Music

Graphic Designer Nicky Chulo: An Audio-Visual Essay

By Donna-Claire Chesman on July 18, 2018

A visual and sonic experience, all photos by Aaron Dee.

Nicky Chulo — New York City

In a new audio-visual essay, Audiomack breaks down Nicky Chulo’s creative process, complete with playlist, including his best tips for beating creative blocks and best creative advice.

As far as creative careers go, Nicky Chulo has had a monumental come-up. The graphic designer has gone from slinging smoothies and folding T-shirts to designing logos and album artwork for all of your favorites, from Jon Bellion to Cardi B, and everyone in between.

Now working with major labels in New York City, Nicky Chulo starts every day with the leveling realization that all of his dreams are coming true. “I’m actually doing something pretty insane,” he beams over the phone. “It’s wild!”

“When I’m hit with something new, I’ll listen to the song 10 to 20 times, and kinda see where my head’s at as far as the concept. Then I’ll speak to the artist, and their management usually, as far as where their head’s at. I’ll try to find a good middle ground.”

I like doing rough concepts in ink. I like to use a paint brush and ink to get my ideas out. And some people love ‘em! Some people are like ‘Yo, I want that! Don’t refine it, don’t take it into the computer. I want this.’ That’s how I sketch: I don’t use a pencil, I use a brush. I keep my favorites, and I pin them up there.”

“For inspiration, I leave the office and go walk around. It’s easier for me that way, when the blood’s flowing and you’re moving around. I need a change of environment.”
“I’ll grab coffee and whatever genre of music I’m doing the artwork for, I’ll switch it. So if it’s pop, I’ll listen to hip-hop. If it’s hip-hop, I’ll listen to rock. I’ll switch it to get my mind into a different place and relax, and that usually helps me reset.”

On the seventh floor, we have a little cafeteria area, and that’s where the courtyard is. I’ll go and drink coffee there and start my day. You can see the buildings there, and it brings things full circle like, this is what you’re doing right now! You’re in New York, working on all these cool things you’ve always wanted to work on, and it’s a moment of appreciation.”

“Be consistent, keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Don’t think about where you’re at, but where you wanna be. As for the best advice I’ve ever heard: ‘Don’t focus on what you want to do in life. Focus on how you want to feel.’”

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