Dexter Storey describes himself as a storyteller. The U0 Engineering student and aspiring Architecture major from Victoria, BC, has been telling tales for most of his life, first by acting, then slowly moving into photography, film, and graphic design throughout high school. His most recent interest is fashion design.
At the end of February, Storey applied for the Adobe Creative Residency, an initiative that provides an opportunity for creative individuals to spend a year working on personal projects and sharing their experiences.
“Basically what they do is they pick two people […] to represent Adobe as a bit of a youth ambassador as they fund you with a year’s salary to do creative projects,” Storey said. “They would pay for any sort of project you want to do, any travelling you need to do, any equipment you need, it just kind of makes your creative dreams come true.”
Instead of being inspired by the physical aspects of an object or piece, Storey is more interested in the story behind it, and works on making his tales more personal by integrating his own experiences.
“I take a lot of inspiration from a lot of other work I see,” Storey said. “It’s cool to be able to look at something and say, ‘[…] What is the story behind [what] they’re telling and how can I interpret that story, change it, and make it my own?’ or, ‘How can I find an idea that I see […] and kind of translate it into my own mind and then add parts of my own stories to it to make it happen?’”
Storey recently finished a 52-week project in which he shared a photo a week over the course of a year. Several of them are self-portraits, which allows him to express his stories more personally.
Storey has accumulated artistic skills over the past few years through self-taught experimentation with photography, videography, and graphic design. Additionally, he acquires knowledge by observing other artists and creatives. Storey will often reach out to peers and artists that inspire him, and ask them to help him improve his understanding of their talents. For instance, Storey found interest in a professional photographer friend he knew in high school, and, after accompanying her on a photoshoot, began actively following his interest in photography.
“I try to find one person who I’m really inspired by and try to get them to mentor me on some specifics on how to do what I’m trying to do,” Storey said. “[….] I think [gaining inspiration is] about finding someone who is really good at what you want to do and just picking their brain about how to make it happen.”
While Storey is used to using multiple mediums, his Adobe residency application video required him to find a way to express everything he wanted to do in one medium. He explained that the form to apply for the Adobe residency had a single ambiguous section in which the applicant could upload their work.
“Adobe basically […] just had one link which [said], ‘Link to supporting visuals,’” Storey said. “If you’re a graphic designer, you’d submit something that’s graphic design, if you’re a photographer you’d submit something thats photography, but what I want to do is not something like video, photography, graphic design—I want to do storytelling, so I wanted to create a project that could show them that I can tell stories in any medium.”
He decided the best way to show his love for storytelling was to tell his own life story, using animation, photography, and graphic design throughout his application video. He attributes much of his success to his family and friends, who strongly support his ambitions.
“I think with the video, I was really lucky to have so many people who shared it and are helping me get to where I want to with these crazy ideas in my head. So I guess a huge thank you to the community who supports me,” Storey said. “I know everyone says this, but it really is true that you can’t do it without them.”
Storey’s passion for storytelling is unfortunately limited by his budget and busy schedule. He often pays for his projects out of his own pocket, and therefore doesn’t always have the money to afford the materials he needs to execute his creative visions. As a full-time student, he also struggles to find the time to work on his art.
“I have all these really cool ideas written down on my phone or in my notebook, and they don’t come to life because I can’t afford to make them happen or I don’t have the time,” Storey said. “There’s just restrictions or roadblocks in the way. So, I’m really excited about the potential [of] the Adobe project because it would remove the barriers and allow me to explore without bounds.”
Storey is supposed to hear back from Adobe in a few weeks, and if he is successful, will take a year off from studying at McGill to complete the Creative Residency.
With such a fitting last name, it only seems natural for Dexter Storey to actively pursue his passion. The Adobe Creative Residency gives him the creative freedom he is looking for, and hopefully, in a year’s time, he will find himself travelling and storytelling for the program without limits.