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Local Artist Feature: adeshola makinde

Contemporary Conversations

Local Artist Feature: adeshola makinde

Photograph by  Casey McClurken

Photograph by  Casey McClurken

Give us a short bio.

My name is adeshola makinde. I’m a clothing designer and I own a streetwear clothing brand called COMPLETE VII. I’m an artist working at a dream that I hope one day, can become a reality someday.

How would you describe your work?

I would say that my clothing design is an extension of how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m dissecting the world. My first collection was a direct reflection of the political climate at the time, so it was quite confrontational. My second collection has a hint of that, but I believe it’s a far more approachable than the last collection. I always want COMPLETE VII to be a brand that has integrity in all the things that it does while having fun.

Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

I don’t think I can honestly pin point that to a single person or thing, but what I’ve been inspired by a lot lately are all the amazing books I’ve been reading by some very important black people; the people they never taught us about in grade school. Everyone from James Baldwin to Huey P. Newton to Angela Davis and many more. Their courage and willingness to “fight the good fight” has been an inspiration for me to keep doing what I’m doing.

Do you have a piece of work which stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you?

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

What immediately comes to mind is the ad campaign for my first collection. It was a photograph of two young black boys wearing my favorite piece from the first collection, the PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME DOWN! hoodie. I’m proud of this ad campaign because even though it didn’t cause me to sell as many of these items as I would have liked, it at least pushed a few people to recognize or begin a conversation about something that is an problem in our society. The trend of unarmed black people dying at the hands of those called to protect and serve should be confronted proactively. I want to thank my friend for allowing his kids to be apart of my “crazy” idea and for his kids to be so excited about it – your support, but more importantly your constant pursuit to show empathy humbles me.

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m actually on the verge of unveiling my second collection in an INSTALLATION © sort of event. The concept for the INSTALLATION © is to basically give customers the opportunity to touch & feel the new collection before they pre-order anything they liked online. Whatever they buy will then be delivered to them (no longer than 3 weeks) once it has been made right here in town. It is also allowing us to tell the story of the new collection a bit more comprehensively with the install that we plan to do in the space ArtCommons space at UICA. The event will happen August 18 & 19 from 12PM-7PM both days. There will be an opening reception on the first night, August 18 from 5PM-7PM. I really would love for anybody and everybody to come to this public event – I really believe in this next collection and I think the community will enjoy it too.

What do you want others outside of the creative workforce to understand about careers within the arts?

When people walk into museums or even just look at a t-shirt design and say “I could’ve done that!” might be one of my biggest pet peeves. Sometimes art can look so simple and easy, but to me, it’s all about the action, of doing that sets people apart. Some people say they’re going to do something, but never do it and then you have people that actually do it. Chasing any dream is no easy task, but the first step is going after it and that's not something that everyone who’s had a dream can say that they’ve done. That’s what I want people outside of the creative workforce to understand about careers within the arts – that it isn’t as easy as it may seem.

How can communities, specifically Grand Rapids, better support the creative workforce?

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Photo by adeshola makinde. Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

One thing that I’ve been talking about lately with others is that there are all of the extremely creative people that have left Grand Rapids. A lot of times those people left because they weren’t supported in the ways that I believe Grand Rapids could have supported them - to help facilitate their ideas. Often times it seems like it’s the same ole' thing that succeeds in Grand Rapids and I think as a city, we can to do a better job at supporting what is new and/or what we may not understand. I love breweries as much as the next person, but I don’t think another one is what we need/ what will allow for us to be a progressive city. We need more diversity in the cultural spaces in our city. From types of restaurants, to retail shops, to bars, to music venues (and the list goes on). This is all to say that I’ve always been one to believe that Grand Rapids could be an amazing creative hub, one that is viewed as being somewhere interesting. In my eyes, we have the talent, Grand Rapids just needs to find a way to help creatives facilitate their ideas!

What are you passionate about besides your work?

Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

Designed in collaboration with Ben Biondo

I’m passionate about music, movies and tv shows. I get chills whenever I hear music that I love and/or touches my soul. I love watching movies and tv shows that tell unique stories that you can relate to your everyday life or find inspiration from, but I also just love when they are just shot super well. All of these things inspire me to keep creating and hopefully one day I can inspire someone with my work the way these things have all inspired me.

What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?

Someone who I collaborate with a lot is Ben Biondo – he’s who I send all my sketches and/or references to and he translates my ideas into something tangible via Adobe Illustrator. That’s a program I’m not experienced with (but he is) and he helps me bring my ideas to life. This is advice that’s not necessarily something that I’ve heard, but more so something that I’ve observed. All of the people (i.e. Frank Ocean) that inspire me that I follow in pop culture have one thing in common and that’s their ability to delegate. Know your strengths and weaknesses and delegate tasks to those who can support those weaknesses. The people who inspire me seem to know how to collaborate very well. That’s advice I’d tell anyone – find people who you work well with (those who are good at the things you aren’t) and work, work, work...

Looking for more?

Follow adeshola makinde at @completevii or visit  COMPLETE-VII.COM.