If only we could see the world through Nicole McLaughlin’s eyes, we’d see slippers where others see volleyballs and raincoats arranging themselves from a pile of discarded bubble wrap. Since leaving her day job as a graphic designer in 2018 and turning her upcycling passion into a career in sustainable fashion design, this young creative has been getting a lot of well-earned recognition for her wildly imaginative work, collaborating with the likes of Puma and Arc’teryx. Through her whimsical approach to repurposing everyday materials McLaughlin challenges our perception of waste and promotes sustainability in a way that feels anything but preachy.

But creating is only half the story for Nicole McLaughlin, who spends much of her time and energy educating the public, hosting global workshops on the artistic and functional potential of everyday items. Looking ahead, McLaughlin hopes to launch a summer program concentrating on skill-based learning, teaching students not only the “what” but also the “how” and “why” behind sustainable design. 

McLaughlin is currently developing a non-profit organization that will provide design resources to young artists. The organization will help large companies donate their dead stock and overstock materials to schools and universities in need, repurposing these resources for the classroom. With the crisis of climate change looming ever larger, it’ll take imaginations as big as McLaughlin’s to save the day. And thanks to her, being proactive has never looked better. 

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.

Meet Nicole McLaughlin, the artist who uses unexpected translations of materials to uniquely highlight the message of sustainability.

What is the first creative project you remember?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. My first creative project had one goal: earning enough money to buy candy. So, I did whatever I could to make a dollar. In elementary school, I made Barbie clothes— they weren’t very good, but they sold. In 5th grade, I also started a massage business where I charged fifty cents to a dollar to give what I can only describe as aggressive high-fives and punches disguised as “therapeutic.” Nothing was relaxing about them.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Comfortable, functional, fun.

A piece inspired by phone chargers by Nicole McLaughlin.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

I’m grateful for the collaborations I’ve already done, but I’m equally looking forward to the ones that I have yet to do and the new challenges they’ll pose. I’m excited about my partnership with Arc’teryx and the long-lasting impact we can create by focusing on circularity, upcycling, and full-scale sustainability. I’ve also raised money for several charities through collaborations with brands such as JanSport, Puma, and various personal projects.

JanShorts by Nicole McLaughlin. McLaughlin has partnered with JanSport to raise money for causes and to raise awareness.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

I’ve learned something from every single project but the volleyball shoe was a real breakthrough moment. It broke down barriers in my creative thinking and opened up a whole new world. It removed the word “no” from my vocabulary when creating.

Volleyball shoes by Nicole McLaughlin.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I think we’re born with a sense of wonder and curiosity and the type of creativity that develops depends on whether it’s nurtured or cast aside. Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean being a designer or an artist; it’s how you view things and apply your way of thinking to any aspect of your life.

What’s the last dream you had?

One of the strangest things I’ve dreamt about was that I was a political speechwriter for a famous rapper who was running for governor. It was bizarre. At one point, I think he wanted to be president and we argued about how much of my time they needed for actual speech writing.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

In 100 years from now, I hope people are living a better life grounded in positive change. I hope that society will have learned from past mistakes. Fingers crossed we haven’t totally f-ed up.

If there’s any impact, any legacy of my work, I hope I’ll have inspired people to view waste as a tool to create fun designs rather than a burden.

Follow @NicoleMcLaughlin on Creatively.

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

If you’ve shuffled through Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist or perused the app’s recap of your year in music, you’re already familiar with the vibrant work of Erik Herrström. As the former Brand Design Director at Spotify, Herrström spearheaded design for everything from brand identity projects and campaigns to interactive experiences, installations, and photo shoots. After a decade of working in New York City, Herrström is now an independent designer and art director living in Vienna, Austria.

Born in Sweden, Herrström got his start experimenting with interactive designs and building websites for small businesses during his teenage years—developing the practical skills that eventually helped land his first full-time design job. Herrström’s background in interactive design lends his work a sense of dynamism, bringing immersive, interactive experiences to life. Herrström’s body of work is diverse, ranging from redesigning digital ecosystems and creating an installation in the NYC subway system to crafting brand identities for emerging artists. 

Before Spotify, Herrström worked at renowned agencies such as R/GA and Stink Studios in New York City. There, he created designs for Nike, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Youtube and Coca-Cola, winning over one hundred industry awards and receiving write ups from the likes of Fast Company, Creative Review, Billboard and Wired. From his homebase in Vienna, Herrström continues to drive culture and design forward with his vivid, hyper-saturated aesthetic.

