Professional SpotlightSpotlight

When we first discovered Diamond Troutman’s photography, we were stunned and impressed. She manages to capture the essence of the subjects she photographs in subtle yet powerful ways. As a content creator, Diamond pays attention to her surroundings, is aware of her senses and observations, and gives herself writing prompts to stay sharp. Diamond seizes her youth every day, and she has a loaded schedule creating content for The Style Line, Conscious Magazine, the French Institute Alliance Française, and Life & Thyme Magazine. Oh, and she also speaks four languages – French, Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic.

We’re so inspired by Diamond’s go-getter attitude, discipline, and hunger for knowledge. Read on to learn more about how she organizes her busy days, tips she has for learning a new language, and the advice she has for those interested in being content creators.

Name: Diamond Troutman
Education: Bachelor of Arts in French Language and Literature and Sociology from Drew University
Follow: pariselsewhere.com / @pariselsewhere

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Diamond Troutman: ‘Seizing Your Youth’ means exploring what makes you happy and chasing after it every chance you get.

CJ: You attended Drew University and studied French Literature and Language and Sociology. How did you determine what to study?

DT: While many know me now as “la parisienne” behind Paris Elsewhere, my life in The City of Light (including my studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University and volunteer work at Élèves Décrocheurs and Le Club Barbès) was never quite planned. Before beginning college, I was a student of three foreign languages (Spanish, French and Chinese) and upon my arrival at Drew University, I added Arabic language studies to the mix. My objective was to major in Linguistics and minor in Sociology – I soon discovered that the Linguistics major was no longer offered and opted for Spanish, before ultimately deciding on French.

diamond

CJ: You created the travel and lifestyle blog Paris Elsewhere to introduce Paris as you know it: a city of people and businesses participating in communities, relationships, and their own unique stories. How did living in Paris influence you and impact your life?

DT: The strongest influence Paris has had on my life is my regard towards tradition. Since my involvement in the United States as the Director of Communication for the Alliance Française of Greater Phoenix, I have witnessed firsthand the invaluable role tradition plays in unifying people of a shared culture. Coming together to celebrate over food and conversation is health giving and something to be anticipated and enjoyed.

CJ: Besides English, you speak four languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. Very impressive! Where did you learn to speak these languages, and what tips do you have for those learning a new language?

DT: I was first introduced to French at age 11, when play dates with my friend turned into casual lessons of language and culture with her French mother. I truly believe this was the sweetest way to learn French joie de vivre, as I was introduced to traditional pastries like sablés, clafoutis, madeleines and more, in addition to grammar and vocabulary lessons.

I started learning Spanish during middle school, but it wasn’t until I met my best friend Valeria, that I began to practice the language outside of school. We were the closest of friends, so close that I was considered part of the family. We spoke in Spanish all the time; our friendship indirectly immersed me in the culture.

I picked up Chinese my freshman year of high school and strengthened my studies with weekend sessions at a Chinese school and language camps during the summers.

I was introduced to Arabic at Drew University. I studied the language all throughout my third and fourth year in college and stayed with a host family in Rabat, Morocco for a summer.

What’s my number one tip for learning a language? Immersion! Listen to music, watch movies, join a conversation classes or even travel abroad for a short stay. Put yourself in the setting to live another culture.

CJ: Travel is a big part of your life. How has traveling influenced you, and is there a particular trip you have taken that stands out in your mind?

DT: The first day of my Mandarin Chinese language class was the most challenging yet; understanding characters as references for words required a new sort of discipline and dedication. All the same, my stay in Chengdu, China compelled me to *just do it. I listened to the radio on the way to school, ordered my drinks at Starbucks, enjoyed pastries from the nearby bakery, all in Chinese. The more comfortable I became with the language and culture, the less of a barrier the characters seemed to present.

dt 2

CJ: You are a pro at content creation, whether you’re contributing to The Style Line, working as an Editorial Collaborator for Conscious Magazine, or consulting on strategic media and community relations for the French Institute Alliance Française. How do you brainstorm content to create, and what is your process for executing your ideas?

