Hello everyone, my name is Spencer Hopkins, but I go by Treylegit. I’m a 21-year-old freelance artist from the Southside of Chicago, specializing in photography, videography, and graphic design.
How was life growing up?
I grew up on the Southside of Chicago, in Englewood, Woodlawn, and Chatham with my five cousins, mom, my aunt, uncle, god mom, and her daughter. There were a lot of people in the house all the time. I didn’t see my brother or sister much at all, but my cousins filled those roles. They were the ones who got me into art, anime, and cartoons.
When I got to high school I moved up to 52nd and King Drive to attend a Military School. I went to Military School to get more structure, but I eventually came to the realization that military school didn’t have that much structure either.
How does growing up on 79th effects ones mindset?
Everybody already knows how the Southside is, its not some type of urban myth. It really is dangerous. What it does psychologically to kids I don’t think people will ever understand, unless they’ve been through it. Kids either concave into themselves and hide or they try to flourish in their environment. When I mean flourish, I don’t mean it in a good way either.
When did you begin to witness you had creative talents?
Surprisingly at age 5, I noticed I had creative talents. My granddad owned a cleaners and I would be there all day with my Dad. I was into cartoons and I would always have looney tunes coloring books on me. It all started with me tracing, but then it turned into drawing and customizing things into how I wanted them to be. Visually, I would dream at night, but I would tell myself what I wanted to dream about. I would dream of things that would be so close to real life and it would trip me up. Through those dreams, I was able to create.
You say you also go by Trey Legit. Where did that name come from?
It’s a tradition when you’re the third to go by Trey. I didn’t get the part Legit, until I was in high school and started rapping. They asked me what my rap name was and I said Trey. The legit came from other characteristics of myself, which would be honesty.
You’re talented in a few different mediums, but graphic design came first.
As I was sketching every day in military school, I came up on an opportunity to go to Devry University. At Devry, you were able to take High School classes and college classes. I took the exam, got in, and they gave me the option of majoring in Graphic Design or Network Security. I knew IT paid, but Art was always the avenue. I didn’t really pay attention to graphic design in high school and college because I thought I knew it all already. I hindered myself like that. It wasn’t until I got into college and a teacher told me that I didn’t want this and I should quit, although she was just messing with me, it really set me off. I started to just create as much as I can and graphic design became very serious.
Another medium you’ve been dabbling into is photography
I was always curious about photography. My granddad was a photographer. I never really saw him at events or family parties because he was always working and taking photos. I lived with him my freshman and sophomore year of high school and I noticed just how hard he worked with his photography and I thought it was amazing. When Dennis and I were in High School our friend Bakari had a camera. For us, we were surprised that someone close to our age was doing what he was doing. Dennis got a camera next and I started modeling with him and then when I turned 18 I got a hold of my first camera. I was always fascinated by photography so I feel like it was just natural that I ended up getting involved with it.
How are you looking to blend these two mediums together?
There are four games I can play with when it comes to blending these two mediums together. There’s photography and videography, and videography is just moving pictures. Then we have graphic design or animations. If I can just keep interlacing these four concepts together, I can create forever. I’ve been trying to figure out more ways to blend them together.
Another program you were a part of was Year Up
Year up is a program that takes young people from the ages of 18-24 who might not have the opportunity, or are looking for a new opportunity, and teach them IT skills as well as other key factors such as finances and sales. They’re all about empowering the youth and helping kids find job opportunities.
I left college with six months left, working at a dead-end job, and my friend called me and told me I should quit my job and do Year Up. At the time, I didn’t mind quitting my job, I like being stable but I also like taking risks. Since I left college, I felt some type of way about myself, because I had the furthest education on my moms’ side of the family. I told myself, I need to get this bachelors degree so I could be a leader for the rest of my family. Since I stopped college and was mad at myself, I needed to prove myself with this program. I worked extremely hard. Year Up was teaching me IT and I really transformed myself. I focused on learning IT, soft skills, how to network, doing business, and going home and learning photography and graphic design. I really liked my time at Year Up.
You’ve now been freelancing for four months now, how has that been?
Freelancing is not that stable. I’m not that big on horoscopes, but I’m a Virgo, and they say Virgos need structure. You never know where the money is coming in with freelancing. You have to put a ton of work in to make it as a freelancer. I thought it would be a lot easier, I learned very quickly that it wasn’t. But, I’m not a quitter.
If anyone knows you, they know how close you are with Dennis. How much of an influence has Dennis been able to have on you creatively?
If I had a different best friend I don’t think I would be the same person. Our friendship isn’t just revolved around art. It’s about the way we both think. I saw the way his mind worked at a young age. He’s very organized. Dennis is like me, but with a little bit more structure, and that really influenced me. When we went to college together, we were hip and hip. We have been scoping out our future for a very long time. We are both visionaries and everything that has happened so far has been in our plan, although not as detailed at first, we are continuing to fill in more details as we keep going.
When it came to creating together, it was when I was first got a camera. Dennis would give me some tips, but he is a believer of me learning things for myself and he knows my capabilities. We watch each other. We influence each others creation without saying much to each other. The best part of our friendship is that when I lose sight of things, he’s there pushing himself also.
You’re part of a creative group called Just Creators. I hear July 22nd you guys are having a gallery show?
This gallery show is going to be all about our love for Japan and our experience there. We created a lot of content and I’m still working on a few more graphics now. With this show, we want to do something different, but display it in the right way. We don’t want you to just look at the photos and installations, we want you to feel some type of way, something that’s genuine and real. As a group, we are very excited for this show.
If you had unlimited resources and time, what would you want to create?
With unlimited resources and time, I would have unlimited vision. Ever since Japan, I’ve been able to close my eyes and see things I want to create. Ideas come way faster than I’m capable of creating. If I had unlimited resources and time I would practice my crafts so I can create quicker and I would create pieces in different mediums. I’m really thinking of creating tangible things, things you can touch. Art installations and even painting on photos.
How has dancing made an impact on your life and creativity?
As a kid who grew up as an introvert in the environment I was in, it was my way of expressing myself. I feel super free dancing. Everyone on the Southside dances, at least when I was growing up. I used to watch Michael Jackson videos over and over and over again until I started dancing. Growing up on the southside, Chicago house music footwork really influenced me. With that being said, dancing just created another avenue for me to be my best self. I feel really comfortable when I dance and when you’re comfortable, you’re your best self, it’s that simple. The more I danced, the more confident I got. I think being smooth is a big part of my character and dancing is very smooth.
When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?
Honestly, I don’t have to be remembered. It’s not that deep. This world is so vast. If there are other species out there, cool, but on this earth, I’m just one man, in one-time span. Everybody wants to be remembered, I just want to live, see, and feel this experience. I don’t have any other purpose for living, but to live. If you do remember me, I hope you remember me for being free. My main goal in life is to break any chains that were built on me, that I built on myself for protection as a kid. I just want to live life without any limits and be free.
Written by: Nico Rud