When you’re an independent designer and creative director calling the shots, managing resources wisely while being agile is crucial to success. New York-based clothing and accessories designer Nicholas Wolf knows all about the hustle of trying to get your name out there. The self-taught designer and creative director used to attend every industry event he could when he moved back to NYC four years ago and even snuck into ones he wasn’t invited to.
Ever a student of the craft, Wolf has been challenging himself during the pandemic to create a new design every week for an entire year. “A lot of people won't agree with it, but it works for me,” he told Highsnobiety. One of the free tools he's been using to bring these projects to life is Canva, a powerful graphic design platform that’s been a boon to startups and thrifty creators alike. Whether you're a student, running a side hustle, or a creative professional, Canva lets you design just about anything to help achieve your goals.
Wolf, and his label Until Further Notice, has since cultivated a sizable following on social media for its gender-fluid rockstar vibes. When he’s not making studded patent leather pants, the 22-year-old designer has been immersing himself in other mediums to stimulate his artistry. “I want to get into films next, making movies, writing screenplays, and just doing visual projects,” Wolf explains.
We spoke to Wolf to learn more about his early days as a designer, how he broke into the fashion industry, how he uses Canva in his work, and more. Read our interview below and discover how Canva can take your own projects to the next level.
Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Trinidad for half of my childhood. I got into the fashion industry by setting up my own shoots. I was creative directing my own shoots at 16 years old. I would hit up a photographer with ideas and have him execute for me. So that helped me develop a decent enough portfolio to get my first model contract. From then on, it was a lot of modeling. I've been creative directing more projects and I love it. I'm only 22, so it's amazing to see what else I'm going to do. I want to get into films next, making movies, writing screenplays, and just doing visual projects.
How did you break into this career?
The first paid gig I did was for JCPenny. It was very cringey. Then I walked for Heron Preston and Theory. When I came to New York, I walked for a lot of local brands. It just started to develop over time because I felt like I was rushing to be the best version of myself when I wasn't ready. I see that now because when I look at my modeling a couple of years ago and my modeling now, I still have a lot to learn. But I'm very happy that I didn't get the things I wanted when I wanted them.
I didn't have connections. I didn't have guidance. I didn't have anyone there for me, really. I tried to network, go to every event I could, and sneak into events I wasn't invited to. Then, I met people. I was getting a lot of support on Twitter. So a lot of my support on Instagram came from Twitter. When I came back to New York, a lot of people were curious about who I am.
By going to these events, I was a face that casting directors, all these people didn't see before so they were curious. Meeting nice people in the industry who actually wanted to help me. Passing on opportunities. You meet other cool models that pass on castings — it was a word of mouth thing, so it was really hard. It’s still difficult in the industry. I don't think it's ever going to be easy.
What’s a typical day like for you?
I go out and look for inspiration, do location scouting. After location scouting, I go to either the Public Hotel or The Williamsburg Hotel to work on my laptop. Sometimes I like to work in different scenery, so I go to a hotel or a cafe. I look up inspiration through music videos, old movies, projects, magazines, bookstores. I go everywhere to find inspiration to create another good project. It’s very hard to find new ideas with old inspiration.
I feel like to create a new idea, you have to look at things in a way no one else has ever done before. So I go out, walk around, listen to music, and try to think about new ideas and how I can create them. After that, I'll pick up one to two film rolls for another project. I drop off pieces that I pulled from a brand to wear for a shoot that I set up myself. Then, I get back home to meditate, eat, and watch Netflix or something to generate more inspiration.
What are some essential tools you need to do your job?
A notebook, pen, pencil, my laptop, and my film. I have my laptop charger, my iPhone charger. I always bring my camera and my headphones. I can't go anywhere without those.
How does Canva make your work easier?
It’s honestly amazing, I’ve been using it 10 times more. The effects, colors, the text fonts, the ability to add videos on top of videos. As I'm using the app, I’m like, "What the hell? Where's this been?" In the past, I’ve edited in the worst ways possible on my phone, or when I work with the photographer, they edit on something else. But I've been using Canva more and I'm going to keep using it for all my projects.
What creative projects are you working on?
The one I'm working on now, I'm trying to tell a story through still images that I shot. I shot it in Chinatown because it's based on the film Chungking Express. My purpose was to capture speed of motion as they did in the film. Wong Kar-wai used a specific camera to capture speed of motion. I had a conversation with a worker in Chinatown, so my goal with that project is to create a conversation between two people — me and the guy that I spoke to. Just a conversation about, "Do you feel like you've experienced life?"
[Using Canva], I'm literally creating a conversation through still images of me having a conversation with this guy. That's the first project I've done on the app so far, but for future projects, I want to get more creative and use different things I haven't noticed yet.