DT: As a non-fiction food and travel writer, my brainstorming is heavily influenced by my senses. Location means everything. If I’m writing a story and hit a roadblock, I’ll complete a writing prompt that challenges my awareness of place and people. I joke, what’s a pen to a person if not to write a story, and interestingly enough, I don’t always carry paper on me and I’m often left to jotting notes on napkins at coffee shops. My approach to note taking and writing prompts looks a little like a crossword puzzle. I write the words that come to mind and find a way to link them together.

CJ: What are the greatest lessons you have learned from your experiences in content creation with a variety of publications, companies, and websites?

DT: I’ve learned that the process to content creation is most valuable. I am passionate about establishing a collaborative client environment to ensure pre-production work aligns with the client’s anticipation and brand identity. It’s rather easy to misinterpret ideas, so I’ve become keen on incorporating a mood board and weekly consultations to stay on the same page with clients.

CJ: You are also an incredible photographer. You contribute writing and photography to Life & Thyme Magazine. What is the process for putting together content for this publication documenting food culture around the globe? How long does this process take?

DT: Thank you so much! Like on any other platform, my process for editorial work is very extensive. My general subject concerns food, lifestyle and travel, so the first step is to begin researching current trends and unique developments in the area. To do this, I will read local newspapers/magazines, observe social media reviews, or what’s most exciting, venture outside of home to see the city for myself. Once I’ve discovered the exact focus of my article, I study it thoroughly to learn and uncover whatever questions I may have. After structuring the interview, I move into determining the visual component to my story. I observe elements of the trade and location, position my storyboard and when the time comes, capture the shot as best as I imagined. Pre-production can take between 1-2 weeks, the interview and photo production could take 1-3 days, and the writing and correspondence with editors could take up to 2 weeks.

I am currently in pre-production for my editorial work with Life & Thyme. While many may find this initial stage somewhat challenging, I am enjoying it to the fullest! Pre-production has allowed me to explore and enjoy the arts and cuisine of Downtown Phoenix, scout locations and provide applications for those interested in participating in the photo shoot(s). Most importantly, pre-production has allowed me to really take pleasure in my work. I look forward to also offering opportunities for assistant production (as a second shooter) on photography assignments.

CJ: From your ‘Kinship by Cuisine: A Conscious Coming Together’ column at Conscious Magazine to Life & Thyme, cuisine and food culture is a big focus in your work. Why are the topics of food, culture, and travel interesting to you?

DT: From EF travels in Italy and Greece, to off-campus seminars in Morocco and China, travel has often been paired with my educational pursuits and has opened my eyes to appreciate cultural differences. Learning has a pivotal influence on one’s values and passions.

dt 3

CJ: What advice do you have for those interested in being content creators, writers, or photographers?

DT: If you haven’t already, discover the creative community in your city for friendship and mentorship! You can do this by attending events like Instameets (Instagram-facilitated meet-ups) and Create + Cultivate, in-person workshops with The School of Styling or online courses via Skillshare! Your community will inspire and support you.

When you’re ready, social media is a great tool for introducing your style to a public audience and developing a dynamic portfolio  – I suggest Instagram for photography, Twitter for writing (ie: developing strategy for effective short copy) and Steller for content creation (graphic design, photography, writing).

CJ: With a variety of projects, how do you stay organized and keep everything running smoothly?

DT: While many may perceive the freelance career as unconventional in regards to the flexibility of office hours and work environment, it takes discipline and motivation to structure this kind of business and stay afloat with multiple projects. Currently, I manage projects with a variety of brands and publications. Each month, I have to honor my in-person responsibilities, such as board meetings, client consultations, creative conferences and events, etc. To keep everything running smoothly, I have to coordinate closely with my agenda on a professional and personal basis. For my personal brand, I’m implementing an editorial calendar for more consistent social media and blog posts. For my professional work, I have designated office hours (onsite for the French Institute) and deadlines for work submissions. Having picked up more work for social media content creation this year, I’m in the process of defining client-specific editorial calendars and mood boards, which are accessible via a private page on my website. To plan meetings and shoots, I use Google Calendar, my booking & availability calendar on my website, and my paper agenda.