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.

Meet award-winning design director, Erik Herrström.

What is the first creative project you remember? 

Playdough creations in kindergarten. Apparently, I intentionally destroyed them on the car ride home from school that day. It seems I wasn’t too precious about my art from an early age. 

Describe your aesthetic in three words. 

Bold. Colorful. Systematic. 

Herrström’s colorful identity system developed for Spotify’s New Music Friday.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on? 

That would have to be the Spotify Wrapped campaign we created in 2018. It was a huge internal team effort at Spotify together with our external partners. Our goal was to use all 30 colors present in the Spotify color palette in this one campaign. We also used live image color analyses of artists’ images and artworks to define the color schemes. Every listener’s summary was therefore unique, not only in content, but also in imagery. 

For 2018 year’s campaign Herrström defined the design system and early on pitched the idea of live image color analyzation to define color schemes. Produced in 2018 at Spotify, New York. Full credits on erikherrstrom.com.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself? 

The massive David Bowie installation Spotify created for the Broadway-Lafayette subway station in SoHo, New York. After years of living in the city and using the subway system every day, it was special to be part of creating something unique there. We used unexpected ad placements to fully transform the station, decorating it in ways I never thought were possible: staircases, beams in the ceiling, and even Metrocards became our canvases. It was a bit surreal and made me understand that anything is possible when the right ideas are there. I led the design of this project and am still in awe of the innovative ideas the creative team came up with.

Herrström’s work on ‘David Bowie is Here’ took over all of the Broadway-Lafayette subway station, featuring over 40 unique pieces about the music icon’s life in the neighborhood and New York City.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught? 

All humans are creative in their own ways, but at the end of the day, it may come down to how our society defines creativity.

What’s the last dream you had?

My dreams have mostly been about traveling lately. Last night, I dreamt I was on a road trip in Tuscany. I suppose I’m looking forward to some trips in real life when it’s safe to do so again. 

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I hope my career will have helped drive culture and design forward. Hopefully, some of my work can serve as references for someone in the future.

Follow @Herrstrom on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

David Stenbeck is a digital artist whose ethereal, three-dimensional renderings have a decidedly hyper-real, almost alien quality. A self-proclaimed “spiritual misleader” living in Helsingborg, Sweden, Stenbeck is also a former published poet, editor, and literary critic, which explains the tongue-in-cheek wordplay you’ll find in many of his images. 

His surreal artwork has been featured in outlets as varied as Glamour and Cosmopolitan, the SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show in Miami, as well as on the cover of “Stranger Things” actor Dacre Montgomery’s recently published book of poems, DKMH. Stenbeck has also created work for Apple Music and Bumble, among other top brands. 

To create his dreamlike, often playful images, Stenbeck uses the three-dimensional modeling software Cinema 4D, combining cinematic images of natural landscapes with neon and lasers in a way that feels almost like science fiction. Despite the otherworldly nature of his work, however, Stenbeck’s images feel decidedly grounded in the contemporary. In one composition, a book titled, “Cancelled Dates During COVID-19, vol. 1” sits next to a bottle of wine; in another, the text, “Might Delete Later” hovers over a dark forest, casting the surrounding trees in a beguiling neon glow. 

You can check out his latest projects on Creatively here.

Meet Swedish digital artist, David Stenbeck. Photography credit: Johanna Stenbeck.

What is the first creative project you remember?

When I was eight or nine, I built a kiosk out of expensive, green paper sheets during a break in school. When the teacher came back to the classroom, she wasn’t too happy that I’d made it life-sized as opposed to the miniature version she had imagined when we discussed its realization. But that’s typically me: a baroque approach.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

I don’t know, neon-classical… perhaps.

Jesolo Cloud (2019) by David Stenbeck, courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Together with a Sino-German 3D-scanner brand, I’m making digital sculptures with the intention to eventually cast larger, physical versions. To say I’m enthusiastic about these kinds of hybrid concepts is an understatement. They leave me feeling connected to various historical artistic ‘isms’ and expressions.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

The above mentioned one: I can now be Bernini if I want.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with or something you’re taught?

It’s in your DNA. That being said, you need the right environment to allow any output. We’re mostly guided by chance and we end up wherever convenience steers us.

H-2-OH (2019) by David Stenbeck, courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

What’s the last dream you had?

I dreamt of a raging contemporary street adventure, almost Hieronymus Bosch-like in plentitude, bejeweled with synthetic drugs and deep regrets.

