The Origins of You

15 February 2017

Photographer Rebecca Jones-Clarkson
Words and Interview Matthew Regan

Rebecca Jones-Clarkson captures Christian Bootle at D1 Models as he turns his escapism into reality in this exclusive story and interview.

Resting in his eyes is the collision of two worlds. The teenage boy with his dirty sneakers and ripped jeans, and that longing for adventure. Yet there is also his mindset to succeed, to knock on all doors with a thirst for knowledge. Tracing the lines of your hand and staring back at your reflection clouded in the fog of youth. Christian Bootle at D1 Models balances on that peripheral line; he is a boy with a multi-faceted mind, one with new routes of thought that spark up continually.

In the shadows of his boyish charm is a stark discipline to succeed. Photographer Rebecca Jones-Clarkson captures his aims for the future with an ambience of tranquility. No styling, simply Christian as he is; honest and willing to dare. As his limbs grew, so did his mind. With a British father and Filipino mother, he grew up in a kaleidscope of cultural influences. Finding the balance between both, and the meeting points that they blur into a modern vision of family.

Knowing who you are, and the origins that make each strand of you special, is uncovered with this questioning. Let's be brave enough to search for it. Optimism gleams out from his presence, a product of his childhood spent in a sleepy town. With his head in the stars (he loves Sci-fi and aliens) and a creative love of gaming, Christian is ready to turn his escapism into a reality.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, Christian.
I’m 18 years old, I’m 6 foot 1 and I’m half Filipino. I love travelling, as I like looking around London and finding new places and I like meeting new people.

In contrast to where you grew up in Hastings, what do you find exciting about London?
Just everything really, there’s so much more. Back in Hastings there is nothing to look, just countryside really, and London has everything. It’s weird getting used to that contrast between such a small place and going to such a big place, which I really like to be honest.

How would you say that growing up somewhere more rural has influenced who you are?
Just kind of, such small groups of friends and stuff. It’s kind of strange, because everything up here is so different. I thikn it has changed my personality, because I’m so used to the countryside and going out and stuff.

So you’ve become more confident you think?
Yeah, I think London has made me a lot more confident, not because I'm used to having to do this stuff, but kind of having to do it for this job.

Do you think having that tight-knit group of friends, that support network, is a good thing?
It’s a good thing, because it’s helped me to grow as the type of person I am. I get to meet my friends all the time, because it’s not such a big area. I don’t really have to travel much to see them, which has kept us really close.

What are they doing now?
A few of them are going off to uni, and a few of them are in the second year of college, but I see them all the time.

You talked about your interest in gaming. What is your favourite game to play?
My favourite game is CS:GO, I’m a big PC gamer, but I used to play it on console.

How long would you say you’ve been gaming for?
All my life really, literally it’s the only thing to do when you live in such a small area. Like you game with your friends, because there’s not much else to do outside. I really want to create the art behind games, and study how to make them - that really interests me.

Would you say you’re quite a creative person?
Yeah, I’d say so. My whole life I’ve played the violin and the piano, and I studied art because with my family I was raised around it. It’s not really academic stuff, but the more creative side of things. I used to be quite advanced with piano, I was nearly the highest grade. I stopped playing when I was 14, because I didn’t really like the grades and stuff - I liked more playing for myself.

Did you get advanced in piano or violin or both?
I got up to grade six in both piano and violin. Grade eight is the highest one, and I was at grade six when I was fourteen just before I stopped. It was kind of weird, because despite that stereotypical Asian culture, it was on my dad’s side who really wanted me to play the violin. You’d think it would be my mum’s side pushing me to play both instruments, but my dad really wanted me to, because he always had music in his life. He used to conduct an orchestra and he used to teach music. He played the piano and the trumpet, and all sorts of tinstruments, so he kind of brought me into that world.

I’m guessing you were educated in the classics?
Yeah, there was a lot of classical music, which is kind of why I stopped as it was all classical and I wanted to do it for myself and with music that I liked. I wasn’t really into the classical music, but my dad’s still really big into it and listens to it.

Do you still play any of them for yourself?
I don’t know, sometimes occasionally.

