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PAUSE Presents: Creatives in London Stamping their Mark

PAUSE Presents: Creatives in London Stamping their Mark

Presented by PUMA

Photographer: Ollie Ali // @mrollieali
Stylist: Taija Leorelle // @Taija_Leorelle
Producer & Casting: Johnson Gold // @Johnson_Gold
Videographer: Jack Chipper // @jackchipper.1
Words | Interview: Thomas Woods // @thomaswoods_
Set Designer: Maureen Kargbo // @maureenkargbostudio
Make-Up Artist: Daniela Monteiro // @danielaxalves 
Assistant Stylist: Amy Johnson
Assistant Photographer: Kai Jadwat // @kai_jadwat
Creatives: TJ Sawyerr /@tj.saw1 // Issac Poleon / @issacvpoleon // FDFROMTHEFUTURE / @fdfromthefuture // Abigail Ajobi / @abigailajobi // Teoni / @_teoni // LOZEAK / @lozeak
Location: London, United Kingdom

London’s Finest.

London’s creative scene knows no bounds, from photographers, musicians, and artists, to documentarians, fashion designers and more, the plethora of talent seems to be endless. Despite that, the UK’s social landscape is often hard to navigate in the capital, being cold and cutting in ways that might dampen and dishearten even the most headstrong of creative individuals.

Underlining the importance of creative spirit and putting your foot down, PAUSE presents “Creatives in London Stamping their Mark,” an ode to some of London’s biggest and brightest young talents.

Standing in tandem with PAUSE, the creatives are sporting the iconic @pumasportstyle‘s GV Special. It’s back in the spotlight, fresh from PUMA’s archives, boasting unmatched comfort and a classic feel. First introduced in 1983, the GV stamped its mark as a true icon.

Check out the interviews below.

- TJ Sawyerr -

Tank – Topman, Shirt – ASOS Design, Tie – ASOS Design, Shorts – ASOS Design, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is TJ Sawyer and I’m a 21-year-old storyteller by means of visual image-making, creative direction, and creative consultancy.

Where do you find purpose?

I definitely don’t find it challenging to find purpose and motivation, partly because of the community-centric focus of my work. A lot of it is progressive and aims to alleviate and tell the stories of those who struggle in my homeland of Africa , and because of the everlasting nature of that struggle, I won’t ever be in a position where I’m lacking the purpose to continue creating.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

London is home, it’s all I’ve ever known as home. I was born in Africa and I moved here very early in life, so for the best part of the past 20 years London has been my home and housed my development as both an individual and as a professional. It’s inspirational for all of those reasons. It’s a hub for creativity that I pride myself in every single day.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

I think my definition of that has probably changed over time, because initially being a very young individual coming into this bigger space, it was a lot to do with asserting myself, probably in a verbal sense and letting people know that I’m here and I’m unapologetically myself in a very overt manner. Now, I’m also concerned with letting my work do the talking, and because of social media and how connected the world is now in this digital era, it’s never been easier to say less and still be profound and overt with your craft. So, stamping my mark is just getting better every single day and creating a journey and path that can be followed by anybody who is interested.

How do you nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

I think anybody who is a creative can attest to the fact that day-to-day we live and breathe our work. A part of the blessing of being in this space is being able to fundamentally do my hobby every single day, so it’s not a challenge to be indulging in that in different ways. Whether it’s reading, whether it’s going back through Pinterest boards and references, watching movies… you know, simply existing is where we’re able to garner our creativity and interact with other like-minded individuals, so it’s definitely not a challenge to remain creatively motivated and interested and inspired on a day-to-day.

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

Even though I used the word earlier, I don’t necessarily love the word “creative,” because I feel like everybody is a creative in life, even those that work in a more corporate sphere that may not see themselves as free-thinkers. We all create as individuals. I wouldn’t necessarily shoehorn myself and a select few people into that bracket. I don’t think it means anything; I think anybody and everyone can be a creative. It’s not reserved for certain people, and I think the only category is being able to express yourself freely, and that’s an opportunity that I’m really glad for.

