Jacobs keychain, my Square for when I drop off wholesale orders or am vending at festivals, some Blue Wilderness treats for my ride or die homie Wheeler, and my flash drive with all my digital files in case my house ever burns down while I’m away. The bottom of my purse is lined with tracking number receipts from shipping my Etsy orders, and I’m never without my ThatsWhatSheSaidArt business cards in my handmade Warhol card holder.
I’m a run and gun journalist always looking for the next story, so my kit is field ready. I am also the editorial director for the magazine, which means I have to be able to run content from pretty much anywhere in Virginia, meaning my kit (including computer, camera, and mobile phone) acts as a mobile command center. On me at all times is two notebooks: One for taking notes on the job (Moleskin) and the other (Japanese Midori Traveler) for my own personal thoughts; I try to never let these two things meet. Other essentials: dark sunglasses, so I can constantly roll my eyes. Water bottle, because of hydration (or tear gas #thanksA12). Business cards, I give them out to literally everyone (never know where a tip is going to originate). External mobile phone charger, the curse of every field journalist is a dead mobile phone. And one thing I learned during my time overseas, always have a knife and flashlight handy; I carry a CRKT blade and Surefire torch. Finally, I carry an old coin as a totem, a denarius from the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian I picked-up in the Netherlands in 2014. This guy was in my pocket for three of my almost eight years in Iraq and saw me through some very wild times – now it goes with me everywhere.
Most of my creative output (painting murals) involves a truck full of spray paint, gallons and gallons of latex paint, and too many damn ladders and lifts to show in a photo. But these are my portable essentials: I’m rarely without a black book (from Plaza!) and fill up at least three or four every year. I’m not particular about brushes and pretty much use disposables. That goes for sunglasses as well; they generally end up covered in paint and scratched to shit in a few weeks. The wizard wand is not an every day item but occasionally aids in the casting of creative spells. My keys come equipped with a paint key, and I’ve always got my headphones to keep up with the latest episode of Last Podcast while I’m painting. Sakuras and green skinny caps are the only tools I’m really particular about. I always like a fresh coat of fluorescent orange on my fingernails even though they generally get covered in all sorts of other paint almost immediately. And I’ve always gotta rep the crew–Rust Brew Adventure Crew!
Being a studio artist, I complete most of my work in one space. But when I’m lucky enough to carve out some time to visit an open figure session with a live model, I pack up my gear bag. I like painting on frosted mylar during short sessions as it doesn’t require any priming to accept oil paint. I also always have my Krink paint markers that I use to lay down initial sketches; they’re great for getting a variation of line and dry very quickly. I carry a limited palette of oil paint to make my bag a little lighter. The pigments included are two yellows, two blues, two reds, and white; this combination is sufficient for mixing most colors. A smattering of brushes and a palette knife are also necessary. Additionally, I couldn’t be caught without my chapstick (nobody wants to see crusty-crusts). And finally, I must also always have my Zofran on hand. Having Celiac disease demands that I have a backup plan in case I accidentally get “glutened.” The Zofran prohibits maximum embarrassment while in public, just in case the aforementioned occurs.
I’m a reporter and end up in all kinds of weird, different places. I like to be ready for whatever, because you never know when, like, a tank is just going to drive down Broad. So I normally bring two cameras, a small telephoto lens, a normal lens, a super wide lens, my drone, a computer and a few notebooks and pens. I never fly the drone as much as I’d like to. It never makes as much sense as it seems like it will and there are a lot of safety considerations, but when it works it’s awesome and I can give people a new perspective. For cameras I really like Fuji’s mirrorless system because of how small and light it is. I’m a camera nerd and am excited to take a lot more photos as part of my new job at the Virginia Mercury. Read us. We’re going to be focused on interesting state government and public policy issues, which sounds boring now that I’ve written it down, but I swear it won’t be.
I’m a blogger, writer, and content creator. On a single day, I could be interviewing a business owner for an article, leading a marketing strategy meeting for a client, and prepping for a blog project. I am very much on the go and because of that, I keep my tools lean and mean.
The most important tool is my iPhone. I shoot and edit photos, write notes, edit my website, manage three social media accounts, create short videos, scan contracts, send emails, order Lyfts, and even write articles from my phone. I carry an old-school daily planner, which compliments my Google Calendar. Instead of writing appointments in the daily planner, I write out tasks to complete each day and project deadlines. My MacBook Pro was my first big business purchase in 2017. I chose the smaller design so it is more mobile. I can set it on my lap and take notes just about anywhere. I always keep a fresh notebook with me for notes and sketches. I like to splurge on high-quality notebooks when I travel.
You’ll also often find me with kombucha (anything ginger) or mixing up an Emergen-C in my water. Getting sick is even worse when you’re an entrepreneur. Other essentials include lip gloss (lately, I’m wearing Posy by L’Oreal), Wild Honeysuckle oil from Mod & Soul, shades (these are from Sweetest Stitch) and a natural deodorant for long summer days crisscrossing the city (this is Wild Botanicals in lavender from Sweetest Stitch).
My essentials boil down to the tools of the trade. iPad pro & Apple pencil for quick sketching, plus a real live pencil in case you need an outline. Commonwealth x Oakley Frogskins are the sun-blocker classic, plus air-pods for music or important conversations. A MacBook Pro and an external drive are for editing and quick transfer. Easy poolside zine reading with some photos by Objects of Ridicule and ” DEAD MANS HAND” by Elkamino. A couple of iPhones for communication, and for capturing the moment, and the Apple TV makes it so any meeting can become a presentation on the big screen. I’m a closer by nature, so you gotta stay prepared. Cap it all off with an oil pen to keep my nerves in perfect balance, and you have everything you need to make new media magic and purify the mind, body, and soul.
1) Sony A7R ii + 24-70 f/2.8 – This is my go-to camera/lens choice for photojournalism 2) Canon AE1 loaded with Black & White 35mm film – I save this for special moments. I have rolls on rolls of undeveloped film that I’ll send off someday 3) SLR Magic 70mm f/1.4 – This and my 25mm are my secret sauce lenses. They produce such interesting images, kinda reminds me of a vintage lens. Love the all-manual design of these too, forces me to really be on my game 4) SLR Magic 25mm f/1.4 – See above 5) Macbook Pro – I do most of my editing on this but really its just a fancy email machine 6) iPhone 8Plus – “The best camera is the one you have with you” …or something like that 7) AirPods – I bike to most places in town so its nice to be able to listen to music or a podcast while en route 8) RVAMag Press Pass – Never know when a story is going to pop up. 9) Field Notes – I’ll use this to write down the names or locations of people I photograph 10) Off-White Camera Strap – Special thanks to Hunter Saylor for helping me turn this belt into a camera strap 11) Filter Case – Holds my Neutral Density/Circular Polarizer filters 12) Zoom H1n Audio Recorder – Usually I’ll record my lav mic audio straight into this 13) Rode Lav Mic – Great mic for on the spot interviews 14) Rode Shotgun Mic – I really only use this for scratch audio but it works better than the on-camera mic 15) Extra Batteries – The more, The better 16) SD Case – Holds… SD Cards 17) Keys – They say the more keys, the more powerful the man, so not sure what that makes me.