I Miss the Future (2020) by David Stenbeck, courtesy of Jenn Singer Gallery.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

That is absolutely not for me to speculate about!

Follow @dovneon on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

Dami Adebayo is a Nigerian visual artist and art director based in New York City. His work embodies a surreal and conceptual aesthetic, bringing different individual elements in nature together with objects in our environment. This collision of organic imagery and cosmic composition can rally the contradictory conditions of a dream or transform an alternate reality into absolute reality. 

The result is a visual mind-meld that riffs on technology, high fashion, and science fiction. Adebayo would call it the “magic of the creative mind.” 

His unique eye for visual idealization has earned him clients like Harper’s Bazaar, Coca-Cola, Sprayground, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, and U.S. Open. 

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here. 

Meet Dami Adebayo, also known as @WeirdCreative.

What is the first creative project you remember?

I remember drawing stick-like action comics in middle school and then folding the paper into small booklets to sell to the older kids, lol. We weren’t allowed to use ink pens at that age, just pencils, so using ink pens to draw was like the first out-of-the-box thing I did.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Weird, creative, fun.

“Second Coming” by Weird Creative.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Working on a project with Harper’s Bazaar and seeing my work published on two full pages was something I wasn’t expecting to have as a visual artist—especially in a fashion magazine.

“African Intelligence” by Weird Creative.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

A personal 3D project I worked on. For years, I was nonchalant about adding more creative knowledge to what I already have. But during the pandemic, I took it upon myself to learn and dedicate my time to the art. [It] made me realize learning is a lifelong process and also a reminder that there are endless possibilities of using other mediums to express art.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I would say both. I believe we are born with some sort of creative tendencies. However, I was also fortunate to grow up around creative people. My dad was an architect so I remember seeing complex drawings, shapes and drawing materials everywhere.

Digital artwork for Cardi B’s website landing page. Art direction by Weird Creative.

What’s the last dream you had?

I was on a road trip when I stopped at this small town and everyone I knew was in this town and having a good time.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

Wow, that’s the year 2121… [I hope] to be remembered as a humble, exceptional artist who had a unique eye for the world around him and heavily inspired a generation of creatives during his era.

Follow @WeirdCreative on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

This #Pride, we were truly proud to showcase the incredible array of talented LGBTQIA+ creators on our platform and beyond, including Elizabeth Wirija. 

Elizabeth “Eli” Wirija is a photographer and director born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia and currently based in New York. Pointing their lens in the direction of unapologetic truth and beauty, they are known for their keen ability to document and create rarefied worlds. 

Wirija picked up their first camera at age 15. After obtaining a B.F.A from School of Visual Arts, the graphic design major started freelancing for ad agencies but found photography more liberating and restorative. 

“At first, it was more nature and landscape-based, but I found that my true joy is photographing portraits. I always feel very grateful when someone trusts me to photograph them as it is a vulnerable process,” they told American Influencer Council.

Wirija documents narratives that inspire others and make the viewer feel something genuine, carrying a new story in every frame. Their work spans different avenues of the industry, from editorial, to documentary and commercial. Most recently, they photographed and directed a Pride campaign with Bob the Drag Queen for Coach. 

Other clients include Nike, Vice, Adidas Originals, WNBA, Atlantic Records, Microsoft, SSENSE, ASOS, Make Up For Ever and Barney’s New York. Their work has been published in British Vogue, Billboard, Vanity Fair, FADER, Refinery29, Fast Company, Paper, and Nylon.

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.  

Meet Indonesian director and photographer, Elizabeth Wirija.

What is the first creative project you remember?

Drawing whatever I imagined and coloring outside the lines. I used to draw on the walls and I would get in trouble. When I first picked up a camera, I was mesmerized. I remember vividly observing the world with a new set of eyes. When I was 14, I had a friend in high school who was making music at the time and creating bootleg CDs with his music on it, so we decided to make an album cover where we would print it out at the recreation center and fold it into the plastic CD cover with a tracklist and everything. We styled him in this colorful outfit and went around school at different locations and photographed him. It was so exciting and I remember sharing tons of laughter when I look back on the images. 

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Experimental. Freedom. Fun.

