Ten Percent Better: Suleman Hersi

SULEMAN HERSI has tried his hand at various art forms including poetry, short stories, rapping, and beat-boxing. Photography is a medium he returns to regularly. Suleman resides in Asker, Norway, and holds a BS in engineering. Check out his haunting images in the Xagaa 2018 issue, found here, here, and here.

S Hersi


What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It might seem weird, but I’m at my most happy when everything goes as planned. I plan every aspect of my life as much as possible and when everything goes the way I envisioned, that is the most Zen and blissful state.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I suspect that it is “sorry.” Funny enough sorry doesn’t work for me. If someone does something [to me] and says sorry, it doesn’t change anything. I’m still pissed until I get over it.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Sunday mornings watching Dexter’s Laboratory!

At what point in your life did you find yourself exploring your talent?
I started working on my photography in mid-2014 at 23 years old. A friend of mine showed me his Instagram account and I was blown away by the pictures he was taking. So, I started with my iPhone and the ball kept rolling from there.

In what mood do you usually create your work?
I’m mostly in a positive state and that’s when I take pictures. If I am in a bad mood I don’t do anything, and I hate that state so I keep myself positive with cat videos.

What or who inspires you as an artist/author?
I would say it’s two parts: I am inspired by people that have “made it,” the people that are doing the thing I want to do full time. I would say they are a 1000% ahead of me. Then I’m [also] motivated and inspired by the people that are right in front of me; those that are 10% better.

I see life as a race. I’m inspired by the ones that have already won the race, but I’m motivated by the guy or girl in front of me. That way little by little I’m getting ahead and getting closer to “winning” the race. Even though it’s not a competition, if I get as good as the person in front of me I can become better and ultimately be the best I can be.

Does your work usually carry a message?
Not a message, but I try to convey a story of what it was like to be there when the photo was taken. That’s why I do a three pictures series for all my posts. I feel one picture doesn’t always convey the mood or the atmosphere.

What is your spirit animal? Why?
I don’t have a spirit animal, but if I had to choose one I would say a caterpillar. I haven’t reached my final form yet.

What is your greatest fear?
Not having control, and failing.

What’s the best piece of advice someone has given you?
Either make more than you spend or spend less than you make. This was said to me by my father, because I was horrible with money.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to have patience and discipline like crazy.

What does home mean to you?
[A place] where I’m safe.

Which living person do you admire?
My mom and dad. The struggle they have been through to get me here is something I can never fully comprehend.

What is your proudest achievement?
Meeting my future wife.