CJ: What are some favorite books, resources, and websites that have influenced you?

DT: For gathering insight from successful creative professionals, I look to The Everygirl. For further guidance on software and approach to business practices, I attend Skillshare courses. As a writer, Writer’s Digest is an indispensable resource. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss is a good read into 2016.

CJ: What are you working to improve on – either personally or professionally – and how are you doing so?

DT: Personally, I’m looking to improve on my diet and sleep. The Fitbit Flex has been instrumental in regulating my water intake and sleeping habits. I’m somewhat of a night owl, so when inspiration strikes, I will stay up as long as it takes to make the most of it. All the while, when busy writing or editing away, I tend to not eat as I should.

Professionally, I would love to take up a new course. I’m following along with The Everygirl’s 30-Day Challenge of learning a new skill. I’d love to expand my knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

DT: Write and photograph more. Get out there! Take the train into New York City more frequently, collaborate with other creatives and attend events to stay motivated. Find any opportunity to exercise your talents; it will pay off.

*Phrase by Nike

Diamond Troutman Qs

Portrait courtesy of Dreylon Vang, Copyright 2015 (location: Cartel Coffee Lab) / Photo speaking with Garance Dore: Courtesy of Paris Elsewhere 2013 (location: Open Studio, New York City) / Remaining stock photography images: Copyright Diamond Troutman 2015 (location: Royal Coffee Bar)

Culture

So you’re in NYC for the winter and you’ve already read my last piece about doing some fun stuff in the city. Well, what do you know, there’s more to do! Who wouldn’t like a hot bowl of ramen, a cozy warm setting with some BBQ, or a comforting bowl of soup this winter?

Relatively affordable for a college student and great for winter­ get-togethers, here are some places I’d like to recommend.

Ramen

Yes, ramen! There are plenty of delicious ramen shops around the city; you just have to find them! You probably know about Ippudo, the popular ramen shop in the East Village that has already been noticed by NYT and NY Mag. But there’s also Momofuku and Takumi, which is located near NYU and is where I suspect local students go when they aren’t willing to travel any further than a five block radius. Spend a day exploring the neighborhood and warm up with a good bowl of ramen!

Japanese BBQ

When I first started college a few years ago, I tried to keep in touch with my friends from high school who were also in the city. We ate at a place called Gyu­Kaku. It’s a Japanese BBQ that’s great for chilly or rainy winter days near Cooper Union, but there there’s one up in Midtown. You and your friends order whatever meat or veggies you want, and you cook it on the grill in front of you. The cozy warm atmosphere and the abundance of food is a great way to spend lunch or dinner during the unpredictable but nonetheless chilly season. Split some orders with a friend, or go as a large group and get a party platter. It’s by St. Mark’s so you can explore the neighborhood (and get an ear piercing if you’ve been dying to get one) while you’re here.

Chinese food

I’ve been going to a Chinese place on 102 Mott Street (the name has changed once or twice) ever since I was a little kid. I’ve always gotten hot congee there. In high school, I went with a group of friends and ordered a rice dish with salt and pepper pork. In college, I went back yet again, and this time with different friends (and one who was a vegetarian). Despite its lackluster appearance, this Chinese restaurant has always been my go­-to when I’m in Chinatown because of its reliable food and nostalgic experience (and affordability!). Explore Chinatown and stop by for wonton noodle soup, rice dishes, and congee.

As a jaded New Yorker and poor college student, I can tell you that finding good food in good places can be exhausting both mentally and for the wallet. At the same time, it can be fun when you have friends who are willing to try new things with you. Take some time this winter break to see what new places you can find. Who knows what hidden gems you will discover. Enjoy and happy eating!

Image: Lauren Jessen

Culture

Thanksgiving is a holiday celebrated among all sorts of families from all walks of life. The moment they came to America, my family resolved to understand how the culture and holidays work here as part of their immigration process. I’m from a Chinese family, and with that comes its own values. One of them, like many cultures, is to be thankful for the good that has come, and to hope that there is good in the future.

