We had the good fortune of connecting with Xayn Nazerally (they/them) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Xayn, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks has had everything to do with where I am in my life & career, honestly. I was a queer (read: trans) kid who grew up in a relatively conservative interfaith (Muslim + Christian) household. My father is Indo-Kenyan, and my mother is Mexican. We moved to Kenya when I was very young. I had a lot of struggles with my mental health and eventually my mom and I came back to San Diego so we could find better treatment/healthcare for me. I came out as trans initially when I was around 16 or 17, and had to go back in the closet when I was 18 for safety reasons (moved to the UAE). I returned to San Diego when I turned 21, came out again, and it really took me a while to really figure things out again. I still haven’t to be honest! Coming out, moving back to San Diego on my own, trying to pursue a career in art have all been gigantic risks that have ultimately gotten me closer to where I want to be. All of this hard work has been so, so worth it. I officially started my business in 2020 like… three or four days after I got top surgery. I was laying in bed and trying to figure out what the next step for me was. I’m a restless person so even though I couldn’t do much physically at the time, I was determined to do something. I think also because of the state of the world at the moment I just don’t have as many reservations anymore. I learned very young that I can only rely on myself, and so that’s definitely been reflected in my work ethic and approach to doing new things. I no longer really crave or care for the approval of others, I’m very happy with where I am and where I’m going and that’s been very freeing in itself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is constantly evolving. I can’t stick to just one medium. I’m always looking for new ways to create and bring my ideas to life. I started painting, and making videos when I was a child. I’ve always had a love for music & fashion as well, so to be able to find some interconnection between the mediums I’ve been interested in or working with for years has been really wonderful for me. I suppose it’s the diversity of my work that makes it unique. I don’t have a single comprehensive body of work right now, though that is something I’m actively working on (and don’t think I’ll ever stop). I just find a lot of joy in learning new things that challenge me. Nostalgia and familiarity really fuels a lot of my practice. I’m currently trying to do small-batch merchandise for artists & musicians on the business side of things, and on the arts + activism side of things I’ve been working on a really exciting livestream project that benefits mutual aid funds. I strongly believe that art and activism go hand in hand and it’s very important to me to constantly think about that, and how art can affect/uplift our communities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Honestly I’m a big homebody! There aren’t any particular spots that come to mind. I love finding little odd nooks and crannies around San Diego but in the time that I’ve been back I haven’t really had a lot of time to get out there and explore. Bird Park has become a rather regular location for me to hang out. J street marina is another spot I like to go on occasion. I used to live down the street. I recently moved to City Heights and I’m looking forward to exploring my neighborhood more. There’s been some cool hidden spots that I can see the freeway from which is actually pretty relaxing for me. I think I like going for long drive around the county more than anything. It gives me time to focus my mind elsewhere.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents, firstly. Things have not always been easy between us, but they have continued to love me and support me and show up for me in ways that I am so grateful for. The Urban Art Shop has been a gigantic part of my evolution and stability as an artist. Without the kindness of Clyde, Michael, Anoki, and T. Jay I would not be anywhere near where I am today. They’ve believed in me and trusted me and given me a space to create and grow. Alejandra Frank + Carmela Prudencio of Teros Gallery for being just incredible people, huge inspirations and beloved friends. Alexia, Tiana, Dylan, Xojo and Deja for believing in me and trusting me as an organizer, DJ, and designer for Love Affair which has been a transformative experience in more than one way.