From Shillington to Nike! We love the creative journey of Gregory Bemis. He graduated from Shillington New York back in 2014 and has since taken his illustration and design talents west to Nike headquarters in Oregon. Read more about why he loves being a creative, his pattern obsession and where he finds inspiration.
What do you love about being a designer?
I honestly love every part of it! I love being creative, I love seeing my ideas come to life, I love working with other creative people to make amazing projects, I love problem solving and finding new and unique ways to answer design challenges and questions. I think it is a career that allows you to wear different hats and do a multitude of different things.
I love that my days are never the same; every day poses a new question or problem that I have to solve through design.
You’ve been working on some incredible stuff for Nike. Tell us about that!
After finishing Shillington in 2014, my wife and I moved back to Portland after living in New York for two years. I got a job working for a small design agency in town, mostly working with Nike and Jordan Brand. I was lucky enough to work on some amazing projects that allowed me to use an array of skills from illustration and type setting , to overall connecting of retail spaces and brand environments.
After working there for a year, I started working at Nike full time in the Basketball Footwear category where I create graphics and stories for basketball footwear.
You’re clearly a pattern lover. How did you discover that you had a knack for it?
I think it was a pretty organic thing. I have always loved graphics and patterns on clothing. It has always seemed like the most accessible and universal form of art in the world. I would go shopping and look not just for clothes , but wearable art, statement pieces that reflected my personality and individual aesthetic. My art then became influenced by the clothes that I would buy and vice versa. It’s amazing now that some of my art has made its way onto clothing, so everything has come full circle.
Where do you find inspiration?
Mostly through being active, skateboarding, playing basketball and riding my bike.
I always feel the most inspired when I’m not out looking for inspiration or thinking about art or work at all.
When my mind is clear and I am enjoying something else I usually get struck with ideas.
Do you have a favorite self-initiated project?
I enjoy the small doodles and drawings that I do on my free time. I don’t put pressure on myself and the stakes are low. Those are always a great place to try new things and grow creatively.
What’s the most unusual thing we’d find on your desk or in your designer toolkit?
I have a set of gold teeth that I bought at a yard sale. The guy asked me if I was into “death stuff” after I bought them and then wanted to show me a gas chamber in his basement, I didn’t take him up on his offer. Besides that just lots of empty coffee cups, doodles, and loose notes. I don’t like drawing in a notebook so most of my sketches and drawings are on loose pieces of paper and random scraps like backs or receipts and envelopes. Whatever is in front of me at the time really.
Where do you see yourself in 12 months time?
Just creating new art and hopefully tackling new challenges. I mostly like to stay in the present and live day to day.
You were already a trained designer when you enrolled at Shillington in New York. Why were you drawn to the course?
I wouldn’t say that I was ‘trained’, I was more self taught with a small amount of classic school training. I had originally enrolled in a four year college program with a major in graphic design in 2010. After completing two years of it I felt overwhelmed by all the prerequisite courses I was forced to take that had nothing to do with art or design. At that point I dropped out, got a job making wooden sunglasses, and started making more art for myself and friends on the side. I did that for a year and then moved to New York. I worked retail day jobs while interning for a clothing company in Brooklyn for the first year. I tried to get a real design job, but was unable to gain any traction. I heard about Shillington around that time. I went to an Information Session and realized it was the perfect fit for me. It focused on what I was interested in learning and left out all the rest.
What’s life been like since graduation?
I moved back to Portland, got married to the woman of my dreams, and have been blessed to have two different amazing jobs.
What would you say to someone who is skeptical about the Shillington course?
I would say, welcome to the club! I was also skeptical about the program, even while I was going through it. It all sounded too good to be true! It was short, fun and educational.
I think, like anything else in life, you get out what you put into it.
If you are dedicated and willing to learn and try new things, you will leave the program ready for real—world design and things will fall into place. I feel I am a prime example of that.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for taking the time to ask me all these amazing questions. I am always looking to collaborate and talk with other creative people, so if anyone wants to do something together, please holler at me.
Thanks to Greg for sharing his story! Be sure to check out his website or follow him on Instagram to see more of his work. If his style looks familiar, you might recognize him as the poster design winner of Shillington Post 02—The American Issue.
Want to learn more about studying at Shillington? –> www.shillingtoneducation.com.