The way my family celebrates Thanksgiving isn’t too different from other families. We put on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcast on our television. Over the years, the television went from a big bulky block that sat on our table to a nice flat screen. Sometimes it would be the sound of the Nintendo Wii, and me kicking my cousin’s butt on Super Smash. While the sounds of trumpets and music and the voice of an announcer cheerfully declares the coming float, the sounds of metal clanking comes from the kitchen.

Our family has turkey like many others. We also have rice and fish, salads and cooked dishes of vegetables. The important thing is that everyone is happy and eating what they want, so having both turkey and chicken wasn’t unusual on some Thanksgivings. I always liked my little bowl of cranberry sauce, and my dad makes a great mixed salad, and my mom orchestrates the way the extended oval table, with its orange and white Hawaiian flower cover, is arranged.

We did prayer every year, with my grandparents leading, and this year is special. The prayers involve incense and a neat arrangement of oranges, meats, sweets, and vegetables by the window. The prayer is to the spirits, ancestors or gods or what have you, to thank them for protecting us and that we would appreciate their protection in the future. Any deaths in the family, especially any within the past year, would especially be remembered, as the spirits of those people are most close to us. This year, we indeed have one of these close spirits, so the prayer will not be without deep contemplation.

The fun comes after the food is done, after the prayers said. That’s when we get to eat, and my family, as well as extended family from all over NYC, come to one household. It’s a loud event with a lot of noise and clattering and energy, but there is a lot of love. More than anything else, this love, not the food or the parade or the incense, is what makes Thanksgiving so lovely.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?

Image: martha_chapa95

Culture

新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè: This means ‘Happy New Year’ in Mandarin). Today marks the first day of Lunar New Year, where many celebrations will occur to welcome the beginning of the new year. Whether you celebrate Lunar New Year or not, here are some interesting tidbits that will give you a better idea of what the holiday is all about.

1. Lunar New Year is celebrated in several Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.

2. According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal sign. The Chinese zodiac is a calendar system in which each of the years in the 12-year cycle is named after an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

3. Lunar New Year lasts 15 days. Beginning on January 31, 2014 and ending on February 14, 2014, Lunar New Year lasts about two weeks.

4. Lunar New Year traditions are observed and celebrated. A few traditions include exchanging money or treats in red envelopes, attending or participating in a parade, setting off firecrackers (the loud noises ward off bad spirits and bad luck), wearing red clothing, cooking Chinese dumplings, and decorating your home.

5. The color red is meant to scare away evil spirits. Red is also the color and symbol of good luck in Chinese culture. Many people will wear red or hang red decorations and paintings.

6. The number “8” symbolizes good luck and wealth because the Chinese word for “8” rhymes with fortune or wealth.

7. Sweet treats are a must. Some favorites include traditional candies made from lotus seeds, longan, peanuts, red melon seed, coconut, and candied melon.

8. Lunar New Year is symbolic of releasing the past and welcoming change and new beginnings. Use this time to clean your home and make a fresh start. Set new goals for yourself and pay attention to what you want to focus on for the coming year.

{Image via}

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Managing, singing, writing, playing, and producing your own music takes a lot of time, effort, and creativity. What is the process for producing an album? How does one become a professional musician and artist? How do you stay confident in front of crowds night after night? Connor Frost, who manages, sings, writes, and plays his own music with his band, Dizzy Bats, explains, “Just go out there and do it, repetition really helps.” 

Having grown up playing music and being surrounded by a musically-talented family, standing in front of an audience is nothing new to Connor, but he continues to channel all of his energy into his performances and he makes sure he is always learning something from each new experience. Fresh off the release of his new EP, Appendectomy, Connor has a lot to share about his experiences pursuing music full-time and how he got to where he is today.

Name: Connor Frost
Age: 25
Education: B.A. from Connecticut College
Follow: Twitter | Facebook | Dizzy Bats | Take a Listen/Download

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

CF: Following your passion. I do my best not to worry about the different molds that society has created for us, and instead just roll with it and ride that passion wave.

CJ: What did you major in at Connecticut College and how did you determine what to study?

