Nolis talks photography, inspirations, Scars Gallery show, and working with Nike


What’s going on man, go ahead and introduce yourself

What’s up everyone, I’m Nolis, a Chicago-bred photographer.

How was life like growing up?

Growing up was good; I was lucky enough to have both of my parents in my life. I was born and raised in South shore and ended up moving to the low-end (Bronzeville) as I got older. 

As a kid did you consider yourself to be creative and have a passion for Art? If not, when did you begin to truly find that passion?

Being from the Southside, I was always around creative culture, but not into it as much as I should’ve been. My father was an attorney and my mom did secretarial work, so Art wasn’t something that was in the house too much. I started to get into art while I was in High school. At 16, I would always go over to Ldrs1354 and hang with all of the guys like Mike100’s, Vic Lloyd, and Ty when he was at PHLI. When I started to hang with those guys, my creative journey started to begin.

9 years ago you decided to embark on your photography journey. What caused you to pick up a camera in the first place?

While I was hanging out at Ldrs, one of my friends Marc Moran was the photographer and got me interested in shooting. One day I had a camera and Vic Lloyd and I got into a fight, Vic ended up breaking my camera. After that, Vic helped with purchasing my first DSLR camera.

As you begun to get into photography 9 years ago, the Internet was just starting to really take off. Fast forward to 2016, how have you seen social media platforms help the forward progression of photography?

It’s a whole different world now. Social media has exploded photography and every other creative medium. Back when I first started getting into photography, I was shooting film just for fun. Now due to social media being such a huge influence, every day, every hour, every minute, every second people are posting photos of their work. At times it feels like there’s too much content and over saturated. Sometimes I feel like we don’t appreciate art sometimes because we are constantly seeing it.

Since you’ve been a photographer before the digital era, how important is social media to you and your career?

It’s very vital, social media is vital to most people in society now a days, whether you’re an artist, a business owner, etc. If it weren’t social media I probably wouldn’t be where I am at today. Social media is the foundation for how people tend to find my photography and me.

While first getting interested with photography, you listed Marc Laroche, a portrait photographer from Luxembourg. Why did you consider himself an early mentor?

When I was younger, I spent my days looking at photography on Flickr. One of the photographers who stood out the most to me was Marc Laroche. Marc would answer every question I would ask him, and consistently give me advice when I needed it. At an early age having somebody to talk to, and the advice he would give me was pivotal to me. When he came to Chicago for a trip, I actually got to meet him and show him around my city, it was awesome.

What was one of the most important things he told you early on, that still holds true to this day

Marc consistently told me that lighting is everything.

Who are some of your big inspirations now-a-days?

I don’t particularly follow many famous photographers now-a-days, but some of my friends are my inspirations. The Tigers (Fat Tiger Workshop), Trashhand, Swopes, Steven (esteeveeen), Michael Salisbury (Msalibu),  Dennis (Ddesigns), and Johnny (Jaynumberfive) are some of my favorite out right now.

Upon graduating from Chicago State with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and working for two years in the medicine field, why did you decide to put that on hold to make photography your full-time gig?

I ended up parting ways with the job I had. In between jobs, I decided to really get back into Photography. I got more and more opportunities and I was being able to live off of these opportunities. At that point I figured I would keep riding the wave until it eventually goes out.

Isaac Asimov once said, “There is an art to science, and a science in art; the two are not enemies, but different aspects of the whole.” What correlations have you been able to witness between art and science?

To me, I would just say that they are very technical and both you need to be very intelligent with both fields. With being a photographer you need to learn times to shoot, understand lighting, and how to compose a photo in a way that makes it interesting.

Would you consider portrait photography your favorite style to shoot?

Most definitely. I like it the most because it’s the most interesting to me. Portraits are one style of photography that will forever vary it never gets old. I can take a picture of 50 people in front of a white backdrop and as long as they are uniquely interesting, they will all be great photos.



Back in May you had a gallery show called “Scars”, explain the concept behind that show

Scars was a 4-month project I had been working on. This was the quote that represented the show, “We have all been damaged, but it’s the scars left behind who make us who we are.” While I was starting the project, one of my good friends Dj Timbuck2 (RIP) just passed away and I think it really helped inspire the creation of this gallery event. Scars was a visualization of how I see people dealing with things and over time using the situations that have damaged you initially to grow and become a better person. The show was a huge turnout, and I was really happy with how it ended up coming out.



This season you obtained the position for creative control for Nike Chicago. Congratulations, how did you guys begin that relationship?

One day a couple years ago I was hanging with Trash and we ended up going to the Nike office. As we got into the office, I ended up talking to David Seale from the digital department because he knew whom I was. My name was on the list of creatives they wanted to build relationships/connections with. Me being there and talking to him bumped me to the front of that list. A bit after that I started freelancing with Nike Chicago.  


How has it been being able to work with one of the most prestigious brands?

It’s been awesome, a ton of fun. I never imagined myself having a client for this long because I don’t work for them specifically.  This opportunity has allowed me to see a different side of freelancing, growing as an artist, and staying active. Working with Nike has been nothing but a positive experience for me. 


What are three elements that need to be incorporated to make a good photograph?

Three elements that are important are lighting, composition, and creativity.


Outside of Nike, what are three other brands you would love to work with?

Apple, VICE, and Google!

How would you like to be remembered when it’s all said and done?

I just want to be remembered as a Man with no regrets. If you live life with that mentality i think everything else will just follow along. 


Written By: Nicholas Rud