A campaign for Carrots x Footlocker, photographed by Wirija.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

I have had the absolute honor of working with such great talent over the years and I appreciate every single collaboration as it takes trust, energy and passion to create something magical. One of the most fulfilling collaborations I’ve worked on is a story I photographed for an up-and-coming contemporary Indonesian magazine called Pears Mag that is due to be released this summer. It was documenting individuals with “unconventional” bodies who have altered their bodies to make it feel more like home. I found it was such a vulnerable process for each person to open up to me and tell me about their experience, whether it be top surgery, hormone replacement therapy or even heavy tattoos and piercings. The power to change our physical vessel to align more with the image of our soul or how we perceive ourselves is amazing to me.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

Each project has taught me something about myself as I continue to expand and evolve. It is a splice of my future self embedded in the work that I slowly unveil. One project this year that reminded me of something I hold dear is the Carrots x Footlocker campaign lookbook I did. I got to build this narrative of kids ruling the world where adults don’t exist. There are no rules, there is freedom to be and create. It was cool to embody this through how they decorated their rooms or even at the dinner table, being able to play with your food and make these insane food sculptures. I revere the good memories of my childhood and this solidified the idea that I need to constantly take care of my inner child because that’s where my imagination comes from. That’s where all the wild ideas are stored, and that spirit of not giving a fuck and just doing stuff because it sounds fun is the best way to approach things.  

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

Creativity is a sense of awareness. How we as humans exist in this world is ultimately creative, if you ponder on it. In some ways, it is also a sensitivity. My sensitivity is the ability to observe what’s around me, then interpreting it through an abstract embodiment. There is an inherent baseline of creativity that lays dormant in every person, until we find forms or mediums to express it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, as the word itself means finding unconventional ways to solve dilemmas. In my mind, everyone possesses the seed of imagination, it is only a question of who will nurture it with the necessary exposure to sunlight (stimuli) and water. Some will let it stay the size of a sapling while others will take care of it sweetly until it blooms.  

Wirija captured this image of model Symone Lu for Vogue.

What’s the last dream you had?

The last one was kissing my crush (aha) and holding hands in a dimension that was so beautiful, it’s really difficult to explain. Although not the last dream I had, another one that is always implanted in my cognition is the time I lucid dreamed and was flying over a city that is a mix of old Manhattan and a new world. The grid system was very apparent; I didn’t have to avoid any buildings in the way because I had a way of passing through like I was a transparent spirit. The feeling that flying gave me was the highest form of freedom, I felt so detached to the physical with no worries holding me down–just the wind blowing in my face and this overwhelming emotion of lightlessness. 

An editorial moment captured by Wirija.   

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I’ll be down to come back as a hologram once every other 100 years for a short 10 minute visit to communicate and connect with the new generation and project some of my life’s work. I hope that people can take a moment to stay in their present and appreciate my art, wonder at the beauty, and initiate some joy. 

I don’t need my art to immortalize me anymore, I used to desire it strongly but to me, after the realization that energy can never be destroyed, I’m more focused on how I make people feel in this current realm more than anything.   

Follow @e_wirija on Creatively] 

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

Duckie Confetti is a New York-based celebrity stylist and fashion designer known for creating theatrical and avant-garde looks. He’s the very definition of a trendsetter—producing gutsy pieces that sear fashion memory and inspire copycats to quickly attempt to follow suit.  

Take the luxe-fur-meets-casual-slides look, for example. Duckie was the original creator of the iconic fur slides (as seen on the Kardashians) before brands like Givenchy and Fendi dropped theirs. He introduced leopard print to men’s streetwear when he deconstructed a plain black hoodie for Meek Mill, replacing the sleeves with the animal print. 

Beyond fantastic fur, the eclectic Confetti Boutique includes bejeweled earmuffs, sequined jerseys, camo-print mesh bodysuits, and the iconic money-printed pajamas that Beyoncé wore in her epic visual album, “Black is King.”

Duckie wears many different hats and runs his growing empire to the beat of his own drums. 

Many designers tend to follow the fashion calendar, but Duckie’s approach is a bit unconventional. He releases his own men’s and womenswear capsule collections throughout the year—sporadically. They sell out in minutes.

Duckie has been featured in Vogue, Elle, and Bazaar among other publications. He’s worked with major artists like Cardi B, Amber Rose, Teyana Taylor, Fabolous, French Montana, Dej Loaf, Draya Michele, Meek Mill, and more. 

Ahead of the Juneteenth celebrations on Saturday, we asked Duckie about the meaning of the now-federal holiday, and discussed his portrayal of Black people as “successful, regal, and respected.” You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.  

Meet fashion designer and tastemaker, Duckie Confetti.

