We had the good fortune of connecting with Starlic Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Starlic, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Before I answer your question, I’d like to say thank you for featuring me. I understand you feature individuals who are referred to you, so I’d like to thank whoever thought enough to bring me to your attention.
I’m a creative person who’s into lots of things from music, photography, fashion, education, and philanthropy. To start, I’ll focus specifically on photography to answer your question. I always had an eye for photography but I knew nothing about it. I naturally knew how to pick angles and frame shots with a camera phone but I had no experience with a real camera. I have kids so I decided to buy my first camera which was a Nikon D-5200 and shot exclusively with the kit lens on the auto setting.
While visiting some friends in Connecticut, I met a great photographer in the area by the name of Kristie Kistner. We talked about photography and I quickly realized she was a gnarly person! When she discovered I was also a Nikon user, she took the time to show me a few things with the camera. Not only did she give me tips but she also gave me her $2500 lens (Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR) to attach to my camera body so I could take photos/try out the lens! She checked out some of the shots I’d taken during the trip along with those I’d taken with her lens and she told me my stuff was really good. She told me that I had the natural gift of photography and I could really be a serious photographer. I couldn’t believe she actually said/thought that about the images I’d taken! It gave me the confidence to take it to the next level.
When I returned home from the trip I started shooting whatever I could. I drowned myself in all things photography with the goal to get my skills to the next level. I watched youtube tutorials and learned by trial and error. I stopped shooting in auto and learned to shoot in manual. I’ve never taken a photography class or shadowed another photographer. I’m 100% self-taught. I started posting some of my work on social media and the response was overwhelming. That was cool but I still lacked the confidence to really launch photography as a business and take on clients because I still wasn’t at the level I needed to be even though many thought I was. I wanted to be taken seriously as a professional because I wanted my prices to be justified based on the quality of the work I produced. After a year or so of shooting any and everything I could, I officially launched Photography by Starlic.
What started as a hobby, became a passionate full-time business! I take my Gnarly Art very seriously. It’s not a side hustle but a phenomenal art form that I’m blessed to be gifted with. When working with me, it’s established from the start that, We won’t take pictures, We’ll create some Gnarly Art!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Wow, thank you so much for the interest, it means alot. Well, I’ve been described as a modern-day renaissance man who was born with many gifts and talents. I’ve had the opportunity creatively to do some amazing things such as participating as a Workshop Presenter at Houston’s Arts All Around Festival hosted by the Young Audiences, Inc. of Houston. I’ve written official school songs for Houston Independent School Districts Ernest McGowen Elementary and Young Women’s College Preparatory Academy. I work with inner-city kids teaching them music in outside-the-box ways. I write original material for them, make it super fun to sing, dance, and ultimately build their confidence and self-esteem. You can check out my youtube channel to see some of the gnarly things I’ve created with them. Under my direction, choirs have won several first-place choir competitions and awards. I create, coordinate, and conduct workshops geared toward the arts throughout the city of Houston and abroad. I serve as the music/creative director responsible for creating commercials and live performances for major companies and corporations. I’ve had the opportunity to write and produce music for local and national recording artists as well.
I’ve been very fortunate to be a very sought-after and published photographer. My love and passion for photography can be seen when looking at what former clients describe as, “the breathtaking” images I’ve produced. It seems like everyone is now a photographer after posting a few images on social media without any real talent or respect for the art form. To combat that sad reality, I separate myself by offering a second-to-none experience. My professionalism, organization, customer service, and the work itself sets me apart from others. I don’t meet clients at the local coffee shop. I have a beautiful office space located in the Downtown Theatre District in the great city of Houston, Tx. Customer service is very important to me and I pride myself on providing a first-class Gnarly Art experience for clients. My clients enjoy snacks, a latte, hot tea, or an adult beverage of their choice during their visit to my office space. Photography isn’t simply the act of snapping a picture, for me it’s art. Capturing the shot(s) gives me a feeling I can’t put into words. It’s the emails & texts I get from clients after they see their Gnarly Art edits for the first time. It’s the feeling I get when told I’m the only photographer they want to work with. It’s the friendships that are created along the way. Again, as I stated before, We won’t take pictures, We’ll create some Gnarly Art!
Besides being creative, I’m a lover of learning and exploring all things academia. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Drama Minor from the University of Houston-Downtown where I graduated Cum Laude. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a Communication Concentration from the University of St. Thomas. I hold a Strategic Social Media for Business Certificate that I received from Rice University. Currently, I’m pursuing a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Ethical Leadership at The University of St. Thomas. Ultimately, on the academic side, my goal is to become a college President. I want to change the face of higher education.
