Congratulations on a year of success with Chicago Creatives, go ahead and introduce yourself to the people who don’t already know you.
What’s going on, my name is Nico, I run the website Chicago Creatives and I’m a student at the Illinois Institute of Art where I study Fashion Marketing.
(Photo Shot By: Blake Pleasant)
When did you start getting involved with art?
For me, I’ve always considered myself a unique individual. I remember actually saying in the 4th or 5th grade that one of my hobbies was drawing, I was never even able to draw that well—but it was something I was very attracted to. My first real introduction to art was at 12 years old, my friend Jimmy and I were getting involved in the local hardcore Punk Rock music scene and at the time, the fliers of shows would be promoted on Myspace, and we figured why can’t we start making flyers and posters for these bands? I remember one of my biggest influences at the time was a guy named Aaron Crawford who was designing for all of the big bands in the scene. I would shoot him messages on Myspace for tips and he would respond, it was cool. As I stated earlier, I was not good at drawing so Jimmy would actually draw up logos and flyer ideas and I would scan them in my computer and recreate them in photoshop. From there, I continued my love for graphic designing through high school. I grew up in the suburbs where Art wasn’t something that our parents taught us to get involved with. Many parents looked to decide our futures for us; they wanted us to be doctors, teachers, to live the typical suburban lifestyle. I knew at an early age that this was not the lifestyle I wanted to have. Art has always been everything to me; it’s who I am as a person. Having an outlet like Art has helped me express myself in every way.
When did you realize the vision for Chicago Creatives, did you have an inspiration for the site when you started it last year?
When I first moved to Chicago I was actually running an Instagram page called Stylesbynico where I displayed the newest trends in the fashion community. One day I decided I didn’t want to box myself in by displaying fashion only. I knew Chicago had a very artistic scene, and I wanted to be able to help document it. Another reason I wanted to create this website was due to the fact I still felt like Art was under appreciated. Many people look at Art and think it’s just a doodle or a sketch, yet many fail to realize that behind each ‘doodle’, there’s a concept, a vision, it’s much deeper than we think. By creating a platform for Artists to display their work and story, I felt like it would help open other peoples eyes to the importance of Art in this world.
Funny back-story: so no one knows this—well, only a few know this… I was a big fan of the Chicago clothing company Fat Tiger. I had never been to the store or met the guys there, and the summer quarter of last year (right after the Blackhawks won the Stanley cup), Fat Tiger released a Chicago Trap Hawks shirt. I really wanted the shirt and I knew I needed to head over to Fat Tiger soon because if not, it was going to sell out. After my first summer quarter class, I decided to take the Blue line over to Fat Tiger for the first time, and as I was going over there I had the thought I wanted to interview Joefreshgoods, owner of Fat Tiger, because I was a big fan of him, his brand, and how he was representing Chicago. So I went there and purchased the shirt, saw Joe right by the door—and I’m a very shy guy so it was hard to approach him. But I finally decided to go up to ask him to schedule an interview—I had no idea of Chicago Creatives at that time, I just had an interest in interviewing him and hearing his story. He then said he’d be willing to do the interview, but he would be out of town for the next couple of weeks. Joe gave me his number to text him in a couple weeks and he would be down to do the interview. Funny thing is, I didn’t have the confidence to follow through—so I never ended up reaching back to him. After that, Chicago Creatives was created.
What are your favorite genres or mediums of art?
Graffiti / street art! I think graffiti is one of the realest creative mediums; there are not many other artists who are willing to take the risks and criminal charges in order to display and put up their name.
I’d have to say photography as well—photography is one of my favorites. The coolest thing to me about photography is the fact that you’re able to catch a moment that cannot be recreated again.
You recently picked up photography as a hobby—what are the insights you’ve learned by diving into it?
Definitely be patient. You’re not going to be a professional photographer in a day, a month, or even so a year. It’s something that you really have to dedicate time to. And not so much what I’ve learned, but what I’ve noticed is that as I’m walking downtown in between classes, I’m constantly looking at shadows and light in ways that I would be able to capture them with my camera.
(Photo By: BoyWonder)
Looking back on this past year, what are some of your favorite moments
Man, there have been so many… I’m honored to have been able to meet some of my favorite Artists. I’ve been following some of these creatives for 5+ years, to finally be able to sit and talk with them is such an honor.