What is the first creative project you remember?

During highschool, [my first creative project was] making denim. I used to do studded, bleached, and rhinestone denim. It was my first creative project and I gained a lot of popularity from it. It’s what helped build my confidence to design.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Innovative. Bold. Confident. 

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

The Beyoncé collaboration was the most fulfilling for me because her team reached out to me—and of course, it wasn’t something that I had to be persuaded to do. It was really my wow moment and really an honor to be a part of it.

Beyoncé wore this custom Duckie Confetti design in a scene from her visual album, “Black is King.”

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

The custom piece that I did for Mary J. Blige for her tribute on BET. I got very little direction, they just gave me the specifics which were minimal and they didn’t bother me. In a sense it kind of scared me. Creating for someone so legendary, the pressure was on. I felt they really trusted me and that gave me more of a sense of confidence. They knew I was going to do a great job but it led to a lot of stress and pressure.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

For me, it was something I was born with, I don’t know anything else. I think you can be taught creativity but I don’t think you will have the same passion as you would if you were born with it. When you’re born with it, that passion to create is endless. I’m creative in all aspects and it’s definitely something I was born with.

Mink purses designed by Duckie Confetti.

What’s the last dream you had?

I was on vacation and my friend stole my money. I don’t know why I had all of this money on me. There was so much money. I didn’t know exactly how much she stole from me. It felt so real, because in real life I really don’t like wallets.

What does Juneteenth mean to you and how will you be honoring it this weekend?

Juneteenth for me is about standing in my own Black excellence and being a representation, not only for my ancestors, but for who we are now as a proud, strong Black culture. It is important to show the world that as Black people we are not defined by just the negative aspects of our community, but that we can be successful, regal, respected, and lead with class no matter where we go or what we are doing. On Juneteenth I simply want to relax, reflect, and show up as the best version of myself!  

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I hope people write that I always stayed on trend, that I was always innovative, and that I shook the era. I hope they say there was never a dull moment when he created and everything he created was timeless.  

Follow @duckieconfetti on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

This #Pride, we’re truly proud to showcase the incredible array of talented LGBTQIA+ creators on our platform and beyond, starting with the photographer, Marcus Branch.

Marcus Branch is a Philadelphia-based photographer and artist whose work celebrates the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ experience, embraces inclusivity, and contributes a broadened perspective of underrepresented communities. His honest and reflective images honor Black joy, light, and celebration amidst the darkness. 

“I continue to preach about our capacity as humans, the power we possess and the ability to shape, challenge, and change the conversation,” Branch told Dazed

A renaissance man with an affinity for portraiture, Branch graduated from the University of the Arts in 2014 with a BFA in Photography. Along the way, he also served as a rehearsal director and principal dancer in a dance theater company, a practicing filmmaker, and an internationally published model and photographer. Branch willingly juggles his passions and exhibits commitment and an undeniable love for the act and impact of creation.

The photographer has been globally recognized, having worked with star talent such as Dominique Jackson of FX’s “Pose” (in which Branch himself makes a cameo in season 3!), Philip Lim, Yara Shahidi, Tina Knowles, and Ari Lennox. His work has been featured in publications like Interview Magazine, i-D, Dazed, Afropunk, Marie Claire, Polaroid Magazine, Gay Times Magazine, Caldera Magazine, The Tenth Magazine, Vice Austria, and Urban Outfitters.

Branch was notably awarded the Robert Mapplethorpe Award by Off the Wall Gallery and Deemed one of 12 Top Fashion Photographers of Philadelphia. 

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here.  

Caption: Meet Marcus Branch, a photographer, performer and director celebrating BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ experiences.

What is the first creative project you remember?

The first creative project I can remember is a magazine and associated blogs that I created in 2009, titled SKLTN-M (short for “Skeleton Magazine”). I would document and interview unique and intriguing individuals in Philadelphia, sharing their story and taking a step into their world. It was a passion project that turned into one hell of a portfolio piece come college.

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Honest, Reflective, and Celebratory. 

Photographed by Marcus Branch. 

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

The most fulfilling collaboration I have worked on was just weeks before we all went into quarantine in 2020. I was asked to photograph Dominique Jackson, an icon in the ballroom community and Mother Elektra on FX’s “Pose,” for Marie Claire. Not only was I photographing a woman that I truly admire, but I was also a part of a team that was made up of Black and Brown creatives and queers; everything about this shoot aligned with my creative intentions. Before I began shooting, I pulled Dominique to the side and asked if there were any angles that she’d like me to stay away from to flatter her best, and her response still sticks with me: “You are here to capture our truth, no restrictions necessary.” My heart exploded. 

