Julian Victor LaMarr Gaines works under the moniker Juwop. The name conveys Gaines' Chicago-born hustle — equating to "Ju Working On Projects" — and has, over the past few years, made a name as one of the Chicago’s rising creative talents. And while a knack for sneaker customization (particularly with the AF1 as a canvas) is what caught the world’s attention, his output extends well beyond embellishment and doodling.
For example, Gaines' most recent work is a conceptual project with Nike Chicago, Working on Projects. The product component takes shape through two '80s silhouettes, the 1982 Nike Sky Force and 1985 Nike Air Vortex, and a single point of view: Game Worn. This lens reimagines each shoe as one that has already been played in or run in; already been broken in and comfortable out the box. It's all about embracing the grind required to reach a dream and connecting the correlation between ambition, sacrifice and effort.
"The Game Worn collection is all about sharing my personal story and using that inspiration to help empower Chicago’s next generation of creatives to dream, explore and to come together," explains Gaines. "I want to open our eyes to the power of sport, art and creativity and really give back to the kids in my community in a powerful way. I’m not only excited for Chicago to embrace this incredibly personal project, but also use this moment to push our city forward.”
His latter goal of empowering the community comes to life with a four-day summer camp on Chicago’s South Side with a series of programming in art, writing and more for more than 40 teenaged participants. The Nike x Ju Working on Projects initiative will culminate with a pop-up experience at Chicago boutique Notre and awarding 500 "Th-oughts Scholarships”* to kids across the city where they can connect 1:1 with teachers and mentors who can feed their creative curiosity.