We had the good fortune of connecting with Petra Mason and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Petra, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
How important it is to create your own luck.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Cultural Historians work with what it means to be human. Art making, mark-making, writing, creating and publishing are profoundly human. The title allows me to be a publishing professional, art dealer, producer of arts and culture content, studio founder, project director, consultant and global nomad. I am naturally pre-disposed to being an enthusiast and iconoclast, creating my own luck along the way and working from a point of fearlessness allows me to explore high and low cultural histories. It’s certainly not an easy or safe choice as there is no road map and one faces constant obstacles along the way so you roll with the punches!
Lessons learn along the way : Go beyond the obvious, live unapologetically, get an A+ for attitude whatever it is that you do, Show up, stay connected. Rattle your network, but most of all, create your own luck.
What do I want the world to know about my story? In 2019 I founded Obscure Studio in Johannesburg, South Africa. Obscure Studio aims to amplify and reflect the radical transformation taking place in contemporary fashion and art photography today. The Black figure in the media and art has been a marker of an increasingly inclusive fashion and art community globally. Our contemporary visual vocabulary has been re-infused with a new vitality and substance thanks to an increase in powerful images authored by the increase in the community of Black African photographers. The Joburg based studio represents several young ‘born free’ photographers who continue the conversation around the role of the power of the Black body in the marketplace; the cross-pollination between art, fashion, and culture in constructing an image; while attempting to address the institutional barriers that have historically been an impediment to Black African photographers participating more fully in the fashion (and art) industries. By supporting this re-envisioned future Obscure Studio ‘makes work about what we want to talk about’ and ‘what is inspiring us right now’. In 2010 I founded Books & Books Press, an award-winning book publishing imprint in partnership with independent bookstore Books & Books. I am a published Author (Rizzoli New York, Universe, Skira/Rizzoli) and published Photographer (Assouline, Books & Books Press) Portfolio: www.petramason.com Public Speaking Engagements: Somerset House, London, Soho Beach House, Miami, Miami Book Fair, Sotheby’s London, Ulwazi Center, Langa, St Georges Cathedral and Common Room, Cape Town. The Bannister, Johannesburg, Books & Books Bal Harbor and Coral Gables, Florida. Vout-O-Reenees, London, Viscaya Museum, Miami, Florida.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Where to eat, drink, visit and hang out in Miami? I always go high and low: Stay in South Beach at cultural oasis The Betsy Hotel and dine at LT Steak & Seafood, coffee and panini at Italian hole in the wall Pinocchio, Perez Art Museum Miami to see the collection and contemporary art exhibitions and having lunch in the sultry breeze at the museum cafe. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park for a bike ride and lunch at Boater’s Grill. Puerto Sagua but only for the bar style media noche and cuban coffee, Mac’s Club Deuce for classic drinks and the jukebox and who knows what, Wood in Wynwood for a wild night of indoor and outdoor dancing without the typical Miami tacky mega club vibe, Overnight at Copper Door in Overtown or at least go for breakfast waffles and then to lunch at Marcus Samuelson’s Red Rooster Overtown and see the historic neighborhood. Oysters at Sweet Liberty. Book events and daytime intelligence at Books & Books in Coral Gables or the Bal Harbor location,
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Artist Mother, Judith Mason.
(c) Thekiso Mokhele for Obscure Studio (c) James Sey (c) Terribly Girly Studio, Miami (c) Romero Fernandez