The legendary Dominique Jackson for Marie Claire, photographed by Marcus Branch.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

One creative project that taught me something fundamental about myself was a series I was commissioned to do for i-D magazine surrounding the 2020 election and (specifically) Pennsylvania’s democratic victory, and the youth that voted. I remember being entirely nervous for this shoot, innately. I had everything planned and lit, muses scheduled, assistants on hand, but I was still so nervous. I was nervous about the outcome and whether what was in my head would translate in the images, nervous about whether I organized this properly, if it would go as planned. 

I then realized as I began photographing that my nerves were being misunderstood and misplaced. My nerves were coming from a place of fear, a fear of failing or letting down those involved. I don’t like to live in or through fear, but in and through love. I learned just how capable I am, even in the thick of doubt, to cultivate and organize a space of love, reflection, and honesty. 

“Leading a Pathway to Change: Young Voters of PA on Changing the State Blue,” photographed by Marcus Branch for i-D.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I believe creativity is something that everyone is born with, it’s just a matter of who decides to exercise it.

What’s the last dream you had?

The last dream that I had, that I can remember, is in shambles, almost like a movie trailer. I remember small parts, like vignettes. My dreams as of late have involved adventure, a lot of adventure. They have also involved forms of “the end.” Not just natural disaster, rapture-like forms of “the end,” but terroristic, government-issued attacks. I’m talking helicopters, dropped bombs, and civil hysteria. It’s very cinematic, and dark at times. But hey, you asked. 

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

One hundred years from now, I hope people write the truth. I obviously can’t dictate what will or would be written but I hope that it’s honest, reflective, and celebratory. I hope that they write that my work has contributed to dismantling toxic masculinity, celebrated the marginalized, gave light and voice to the unseen and unheard, and that it honestly reflected the times from my perspective. 

Follow @marcusbranch on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

When it comes to building a creative career, we know visibility matters. This past month, we were proud to put AAPI creators at the forefront of all our programming—from the teachers we featured as part of our #CreativelyClasses series to the creative work we showcased on our social accounts. We’re honored to close this powerful month with creative powerhouse, Puno. 

Jennifer Puno (better known as Puno or on Instagram as @punodostres) is a UX designer, creative director, digital entrepreneur, and the founder of ilovecreatives, a platform connecting fellow creative “slashies” with digital courses, resources, and a community of like-minded freelancers. The L.A. based art director and branding whiz is also the host of Girlboss Radio, the go-to podcast for stories about women redefining success on their own terms. 

As a multifaceted creative with an enduring passion for learning from and connecting with the world around her, Puno has bridged the gap between technology and creativity to create a number of businesses that provide both inspiration and opportunities for those around the globe. She does it with style and cheer, calling her hybrid pedagogy, “edu-tainment.”

Puno lives for those who are also living that “slashie” life—a term she uses to describe folks that embrace doing multiple things all at once. With speaking appearances at SXSW, Squarespace, Create + Cultivate, and General Assembly, her creative capital is widely revered and recognized. 

When she’s not helping other entrepreneurs stack their digital skills, you can find Puno creating highly elaborate photoshoots with her cat, Muad’dib—a feline influencer in her own right.

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here. And tap on the “AAPI Creator Spotlight” at the top of your Discover feed to see all the incredible AAPI creators we’re showcasing this month!

Caption: Meet digital entrepreneur, creative director, podcast host, and all around creative – Puno (aka @punodostres).

What is the first creative project you remember?

I think I was 11, but I had written a story called, “The Tortoise and the Teenage Mutant Rabbits,” or something like that. 😂. It was a version of “The Tortoise and The Hare,” but Nickelodeon style. I was born in 1984, heh. 

I loved being on the computer but at the time, AOL was charging hourly (right?!) for the internet and there’s not much to do after you beat Carmen San Diego for the 10th time. I remember how scary a blank page was, but also I loved… typing? Who doesn’t like pressing buttons! It was quite a few pages, and I really surprised myself that I was able to finish it. 

Unfortunately, I showed it to someone and they told me it sounded really childish. At the time, that seemed like a bad thing so I didn’t write again until I was in college and made my first html webpage. Another blank page strikes again!

