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My Creative Hero: Alan Parker on Virgil Abloh

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The Chief Innovation Officer at Energy BBDO praises the designer, artist and DJ who won’t let anyone define him

My Creative Hero: Alan Parker on Virgil Abloh
LBB> How long has Virgil been important to you and what are your first memories of coming across his work?
Alan> I think I first heard of him when he designed the cover for Kanye West’s “Graduation” album. It was so different. In a world that seemed to be heading towards more understated, less-is-more art his design just popped off the page. 
After that I started to seek out his work. I was surprised to find out he was involved in fashion and music and was also a businessman and an entrepreneur. I love the fact that he doesn’t let one thing define him and that raw creatively flows through so many aspects of his life.  
 
LBB> How did you go about finding to learn more about them and their work?
Alan> After first coming across him and his work, I was constantly on the lookout for other things that he did. I remember hearing parts of his speech to investors when he launched Off-White. He described the core ethos of the company as capturing the area between black and white, quite literally off-white. As someone that works in the field of innovation, I often describe it as “working in the grey” and his notion of off-white really resonated with me. 

I particularly love his work with Nike. I think it’s the stand out in a world of sameness. As a kid he used to sketch shoe designs and send them to Nike, which has a certain sense of kismet when you see the reconstructed design language he developed. I remember when they opened his concept store in Chicago, I took my two daughters in to see it. We were all blown away by it and I remember thinking, “Is there nothing this guy can’t do?” Then I thought, “No – and I bet you he never even entertains a question like that,” which is an inspiration in itself. I also got the coolest picture of my two girls at the store!   

  
 
LBB> Why is Virgil such an inspiration to you? 
Alan> Because he won’t let anyone define him, put him in a box or restrict him. He lets his creativity take him where he wants to go and doesn’t limit himself to one art form, industry or genre. I think he is a great example of how the awesome power of creativity can change the world in many different ways. He’s a reminder that we all have the power to make the difference we want to see in the world.     
 
LBB> How does he influence you in your approach to your creative work? 
Alan> When I am working on something, I both acknowledge and enjoy working in the grey or off-white space and encourage others to do the same. When I work I am also looking for new and different ways of achieving something – stripping the brief down to its core ask and then looking at the different ways we can achieve that. Virgil’s attitude towards collaboration is also an influence for me – I believe that collaboration is key to achieving greatness and constantly look to bring in different thinkers when I am working on something.   
 
LBB> What piece or pieces of Virgil’s work do you keep coming back to and why?
Alan> His work with Nike is the stand out for me. From “The 10” to the concept stores, he hit the reset switch and produced a truly unique and different range. Through this work he gave us a peek at the future, perhaps one where the consumer is in a much more collaborative partnership with the brand.

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Energy BBDO, Thu, 16 Apr 2020 18:12:16 GMT