New book offers behind the scenes look at HOOD BY AIR's runways shows



Aton Crawley spent a few years casting Hood By Air shows while working with Walter Pearce's Midland Agency. The shows of the time brought a very new fresh take on casting, models, shows, American fashion and culture. Aton's insider fly-on-the-wall perspective gives the viewer an amazing insight into a past time where fashion was being pushed to the edge. 

Where are you from?

I'm from Uptown DC, 5th and M St. I lived on capitol hill until I was like 4 or 5 then moved over there. Now I live in Anacostia.

You were born into this art family, tell me about them.

Haha yes I was born into a very creative family, so making things has been installed in my DNA by default. My mother is a sculptor primarily working in stone (specifically marble and most recently rose quarts), wood and found objects. My older brother used to be a graffiti artist and Muralist for the DC Fringe Festival and since then has graduated to quite the genius philosopher. My father is a literary genius and has an impeccable taste in music. One of my uncles used to paint and another uncle had his own funk band. Im not sure about everyone else but Im sure they are just as supportive if not talented in some other aspect.

How did growing up in a family of artist shape your interest in art, what mediums did you start experimenting with first and what medium do you work in now?

From a very young age I was put in a lot of arts workshops and after school programs in the city including C.H.A.W., Sitar Arts Center, Shakespeare theater company, the Corcoran and some others. So my family gave me an incredible amount of opportunities from very early on. Currently i work with oil paint, ink, pencil, charcoal, photography and some mixed media. Recently I've been working to improve my paint skills and master drawing. I also really aspire to start sculpting sometime soon. So I don't really have a favorite medium at the moment.

How is it being in the same google results with your mom?

You funny as shit.

Yeah she's not exactly thrilled about the search results.

What age did you start getting into art and why do you do it now?

It's something I've always done and something I never questioned doing. I do it now simply to broaden my perspective of "Art" as a concept and break it down in a way that has some sort of connection or meaning to it in relation to my own physical experience.

"Yeah she's not exactly thrilled about the search results."

Skating or riding bikes?

Skate. If you know me you would know i learned how to skate and grew up skating at the infamous Fightclub DC, I used to skate all over downtown and shit. Pulaski, Archives, MLK, Courthouse, you name it. Now i don't really skate at all for real. I try to hop on the board every now and then but i'm not very good anymore so I do a lot of biking.

When did you go to New York and why?

I moved to New York immediately after I graduated high school because i figured i'd have a better time figuring out who I am as a person in a new city that I also have to figure out how make my home for that timeframe.

How’d you get into casting?

I met my homie Walter from being out in the NY scene. At the time he was HBA's in-house casting director. Shortly after we became cool I started assisting him with casting and suggesting people for HBA and other side gigs. Shortly after HBA's Hiatus he started his agency, Midland Agency, and everything bloomed from there.

What brands have you worked with?

HBA, Telfar, Vaquera, Gucci, Farfetch, Barneys, Nordstroms, Atlantic Records, Fenty Sephora, Nike, Spotify and a bunch of others.

What are your most memorable fashion shows and or campaigns?

The Nike NBA campaign was pretty sick. One of the first times I casted a major campaign and it was majority my streetcast. Plus they few me to LA for it. HBA was always legendary. Gucci Dapper Dan was really fucking dope just cause dap is the coolest motherfucker. Yeah, too many memorable moments to count.

Do you model?

When requested.

Coffee of Matcha?

Coffee, fuck matcha. but not because its bad or anything. I have a personal bias...inside story.

What has creating been like since the pandemic?

Pretty burnt. thats all Imma say.

When did you get back to DC and what have you been up to?

I got back to dc in february 2019, I was living in NYC for a little while. Since I been back I've mostly been painting and saving money. I took a trip to Argentina that I had been planning for a while so that was pretty cool.

What made you want to drop "Hood Breathes Air"?

I had this book planned for a couple years now. Just been waiting on the right time. Their relaunch seemed like the appropriate kickoff.

What was the DC creative and fashion scenes like before you left versus how are they now that your back?

The scene in DC before I left was well on the way to grounding itself. There were a lot of cool things popping off in the city with musicians and artists and venues that were prided as being places that a greater creative community could stretch their legs so to speak. The fashion scene was there but it kinda wasn't. It was really niche and if you ask me kinda champ because it didn't seem like anyone at that time had any idea of what fashion was. There was this outside perspective that fashion was all about runways and skinny tall folks and walking and heavily edited digital shoots and shit. And none of this was bad, it was super progressive in trying to figure things out but everyone in DC who had actual inside knowledge of the fashion community kinda kept to themselves and their groups. It wasn't their fault because everyone was trying to put on for the city but it wasn't a collective process which in my eyes made it weak, so when gentrification rolled on thru the culture wasn't strong enough to hold against all the wack shit and now DC is pretty eh.

You just did a big trip to South America what was that like what were you up to?

It was amazing. I went to visit my friend Santi who was a local artist until he moved to argentina. My goal was to go down there and have this grand experience and do all types of new shit and ah ah ah. The trip ended up being much more calm than i anticipated but it was just as powerful of an experience. I was just down there observing and trying to understand and kinda filtering it all in. My next trip down there will be a lot more exciting I feel

How do you see spaces like SOMEWHERE® in conversation for DC creatives?

I think somewhere touches on where the city left off creatively before the gentrification wave hit for real. I had a keen sense of style and detail and cool that the city has seemed to numb with their beer gardens and glass buildings. It kinda reminds those who know and those who want to find out that dc is actually cool and not like commercial hypebeast cool but like legit cold cut cool. Theres an amazing skate community, and sick hardcore community, there are artist of all mediums, musicians with profound talent and so much more. When i was in new york there was always a spot or a store where progressive thinking people and kids would just kinda hang out more or less. Not that anyone particularly bought anything extravagant but that it was just an epicenter with a magnetic attraction for creatives and cool kids. For me it was Homies….wonderland and good company and LES. Back in the day in dc it was fight club and freedom and all the skate spots or the music venues like 411 lofts and the bike garage in admo. Now that dc has gone thru this transformation in this new age, dc needs places like this for those of us that aren't suit & tie.

"DC needs places like this for those of us that aren't suit and tie"

How you gonna take over the world?

Im not. I wont. I have no need to. I have my own world that I was born into as supreme ruler of. My mission is to make my world the best world.

What’s your dream art show or project?

At the moment I've been planning a large project for the past couple years called nostalgia. it would be a period to the life I've currently lived so far in a metaphoric sense of beginning a new sentence or leveling up. It would vary between mediums including paintings, photos, prints, drawings, a film and possibly an installation or sculpture. The idea is still in the processing stage.

What’s next?

Tomorrow, and hopefully the next day.