Since then, and especially at ilovecreatives, I’ve embraced that I am a childish, goofy, simple writer. It’s a bummer that I lost all those years of writing, so I really take the time to give people encouraging advice. But I also believe in opinions and finding your audience. I don’t want to be blanket sunshine. If I have an opinion, I just say that it’s my perspective and it’s subjective. Do you

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Fun, quick, off. 

Caption: Puno and Muad’Dib, also known as @muaddibthecat, serving looks. Puno regularly creates beautiful and ornate sets for her feline friend’s buzzy portraits.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Building a life with my husband. This is the most important relationship in my life and it’s wild that we weaved work into it, too.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

Our Squarespace design course. I realized that I love teaching and getting people excited about their potential. 

Caption: Puno founded www.ilovecreatives.com which provides resources and a community that celebrates being a multi-hyphenate (or being a “slashie”).

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

Neither, it’s a process. 

What’s the last dream you had?

I had an animated talk show like “Space Ghost” meets “Clarissa Explains It All.” 

Caption: Puno is the newest host of Girlboss Radio, a podcast with a mission to “delight your minds and ears with stories that redefine success.” 

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

Oh wow, 100! Hmm… “It made me smile.”  

Follow @punodostres on Creatively]

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

When it comes to building a creative career, we know visibility matters. So all this AAPI Heritage Month, we’re proud to put AAPI creators at the forefront of all our programming—from the teachers we feature as part of our #CreativelyClasses series to the creative work we spotlight on our social accounts, including the amazing R. Kikuo Johnson. 

R. Kikuo Johnson is a cartoonist, graphic novelist and educator based in Brooklyn. His award-winning drawings and stories have appeared on book jackets and skateboard decks, in an array of editorial publications, and on the cover of The New Yorker

Johnson grew up in rural Maui, Hawaii, where he spent a lot of time exploring the woods, climbing trees, devouring comic books, and creating his own. He’s since traded ink for pixels’ his signature palette often bearing graphic pops of inky blacks and all shades of blue. Johnson’s birthplace has often played a muse to his professional work—his forthcoming graphic novella, “No One Else,” is a family drama set on the island of Maui. 

His first big breaks took a little bit of luck and a lot of hustle. Johnson cold-called a legendary comics publisher and pitched what became his first graphic novel. He spent weeks sending a spec comic strip to every magazine art director he could find an email address for, and landed a gig for The New Yorker. His contributions to The New Yorker have ranged from full-page artwork of notables like pop princess Lorde, to a fitness-themed comic strip series, to the ultimate crown jewel: cover illustrations.

The prolific illustrator also teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. His portfolio of projects range from designing wrapping paper to labels of local coffee roasters. Clients include Airbnb, Apple, The Atlantic, ESPN, The Guggenheim Foundation, GQ, The New York Times, Nickelodeon, and Nike among others. 

You can check out their latest projects on Creatively here. And tap on the “AAPI Creator Spotlight” at the top of your Discover feed to see all the incredible AAPI creators we’re showcasing this month!

Meet illustrator and cartoonist, R. Kikuo Johnson.

What is the first creative project you remember?

I wrote and drew 25 issues of a superhero comic book unironically titled, “Windman,” when I was eight years old. I’m 40 now, and I still wish I could just draw comics all day. My newest graphic novel, No One Else, is due out in November.  

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Narrative, naturalistic, cartoony.

Johnson’s debut graphic novel, “Night Fisher,” is a coming of age drama set in Hawaii. The award-winning book will be rereleased in hardcover with retouched drawings in honor of its 15th anniversary this October. 

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

Drawing covers for The New Yorker is the most fulfilling. Most jobs in the field of illustration involve articulating someone else’s ideas, but The New Yorker cover offers a very rare opportunity for illustrators to express their own ideas on a highly visible platform. The magazine’s Art Editor, Françoise Mouly, is a brilliant teacher and collaborator. Somehow, she manages to make the illustrations better and helps me sharpen my own voice at the same time.

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

My last cover for The New Yorker changed me in ways I did not expect. I used to think my ultimate career goal was to tell the stories that I want to tell. When I was tasked with drawing a response to the wave of Anti-Asian violence in America, I felt immense pressure to try to give voice to others. I’m embarrassed to admit that it was the first time I felt that impulse at my drawing table.

Johnson’s striking cover illustration for “The New Yorker” was his creative response to the wave of Anti-Asian violence in America.

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

I think I was probably born with an attraction to drawings and the patience to sit and draw for hours. That combination of attraction and patience seems like it’s the recipe for “creativity.”  

