"Things are not going to be successful if there's not a structure to them. It can't be a scatterbrained sort of deal. Everyone's picking up dead weight. 'Cause if I add in my two cents and you add in your two cents, you know, we're just gonna have a whole bunch of money..."
Say Less is a monthly narrative interview between TYFNS' core creative team and editor Kosi Dunn. The format is narrative-driven, the topics are ever-changing, and the goal is to discover methods of curating culture and creating substantial content in an environment heavily influenced by, well, everything.
It's more or less half past two and Merima Repesa picked the wrong University of Maryland student for advice on where to post fliers in the Student Union. Thank You For Not Snitching's Creative Director, affectionately referred to by friends as "Merms", and I have only just now separated from the larger Thank You For Not Snitching team, walking down
As always, Ms. Repesa is working; this time in particular, posting fliers for the recent gig she scored doing graphic work for the Fillmore. It's only after I have been mumbling unhelpful suggestions for what seems like forever does she offer me a ride home in exchange for some help with the job.
Which doesn't last long. We don't have any tape...or thumbtacks.
Very seldom (read "never") have I met an unprepared Merima, who is often regarded as one of the cleanest, hardworking creatives in her age group, a shocking 18. Observing the meeting earlier, it's obvious as to how Yanni, with her laid back demeanor and quintessential swag, would dominate the discussion.
Conversely, what I find interesting is how Merima, though physically small and unassuming (and the only person in the squad wearing heels), commands the center of the creative conversation, jumping in to give feedback or to clarify.
Which is why riding with her is a blessing in disguise for an abundance of reasons. Aside from saving me an hour riding back to Largo as well as finally catching up on an interview almost two months in the making, picking Merima's brain is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Though she's been grinding graphically for a mere year and some change (she's only a year out of high school for fuck's sake), Ms. Repesa has garnered considerable regard, attracting the attention of groups like the Fillmore and #ACreativeDC while focusing heavily on curating a thriving community of young artists through Thank You For Not Snitching and Merimart, her personal brand of dark, satirical musings.
But Say Less is as much about, well, Say Less as it is about the individual interviewee so, as we get into the car, I try to get a grasp of how she perceives her own leadership potential with respect to Thank You For Not Snitching's growth as a brand.
Trying to catch her off guard, I ask her to pinpoint what she believes to be TYFNS' current weakness as a brand, collective, and team.
"Probably everyone wanting to do their own thing right now and not abiding by what should be done first. We have to do what's best for the blog, right now...We first have to do the baby stuff work, the hard work stuff first."
Merima is, if anything, refreshing in her inexplicable pragmatism, especially considering her profession is, quite literally, making shit up. There is an overriding illusion of art as pure leisure which, in turn, makes it difficult to prove to buyers, employers, and loved ones art, in any medium, is as difficult and taxing a discipline as Shaolin Kung Fu or, dare I say it, Physics.
It's not all candy canes and rainbows and Warhol-esque orgies and I think there's something to be said about a young artist who isn't afraid to, as the Chinese say, "eat bitter".
As creative director, many, if not all, of the aesthetic decisions are screened through Merima, plenty of them are even designed herself (though our team has grown significantly in terms of visual artists so look forward to more original collaborations on the site in the coming months). But Merima doesn't merely shape the TYFNS visual discourse, she, through her championing of the brand, helps flesh out what we're trying to get across to the larger metropolitan area with TYFNS as a lifestyle.
When asked about what she wants the brand to mean to the community, Merms suggests, "everybody has that one friend that gets them hip to everything. Knows all the connects. All the right people...all the right events that you can get into for free. And if you don't have that friend, you know you want that friend. If I would personify TYFNS as a person, that's the person I want it to be."
She starts laughing (maniacally?) to herself, saying she just "opened another page in the book". Which, I think, is her way of saying she made that shit up on the spot.
Either way, I leave the car inspired as fuck. Something I've always found unnerving is the tendency for digital platforms to become breeding grounds for further exclusivity and bullying. I think the Net needs empathy and honesty and community more than ever.
But say less.