Interview with Cut
You've almost definitely seen a video made by Cut. These consummate story-tellers are experts when it comes to going viral. They run on pure creativity, somehow managing to negotiate the line between fun and serious, thought-provoking and goofy. We spoke to one of Cut's key team members, and the first cultural anthropologist we've ever met, Christopher Chan.
What have been the major milestones in your career?
I began professionalizing during the Great Recession, so my career has been a patchwork of freelance, short-term work, grad school, and plenty of vicissitudes along the way. I can think of a couple clarity-inspiring moments, though, and I think of them as milestones. One of my first jobs was working at an anonymous crisis line learned to value silence, listening, and confidentiality as their own creative activities--a rare predisposition for people in our incredibly loud industry. In 2013 I started teaching the Anthropology of Pop Culture at the University of Washington; my students constantly challenge me to put the present (and all pop culture ephemera) into dialogue with the past.
How does the place you live in affect your style and work? — Asked by The Beauty Shop
We’re based in Seattle, and we have a vibrant cultural scene that doesn’t have the same kinds of pressures you find in meat grinders like LA or New York. The dreary and damp Pacific Northwest inspires me to think organically and tell stories that are understated -- the kinds of stories you tell after hours at the coffeeshop or around the fire at the beach.
- — Which historical figure's life best captures the spirit of your work?
1. How much of your day do you spend working?
Work and free time are so blurred that is hard to say. I shoot for 8.
2. Where is your ideal work environment?
A greenhouse conservatory in the winter, and a lighthouse in the summer.
3. What do you hope to get across with your work?
That empathy and human connection isn’t just possible--it’s everywhere.
4. What inspires you?
The visual world--made by humans or otherwise. Knowing that eyes and cameras are not the only things that can see.
5. What's the secret to a successful day's work?
Hydration, sunlight, and plenty of crossword and tea breaks.
6. Is there anything in your life that you can't live without?
Plenty of coffee on hand.
7. Is there anything about you that people might not know?
I’m usually very confused and pretending to be in command.
8. What would be your dream project?
Art and archives: a collaborative visual archive that travels around the world--and each observer gets to contribute their own fragments as it moves.
9. What is the most time-consuming aspect of your work?
Copywriting. It is like origami with words.
10. What legacy would you like to leave behind?