What’s the last dream you had?

I’m always dreaming of Maui, the place where I grew up, and my friends and family there.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

“It’s so hard to relate to this 21st century drivel now that we live in a sustainable global utopia.”

Follow @RKikuoJohnson on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life

When it comes to building a creative career, we know visibility matters. So all this AAPI Heritage Month, we’re proud to put AAPI creators at the forefront of all our programming—from the teachers we feature as part of our #CreativelyClasses series to the creative work we spotlight on our social accounts, including the incredibly talented Jeremy Nguyen.

Jeremy Nguyen is an illustrator, humor writer, and cartoonist based in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been featured in magazines like The New Yorker and several books, board games, and hotels around the country. 

The Savannah College of Art and Design grad moved to Bushwick in 2011 to pursue a stand-up comedy career and honed his humor with a comic strip called “Stranger Than Bushwick,” which poked fun at his gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood.

Nguyen’s sharp wit and whimsical humor gained a following and he broke through as a cartoonist for the New Yorker in 2017. He’s called their single-panel toons “the original memes.” Nguyen, who has described himself as a writer first and an artist second, finds inspiration from the world around him—jotting down dialogue he overhears in diners and coffee shops, then sketching and marrying wordplay with the art. The end result could essentially be considered an illustrated standup routine. 

In recent years Nguyen has co-produced a monthly comics reading series called “Panels to the People,” and has occasionally made appearances at live comedy shows, conventions, and other special events. 
You can check out their latest projects on Creatively [here]. And tap on the “AAPI Creator Spotlight” at the top of your Discover feed to see all the incredible AAPI creators we’re showcasing this month!

Meet cartoonist, illustrator, and humor writer, Jeremy Nguyen.

What is the first creative project you remember?

As kids, my brother and I would construct these really cool original Lego sets. We basically had a formula of creating five floors of a tree fort for our archers and knights to guard. As I would get older, I’d try to go taller and taller incorporating new Legos we got that year, without losing aesthetic and function. It got weird though, since we’d be forced to mix in weirder sets, and all of a sudden our cowboys are working hand in hand with our pirates to defend the fort from incoming dragons and Bionicles. Actually, that’d make a good cartoon…

Describe your aesthetic in three words.

Funny, modern, traditional.

What was the most fulfilling collaboration you’ve worked on?

My best friend from college and I made a board game in 2019 called Santa Monica. I flew out to Santa Monica and walked the boardwalk while I took a ton of pictures and made a billion observations. We stayed in a house for a week just living this board game. I was busy drawing buildings and beach activities while he refined gameplay with play-testers. And we’d hang out and joke like we did when we were in college. It was a really special week that flew by and it’s so cool to see a fully printed and playable board game as the result of it. It’s also nominated for a Golden Geek Award for Game of the Year!

What’s one creative project that taught you something fundamental about yourself?

I gave myself projects when I left college, like creating art for Tumblr. And I learned that I am fundamentally bad at making fan art. I felt desperate trying to play in that world, making art for likes. I have love for all the comics I read, TV shows I watch, but I just couldn’t channel any of that into creating fan interpretations of it. 

Props to people who do, fan art can be a great way to figure out your craft. But for me, I was always interested in making original stuff, dreaming that something I created would get other people to make fan art of. I eventually found my way back because New Yorker cartoons came from all those things I love. I stuck J. Jonah Jameson into a cartoon, my favorite Spider-Man character!

Do you think creativity is something you’re born with, or something you’re taught?

Creativity is like any muscle. You can be born with better genes, but you can train yourself to be just as strong as anyone. 

What’s the last dream you had?

Oh, I hate questions like these. I always forget dreams I just had, or just told someone, but I think I had a dream where Julia Louis-Dreyfuss was my mother? Or maybe I watched a ton of Veep recently and Selena Mayer creeped into my head to yell at me for something. In any case, I need to see a therapist and see what this means. My mother is not nice.

One hundred years from now, what do you hope people write about your work?

I’d love my cartoons to still be relevant in a hundred years. But I’m also realistic that humor will evolve and my cartoons will make no sense to that generation’s idea of what’s funny. Pandas might be extinct then and then all my panda cartoons featuring living pandas will be extremely offensive. But, I’d rather they say nothing about my work if they say I was a nice person. Or hot. 

Follow @JeremyNguyen on Creatively

Creatively is more than a platform—we’re a creative collective. 

Questions or feedback? Email us at feedback@creatively.life