Now, for individual moments, to start, back in October or November I was able to meet and do an interview/photoshoot with TheFamousKay, who I now consider one of my good homies. That was a big interview for me because I was only a couple months into Chicago Creatives, not getting too much attention or traffic to my website, and Kay was nice enough to share his interview on his Instagram to near 10,000 followers. I was super thankful for that because for the first time I was able to see real traffic to my website. I think he brought in 400 views and I’ve never seen that shit before. That was like my fourth interview at the time.
To start 2016 I decided to create some goals for myself, as I wanted to see some growth happen with Chicago Creatives. My main goal for the website was to bring in 8-10,000 website views for the year. As I continued to deliver content weekly, I saw the progression of views take place with the website and by month 7 I officially reached my goal of hitting over 10,000 views on the website. To me, that was my biggest moment thus far this year, and as I look back, I’m super thankful for anyone and everyone who has checked out the posts, shared them on Facebook, and commented on them. That really means a lot to me that people are constantly keeping up with the interviews I put out.
Another one of my favorite things about Chicago Creatives has been seeing people I’ve interviewed, who have never met each other; start working together on projects. To me, that represents everything I wanted Chicago Creatives to be, which is a community. We as creatives need to be consistently helping each other out.
(Photo Shot By: TheFamousKay)
Who was your most memorable interview this year and why was it so memorable?
I can’t narrow it down to just one, but I’ll give you a few: Antck, Brain killer, and Adverse. BrainKiller and Antck were nice enough to invite me into their homes to sit and talk with me for 4.5 hours. These guys are both Chicago legends in their fields, it was an honor that they invited me over. They both taught me a lot of things, and told me a lot of stories/events from the 80’s-90’s. What I liked most was the fact that they consistently told me what I was doing was right and I was on the right path. Adverse still to this day is the biggest interview I’ve ever done. I’ve known Adverse for 5 years now, as I was a big fan of his dance crew and clothing company. Right when I started Chicago Creatives, I knew one of the interviews I wanted to do was with Adverse.
(Artwork By: Antck)
(Artwork By: BrainKiller)
(Adverse / Kings Without Crowns)
Is there a difference between an artist and a creative?
Yes there definitely is a difference between an artist and a creative, in my opinion. The difference is that there are plenty of artists that are good at their medium, whether it’s Illustrator, Photoshop, painting, or whatever, but they play a little more by the rules. As a creative, I think you kind of bend the rules and make the rules yourself. As a creative you come up with the concept, vision, and create that, where as artists I feel like you’re told what to do and replicate that exact same thing you’re told.
You attend the Illinois Institute of Art- Chicago—how has your college experience been and what your plans after graduation?
My college experience has been cool, I guess. I’m currently just burned out, as I’ve been going to school full-time, working full-time, running this website, and doing internships. When I first got into school I started majoring in graphic design actually and I transitioned after a year into fashion marketing. Through fashion marketing I was able to learn many different things that graphic design didn’t teach me—some of those things would be: learning how to develop a target market, learning about demographics and psychographics, and consumer behavior. Those three concepts alone have helped me with Chicago Creatives. In my personal opinion, college isn’t something for me. I do a better job learning by experience.
I would like to give a shout out to one of my favorite professors/mentor and that would be Ms. Williams. Ms. Williams has constantly helped me to pursue my inner creativity and shed insights and knowledge on how to get to where I want to in life. Tuesdays With Morrie is my favorite book of all time, as it represents a student (Mitch) and his teacher/mentor (Morrie). That feeling and love that Mitch has for Morrie, I feel that same feeling for Ms. Williams. *Side note, if you have never read Tuesdays With Morrie, I highly suggest you read it.*
After graduation my goal is to get into a Creative Advertising Agency, Havas specifically, as I think they are doing everything right when it comes to adapting to the new advertising ways. I’m looking to get into a copywriter position or a social strategist.
Where do you see the future of Chicago Creatives going in the next year? Any goals for the site?
I see the future of Chicago Creatives almost like The Chicago Reader, a daily intake of news, but for creatives only. I have visions and goals on what I want to do with my brand—although I don’t want to make it public right now. One thing I would like to do in the future though is to create a Chicago Creatives coffee book or magazine. The book or magazine would have nothing but photos of compositions and murals from the artists I have interviewed. I want my website to be the biggest website for creatives in Chicago to display their story and Art.