By: Jocelyn You
Former Tustin High students, Connor Brawley and Zijn Winters, are prime examples of the heart that all Tillers seem to possess. Staying local after graduation, the two lived on a “normal route” going to college and working part-time jobs, meandering through life but not yet grasping their purposes and dreams. Feeling as though they were “missing the important times of their youth,” their thoughts turned more goal-oriented, resulting in their newest project, Artist Social Help (ASH). Dedicated to giving back to the community through both communal services and affordable apparel, Brawley and Winters grasp onto their goals through ASH.
Growing up in Tustin, the two had the chance to “see the whole city make a transformation for the better” in regards to The Marketplace and The Tustin Legacy developments, park renovations for community get-togethers, and education changes to TUSD in order to further enrich each students’ learning processes. In an environment that “takes care of itself,” the two have been blessed to grow up in such a comfortable suburbia, but they acknowledge Tustin’s neighboring city, Santa Ana, which is known for struggling with gang violence, drug distribution, and an ever-growing homeless population. Through the community service aspect of Artist Social Help, Brawley and Winters strive to give privileges that they own to communities who need it.
Already teaming up with Operation Helping Hands- an organization that hands out blankets, backpacks, and other necessities to the homeless- the two plan on continuing ASH’s community services and encouraging others to support the movement.
As the project launches, Brawley and Winters learned that absolutely anyone “can do whatever you want as long as you love what you’re doing.” To them, work should be enjoyable, maturing, and helpful as opposed to the stereotype of the dreadful, adulthood “work” itself. What is starting off as a Tustin/local-based project is ideally going to grow into a networked community with people “bettering their community and themselves.” The vision of a perfect utopia with everyone working together to create a better place may seem unreal, but Brawley states, “There is power in numbers, and we’re trying to push people to connect and have a teamwork mentality.”
Not afraid of failure, Brawley and Winters have doubts that have been “thrown out the window a long time ago.” Only producing the work that they have full confidence in, failure is not an option for them because the drive that they share “constantly pushes them together and helps keep each other in check.” The only thing that they are intent on working on is “better themselves and everything around them,” making little room for negative thoughts.
Supported by like-minded creative individuals, Brawley and Winters are connected to aspiring models, beat producers, and t-shirt printers. With the combined work of their own strengths and their friends’, ASH continues to grow naturally and in an inspiring way.
The ultimate goal of Artist Social Help is to “reach a point where they can organize an entire operation of their own and be able to give back on a larger scale.” By giving back, they look to be able to fund and support essential medical treatment and supplies for the homeless.
Being a Tiller and fashion enthusiast myself, I had the opportunity to model in ASH’s first photoshoot. The “Modern ‘95” theme consisted of 2015 versions of ‘90’s street clothing such as Timberland’s, hoop earrings, cropped shirts, oversized basic crewneck sweaters and tee shirts, and oversized “dad” jackets. Sticking to a dark/neutral color scheme of blacks, blues, olives, and maroons, the models (former students Abigail Pidazo, Jon Kong, Zijn Winters, and myself) posed for Connor, photographer and co-founder of ASH, in our modernized ‘90’s fits.