Eric Hart Jr.
Written By Elisa Sokoli
Photographed by Ragan Henderson,
Julia Mao, & Aryana Dehghan
Eric Hart Jr. has become somewhat of a well-known name, both within NYU’s campus and outside of it. Remember those viral photos of his grandparents wearing matching IVY PARK sets? Did you ever see the Rosie the Riveter-esque piece plastered to the window of the Tisch building? With all of these noteworthy moments and many, many more, Eric Hart Jr. has established himself as a rising star in the realm of photography. However, there is always a dilemma — especially in the age of social media — when it comes to interacting with art and artists; although we may see and be fans of their work, what do we really know about the artists themselves, and why are we so quick to idolize them?
It’s easy to admire someone with as much talent and clout as Eric. He’s shot for massive names like Spike Lee and Flo Milli (two of NYU’s favorite people), brands such as Calvin Klein and IVY PARK, and an extensive number of publications, and the work that he produces is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Even before sitting down and logging on to our Zoom session, I started getting nervous, because what is little old me doing interviewing someone like him? I found myself equal parts anxious and starstruck, like when you try to decide whether or not you should say something to the celebrity you just spotted. But with someone like Eric, whether you’d expect it or not, all of that simply washes away. He speaks from the heart with a kindness and authenticity that’s hard to find but can put anyone at ease.
ES: IVY PARK, fashion campaigns, artist shoots, having your work displayed right outside a Tisch building, you have just about a million accolades to your name; what has been your favorite memory of them all?
EHJ: I feel like I haven’t actually done a lot. Ya boy is a beginner. But I will say, my favorite moment out of everything is definitely getting an IVY PARK box from Beyoncé. It’s not even about the box, moreso the handwritten letter. In general, just having someone you look up to, someone you admire — I mean, you can see Beyoncé is everywhere behind me [photos of IVY PARK campaigns and Beyoncé’s cover art litter his dorm room wall] — look at your work, I still don’t even know how to describe that moment. To know that she enjoyed my work is so amazing. That’s definitely my biggest accomplishment.
ES: And we all know you’re the biggest Beyoncé stan. How has she inspired you over the years, whether it’s how you live your life or artistically?
EHJ: I think it's a multitude of things. From her artistry to the work ethic she exudes, I feel like that’s #1 for me. Someone who is driven and ambitious and doesn’t stop. She released BEYONCÉ, right? How do you top that? Oh, Lemonade!
It’s crazy. You can tell that she is her only competitor. She is someone that just wants to be better every single time she does something, like “How can I advance myself?” I feel like that’s a great way to live life in general, whether it's a hobby, something you're passionate about, or just one-upping yourself to always get better. On top of that, the way that she moves in the industry; you don’t hear about her beefing with anyone or putting too much of her information out. It’s just a stature and a classiness that she always presents, and I love that. Anyone who ever talks about Beyoncé, is always saying how humble and how kind and how pleasant she is. All around, it’s inspiration from everything she does.
ES: What inspired you to start LOVE HART? What made you feel that you needed this additional creative outlet?
EHJ: I think a lot of times with photographers, the branding aspect is what it is in the frame. Do you shoot colorful images, do you shoot movie-style images, what are you bringing to every single shoot? For me, I think the things that I bring aren’t as visible sometimes. Of course I do portraiture, and it’s nice lighting and polished, and I like to shoot people confidently, but I don’t know if it’s a certain aesthetic that I stick to. For that reason I thought that instead of branding images through what you see, why don’t you brand images under an umbrella? Kind of like a film production company or something like that. They have an array of films, a range of all different entities, but they’re all under this one roof. Like Shondaland has Grey’s Anatomy, How To Get Away With Murder, and Scandal, kind of in the same world but still different in a sense. So I just was thinking in that mindset, and I’m still polishing it, it’s still young. But I definitely would love to figure out how to brand images under an umbrella as opposed to just branding myself aesthetically.