Andres Tardio is an artist who's blended his passions for writing and photography. His bylines include Billboard, Complex Music, Rap-Up, Genius, MTV News and more. He's photographed artists like Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Big Sean, Kanye West, J. Cole and A$AP Rocky. His Instagram is poppin'. His work is beyond dope.
And Andres is sharing his career journey below - what lessons he's learned along the way and what has helped him get to where he is now.
How did you get to where you are now?
Subconsciously I always wanted to do this and then I followed that passion by writing online and writing for myself. Thankfully, Shake, from 2DopeBoyz, saw that and offered me a gig writing for HipHopDX, where he’d been working at that time. I got to learn from a lot of cool people there including Shake, Jeff Ryce, Andreas Hale, Anthony Springer, and eventually others like Jake Paine, Kathy Iandoli, Steven Horowitz, Omar Burgess, and Soren Baker, but those were the ones I started with. So that’s kinda how I got my foot in the door.
Outside of my writing I would do photography on my own, so I would mainly take landscape photos or nature photos. When I went over to MTV News, which was later in my career, I was under Rob Markman. He hired me as a writer and then he saw my work as a photographer and he encouraged me to blend those worlds more. In the past I had done that from time to time but I didn't really dive into it like that until Rob encouraged me to go in that direction. I gotta thank Rob for that, ‘cause I had done it before but he really encouraged it. I think in life you need people like that along the way to help encourage you like that, to blend those worlds or your passions together.
What three people or things would you attribute your achievements to?
A higher power is definitely guiding me, so I think that that’s very important. So that’s one. And then I gotta say my family as one: my brother, my sister, my mom and my dad. They all helped in different ways throughout my life in ways that they know, in ways that they don't know. They helped tremendously. And then, the third, is my wife. I went in order of how I met them. First, I met the higher power, second I met my family, and then third I met my wife. Her name is Marjorie and she’s another guiding light.
What top three lessons have you learned from your career journey?
The first is to work hard. What I’ve learned is that if I'm not working super hard then nothing's really happening. If I’m working super hard, then things start really happening. So working hard, and being smart while you work hard, is very important. That’s something I’m still learning about and still learning to do day by day but putting in the hours is important. When I say work hard I mean work diligently and work with respect for the craft and for the people you work with.
Two, be patient. Things don’t happen overnight. You're not going to get into this game and interview your favorite rapper immediately most likely. Sometimes that happens, but a lot of times you might not. You might have to interview people that are good, that are talented, that are great but they might not be your favorite. But, you know, stay patient. You might not work for your favorite publication immediately but, you know, stay patient. You might not be seeing the success that you want immediately but stay patient. Because if you work hard and you stay patient, good things will start to happen. But you gotta do both of those, right? You can't just be patient and not work hard. Then you're just sitting there waiting for something to happen. You can’t work hard without being patient because then you’re just angry that you worked so hard and nothing came of it.
The other thing is things might not go the way you planned. When I started, I didn’t think that this was going to be my career. I started right out of high school and I was doing this on the side while I was going to school. Then, I graduated and I decided to teach. So I taught for three years and I was doing this on the side, still. Eventually it worked out that I was able to do this full time and this became my career now but I had to be patient the whole time. I was working hard doing a bunch of jobs at once. I was teaching and I was writing and doing photography but I was patient enough to know like, “Okay maybe I shouldn’t be teaching, maybe I should just leave the classroom now,” and I loved what I did and I loved my students but I knew the opportunity was there for me so I took it. Being patient through that was important because you can’t just be restless. I was a teacher for three years and got my masters and I wouldn’t give that up for anything, not that experience and not the masters. So it was all very important but easily you could be like, “Man why would I go to school for a masters that takes two years to get?” or “Why would I teach for three years? Why not just immediately go into working at the biggest websites that are out there?” But that’s not how things work all the time so you gotta be patient.
The third thing I would say is take care of your money. Because if you don’t take care of your money, you’re not gonna have a future that is worth much financially so you have to be smart with your money the whole time and that's something I’ve learned as well. So be smart with your money (and about your money) and work very hard and be patient and I think things will work out!
What's the reality of your job beyond the appearance of it?
I think it goes back to what we were saying earlier of the hard work that goes behind something. So for example, people might see a picture that I took but they don’t know what I might’ve done to go get that picture. And that’s cool, I don’t need them to and I don't want them to care about what went into it. I think that's fine, that's part of the art. You have to make things look easy. When people start to dwell too much on the, “Oh but I did this and I did that,” I think it takes away from what you actually did. I think people need to realize that every interview or every photo takes a lot of work. There’s a lot of preparation, there's a lot of studying the craft, there are a lot of late nights that aren't party late nights. They're work hard late nights. There might not be sleep involved or you might have to drive super far to get something done or you might have to sacrifice time with your family or a loved one. So there’s all of those things but I try not to get caught up in any of that because to me that's all part of the job.
With me, the long drives, the sleepless hours, the going to rent a specific lens or the reading an entire book to do an interview and all the preparation that goes into it, all of that stuff is all part of the job. I love a lot of that stuff. I don't love everything, I don't love sitting and driving, for example, but I love a lot of the preparation stuff. I love looking at all of the different lenses and studying the craft and reading a book, I love all of that stuff. It's not to downgrade any of it. I don't want people to think about that stuff. I guess there's a lot of stuff people don't see but I try not to focus on that at all. I just try to do my work and I view it all as part of the work.
Why do you love what you do?
I love what I do because I get to interview people and learn from their life experiences and learn from their successes, their failures, all of that. I love that. I also love photography because it's an artistic expression. I’ve always been an artistic person and by that I don’t mean to say I was always great artist. By that I mean I always wanted to express myself in artistic ways. So to do that through photography it gives me that outlet, to do that through writing gives me that outlet. So I have these two things that blend all of my loves and passions together (being art, music) and then learning from people. I love that.
I think being a storyteller is very important. Through pictures, through words, being a storyteller is great. I’m working at getting better at it. Not to say I’m the best but I’m working to be a better storyteller every day through taking photos, through words, through interviews. Whatever I do in the future I’m sure it’ll involve that because that’s something I’m passionate about and I’ve always been passionate about that. The only thing I would add to what I need to do more of is I need to teach more. Because I used to be a teacher and I need that part of my life back in some way. I think that’s the only addition I would make but there’s only 24 hours in a day, and you need at least a couple hours of sleep. So it’s hard to do 3 things you love but at least I’m doing 2 things I love often and for that I’m blessed because of companies like Billboard and Rap-Up and Complex and Genius and all these places that allow me to write and/or shoot for them. It’s really a blessing man. I’m excited. I’m happy where I’m at right now. I just did a couple of shoots for ad campaigns for these companies. I’m very excited about it. I’m about to go do something cool right now so I’m just happy and blessed to be in this position. I just want to keep working hard to do more of it.
Want some exclusive content from this interview? Sign up for the JRECOGNIZE newsletter!