Which instrument did you pick up first, the violin or the piano?
The piano, because I have one in my house and it’s easier than working with a violin that’s out of tune. I love the sound of the piano so much more than the violin.

How does it makes you feel when you’re playing?
Playing the piano makes me feel great, because it’s a skill that some people have, but it’s quite hard. I’ve worked hard for it my whole life and it’s a good thing to have there.

When you play the piano now, what kind of music do you play?
I like a lot of Yiruma, he’s an Asian artist. His stuff is kind of like soothing piano music, that’s what I’m more into.

You mentioned your mum was Filipino?
Yeah, and my dad is from London.

That’s quite a cool culture clash. How did you find growing up with that mix of influences?
It was weird, really bizarre, because as I grew up - my mum had a really strong accent, so I had to adapt to us speaking in such posh accents from my dad. We also got different types of food and stuff, because with my mum we were always eating Filipino food and my dad never really liked it. I never really ate British foods I guess.

Did you ever feel a little stuck between cultures, growing up between parents from two different countries?
Yeah, because I really thought my Asian side wasn’t really coming out very much, because I live in England and have an English dad - but I feel like if I was in the Philippines it would come out more. It kind of hindered my connection to both cultures in a way.

You must visit. Where would your ideal location to go travelling be?
I’d love to go to America, because I think it’s great - the culture there is amazing and I love the accent. It would be really cool exploring that kind of place, because it would be so different. I think they have the biggest cultural difference. It would also be nice to go to the different countries in Asia and stuff, exploring new places.

I can kind of see from the way you’re dressed that you’re interested in American culture.
Yeah, I love streetwear and the culture that goes with skating. I used to skate quite a bit, but I lost my board on the train so I’m just saving up for a new one now - me and my friends used to go out nearly every day with our boards. I play basketball occasionally in my spare time too, I was really big into it and played all the time - I was on a team and stuff.

What do you like about basketball?
Meeting new people and going against new components - figuring out new tricks and stuff, just getting better at the game. I used to be really close to my team mates, we were like a tight group that would play together all the time, which kind of brought us together.

Did you just kind of drift apart?
Yeah, in second year I just drifted apart, because I wanted to get all my grades down and was all about studying. It became something to do in my spare time, because I used to do it quite competitively.

What do you think is different about being a boy today?
People expect a lot from you. You’re expected to have amazing grades, and if you’re not aiming for that it’s kind of frowned upon. There’s quite a lot of pressure, especially because I’m from an Asian background, I feel it a lot more. It’s just the kind of thing where you don’t want to disappoint them, because they’re your parents, but also if you don’t get something right you feel that pressure more. You want to make them happy to be honest, but there’s also a lot of help towards achieving your goals - there’s more technology today and more things to adapt yourself to.

Talking about goals, does that come from growing up playing instruments - because with both violin and piano, there’s a lot of discipline. How has that carried on within you today?
That discipline has been brought over into everything really, because I had to practice all the time to get where I wanted and that’s just the same with everything now really. You have to practice at everything to get somewhere.

That drive also goes into your gaming interest - how important is it to win the game?
It’s very important, I play with a few of my friends, because we’re always really competitive together. Whenever I had time I used to play it religiously, but now it has become more like a spare time kind of thing. Whenever I’m home I can just go online and play with my friends, because they’re always on.

For people who aren’t into gaming, how would you explain the thrill of it?
It’s fun meeting new people online, because it’s also a platform where you can meet loads of new people. It’s fun having something you can sit down to and just be competitive and not have to worry about. You don’t have to work too much for it, it’s already there in your room and it’s something easy to access. It’s fun being able to play it and progress with it and keep getting better. There’s loads of leagues for competitive gaming and stuff, where people get together and play - it’s a pretty social thing.

In the future when you’re working in games, what kind of game would you create?
Probably a Sci-fi one, because I’m really into aliens and space. Creating something fictional out in space or something would be cool. Some dystopian future would be good in a game I think.

What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to get myself really grounded. I want to have a stable job and a stable place in my life - that’s what I really want to achieve.

Any words of advice for boys your age?
Always try your best, and don’t sit around waiting for your goal to happen and actually go for it.

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