Is recognition overrated?

It’s not overrated because it’s necessary. I think what is most important to me is securing longevity in my free will and the free flow of my creative ideas, so in the life and society that we live in, I have to make money from my craft in order to be able to continue creating. As long as I’m able to do that, then I’m fulfilled. Externally, validation does contribute to that and you see that the people with bigger numbers and more interest get more opportunities, so things aren’t looked at in as qualitative a way as I’d like them to. I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a position again where art is as pure as it may have been at origin. So, validation is important and I don’t seek it, but I’m definitely open-minded and aware of its importance, and I’m conscious of that when I’m making things.

What does hope look like to you?

It looks like a couple of different things. Hope could look like moving towards a world where we are looking less at numbers and taking less of a quantitive approach to art, stripping things back to the purity of self- expression without effecting the creative criteria where certain people are able to create on the basis of them garnering this amount of validation or this amount of capital. Studios like this being expensive, kit being expensive, it’s not exactly possible for everybody to create on a level playing field. So, hope would be it becoming more and more possible for people where I’m from, being from Ghana at my roots and having Trinidadian and Jamaican roots on my mother’s side, and other marginalised people being able to have opportunities to express themselves with the same resources. That’s hope and that’s also my purpose and duty, so day-to-day we’re trying to work towards a scenario where we have a bit more of a level playing field in that respect.

How do you maintain focus?

I think it’s about having love for what you do, and that will always supersede any concerns about your ability to lock in. I’m never in a position where I’m like, “ahhh, I have to do this treatment and I don’t want to do it,” I just don’t do things that I don’t really want to do, and that’s also a privilege in of itself that you work for. We’re all earning the right to do whatever we want to do when we want to do it, and I’m progressively trying to get there. In terms of focus, I understand that what is expected of me and what I’m going to have to do when I get into something, and so locking in to do so – especially when it’s an enjoyable project – isn’t a challenge at all.

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

I’d say from a purely artistic standpoint, my main inspirations are not in the UK. But, there are individuals who are marketing their work and packaging it in a way that I see as being very inspirational. You’ll get the Clints (419) and the Gabriel Moses’ being brought up, because quite frankly they are marketing geniuses as well as having a lot of artists skills. That’s the validation part that we spoke about, the importance of being able to garner that to allow your creativity to grow in the way that you want it to. So, those kinds of individuals and the Slawns, who are out on the front line in terms of relevance, are there for a reason. It’s not all to do with their craft. That interests me, in terms of the back end and how you’re putting together a story and a journey. Apart from that, I think most of my inspirations come from more Afro-centric art than lies outside the bounds of the UK. While I do have inspirations in the UK and Europe, because there are a huge amount of super talented creatives here, the majority of my inspiration comes from a lot of African artists who are especially able to make do with minimal access, resources, and opportunity, telling stories that I think resonate most with me and that I’d like to emulate. There are plenty of people back home in my hometown of Accra (Ghana), you’ve got photographers like Jude Lartey, Prince Gyasi, Derrick Ofosu Boateng… you’ve got all of these guys who are stepping into a sort of fine arts space and making do with what is a lesser commercial industry over there. Now, they’re able to work towards larger scale photographic pieces that are exhibiting worldwide and being purchased by some of the biggest players in the game and are being endorsed a lot more than has ever been the case before. So yeah, it’s exciting to see the sort of golden era of particularly West African talent that is coming through and who are able to perforate into the Western world. Long may that continue.

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

I think it’s difficult for everybody. Previously, there were times when I was more concerned with it and there were times when I was less so, but naturally I think because we’re always striving for balance, if things aren’t popping then I have to condition myself to not care and if they are, then of course I’m going to care, it’s lit. We all want to be popping. It ebbs and flows, but I think it’s about not taking it too seriously as a be all and end all situation. For me, I’m blessed… I’m booked and busy. That’s what’s important right now, and I think as long as the quality of the work and the time your spending being busy is increasing steadily – and the trajectory is upwards – I’m not going to be too stressed about the knitty gritty of the statistics.

