Anthony, his twin and older brother grew up all over the east coast (NC, SC, VA). The Product of a military family. Anthony’s father was in the marines. Ant spent all of his high school years in Okinawa, Japan. After graduation, Anthony returned to Virginia to study Fine Arts at Norfolk State University. Anthony and I have collaborated on multiple projects over the past 4 years. I first outsourced Anthony’s graphic design services when I was working as an intern at Corporate Athletic Management. He’s even assisted me with some key aesthetics for JBsFood4Thought.com. One thing I’ve heard Ant say a few times is, “People will put their all into anything they believe in.” I think its been true for him.

Ant and I linked up in the 757 a couple days before he relocated to Los Angeles. We sat down at a local park in the neighborhood. We spent the first few minutes analyzing what we think it takes to be a successful, young entrepreneur and also discussed goals for our 2014 projects. A lot of good people have put faith in Ant’s vision and I wanted to learn more. I opened up with the first question of this week’s #ShineHard conversation.

What is your Passion and When did you realize?

Ant: Well first of all, I was always into art. It was just one of those things I couldn’t run away from. I first picked up the camera in my high school photography class. I didn’t know too much about graphic design, but I have been using Paint Shop Pro since middle school.

So why photography?

Ant: I told my Dad I was taking a photography class and I needed a camera. He said, “Ok I got a camera!” He grabbed his own camera, said I could “borrow” it *laughs*. He showed me the tricks and trades of black and white film. I learned how to develop negatives in a pitch black dark room. Break the film out, put it in the cartridge, prepare negatives, scale it. Everything. That experience enabled me to think seriously about photography.

Who did you look up to growing up?

Ant: I really looked up to my Dad. He loaned me my first camera. He told me how he was about to go into art school himself. He was in the Marinesand it wasn’t until he was back from getting deployed that he received an acceptance letter from an art institute. By that time he was already in the service. I guess he kind of passed that legacy on through me and my brother. Just recently my Dad gave me that black and white camera. He was about to sell it off to craig’s list or something. I was like “whoa wait! Ill take that”  Safe to say there is some sentimental value there. My first camera ever.

When was the world first introduced to an AntUnltd Project?

Ant: My teacher gave me a photo shop book. It was all new to me, digital stuff. Me being creative I would just get on there and experiment. I took tons of pictures and fiddled around with all the blending options. You know, it was just something I was fascinated with. I was soaked into graphic design and photo shop and manipulation. In my head I was unstoppable!

Johnny: Dude you sound like a mad scientist.

Ant: I got recognized for some of my classwork in the school and that’s when teachers started asking me to make the fliers. I said, “Yes” to almost every opportunity because it was just boosting my experience. Then the principle came to me and asked if I would redesign the Kadena High School Athetic Logo. I was honored to do it and everybody loved it. If you go to the website today that logo is still there.

So how did you brand yourself when you got to Norfolk State?

Ant: I partnered with a friend doing a Black Planet/MySpace layout website. I did photo manipulation, image mapping, coding. I was doing all of that and business was booming. Next, I was offered a paid internship with FreeWebLayouts.net. On campus I was doing fliers for Student Activities and other organizations. I had this nice digital Kodak with a touch screen. I thought I was doing it big until I seen these big a$$ Nikon’s going for like $700. I started to wonder if I could afford photography.

Then one day I had gotten my refund check. I made up my mind, $500, I’m getting this camera. This is an investment in MYSELF. After that I started shooting events heavy. I merged photography and graphic design together to make art. My way of art. My form of expressing myself.

Who inspires you?

Ant: I was always against going by the book. I was always against being cliche. Growing up with a twin brother, you get tired of people trying to make you out to be a copy. It really motivates me to break away from all that

As far as art, I really like McFresh Creates and Colorful Money. Dope stuff. Both are friends of mine and they’ve really taken off. I love seeing that progress.

What in today’s culture frustrates you the most?

Ant: Its tough finding people with the same level of commitment that I have. People flake off a lot. They say they want to work then are all over the place. That’s why I don’t get overly invested in peoples’ interest. In the back of my mind I know, “The chances of some people following through is 50/50.” I used to get worked up over this stuff but now I hit them with the, “Ok just let me know.” Sometimes people come around. If you don’t have my vision, at least have a vision for yourself. A lot of people don’t seize opportunity.

Johnny: That’s true. A lot of people are interested, but not committed. People who are interested usually only act when the conditions are ideal. When you’re committed you accept no excuses; only results.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a young entrepreneur?

Ant: Man I’ve learned the importance of having a team. I have new projects coming in constantly. Sometimes it feels like I’m working 5 or 6 different positions in one corporation. Stylists, Hair, Make-up, In-voices, Social Media. I find my self addressing these roles for every shoot. It would be ideal to have someone consistent in each position. But I have formed some partnerships in different cities.

So tell me a little bit about the Push it to the Limit Project..?

Ant: This is the 3rd year I’ve done it. The first year was pretty raw. I’ve stayed connected with the school and campus life, so it wasn’t hard for me to reach out and find prospects. It started out with a test shoot then I thought, “Why not do something for Black History Month?” So I came up with something to pay homage to African American Professional Athletes. Throughout the years I have seen it evolve into a project that has inspired american athletes and motivated them to contribute. I asked, ‘What does it mean when you are pushing it to the limit?

What does “Pushing it to the Limit” mean to you?

Ant: To me, Pushing it to the Limit means Exceeding all Expectations.

Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?

Ant: Being able to give back to my institutions. My High School Logo and The Anti-Hazing Display I did for NSU. I created some things that are timeless. And then, being asked to talk with NSU students about my work and my experiences as a guest speaker.

What is the #1 secret behind your success?

Ant: There’s a Will Smith Quote, “The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who want to excel. Talent you have naturally, skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.” That’s what I live. I put in the hours to get the job done.

What advice would you give to the young creators out there?

Ant: Believe in yourself! Anything you want to do, everything starts with you. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order to do what you want to do. Music, dance, anything, as artists you want to create. In order to get the best result you have to leave your comfort zone. It will always lead to your best results.

Johnny: Absolutely. My imagination immediately took me HERE@ShineHardFamily

Interested in learning more or connecting with Anthony?

Twitter: @AntUnltd

Email: AntUnltd@gmail.com