Nike SOHO NY brand experience
April 22, 2020
W: Historically have you found yourself feeling the most creatively fulfilled by the work you do professionally or outside of that?
L: It's a 50/50 split right down the middle. I feel very fulfilled by the work that I do creatively, but also my personal work fuels the other set of my creative spark, which is the more emotional and spiritual side. Being able to achieve a creative brief and have a client be happy is rewarding in one way, but then also fulfilling your personal hopes and dreams creatively is another way. Putting them together is a nice way to approach a career because it can't be done without one or the other; there needs to be both.
There is some level of reward in receiving a creative brief, working on a team, and achieving a singular creative vision together that hasn't been seen before. It feels in some way, either from a color hue or the whole concept, fresh and there's reward in that because you're also receiving compensation at the end of that process. Now the work itself may not fulfill your creative vision at all as a person. Let's say you're into teal and all your clients want you to make it something black and white; it doesn't align with your vision. However, there's other creative rewards beyond achieving your personal vision out there. Honestly most of it is working with the team because you're exposed to other creative professionals in other creative adjacent fields, like creative strategist, marketing people, and account people. All of them influence you because there's support for each other.
The great thing about leaving school is you are put on teams and everyone's job is to support your creative vision. That's super rewarding even if the output is something that you wouldn't want to put in your portfolio or that you weren't fulfilled by. That experience of being supported by a team, that has got your back, is something that is new, novel for a student because you're usually working alone, and something that really influences the way you want to work in the future. You're going to recognize certain character traits in a team and think to yourself, "Wow, that really inspired me. They really fueled me." Then, in the future when you have the coin to hire your own team, you're going to know who you want to hire right away. And the thing about this work, the creative field, is that it is highly collaborative. We're going to probably be working on teams for the rest of our lives in some way. There's a lot of design you can do on your own, but there's a lot of design you can't do your own. I think that the fulfillment on the professional side has got to be very high in that aspect of teamwork. You know, when I talk about teamwork I sound like a very basic corporate cog in a wheel.
"There is some level of reward in receiving a creative brief, working on a team, and achieving a singular creative vision together that hasn't been seen before."
W: It's like talking about networking. They're both on the same caliber of feeling basic, but knowing that it's not because they really are important.
L: Yeah, I think it's really important for young designers to experience what it's like to work on a design team where everyone's got each other's back because it changes the way you look at the work.
W: What types of design or art do you partake in to fuel your need for creative outlet?
It really ranges. I try to keep my curiosity level super high because there's inspiration everywhere. From the single note strung on a violin to the color hue of a sunset, it all is influencing me. So, in that constant input of looking and thinking, "That's neat. That's good, look at this." I want to create a lot of different things; crystal pyramids of love in the desert, trash art, and music. I love the act of sketching and then turning something into three. The answer to the question changes on a weekly basis, but where I currently am is teaching myself new technology, like AR, so that I can create worlds for people to walk into in a virtual sense, deepening my knowledge of Cinema 4D, and reading a lot. That really fulfills a lot of the creative scratches that I need to itch because through the act of learning I then put it through my filter, which is like highly prismatic, saturated color, futuristic, and sparkly. So, what am I currently doing? I really like absorbing a lot as an act of creativity. I think the thing that we learn in school is how to teach ourselves how to do these things, right? You first start with Adobe, teach yourself software, and you go out into the world, but just knowing Adobe isn't enough. Every 12 year old geek in Australia knows Adobe software. You're going to find someone who already knows all of that and 3D and how to DJ. So, I think the impetus on us is to continue to be able to teach ourselves new things to create for this new reality we are living in that changes by the hour.
W: I'm going to poke at one of the things you referenced...crystal love pyramids in the desert. What is that?
L: I'm very drawn to deserts. I've spent my whole life in Oregon, mostly in the wet part. So, I'm very motivated by dry areas. I like the beige, rocky, spiky, volume dust, dry environments because it seems new to me and novel because of my upbringing in the rainforest. The concept of putting saturated art, hot teals and greens, on a neutral beige palette, which is the desert, is very compelling to me. I like that. Like this one work Seven Holy Mountains, which is all these just colorful rocks stacked up in the desert by the Joshua Tree Coachella Valley area, I'm mesmerized by that. I have been into pyramids for a while. Since I was a kid I have wanted to go to Egypt, I still haven't checked that box. The pyramids have been in the lore to me since I was a child and I've tried to deepen that understanding that there are other pyramids on the planet, like in Mexico and Cambodia. I want to make a pyramid so that I can listen it tell me what I should make next.
W: It will tell you.
L: Yeah, it has a very loud voice. In learning more about pyramids and understanding new things, for example, that people love to meditate under them, that geometrically they’re one of the most potent places to meditate because they channel energy, and that there's certain materials you can use like copper and crystal that will increase these effects. All these things looks like a deep dive into what they can offer you, but I really just love the shape. I have been in A-frame cabins that mimic the pyramid slope from Egypt and it really evokes a very strong emotional response in myself. So, that's a long answer to your question, but I think that really I just would love to use highly saturated crystal acrylic materials to make a large spectacle in the desert. I just want to see that, I haven't seen it before and I am trying to position myself in a way that I can do that by continuing to move South.
W: That sounds fantastic. When you do start making that pyramid , holler, because I'll help you.
L: I will need help, I can't do this alone. It would be cool if it was a music venue, right? The first opening artist would be Enya. She's so contemporary and relevant. We need her. At my job interviews with Google I asked everyone if I could play Enya on my laptop at work and it changed the interview so much because both sides of the table would relax.
