Created by Serbian-Canadian artist Tatum MacLean, ZEUSTATE is a multimedia DIY project that features unique portraiture, remarkable videography, and original music. With a keen eye for creative direction across fields, MacLean curated some of TAIKAN’s most iconic narrative imagery in her two shoots for Collection 008; Airheart and Hansel & Gretel. In this TAIKAN By Editorial, we gain insight into MacLean’s creative vision.
When did you start making art?
I can’t put my finger on when exactly, but my childhood consisted of slamming piano keys and doodling lopsided faces in the margins.
What was the first artwork you ever made?
Probably a shit finger painting I did as a child that my mom still has stashed in some dusty old drawer.
How was ZEUSTATE born, and where does the name come from?
Prior to photography, I attempted to produce music and needed an artist name. I have this fascination with ancient greek mythology. ’Zeus’ is the god of the sky and ruler of all gods and humans. In an unusual bout of egomania, I decided to place his name in front of my nickname ‘Tate’.
Tell us about what inspires your music creation. Who are your favourite artists?
Generally, I love music that tells a story and makes you feel things be it through lyrics or sound. Currently I’m hooked on Lee Fields & the Expressions, Los Zafiros and Father’s Children. Feel-good yet melancholic vibes from another time and all that... I get inspired by the people around me as well. There's so many talented music creators in Vancouver that are making moves right now. To name a few: Prado Monroe, Yu Su, Harrison Brome, Rainout, Boslen, Jeymon and so many more. It's exciting to witness this city's music industry grow. Some of my all time favourite music creators are Earl Sweatshirt, Anna Von Hausswolff and Blood Orange. But I grew up listening to witch house and Bulgarian folk music. I guess I go through phases.
What other forms of art are you keen to try that you haven’t yet?
How has the pandemic positively or negatively impacted your work?
I was working as a set photographer in Venice, Italy when the pandemic first hit. We went into a full on lockdown in the span of 24 hours and I ended up being stuck there for 2 months as flights were not happening. It was pretty crazy. I mean, I definitely went a little crazy. We weren’t allowed to leave our homes unless we were grocery shopping within a 200 meter radius. Let’s just say I did a lot of grocery shopping during that time.
Where did the narrative of these shoots come from?
I love creepy stories and the original ‘Hansel & Gretel’ tale is definitely disturbing. In a nutshell, these siblings are left to die in the woods by their parents who consider them a burden during the famine. In order to avoid getting lost, the two children leave a trail of breadcrumbs as they continue on. Then they randomly stumble upon a child-devouring witch. And so on, and so on… Whilst revisiting this tale, I thought to myself: wow, this story could really use some product placement.
What is in store for the future of ZEUSTATE?
I consider myself more of a creative director with poor outreach skills rather than a photographer. But taking pictures turned out to be a great avenue for me to express bits of ideas I have in my head. So when I shoot, it feels like I’m creating a sort of endless personal mood board for potential future projects. But truly, I want to be involved with the music industry. My dream is to direct visual projects for music artists alongside talented and passionate individuals.
Which TAIKAN would you recommend for a photographer like yourself to carry on shoot day?
I absolutely love the Sukhoi Vermillion bag. The straps are shiny and comfortable. The bag is spacious so you can fit pretty much all your essentials in it such as lens filters, sd cards, batteries, caps, phone, wallet, keys and mini reflectors. Also who doesn't love a pop of colour. It's both functional and aesthetic.
ZEUSTATE x TAIKAN on Spotify