Chella Man – the Only Way Is Forward

David Thompson
Andy Polanco
Jo Rosenthal

MM6 trouser and sweater, Chella’s own jewellery

We should all strive to be like Chella Man. The young artist has not only further paved the way for more representation in all creative fields, he makes it a mission to make everyone feel included and seen along the way. As someone who truly believes that there is no dream or ambition too big—he makes it a point to let others, especially queer, bipoc and people with disabilities know that it’s beautiful to pursue your ambitions and what you want in life as long as you do every act of kindness to get there. It means something to think about your dreams, but it means, even more so, to do something about them. It is rare when you meet someone who is as much themselves as they possibly could be and Chella is the perfect example of that.

Kenzo coat, sweater, and trousers, Sky High Workwear x Converse shoes

Jil Sander crotchet top and scarf

A typical day for Chella involves his internal clock waking him up at 8am, sometimes 4am and working out before being even more productive. Most days, he heads to his studio in Industry City where he is an artist in residence. Chella is an incredibly productive person – some days he’s painting, some days he’s collaging, some days he is sitting down writing his stream of consciousness. Chella says that making art or sitting on the computer all day can be quite isolating and that he likes to take occasional breaks or go out to lunch. He’s part of a trans boxing collective and if he’s not traveling or staying put in Brooklyn, he likes to end his days there. He’s dipped his toes in almost every field and he’s not even close to being done yet. 
Chella grew up in a small, conservative town in Pennsylvania where he gained a lot of perspective because he didn’t grow up around anyone like him. To give people the idea of just how conservative his town was, Trump spoke at his high school. Because of the lack of representation and his want for something more, he knew that he was not his hometown and that he’d make something bigger of himself. He wants people who are like him to know that they have the ability to choose their own community because in 2022, we connect with each other and we don’t have to wait for permission. Forget being a part of any scene, every bit of joy comes from the way we perceive ourselves and less about the brands or corporations that we are invested in.

Hermès hat, shirt and trousers

A successful artist is someone who is in touch with themselves. To Chella, success is understanding yourself and creating work that makes you feel fulfilled regardless of what it looks like or where it goes. Chella is an open person and that’s not only seen in his artwork, it’s seen throughout every aspect of his life. His favorite thing about what he does is that he can find freedom in it. He says there is always a pathway to choose expansion and essentially, liberation. Representation has always been important, but for him, it’s about going beyond that and expressing that through every endeavour he pursues as an artist. Failure doesn’t exist in Chella’s world because there’s something to learn in every step. There are going to be moments where you feel like things are not going your way, however, there is no quitting, only moving forward. 
With residences coming up in Costa Rica and Florida, you’re going to want to stay tuned for his next projects – every single piece is more thoughtful than the next. From his previous sculpture work that can be seen at the Leslie Lohman Museum to his current work that’s been previewed on Instagram and is available to watch on Vimeo, every detail is important in learning more about him and more about acceptance of oneself. But how does he do it? The key to becoming more like him is remembering that if your heart is in it, just continue and keep going. Keep going.

Bode shirt and shorts

MM6 trousers

Photographer: David Thompson
Stylist: Andy Polanco
Make-up: Ana Kaurihara
Hair: Anton Alexander