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Interview MIKHA M.
Date MARCH 2021

LIONEL TAURUS
      In conversation with human, photographer and designer Lionel Taurus about life in New York and the profound importance of relationships with people and their culture.

Lionel grew up in Guadeloupe, a small island in the Caribbean islands. After 17 years he then moved to France to craft his design skills by studying in several art schools, and years later he chose New York to be his new home where he currently lives and works at Squarespace.

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Photo by Lionel Taurus, Guadeloupe
 

“I MOVED SO MUCH IN MY LIFE THAT I REDEFINED WHAT HOME MEANT TO ME.”

LFV: What challenges and learnings have you experienced in terms of living, and working in New York?

L: New York City is one the best cities I’ve ever lived in. People are dreamers, ambitious, and coming from all over the world to make it in the Big Apple. But for me, it also comes with a price: “distractions.” On the one side, you can do everything you want, from experiencing a different new restaurant each day for years, to visit a lot of museums, go to all concerts you always dreamed about, connect with people from different cultures.

On the other side, you’re getting so caught up with the ton of things you can make that sometimes you lose yourself and don’t know where to look at anymore. With time I developed some habits, tried my best to balance work and other activities. I started to train in mixed martial arts to keep my mind up and worked on more personal projects to grow as a designer.

In terms of working experience, I always thought I would kill myself working consistently because of this false image of perfection and fast pace living that New York has but since I live here and I’ve seen how things are, I think it’s quite a myth.

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Photo by Lionel Taurus, New York City

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Photo by Lionel Taurus, New York City

Breaking from the confining norms amplifies creativity; how does your experience abroad and the new culture influences you, and your practice?

L: New York is a very vibrant multicultural city. As a matter of fact, I barely know anyone born and raised in New York. This cultural melting pot creates the best creative environment for me to work with because I get different perspectives from my peers. I know I could go to all the museums and exhibitions possible in the city but to be honest, nothing inspires me more than having design arguments with people. Discussing and questioning the problems and obstacles of a design subject is for me the clearest path to finding the best solutions. I usually don’t get design answers from viewing things or gathering references, I get them from sharing thoughts to solve the problems related to my subject.

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Photo by Lionel Taurus, Guadeloupe 

What does home mean to you?  

L: I moved so much in my life that I redefined what home meant to me. For me, home is not solely the place where I grew up or a physical space anymore, it’s more a sensation, this moment of happiness and joy that I feel when I do or experience things that remind me of the best moments of my life.

“THIS ALSO MAKES ME MORE EAGER TO STAY AND SUCCEED TO PROVE TO MY HOMETOWN THAT NO MATTER WHERE YOU’RE COMING FROM, IF YOU PUT IN THE TIME AND WORK WITH A LOT OF DISCIPLINE, YOU CAN MAKE IT!”

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Photo by Lionel Taurus, Guadeloupe 

What gives you a deep sense of belonging? What do you find most inspiring about your new city or culture? 

L: I made a lot of connections since I moved to the city 7 years ago and built a lot of meaningful relationships with new friends. The city is growing so fast and it feels like there’s always something new coming up to your doorstep. I’m always looking for the “what’s next”? what will be the next cool thing to do or visit, or eat? New York is full of surprises, and sometimes I feel incredibly lucky to be here knowing where I’m coming from. This also makes me more eager to stay and succeed to prove to my hometown that no matter where you’re coming from, if you put in the time and work with a lot of discipline, you can make it!

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© NEMIR 

What’s your favourite song, book or artwork for recalling home?

L: “Ça sert” by Nemir, it’s a French rap song about the difficulty of succeeding in life. I love the chorus that reminds me how hard it was for me to make it: Don't look at me destroying my life, look at yourself escaping yours..”

“BUT WITH TIME EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, CONNECT WITH YOUR PRESENT BUT DON’T DISCONNECT FROM YOUR PAST.”

Any advice for someone moving to a new country?

L: Be open to rethinking what is your comfort zone, talk to strangers in bars or wherever you go, try to make new friends (this can start in your work environment), keep cool, and relax! You can also invite your friends/family from time to time to visit you to make the transition smoother, that will also force you to do all the touristic thing that you will never do by yourself..! My first 3 months in New York were horrible because my English was very bad. I was coming back home with huge headaches after spending time at the office trying to understand what people were expecting from me. It always feels good to talk in your native language to ease your thoughts and just relax without overthinking. But with time everything will be ok, connect with your present but don’t disconnect from your past.

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Photo by Craig Reynolds 

Lionel Taurus is a designer and Senior Interactive Art Director currently working at Squarespace in New York. Lionel has worked in the past for Hello Monday, B-Reel Creative & Make Me Pulse, and global brands such as ESPN, LG, Nixon, MTV, American Express, Facebook, Google, Ubisoft, Longchamp, L'Occitane and G.H.MUMM.

Visit his site to see his work, and vivid photography.

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