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Instagram Mood Boards and Chaz Bear

By Carissa Salazar

(This was written when @company.records was @moods.wick on Instagram. Before it transitioned into Chaz's record label's Instagram, it was referred to as "random ass club" in the bio and was used as a personal Instagram page. All opinions are my own and written in an observational point of view. I do not know Chaz personally nor own any of the images from their Instagram.)

My favorite space on the internet in 2015 was Chaz Bear’s (Toro Y Moi; formerly Chazwick Bundick) personal Instagram (@chaz.wick.) Before he cleaned it up, it was a very esoteric place filled with superimposed pictures of shapes created by found objects, funny scenes that are borderline photojournalism and meme, and a cohesive yet chaotic grid that reflects the creative “seeing.” One could consider it “spam” or “shit posting” but in the creative community, Instagram has been a place where you are welcomed to curate a personal feed that best reflects who you are at the moment. Although most of the older pieces have been either deleted or archived, Chaz recently created a new Instagram (@company.records, formerly @moods.wick when I wrote this piece) where he is free to post whatever the hell he wants. Looking through it now will give you an idea of what his Instagram looked like before the overhaul.

I could imagine the first impressions of scrolling through a feed like this would be, “I don’t get it” or “It’s just a bunch of random images” but I beg to differ. I think spaces like these are so important to personal creative processes because I think the most important part of making is seeing. Seeing helps us identify or relate to the world, and take inspiration for the things that interest us, even if it’s just the color of the sunset or a funny coincidence. The curator of these types of mood boards won’t use every image they post as inspiration but when you look at it as a whole, you can see similarities in the vibe or intent, and it does go back to inform us about their current state of mind.

Chaz is a multi-hyphenate creative. Beyond making music as Toro y Moi, Chaz has a degree in Graphic Design and spends a lot of time making art at his home base in Oakland. Looking at his art you immediately know that Chaz is a master of color and shapes, and when you look at his mood board, some things look like cousins of his art. Deliberate or not, documenting the things that interest you in a mood board, really helps in your art-making.

Above: (Chaz Bear’s Man Dancing, 2017; followed by mood board posts from 2020)

Below: (Chaz Bear’s Bad Me, Good I 2017; followed by mood board posts from 2020)

They may not have a direct relationship with each other, but you can see how many of the images Chaz finds interesting or the color combinations that catch his eye are very much related to his creative work. In Dancing Man, the bold red and purple look like blazing sunset colors, and the shapes of human bodies in motion are very prominent in his work (which is why I think he was amused by that dancing green alien). In the second piece, the shapes remind me of the pictures of water in his Instagram and the playful red-blue color scheme looks just like this “Miami surf style” bathing suit.

These concepts are reiterated in Chaz's interview with Playboy, where he talks about pleasure and his constant need of being creative. "I want my listeners to walk away with the idea that they can be creative, and that they can find pleasure in the smallest things. A lot of my music is turning a microscope on my experiences and I want my listeners to know that you could always look at the big picture, but you could always look at the smaller picture too. And when you look at those smaller details, they sort of give you a better perspective of how we could look at the bigger picture."

While Chaz may not be the only creative to have Instagram mood boards, he sure inspired me to make my own back in 2016. During that time I was tired of how I was using my main Instagram account and wanted to curate a more genuine space without thinking about engagement or what other people thought about what I was posting. So I made @f_ckur6s to make a space that was genuinely me. I think having this “mood board” type of space helped me identify the parts of my creativity that changed throughout the years.

I could still see parts of this mood board in the art I make today. I’m still inspired by warm tones and capturing the LA skyline from all directions. I still love taking pictures of people from a “watching” perspective, and still produce emotionally charged-in-the-moment photographs (sorry about flipping you off). While I think my art has matured, without this space I call my “playground” I feel like my art wouldn’t be as cohesive as it is now. It’s a great way to look back at where your mind was at the moment and still take inspiration from the things you found interesting.

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