Julian Victor LaMarr Gaines (Ju Working On Projects)

After graduating college in 2015 with a degree in the Arts of Drawing and Painting, Julian moved back to South-shore Chicago with the dream of painting his way off the block and onto Nike Campus. The 26-year-old former football athlete used to paint on his cleats before NikeID customizations were around. He is globally known for his Nike Air Force-1 customizations and hand-painted apparel for other artists. Julian uses his art to create and inspire the people and youth around and within his community to follow their dreams.

When did your love for sneakers begin?
I would have to say, at birth. I got my very first pair of Jordan 5 from my God-mother at infant size, I still own them actually! Growing up as a 90’s baby Jordans were a lot cheaper back then so your parents kept you in Jordans, so it started at a very young age.
I have this very funny story about them too. It started at my auntie’s house and I had Jordans on, and she didn’t have any Jordans herself. I said, “Your shoes suck” and my mom said, “You shouldn’t talk to people like that, I’m not going to buy you another pair of Jordans again” and what happened was she didn’t buy me another pair of shoes until I was 22 years old, i’m 26 now.

What is your favorite classic?
The Jordan 1, I was born October 18, 1991 and thats when the Jordan 1 was banned October 18, 1985 and thats where the soul of my sneaker obsession comes from.

What is your favorite recent release?
Aside from my own sneaker? I would say the new Nike Reacts or the Sean Wotherspoon 97/1’s! I love Sean’s shoe, so tastefully done, so comfortable, and my first pair of Air Maxes I’ve ever owned.

What inspires you to create?
Im a very spiritual person and I feel that God blessed me with the gift of creativity. Being that God is the greatest creator of everything we see and that we are around and I’m inspired by the fact that I’m utilizing the gift that is gifted to me. If you think about when your parents tell you something or they give you something and you utilize the gift they gave to you it makes them happier, thats how I feel about it. Being blessed with my gift I want to keep using and thats what inspires me.

What advice do you have for kids to follow their dreams?
Write down what you want, even if it seems outlandish it’s the first step to making it come true. I’ve written down “I want to collaborate with Nike”, “I’m going to buy an Impala” and I bought my car off painting swooshes, I made my collaboration. Write it down.