CF: Going into Connecticut College I knew that I wanted to study Chinese, so when I was applying to colleges, I looked for programs that had strong Chinese programs. I also knew that I wanted to study music but I wasn’t really trying to dive into a conservatory atmosphere. I was, however, looking for schools that would allow me to be involved musically, so the small liberal arts college system appealed to me.

CJ: Did you study abroad? What was your big takeaway from studying abroad and do you think it was worth it?

CF: I studied in Beijing for the spring semester of my junior year. There are so many takeaways, but I would say by the end of that experience, I considered myself “fluent” in the Chinese language, which was ultimately my goal. I think it was also an incredible cultural learning experience. Just crossing the street in China is an adventure every day. Immersing myself in that type of environment that was totally different from what I grew up in was pretty great.

Connor in front of Organs

CJ: What or who inspired you to become a musician/artist?

CF: I grew up playing music. My mom is a professional pianist. My dad is a singer. They’re both teachers, they both teach music. My mom works at Sacred Heart University as a teacher there, she’s also an organist at a church. My dad also teaches. So I grew up around music, but it wasn’t until college that I realized that music is what I want to do. My parents made me continue music up to a certain age, but I never felt like they forced it on me. It was a mix of being surrounded by it, but also the great experiences that I had in college and starting my own band made me realize that this is what I want to do.

CJ: How did you know you wanted to be a musician/artist professionally?

CF: I didn’t really know. Out of college I was a full-time teacher for 2 years, the first year in Connecticut and then in North Jersey, and my reasoning for that was that I wanted to be in or around New York because that’s where my band was and still is. I really love teaching, realized that teaching full-time and doing the music thing full-time just wasn’t a healthy lifestyle and it was causing a lot of unneeded stress. I ultimately decided last February that I wanted to remove myself from full-time teaching and dedicate that time to music.

CJ: You recently went on a national tour. When on tour, how do you stay motivated on-stage night after night of performing?

CF: I put all of my energy into the performance. Seeing the country is great, but at the end of the day, you’re on the road for one reason and that’s the performance.  I try not to worry about things that are out of my control, which is easier said than done.  Seeing different cities is pretty cool, too, but I put everything into the show. Whether I’m playing for 1 person or for 50 people, it doesn’t matter, I just try to make the performance the best it can be.

CJ: Have you ever forgotten a song lyric on-stage and what do you do when that happens?

CF: Short answer, yes. I’ve mixed up verses. I think only the really hardcore Dizzy Bats fans notice, so it’s not a really big thing. I’ll definitely laugh about it, though.

Connor and his band 2 - 1

CJ: Do you have a pre-show ritual?

CF: I don’t really, but I probably should. I just try to eat well and not right before performing.

CJ: What is one of the greatest lessons you have learned from being a musician/artist?

CF: I think throughout all of my song-writing, I was really concerned with how my music would be received amongst my friends, new fans, and family. In the beginning, it was as if I was trying to write for someone else. I was trying to write to this group of people – whoever they were, and I wasn’t even sure who they were really. Lyrically, I was trying to make my songs really accessible as well.

Now, I truly just write for myself.  I’ve stopped worrying about whether the record will sell or if someone will like a song or not. The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that you should write for yourself and be true to yourself, otherwise the art loses authenticity and meaning.

CJ: How do you overcome self-doubt and stage fright?

CF: Just doing it more and more. I grew up performing so I had a lot of experience on stage. I do get anxious about some shows, though.  For example, our first Dizzy Bats show, which was a couple of years ago now, I was crazy nervous. Last year we were playing a show every weekend from January to April, and by the end of it performing was second nature. There were some nerves but more excitement and positive energy than anything else. Just go out there and do it, repetition really helps.

CJ: You write, sing, and play your own music. What is your songwriting process?

CF: It really depends. It’s tough for me to pick a time to sit down and just write a song. It doesn’t really work like that. I get ideas for songs at really inconvenient times, usually right before I’m going to bed, which is a horrible time to get a song idea, or while stuck in traffic on the GWB. I usually come up with a melody first, and then I take that melody and mess around with the guitar, and then I’ll put lyrics to it and take it to my guitarist, Kyle, who will come up with additional guitar parts. Then the whole band will flesh it out from there.

