photographer & scientist || creator of @urbanxkoi & aspiring surgeon || based in New York City
"Be a student of the universe—wide-eyed and curious. Read, watch, listen, breathe."
Tells us about yourself! Where are you from? What do you do? Why do you do it? My name is Urban Koi and I grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I am a photographer, writer, and aspiring surgeon. I have always had a deep fondness for art and medicine, and while some may view art and medicine as completely unrelated subjects that do not overlap, I see them as two realms that intermingle and dance in symbiotic hues. Although medicine is one of the most dynamic and complex fields, it begins with genuine compassion and honest empathy. The best physician interlaces science theory, empirical evidence, and the art of humanity. Every human is unique and requires individualised attention—not every condition must be treated in the same manner. Thus, eclectic creativity and critical thinking are essential in order to provide the best care for each person. Medicine is an art.
What was it that drew you to 100cameras?
The philosophy of 100cameras resonated with my aspirations in weaving art and photography with public health and community—it felt like a true calling. The 100cameras mission to utilise education, technical skills, and storytelling to empower the youth to embrace their stories and become change-makers is a constant inspiration and drives me forward. Nelson Mandela once alleged, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
How has the power of storytelling impacted your life?
When I was younger, I was bullied for being small, for being a mixture of ethnicities and looking “different”, for having interests that were considered nerdy or peculiar. I channelled all my thoughts and feelings into the art of storytelling through writing, photography, and short films. Continuing on my journey through life on Earth, I have been incredibly humbled to hear so many invigorating stories on my travels and I have been especially blessed to collaborate with other brilliant artists, creatives, and scientists on phenomenal projects.
Tell us one fun fact about you... go!
My name Urban Koi encapsulates two meanings. The first is literal and depicts a koi fish dwelling in the urban sea. Much of my childhood upbringing is rooted in Brooklyn and I feel a deep connection to New York City. ‘Koi’ is also a Japanese homophone for ‘love’, and alludes to the second meaning—my adoration for cities. All of these elements percolate into my work and style—the moody, gritty urban textures, but portrayed in a softer, more subtle way.
What advice would you give to other artists and creatives that are hoping to live out their passions and change the world?
Sometimes the world will become quiet and the only sound left is the beat of your heart. Always be true to your character.
What inspires you and your work?
I am inspired when I travel and delve into a multiplicity of cultures. I am enticed by wistfulness, minimalism, and idiosyncrasies—the harmony of symmetry and asymmetry in life. I see the quiescent beauty around me and I tend to capture the transient moments to show that there is elegance everywhere, even in the ordinary. The way the vines overturn a deserted brick building in an old alley, the way the fog lingers, gracing rooftops with a beguiling stillness, the way relentless sunlight slices through the scaffolding, casting obsidian shadows with mysterious messages, and the way the car horns beep or footsteps pitter-patter on the cobblestone street —there is beauty in the seemingly mundane.
Tell us one tip of your trade.
Be a student of the universe—wide-eyed and curious. Read, watch, listen, breathe.
What are you passionate about?
Photography, writing, astronomy, and medicine.
What does being on the Board of Creatives mean to you?
It means being a compassionate leader—to inspire, to motivate, to guide, to help others realise that they too, can send a ripple of positive change in their communities.