We recently caught up with artist and designer Juwop to talk creativity, working with Nike, and finding inspiration from unconventional canvases.
Where are you now? What are you working on? It’s about 5:40 AM: I’m currently in Oregon, the summer’s almost over, so it’s freezing right now. I’m up smoking and drinking my first cup of black coffee for the day…
Honestly, I prefer working on a number of projects at once. I am doodling some logo designs for this cannabis company right now- later today I am hand painting my ‘Trap Swooshes” some AF1’s. I’ll be starting a large painting tonight after dinner.
Tell the people who you are and why you're important right now. My name is Julian Victor LaMarr Gaines. I go by Ju or Juwop (Ju Working On Projects). I am a 26-year-old multi-faceted freelance fine-artist, designer and consultant from Chicago’s Southeast side. Simply put, I am a former collegiate athlete that studied drawing, painting and coaching in college. I am infatuated with making stuff look good; juxtaposing art and athletics as well as the ideology of using creativity, experimentation and great design to inspire the people/youth around me. I’m a creative problem solver; working on projects with Nike at the moment.
How did it come to be that you were working under the likes of Ben Kirschner and along side the design team on Nike Campus in Portland Oregon? I’ll say this, and it’s very real, I got to this point with Nike by having faith and being unselfish with my ideas. Make good stuff and share it with people. You cant be selfish with your ideas if you want shit to grow. What farmer retains a crop from seeds he’s kept in his pocket? You’ve got to have faith that no one is gonna steal your harvest, G.
My plan was to show Nike that marketing to the creative was just as important if-not-more than marketing to the athlete.
Ben Kirschner and I became friends over our love for ’96 Chevy Impalas. I sent him a DM one day while I was on Yates, inquiring about his collection of Impala(s) and he has been my friend/mentor ever since.
If I am Sean Carter in this story, Nico Fearn is the legendary DJ Clark Kent. Nico is truly the one who believed in my skills, embraced and endorsed my visions from the very jump — a number of people had the opportunity to help/mentor me and chose not to. He and I met last year at ComplexCon and he’s since helped change the trajectory my life. I owe all of my success from this point on to him taking a chance on me. He’s really the big brother that I’ve always wanted.
Your recent project, the "Trap n Fields" uses a Nike AF1 as your canvas, where did the idea for that come from? My Trap n Fields AF1 art concept is a play on Track & Field - the sport. Kids don’t run Track and Field in the hood, they run the trap in the field. Life is the Field, Trap is the daily jungle - being the neighborhood. Kids don’t wear track spikes while running these streets either they wear G-Fazos. That Swoosh, those dots on the toe stacked on top of that ‘air’ is an undying sign of victory, affirmation and validation in my South Shore, Chicago community. I chose the G-Fazo as my preferred canvas because it is immortalized in my community. Although the legacy of Fazon isn’t mine to tell, I have always been inspired by stories that live on through people as well as product.
How do you see yourself evolving as an artist? What are your goals and aspirations both short and long term as an artist? I am not painting shoes in 2018. I will still be working alongside Nike but my creative energy will be focused on art exhibitions and creating permanent installations nationwide. I’ve got some cool shit happening for All Star Weekend 2018 then I’m flying to Paris to paint for a couple months in April.
My goal is to become the Rev. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of the art world. I want to travel, inspire the masses with my art projects and my story, teach art, design and peace at universities, all the while still working alongside my favorite brands worldwide. I also want to work with Gucci on his Delantic Brand. Someone, have his people call mine - I’ve got projects for him.