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Impact 0246: Creating a community of creatives

Jon Ho · 23 October 2021
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Jon Ho, 25, started his journey as a photographer back in 2014 when he documented his travels and the various things he is passionate about, such as music and sneakers. His early venture into the industry provided him with  many opportunities, including the chance to make new connections and expand his network. 

As Jon’s passion grew in photography, so did his projects. His freelance journey has since included working with commercial brands such as New Balance, 7-Eleven, Marquee and many more. 

Today, he runs his own studio, Navigate Studio, or Nav Studio for short. Comprised of a family of creatives from all walks of life, they focus on different art forms.

Dear Youth, 

My name is Jon Ho, and I’m 25 this year. I started photography after seeing the work of talented photographers like Dylan Furst and Emilie Ristevski. They inspired me to hone my style, which leans towards creating surreal travel and landscape photographs. 

Taking photos helped me to appreciate the world we live in, especially when we travel and connect with nature. My dad used to work as a photographer, and one day he passed down his old cameras to me – that was what really got me started. I spent the following few months bringing my camera everywhere and shooting whatever I found interesting, even when I went to school.

Eventually, I freelanced as a photographer for about six years. Today, I run my own tech start-up and am a co-founder of Nav Studio. We do work for various industries, such as music, fashion, and commercials. 

Starting out as a freelancer alone was a challenge earlier at the start, especially when I had to figure out the business tasks of a freelancer by myself. I forged my own business model and brand positioning, and struggled to find clientele. It was only over the years that I learnt collaborating and working with others was in itself a strategy of “strength in numbers”.

Giving back to the community is something I wanted to do and it is through Nav Studio that I managed to meet and band together with other creatives. It is something that has meant more in the last two years because of the pandemic, which coincides with the ushering in of a new age where digital media becomes  quintessential and an increasingly competitive space. 

My vision for Nav Studio is to create a co-op that houses creatives and provides a support system for them. Most importantly, it’s a working environment ripe with opportunity and room to create collectively. We work hard together on projects and play harder. We throw ideas at each other all the time.

Having a tight-knitted group with camaraderie, especially in uncertain times, has been valuable in helping me get through the COVID-19 pandemic. Running Nav Studio has been a smooth journey to which I attribute having like-minded teammates all geared towards similar creative goals and life goals while checking back constantly with one another. 

The COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown put a pause on all my ongoing gigs, which made me feel a huge creative block. It was during that period I channeled most of my creativity into developing a tech start-up as a way of thinking out of the box. 

Eventually, I co-founded Homeez, a machine learning artificial intelligence based renovation platform that helps direct homeowners to suppliers, saving homeowners up to 60 per cent in costs. It also got me out of my creative slump.

Something I’ve learnt as a creative is that intention is most important in our creative process. Intention dictates my direction in creation, and even more so in what I expect out of it. With a clear aim of what I want to create and why, I can find other like-minded individuals who share that same goal to collaborate strategically. 

I also believe you donʻt always have to limit yourself to one form of art. Be bold, take the leap of faith out of your comfort zone and try new things. Remember to find your support group, because theyʻll be the safety compass to help you navigate when you get lost and get you back on track.

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