Crystal Pyramid of Love
"I want to make a pyramid so that I can listen to it
tell me what I should
W: Omg, that's amazing! Shifting gears here, 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?
L: I'm deeply impacted by times of high stress. I think creatives are generally paid to experience the world and be able to address their emotions. Which also means that typically creatives might be on the scale of people that are more sensitive and empathetic because we're able to take a creative brief, learned about a target audience, and figure out what they want and need. It's why creative people are great great gift givers. They can project, "Oh, I know what you want." Which means that periods of high stress deeply impact us. There's a whole history of creatives being impacted by things in the world and either they survive or don't. I think that creatives need to sometimes protect themselves a little bit from the inputs of the world. I usually have a creative paralysis for a while after I receive some negativity; multiple formats, either a friend dies or the world goes in pandemic. I then try to process myself out of that creative paralysis because I truly need to create in order to feel solid in the world. It's like Will Bryants’ saying, "I like to make things because I get sad if I don't." That sentence really sums it up for me.
I experienced about a five-week creative paralysis with COVID-19 and I'm just kind of getting out of that. I just completed a project on Friday which felt really good to keep me busy. The project itself was pretty creatively boring, but it was just going through the steps that helped me at least get off the sofa and onto my laptop to make some things with a team. I haven’t fully figured out how I'm going to express myself as a creative person or individual in the midst of this. Just because I'm out of the paralysis phase doesn't mean that I'm into, "Oh, I'm prolific now." There's still a lot of thinking and questioning and asking things like, "Who the fuck cares anyway. We have a new reality, who's gonna be buying abstract art? That's a joke." So the question really is, "Can I support myself in this new reality? What does the market look like? Is there a market anymore? Who cares?" I keep asking myself that, "Who cares? Who cares? Who cares?" The process is self counseling, self talk, and really guarding my thoughts to make sure that I don't talk myself into a negativity spiral because as a creative I historically find myself running into that. I used to do that a lot more. I no longer compare myself to others which is a great achievement. I'm very pleased that I have talked myself out of that act because it provides me no advantage at all to compare myself to anyone. It's a period of paralysis, guarding my thoughts, and then getting to work. Another fellow classmate of mine from PSU is Corbin Lamont and she gave me some great advice. She said that, "the main act that we must achieve is to make a body of work because it will tell you what to make next." One way out of that creative roadblock is to just make something small and it will tell you what to make next and then that begins the inertia of looking up and saying, "Okay, I'm making again."
W: What are 3 tips you have for finding creative inspiration/outlet when in isolation or a high stress environment?
Walk away from the project. Whatever it is where you're feeling uninspired. I think it's important to walk away from these things.
Move your body. I feel like I get my best ideas when I'm walking on my way somewhere else or doing something else. It doesn't have to be gym activity. It can just be moving the body through the world. I think that creatives need isolation to work and to focus sometimes, but when we're searching for inspiration it's hard to do the deep laser focus and be open to inspiration at the same time. So I found myself much more open and looking up when my body is in motion.
Look at more art; that's possibly not even related to the problem that you're looking to solve. I think it's important to look without judging. It's very important to see the differences. I'm saying look at art, not critique. Have good taste and experts in their individual fields surround you in your world. The ability to surround yourself in excellence without comparing yourself to them is a really important tool because you level yourself up and your work starts to get excellent. I think it's important to exit from whatever bubble you're physically in by looking at art from all over.
"I try to keep my curiosity level super high because there's inspiration everywhere."
"The ability to surround yourself in excellence without comparing
yourself to them is a
really important tool"
I know that stepping away and looking at more art could be seen as contradictory to each other, but I think that they should be done in that sequence... step away, move your body, and then look at art. I find that simple little sequence continually provides new ideas. I think back to my mentors when I was younger. We would reach a roadblock or something as a team and they would say, "Okay, let's come back to this tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m." In those hours from when you stop until tomorrow morning, you're still working on it mentally. One of my early creative directors told me that one of the best secrets was to reread the creative brief right before bedtime so that your subconscious is working on it while you're sleeping. This is one of the problems of being a creative, we never truly are not working.
Currently, I am in quarantine in a very forested, quiet, and isolated area. So, it's easy to walk away, walk outside, and look at trees. Nature is the ultimate creative director. Instead of looking at the problem, stop and look at some blossoms for a while. It's a really good creative solution because you're going to be impacted by color and scale, tiny blossoms to big blossoms, or the way the breeze goes through trees, the sound of a dog barking in the distance, a lawn mower starting up. You're just going to come back and realize you're a human being and you got this.
W: If you could create any project right now with unlimited time, energy, and resources, what would it be?
L: I'm going to scale down from the crystal pyramid. I would love to make a meditation pyramid for one person. The chair inside seats one and has a hinge door so you can put a pillow and a blanket in there. That's much more realistic and attainable. I think it'd be cool to make a village of single-person meditation pyramids. I just want to see that in the world. I think that the way to achieve that now is to start it in 3D. I am going to teach myself Octane Render, which is a third party render plug-in for Cinema 4D. It's great at making environments like rocky deserts or forest so I don't have to spend the money on the materials of building the pyramids initially. I can just make a 3D render and see if I like how it looks. Maybe I'll think it's cheesy and terrible and not actually make it.
W: I highly doubt that. A village of meditation pyramids sounds awesome. I can't wait to see what you come up with.