We had the good fortune of connecting with Christan O’Brien and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christan, what makes you happy? Why?
Love, honestly makes me happy. Cheesy, right? I know, but, it does. I love loving people, loving God, loving the Earth. I think it ties into why I’m a creative. I feel like art, creation, making something is a labor of love and I enjoy it. I may not always like it lol, but I love it. I really believe love can change things, can change people, and thinking about being a pillar of love in someone or something’s life truly makes me happy.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up with siblings, but we’re pretty vast in age ranges, so in my house, I really grew up as what felt like an only child. I would read and write a lot. I remember how Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin and Death In The Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway made me feel. Even reading music lyrics, and the moods they would put me in. I started seeing the power in words. Like, words can create an atmosphere, change energy, encourage, tear down, they are really a mighty weapon. That passion drove me to start using my words to tell stories in poetry, essays, whatever way I could. In college I worked on our school paper, focusing on political or environmental subjects mostly, I entered contests, and worked at becoming a full time writer. Spoiler alert, still a work in progress lol. But I’m definitely getting there. Then I got into interviewing, mainly artists. Sitting down and getting to know well known people, and not so well known people, who all just wanted to share their stories with the world. I felt creatives had a story to tell, and I wanted to do it justice you know? Photography came into play a little later. When I would submit articles or writing samples to various publications I freelanced for I began thinking, I see the image I want attached to this work, maybe I should capture it. And people would always say “You have a great eye.” It kind of grew from there, taking headshots or shooting events for friends. Then I started getting paid for it, and I knew at that point I needed to work at perfecting this craft. I would think “I don’t ever want anyone to feel gypped”. It eventually grew into production and videography. Okay, this going to sound crazy, but with writing, I would dream the words on paper, like physically see every single word, and I would wake up and write it. Then I began dreaming and seeing images, and scenes of things and I was like, okay, I need to get this out. I’m actually pretty excited because I just shot and co-edited my first full length music video. It was a rollercoaster to say the least, but you know, once you get over that initial gut dropping feeling and ride it, it’s fun, exhilarating even. The challenges honestly came from within, me vs. me if that makes sense? Believing what I have to say, and what I want to create is valuable. That it’s worth people’s time. That’s still an everyday choice and I think it always will be. My relationship with God got me through those fears and doubts. Still does. It isn’t easy dealing with yourself, being honest about what you do well and where you have areas of opportunity to grow and do better. I’ve learned to water in my mind what I want to grow and uproot what I don’t. Choosing my thoughts as carefully as I do my words. I guess that’s what I want my work to do for others as well.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Bet! We’re talking Pre-Pandemic… If they arrive and it’s breakfast or lunch we’re hitting Le Petit Marché, dinner, we’re definitely grabbing some quick veggie burgers from Mixed Up and then heading to Grant Park to chill out and eat them. Later in the night we’ll meet up with some of my other friend’s for drinks at Soundtable. Hopefully the DJ is playing Soca or Afrobeats so we can sweat out all the calories we’ll be putting on lol. If there’s time left in the night, we’d hit Joystick right up the street, get a few arcade games in. Next day, take a hike around the Chattahoochee, then grab a beer at Battle & Brew. If fate aligns we can catch a dope show at the Tabernacle or Ravine. Definitely have to get some shots of them on the Jackson Street Bridge. Take our bikes out for a day on the Beltline, let them see all these “renovations” going on around the city. Take a day and head to Cabbage Town, grab food at Little’s, and check out Krog Street Market. Swing back up Auburn and get some Mango’s for dinner. Take a day and explore West Midtown, hit Ormsby’s and Little Trouble that night. Have to introduce them to my home church, All Nations, for a midweek or Sunday service. As we get closer to their departure, I’d take them to the High Museum and MODA and we can end the night by watching the sunset off the 17th street bridge.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Whoa! Making me feel like I’m giving my first Emmy acceptance speech lol. No, but seriously, I think the two consistencies in my life that deserve all the credit are God and my tribe. I have an amazing support system of friends that constantly push me out of the shadows and into the light, even when I pugnaciously resist. Seeing them go full force into their dreams really pushes me to pursue mine. I feel it strengthens my faith in God as well, seeing purpose and passion cultivate one another until dreams become reality.