Chicago has a rich art scene that dates all the way back to the 1800s with the founding of the Chicago Academy of Design. Today, it’s home not only to one of the most well-known art museums in the city but also to a new generation of artists making waves in the scene — like pop artist RELLO. The Chicago-based artist is the founder of Paradise Design House and co-owner of Fat Tiger Workshop, a local streetwear destination.
That’s why we decided to spotlight RELLO and his hometown’s dynamic art scene in our city series with adidas Originals. RELLO takes us through his workshop rocking the Forum where pieces from his recent exhibition, Searching for Real Love, can be seen. We caught up with RELLO to talk about his introduction to art, creative influences, tips for new artists, and more.
How were you introduced to art and the creative scene?
I was always casually into art. Even as a kid I used to randomly doodle and sketch. When I was a senior in high school I started seeing slightly older people who look like me be able to make a living off their creative talents and that really pulled me in and made me take my craft more seriously.
How did you find friends within this community?
I think the universe has a magnetic way of uniting people with similar interests, I guess the internet does that too.
Were there any local mentors/inspirations that really caught your eye?
From a streetwear standpoint, Vic Lloyd and Corey Gilkey from LDRS really opened my eyes. It was my first time seeing black men making a living in the independent creative space using their own ideas.
What keeps you going in this subculture? Who is pushing the scene to new heights?
Culture is about the people in it and the people keep me inspired and happy and thriving.
Are there local hangout spots/parts of town that are iconic to the subculture?
Eastroom (RIP) was one of the most iconic hangout spots. I’m not even allowed to tell y’all the stories. That’s how next level it was.
How does the adidas Originals Forum connect with your community and how you express yourself?
Much like art, the Forum is iconic and also bold when it needs to be. Your shoes can say a lot about how you’re feeling and who you are. That’s why I love Forums. They speak for me.
How does Chicago’s art scene contribute to the city's culture? On the flipside, how does the city inspire what you do creatively?
I don’t think the actual city officials of Chicago do enough to prioritize exhibitions and the growth of local art, but on the flip side artists like Theaster Gates is doing a great job of creating beauty around the city. Seeing shit like that can’t help but inspire you.
Any tips for curious newcomers?
The world will only elevate you as high as you are willing to elevate yourself. Let that sizzle in your spirit.