Senior Designer at Nike NA Digital Brand
King from Across the Sea – Giannis Adetokunbo
April 10, 2020
W: Historically have you found yourself feeling the most creatively fulfilled by the work you do professionally or outside of that?
Historically, yes. But these days I tend to find inspiration outside of my day-to-day. My full-time job at Nike helps me pursue the things I want to pursue financially. They also have a great support system for artists and designers and it really shows why they are one of the most innovative companies in the world.
As far as staying inspired during my day-to-day I've been trying to shift my perspective out of the craft and into the people that I work with and get to serve. I think for a while it was about the work. But I am slowly realizing that it's more about the people and the relationships. In the process of chasing "best work", I feel like I let go of kindness and empathy. I am trying to reel it back into what I enjoy the most: people and exchange of ideas.
Fulfillment, just like inspiration, feels like it is beyond my control. The only thing I can control is to let myself feel the feelings and ride the waves of inflation and deflation of creativity. Also, just making something even if it's horrible is really important to me. I am usually a perfectionist so it's something that I have been trying and it's actually helping me stay motivated.
W: What types of design or art you partake in to fuel your need for creative outlet?
J: I'm a big fan of basketball and a huge sports nerd. I was born in 1983 so that means a lot of my teenage years were spent in parallel with Michael Jordan and his 'Airness'. I have an older brother that got into basketball and as a little bro you're always influenced by what your older brother does. You're so heavily influenced by what they do, what they listen to, and what they play.
We both just got into basketball when growing up. I used to draw Michael Jordan and NBA superstars when I was little and honestly that's what I try to do today. I feel like as adults we are all still just the same kids inside, and I let nostalgia become my creative outlet.
W: I love it, putting our passions to work.
J: Hoop dreams! I'm still in the process of trying to get into the NBA. Hopefully it pans out soon.
W: I probably couldn't shoot a basket if I tried so you're already at least one level ahead of me. Shifting gears a bit, how do you find your creative-drive impacted by times of high stress? Including right now as we are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
J: I'm very blessed to have a job right now. I feel like I'm so removed from seeing a lot of the struggles that people are going through. I'm reminded when I drive by a boarded-up bar that I used to go to that says something like, "we'll be back stronger than ever." I'm always constantly reminded that I'm so sheltered from a lot of the world's struggles. I sometimes feel helpless because I don't know how to help.
I've been ordering a lot of delivery food, not because I don't have food at home, but because I want to contribute to keeping people in business. Right now I can afford to do that. Some sense of sharing is helping me a little bit, but I know I can do more. Again, it goes back to the people and our communities.
To talk about stress in general, I think it's good for us, if we know how to channel it right. It's always a balance, but I need guidelines, deadlines, restrictions, and boundaries. I think those things naturally create a good amount of stress. We all want to be free and make what we want to make, but I think what makes designers different is that we usually make stuff for other people and tend to solve really complex business problems. So, I think we are typically in an arena of high stress. Learning how to let stress work for me, and not the other way around. It's really stressful though.
Booger – Doodle series of my own insecurities
"To talk about stress in general, I think it's good for us, if we know how to channel it the right way."
W: What are 3 tips you have for finding creative inspiration/outlet when in isolation or a high stress environment?
Breathe. Two consecutive breaths through your nose to expand your diaphragm and one single deep breath out of your mouth (whenever as often as possible).
Think about how you can help others, when you feel overwhelmed and don't know how to help yourself.
Call friends and family. Love and forgive.
Go for a walk every once in a while.