I sit across from Sacrificed Studios' Kevin Maya in his studio overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Plastered to the walls and scattered across the floor are laminated prints featuring some of the hottest names in contemporary pop culture. These images have been cemented in time through the medium of Kevin’s camera, which sits on the table wrapped in a silk Rick Owens scarf.
There's Gunna walking the red carpet at the Grammys, Roddy Ricch and Cordae looking over Cole Bennett’s shoulder during the filming of the “Gifted” music video, The Kid LAROI hanging out of a taxi window, and Michèle Lamy’s awe-inspiring smile. Fleeting visuals that Kevin catches, tames, and releases to all who wish to see them. We find ourselves in a once-spacious room, now surrounded by towers of boxes filled to the brim with unreleased clothing from his Sacrificed Studios label.
If you don't know Maya, chances are you've at least seen his photos. He doesn’t merely snap pictures of rappers, but meticulously blends the world of fashion, photography, and music. Guided by the hand of Michèle Lamy, the Atlanta-native's star is on a meteoric rise. As it stands, his Instagram following sits at comfortably over 500,000.
Maya is still winding down from his raucous debut gallery show, which ended up being shut down by the Los Angeles Police Department. People flocked to the venue hours before it opened, with lines wrapping around the block. Featuring performances from long-term friends Yung Bans and Poundside Pop, the place was at capacity after 30 minutes. It shows that Maya doesn't just have his finger on the pulse of pop culture, but his whole hand on its beating heart.
At just 21 years old, there's a sense that Maya stands on the cusp of blowing up. Find what he has to say about his work and exclusive photos from his recent show in his first-ever sit-down interview below.
Kevin, tell us about last week's show and how it all went down.
I’d been planning this for literally years; it was supposed to happen last year. We saw that concerts were back open in LA, so I wanted to throw my first gallery show. That's what we did. That day, I was still in the room setting up prints with my team, sitting there like, "I can't believe this is happening." There was a kid who posted from inside while I was getting dressed, saying, "I beat everyone here." So kids were already sneaking into the show, which is what I love to see.
You had over 1,000 people RSVP, and they had to cap the capacity because it was full. How do you so successfully blend fashion, pop culture, photography, and music into one event?
Being able to tie in everything almost feels family-oriented. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to do something just for myself; I'm trying to make it for everybody.
I was talking to a guy who attended in a wheelchair. He told me, “Yeah, I don't even know what this is, but it's so cool." He said his friend just brought him there. It was just an honor to have all these people here with different types of interests. It feels really warm. Everyone is working at their own goal and wanting to do something just as big as what you're doing. So just make sure you give everyone the same amount of respect that you deserve.
The show started at 7, but it was unfortunately cut short, right?
Yeah. LAPD had helicopters and over 30 police cars shut down the block. Kids were taking the prints off the wall. I had to leave early, because security was grabbing me. Overall it was a success and I'm ready to do more. Miami next.
How do you feel about people taking stuff like that?
There was such a feeling of community there — basically what's mine is yours. And that's why people were taking the clothes that I handmade after the show. In the end, the back of my head is like, “I don't even have this stuff priced, people just wanted it that badly.” You can take it and wear it and support it, because I love you guys for supporting Sacrificed Studios. It's what I'm putting all my effort into right now.
Would you call this your debut?
It was my debut for sure, but there was more to the show. I hosted it to prove that young kids could do what I'm doing. I left school and did something different from what you're “supposed to do.” I took a different path, and it's working. If people say that you can’t do something, you can, they're just hating on you.
What's your connection to Michèle Lamy and how did you get started with photography?
I got started with photography from my family. My mom was an artist when I was growing up and she’d always have me taking pictures or she’d be painting. I reached out to Michèle to do a shoot. She's my mentor and one of the best people I know. We kept in contact and she ended up coming to the gallery show. She's so likable, loving, and welcoming, and I could tell that she just wants to see me succeed.
You say Sacrificed Studios is a photography company, but with cosigns from the likes of Michèle and Bans, it seems like it's bigger than photos. What does Sacrificed Studios mean to you?
Sacrificed Studios is a collective photography company. The name Sacrificed Studios at the core basically represents me dropping out of high school at an early age and following my dream as an artist. You've got to sacrifice something to get to where you want to be.
Do you design your clothes with anything in mind?
It's been super fun being able to translate certain colors and palates from my photography. I like seeing my vision come to life on clothes and working with my team has been life-changing. I can't wait to explore so many more different and unique styles. I told my manager that I'm trying to go overseas and do cut-and-sew stuff and feel the materials; I want to do the whole thing.
Where do you see Sacrificed Studios in a few years?
I want Sacrificed Studios to be a multitude of mediums, including sculpture, architecture, and so many more: a collective to help promote the ethos behind the brand. I’m hoping to go international with locations in the next 3 years.
And after that?
I want my whole team to be happy. I want to see every single person that helped me throughout my journey be successful and I'm going to do that in any way that I can. Honestly, you guys just have to wait and see...