If I start writing a song and the song doesn’t write itself, then it’s probably not meant to be.  If I have to spend a lot of time thinking about the song, then it’s probably not going to happen, or perhaps I just have a horrible attention span.

Connor playing guitar - 1

CJ: What advice do you have for youth who want to be professional musicians?

CF: Write for yourself and don’t worry about how your music is going to be received. In the end, if you’re not happy with your music and you’re not stoked about what you’re putting out, it’ll be hard for others to be excited about it. If you want to be an indie rock artist, don’t let the empty room discourage you.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

CF: A typical day involves waking up and now eating breakfast which I never usually did. I’ll work on some music, whether it’s Dizzy Bats or other projects I’m involved in. During the day I’ll have rehearsals, at night I tutor, and then I’ll work on more music, read, and watch TV.  Every day is different which is really cool.

CJ: What was the inspiration behind Appendectomy?

CF: I had an appendectomy that went all wrong due to mediocre doctors and poor opinions. I ended up back in the hospital after the appendectomy because of post-surgery complications, so during that time I was going through a lot.

So I started writing this song which is a little bit about missing this girl and also about putting things into perspective. I found myself whining and crying when I was bedridden, but I realized at the end of the day I was going to walk out of that hospital, which was more than a lot of patients can say.

CJ: How long did it take to write, sing, and produce Appendectomy?

CF: We toured the songs for half a year, from January to May. We went into the studio in May and I would say we spent four total days in the studio for five songs – one of the songs didn’t make it on to the EP. The mixing and mastering was in June. From learning the songs to getting the final tracks was a 6 month process. It can be shorter than that, but it just happened this way.

Connor singing and playing guitar -1

CJ: What activities were you involved in throughout high school? Were there any experiences that were most memorable or life changing?

CF: I was very involved with music. After I quit the soccer team my junior year of high school, I decided that music was going to be my focus outside of the classroom. My jazz band teacher in high school really was a source of inspiration.  In playing with such strong high school musicians and getting instruction from a great jazz musician, I started to casually think about life as a teacher, as well as a musician.

In college, I played in every single group imaginable, it seemed. I played in the concert band, symphony orchestra, jazz band, I fronted a rock band and funk band, and that’s when I started writing my own tunes. My college band, The Endpiece – that experience made me realize I wanted to go the rock ‘n roll/indie route. Of all the amazing learning experiences that I had, that was one of the most amazing and life changing. I learned so much and there is no way I would be doing what I am doing now without that band.

CJ: You are also the manager of your band. From the business side, how does that influence the creative side?

CF: It doesn’t, except that some songs have been about the frustrations of managing the creative as well as business side of things. They are pretty separate because managing deals with booking shows and PR, so it doesn’t necessarily crossover into the creative world.

CJ: What music are you most influenced by?

CF: I am influenced by all of the genres that I’ve studied. We have a lot of horns in our recordings and I draw influence from all of the experience that I’ve had playing classical and jazz trumpet.  I hate classifying our music but if I had to put us in a box: 90’s alternative rock, punk and power pop. Our music is very 90s influenced, which makes sense having been a 90s kid.

CJ: What motivates you in your everyday life?

CF: The music is what motivates me, as well as working with kids. Those are two things that I love to do, and I feel so blessed that my life consists of these two passions. I don’t find myself necessarily sitting on the couch trying to find ways to motivate myself.  Not at the moment, at least.

CJ: Who is your role model?

CF: It sounds corny, but seeing what my parents have done with music and seeing how happy they are is inspirational.

More recently, the various producers that I’ve worked with – our guitarist, Kyle Joseph, and my buddy Jon Markson – have been the two people on the production front for Dizzy Bats, and in seeing what they do in the studio and what they do with their own music keeps me motivated and inspired.  Every time I see them work I am amazed by their knowledge, expertise, and drive.  My brother, who I consider to be the most all-around creative person I know, is also someone I look up to.  I feel really lucky to be surrounded by such talented friends and family.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

CF: Relax, it’s all good.

Connor Frost Qs

Check out the lyric video for ‘Batman and the Joker’ below!