The shared experience between my God-given abilities and my educational background yields a special recipe that can’t be duplicated. I’m not limited in my creativity because I’m more than one specific art form. The collective allows me to draw from a creative space of my own that’s unlike anyone else. Yes, I’m a musician, photographer, fashion influencer, educator and much more. However, I simply refer to myself as an Artist!
Now, being great at a lot of things has its drawbacks as well. For example, because I’m so creative-driven, some traditional corporate opportunities can be hard to access. Yes, I will work a 9-5 traditional job if it’s the right fit for me. I know many creatives who refuse to work a traditional job because it somehow makes them feel “less of a creative/artist” and many other immature reasons. As a creative person, opportunities come and go. There are seasonal highs that yield filet mignon and there are seasonal lows that yield ramen noodles. In between that time, I position myself to take a 6 figure salary consistently while still doing my creative stuff as well. I want it all! Keeping multiple streams of income is the key. If I’m in a situation that I don’t like, I will remove myself immediately without compromising the lifestyle I’ve built for my family.
Getting back to some of the drawbacks, I compare it to the way a world-class athlete gets labeled as only a great athlete. Although he or she may have great academic achievements or be great at other things, they are perceived to be that specific athlete that people are used to seeing. Now, once I’m in the room, that quickly changes as they see that I’m more than just a creative individual. I love to shift the narrative and watch their expressions change by working it to my advantage. See, it separates me from the other candidates who have a generic & common way of viewing things. However, for me, it’s the total opposite. I bring a unique and outside-the-box approach to everything I do. 99% of the time, in the end, I leave with more opportunities than I originally came for. Again, it can be a challenge to get in the game, but all I need is an “at bat” because I’m hitting home runs every time! Batter up!! I’m excited about the new brand I’m launching soon that will encompass all of my creative pursuits. I don’t want to say too much about it but it’s coming!! Hopefully, when I launch it, I can come back and talk about it here! I’m destined for greatness!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting we’d have dinner at least twice at a favorite restaurant of mine named, Davis St. We would go shopping at the Galleria Mall, Rice Village, and other local outlet shopping malls. In the evenings, we’d find a patio to have great conversations while sipping on an adult beverage accompanied by a smooth stogie. Visiting museums such as the Menil, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Natural Science would be on the agenda as well. A visit to my favorite craft breweries 8th Wonder and St. Arnold would be in order especially if the visit is during a sporting season. A visit to our local zoo and Herman Park is a great option for a relaxing day in the city. Finally, we’d cap the week off at a church to give thanks to the almighty for a great time of fun and fellowship!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m nothing without my wife Monica Williams and our 4 kids Starlic II, Caiden, Dylan, and Londen Grace who inspire me daily to keep grinding no matter what. Coming from the hood of South Park, specifically the 5900 block of Southmont, I had lots of temptations that would’ve led me down the wrong path but I had certain people who helped me stay on the straight and narrow from my humble beginnings to the present day. My Uncle Mallory Williams was a huge influence on me and taught me lots of things. I got a lot of my swag from him. The friends that I grew up with had a major influence on me because we sort of raised each other. There were many times I was about to do something stupid but they were there to say, No! You’ve got too much going for you. Don’t do it!. Those guys mean the world to me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. Shout out to my guys Ray Hubbard, Damion Winston, Derek McCoy (Pee-Wee), and Leonard Smith (RIP). My little brother/my only sibling Damien Williams was murdered/shot 7 times in 2010. Even in death, he still inspires me to be great.
As I got older, Mr. John Robert Jones came into my life as a mentor who pushed and continues to encourage me to be the best version of myself. Phillip Hall, Anthony Boggess-Glover, Ron Johnson aka “Ron John” are my guys that keep me grounded with love and accountability. Last but not least, my mom Charlotte Williams and my dad Richard Williams are my greatest support system. When I’m traveling for shoots, in the studio late at night, or I need to go somewhere on the fly, they are there to help out. My mom has a heart of gold and is the most selfless person I know. My dad is a true hustler with a work ethic second to none. He’s my real life hero and I’m proud to be his son. Having a great support system is vital to my success. I’m grateful for it and I don’t take it for granted. In closing, I want to say thank you to Voyage Houston for this opportunity to share a little bit of the world of Starlic. I’ll see you soon for round 2. I’m out!
Starlic Williams (Photography by Starlic)