- Issac Poleon -

Jacket – Yuhan AO, Shirt – Yuhan AO, Trousers- Topman, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Issac Poleon and I’m a hair stylist from London.

Where do you find purpose?

I find purpose in many things, I think that’s a very subjective question. So, many things.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

Chaos.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

Stamping my mark is subjective also, but I’d say legacy. That word is stamping your mark.

How do nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

I nurture my creativity on a daily basis by waking up! I wake up and take the day as it comes.

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

Currently, being a creative in the UK feels very obscure, because I think that the industry is changing and I think that it’s humbling, for sure. But, they’re first world problems, because what I see in its entirety is very subjective to my experience. So, it’s hard to amalgamate an answer.

Is recognition overrated?

Recognition is overrated, period. To be recognised and recognition are two different things. But yeah, I think it is overrated.

What does hope look like to you?

Hope is love to me.

How do you maintain focus?

I’m still working on that! I think that’s part of being in the chaos of London, like you kind of lean into that to encourage creativity and keep you going.

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

My creative community, so my friends. There’s Jordan, Jawara, Cynthia, my little sister… there’s bare people! Caroline, my manager; she’s amazing.

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

I think that’s also something that’s still a working progress. Navigating is something that I’m still learning to do because I’ve been on autopilot for a long time and I’ve kind of just been taking it as it comes. Navigating is something that I’m learning, so it’s progressional and a working progress.

- FDFROMTHEFUTURE -

Hat – 99 By JMS, Trench Coat – Fabio’s own, Shirt – ASOS  Design, Vest – ASOS  Design, Trousers – Frankie Shop, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is FDFROMTHEFUTURE, also known as FDFROMTHEYOUKNOW, and I’d like to say that I document culture.

Where do you find purpose?

It sounds kind of corny, but I find purpose in happiness in different ways. That can be creativity, entertainment, all of these things. I think happiness is my purpose.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

Underdog.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

I think stamping your mark is creating something that people will speak about forever. I go by the slogan “forever living” and that’s kind of stamping your mark.

How do you nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

I get a lot of my inspiration from real life experience, so I try to experience life as much as I can. I know that might sound like a generic answer, but that’s how I feel. Taking creativity from life.

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

I feel like… it almost feels new. What the UK creatives are bringing to the game now, it feels like it hasn’t really been done in this way before, and I feel like we’re really pioneering different avenues and certain ways to be creative in our own way. It feels, good, it feels new, and it feels healthy.

Is recognition overrated?

Recognition is overrated. That’s a hard question, because it’s overrated in certain aspects but in other ways it’s not. It’s a lot to explain.

What does hope look like to you?

Hope looks like to me… happiness. Happiness is a big driving force to why I do things, but I think happiness is hope for me as well, because I feel like that chase is endless happiness.

How do you maintain focus?

I’ve got ADHD, so I’m hyper-focused. It’s pretty easy for me!

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

I need to make sure that I name every single person under the sun! I’m going to big up all of my streetwear designers first, so big up to Clint (419), big up Jam, big up 99 by JMS, A1 Denim, youwasntder, Badfriend, Clints. In terms of streetwear, that’s it. Big up my rapper friends, big up everyone doing their thing.

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

Comparison is the thief of joy, I don’t think you should compare yourself to other people and I feel like when people do that, it kind of takes away the art from somebody’s creative. How do I navigate the pressures of social media? I keep a lot of people around me who aren’t yes men, and they keep me grounded and humbled and they make me know that I’m still a normal person at the end of the day. We’re all just people trying to do our thing.

- Abigail Ajobi -

Trench Coat – Abigail Ajobi, Shirt – Reclaimed Vintage, Tie – ASOS Design, Trousers – Abigail Ajobi, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Abigail Ajobi and I’m a fashion designer and creative director.

