ARTIST PROFILE: PHOTOGRAPHER JUSTIN ‘MILLZ’ IS FRESH COOL DOPE
Justin ‘Millz’ Milhouse is an urban photographer, videographer, and blogger based in Detroit, MI. His website Fresh-Cool-Dope showcases his broad talent, an apparel line, and profiles of other Detroit artists through his own camera lens, spotlighting young people he works with in the city. JMillz, as he’s also known as, also directs and shoots countless music videos for local Detroit rappers like No Suh Foster, CrackKillz, ZelooperZ, and Dej Loaf. Think the unofficial ‘Detroit Hussles Harder‘ slogan is appropriate here yet?
Where did you grow up in Detroit?
I was born and raised in Detroit. I grew up on the Westside, on 7 Mile and Livernois, in a middle-class neighborhood. I made life-long friends there. I went to a Catholic School in the city, then to a Public School for my senior year- I feel like my upbringing in Detroit allows me to have a diverse personality. I can have conversations and relate to a lot of different people in Detroit no matter their background. So many people have stereotypes that the whole city is filled with poor people and abandoned homes, and that’s simply not true.
Who in your life influenced you growing up?
Both of my grandparents were and still are very artistic. My granddad is an artist and my grandmother was a music teacher. At a young age, I took piano lessons, went to operas, and attended plays. My granddad taught me how to draw and would also make me read books and then write reports on them. My parents have always been always supportive of me in any and everything I do.
I went to school at Alabama A&M University, moved away from Detroit for five years. Graduation was on a Friday and I back in Detroit on that Sunday.
I felt like the city was becoming alive again when I moved back. The downtown and midtown area seemed to be more vibrant, and was attracting a lot of artists.”
The city is diverse and so is my style. I shop at thrift stores, street-wear boutiques, and high-end stores. I can be in street-wear one day and then in a tailored suit the next. Right now my favorite piece of clothing is probably my 10 Deep blue denim shirt because I can dress it up and dress it down.
Photography is my artistic expression. It never gets dull because there is always something to photograph, always moments to freeze. Before getting into photography I really didn’t have a strong interest in anything. I started a blog a year prior to really getting into photography, and I used to draw a lot. I always knew I would doing something creative.
I’ve never been to New York and its a shame. I want to get out there. People tell me I would get some great photos, I’ve been told its a photographers dream city.
I love the historic architecture, the artistic graffiti around the city, and the opportunity to fulfill your dreams. Some of my favorite spots here are Woodbridge Pub, Detroit Institute of Arts, and Great Lakes Coffee; it’s a cool spot on Woodward Ave. that makes good coffee where creative people hang out.
A variety of things influence me- the streets, people, places… that’s why I’m really into street photography. I’m always shooting something and telling a story through my photography- that’s what I strive to do. My granddad is an artist and he is a huge influence; he always has great advice to give me.
In ten years, I see Detroit as a giant SoHo, an artistic hub. Artists, performers, entrepreneurs,
I have a few projects in the works. I have a Fifty-Two Photos project that I’m working on throughout this year- fifty-two photos for each week of year. I also have an editorial project entitled The Artist Collection, which highlights creative individuals on my website, Fresh-Cool-Dope. I am also working on a photo book, and I’m always blogging, setting up photo-shoots, and shooting videos.
What’s next for you?
I honestly don’t know, everyday is a mystery. I’m just going to keep shooting, keep creating, keep dreaming. Only time will tell what’s next.
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