Prior to following Mac for his photography which entails clean action shots and footage of New York’s skate culture. It came to my attention that he’s involved in other intriguing projects as well. After buying fabric for Adsum, he came across New York based brand under Japanese textile company, Paper Project where He later found himself photographing their product developed with paper yarn, as well as running photo and video for creative shop The Real Travel Agency with friend Zach Cohn. I got a chance to talk more with Mac about these projects and more during quarantine outside of New York and in his hometown in Ohio.
(S) Tell us about yourself.
(M) I’m 28. I grew up in Xenia, Ohio on a farm. It’s the town that the movie Gummo is about. So it’s pretty strange but I had a good childhood. I grew up around Alien Workshop and Habitat Skateboards. Mike Hill and Joe Castrucci really played a big role in framing how I see and do things. I currently live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with my girlfriend Kristine.
Two years ago, I started a little creative and strategy agency with my friend Zack Cohn called The Real Travel Agency. The point is to do creative projects for brands the way we want to do it – DIY, personal, and quick. So we work with a couple clients and also do our own conceptual videos and small batch products. It’s an excuse and outlet for creative ideas that aren’t skating related.
(S) Tell us a little more about Paper Project.
(M) When I was working for Adsum, we were buying fabric from this guy Takashi who runs the US office of a Japanese fabric mill. He’s the coolest, nicest guy. We kept in touch, I’d talk to him about surfing and stuff. A few months ago, he told me about a small brand that the company had started called Paper Project and he asked me if I could come in to talk about shooting photos. One thing led to the next and now Travel Agency is fully invested in trying to grow the brand with them. The quality of the product is insane and they can basically make anything you can imagine. The team is amazing and really let me have a ton of creative control. So I’ve been shooting and doing little creative projects with friends to create a foundation for them. Now, I’m in the middle of figuring out a plan to keep things going during shut down. It’s been a bit hard to shoot photos and the supply chain is messed up.
(S) Looking forward to seeing more of Paper Project in the near future. What projects are you working on back home?
(M) I’ve been back in Ohio for the last few weeks with my girlfriend so we’ve had a ton of projects. Zack and I are working on a couple small batch products for Travel Agency. I have been natural dyeing t-shirts over a fire with osage orange saw dust. We are also making a mug, a pin, and some other videos. I’ve been helping my dad harvest some of the trees on the farm that are dead and processing the wood. Kristine and I made some cutting boards out of the tree from our front yard. It was fun to take her through her first woodworking project. I’m also going out and skating/shooting photos with the Hulkrips guys which has been fun because they are skating the most insane spots in Cincinnati.
(S) Keep us posted on your t-shirts and woodwork we would love to see the end product of these projects! I’ve seen a lot of folks working on new things and picking up new hobbies during this time. Have you found yourself doing the same?
(M) We processed natural clay from the side of the creek on my family’s farm and are in the middle of teaching ourselves how to make and fire ceramics. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s fun to learn. We dug the clay out of the side of a hill near the creek with a pick ax. Then we dried it in the sun for a few days. Then we smashed it until it was pulverized into dust. We filtered it through a screen and then added water. We’ve made a few test pieces that will need to dry for about two weeks. Then we have to figure out how to fire them in a fire pit. Fingers crossed that everything doesn’t just explode.
(S) What does your day to day in quarantine look like?
(M) I don’t have a super interesting or regular routine. I wake up around 8 and get a cup of coffee. I usually do computer work for a few hours. If people are skating, I’ll go meet up around noon or one. If I’m not skating, sometimes I’ll be editing videos for work or shooting product for Paper Project. Or I’ll be helping my dad with something around the farm.
Then it’s making dinner with the family. And then either more work, something creative or movies at night.
We’ve been going on evening bike rides or doing some yoga but it’s nothing regular.
(S) What music are you listening to these days?
(M) I have a pretty extensive podcast list but I have tried to chill out on it a bit. The political stuff like Citations Needed and Chapo are pretty stress inducing. Throwing Fits is funny and completely superficial so it’s relaxing.
Music wise, I’ve had a great time listening to music super loud and not in my headphones, either from the speakers next to my computer or in the car. Gene Clark Alice Coltrane, Robert Wyatt. I always try to listen to entire albums all the way through. I usually pick an artist that I kind of know and listen to entire albums that I know nothing about. Like Roberta Flack, I’ll go and listen to 4 of her albums straight just so i know i’ve heard it. My friend Brian Goodhart has been making some good playlists. And I’ve also been listening to the daddies brothers’ Elara radio.
Follow to see more of Mac Shafer’s upcoming projects on Instagram @mac_shafer