What’s going on man, go ahead introduce yourself
What’s up everyone, my name is Jameel Bridgewater, I go by bridges. I’m an out-of-the box creative. I was born and raised in Champaign, I now live in Chicago.
How was life growing up?
Growing up in Champaign was pretty cool due to it being a small town. The benefits of growing up in a small rural area, are that for the most part everyone knows each other. I was introduced to some of the best artists around at a very young age, due to the fact that I was so close to the U of I. I got so inspired by these artists at such a young age.
At what age did you begin to find your passion for art?
As a young kid I remember getting really involved with drawing. In the 6th grade is when I started to begin to take it more seriously. There was a kid in the class who was heavily involved with Graffiti, and he got me interested. He began to show me a Graffiti generator online. From there, we would generate kids names in our class and our school and sell them.
You left Urbana in 2012 to move to Chicago to attend Columbia. When you began hanging in Chicago, did you start to see your creativity levels start to expand?
Absolutely. I had always dreamed of ending up in a major city, whether it was LA, Chicago, or NYC. Once I got to school, being around my roommates and other creative individuals helped open my mind to a larger mindset of things.
After spending 4 years at Columbia and obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree, what was your college experience like?
College for me was very rocky, I was starting to get a lot of projects outside of school and gaining a ton of experience that College wasn’t able to teach me. I’m glad I was able to meet the people I did though.
Last year you won “Best Visual Artist” in Columbia’s Got Talent. How was that feeling/experience?
That was awesome. Any award you obtain for your artistic talent feels like icing on the cake. I’m very humble, I don’t feel like awards make your career as an artist, but it was an honor.
At Columbia you started your own company called “Bridgesx1913” explain the meaning behind it
The name “Bridges” came from my last name. Also, my Uncle had his own company called “Double Bridge”. At the time of creating “Bridges”, I was looking to explore many different mediums, I began blogging heavily, and developing a decent following. At this same time, my Grandmother unfortunately passed, with that, I decided to take Bridges very seriously. Bridges continued to grow and people started calling me Bridges, I then became my own brand.
One of your first biggest projects was being the photographer for Red Bull Sounds Select Artists. How were you able to obtain this position?
-How was being able to work/travel with SZA?
One of my good friends, Vicky Street, was the student ambassador for Red-Bull. She was told to pick photography students from Columbia that had the skill-set to go on tour. Vicky picked a ton of students and sent it to the higher-ups at Red-Bull. I was the one who got selected it was amazing.
Man, when she came downstairs for the first time, I was so happy, SZA is one of my favorite artists. I was so happy to be able to meet her and hang out with her. SZA is so majestic she carries herself so well. Being on tour was amazing, we would wake up each morning at 8am to eat breakfast, chill, and then go to sound checks. I’m very thankful for Vicky choosing me; I got to know the whole group, the musicians, and everyone who was a part of the tour.
While in school, you obtained an intern position on the Closed Session roster. In June you got a full time position as the Creative Director at Closed Session. What was your intern experience like? How did you transition into your full time position?
-How has it been working here at Closed Sessions alongside many great artists?
The intern experience was very fun. My internship was specifically used for my photography class, as I was doing a Doc Methods project. I was documenting the everyday process of the artists at the studio, as well as shooting a lot of shows. Life was very rapid at the time. The team at Closed Sessions treated me like family right away, it didn’t even feel like an internship. What I liked most about working with the team here, was that they wanted me to grow with them, not just do little tasks here and there. Once you have a connection with these guys, they want to grow with you forever.
After my internship ended, I ended up sending them an e-mail saying I wanted to build the artists and the brand. Due to them respecting me as an artist to a certain level, they granted me the position as Creative Director. Me being young and up with the times, I knew I was going to be able to build the brand like nobody else could.
This past year has been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’ve been working on huge projects. Also, being able to grow with the artists that I believe in and really enjoy is a blessing. Not everyone is able to do what they love for a living and be around the people they truly rock with.
Do you convey your emotions through your artwork?
Sometimes yes, mostly through my illustrations. I haven’t actually been able to sit down and build my own artwork lately due to helping build within CS projects. With my artwork though I do look to speak on social level stories and depictions.
They say Art & Failure go hand in hand. Would you agree with that?
I don’t think so. When I think of art, I look at it as success. Art is the expression of self, I’m expressing my emotions, what’s inside, and how I perceive the world, to me that has nothing to do with failure.
What’s your favorite quote you would give to a stranger for inspiration?
I have two. 1) Good Vibes Only. 2) The only thing that can stop you from doing anything is yourself, you are your biggest enemy.
When your career is all said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a bridge, a bridge that helped connect people together. I also want to be remembered for bringing good vibes to the art world. It’s already stressful being an artist as it is. I want people to know that you can do exactly what you love, and live from it. I’m living proof of that.
Words By: Nicholas Rud