Where do you find purpose?

Honestly, I find purpose in the things around me, my culture, my family… it really helps my direction and navigates my purpose.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

Family.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

Stamping my mark means leaving behind a legacy.

How do you nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

I think creativity is something that comes naturally to me, so I don’t consciously nurture it in a way, but I feel like it could be a conversation or walking down the street. I think those things continue to inspire me to create new ideas without directly “nurturing my creativity.”

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

That’s such a multi-dimensional question! I’m Nigerian as well, and I feel like it’s very lit for us right now as Nigerian UK creatives. For me, it’s all I’ve ever known and we’re definitely on the up. There’s more to do, but we’re definitely on the up, so it feels good.

Is recognition overrated?

Yes and no. I feel like it’s good to be recognised and credited when your work stands, but I don’t really feel like you should do things for recognition. But, I do feel like it’s important to be credited where credit is due.

What does hope look like to you?

Well, I’m religious so I would say Jesus Christ. But, also family and community, all the things that make me happy.

How do you maintain focus?

I don’t! I don’t maintain focus a lot of the time, which I think is good because then it allows my creativity to run free. When I really need to focus and go CEO mode, I think I’ll probably just say a prayer and go with whatever happens.

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

I’m going to say Johnson (Gold) from PAUSE, because he’s been doing all of these incredible things. We’re here and we’re in this moment, so yeah… Johnson!

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

Comparison is the thief of joy, my dad used to always say that to me growing up! But I feel like it can also be beneficial if you allow it to inspire you and not actually take your joy. I think a lot of things in life are just what you make of it, so it can be the thief if joy if you compare yourself and say, “hmm, I want to be like that. So and so is driving a Bugatti so I want to drive a Bugatti,” type of vibe. I would say that the best way to navigate the external parts of social media is to just come off of it, it’s very easy to say that it doesn’t affect me and for the most part I don’t give a heck, but sometimes it’s good to take a step back and be in your environment and in your space. I think that’s the best thing for me. And just don’t follow certain pages!

- Teoni -

Shirt – Yuhan AO, Skirt – Topshop, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is Teoni and I’m a fine artist.

Where do you find purpose?

I guess with my friends and family.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

Primrose Hill.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

Stamping my mark means leaving the documentation of my life.

How do you nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

Music, watermelons, and water.

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

It feels amazing, I’m so blessed to be a part of the creative industries in London. It’s very exciting, there’s a lot of new talent coming up, and I’m happy help pioneer this new wave of artists. 

Is recognition overrated?

In many ways, yes and no. Obviously, it feels nice to be recognised but I guess, first and foremost, we need to recognise ourselves. That’s the most important thing. 

What does hope look like to you?

I don’t want to sound moist, but hope is love for me! Yeah, love.

How do you maintain focus?

I have no clue, I’m still trying to figure out that question.

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

Damn. I’m inspired by SOLDIER, definitely… Slawn, Leo, Tracy Emin, Claudette Johnson… yeah. 

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

I just log off and go and touch grass. 

- LOZEAK -

Jacket – Yuhan AO, Shirt – Yuhan AO, Trousers – Yuhan AO, Trainers – PUMA GV Special

What is your name and what do you do?

My name is LOZEAK and I’m a music artist.

Where do you find purpose?

Mainly in the studio, but anywhere around me really.

When somebody says London, what do you think about?

Honestly, creatives. I feel like there are so many creatives in London.

What does “stamping your mark” mean to you?

I think being authentic and having people realise that your art is coming authentically from you.

How do you nurture your creativity on a daily basis?

Being around friends, being around people who inspire me, and going to the studio.

What does it feel like to be a creative in the UK right now?

Really exciting! I feel like there are loads of new exciting, young, and fun creatives that are making their mark. 

Is recognition overrated?

Honestly, no. I think it’s really cool, being recognised by fans or people that inspire you.

What does hope look like to you?

I guess the desire to do what I love keeps me hopeful.

How do you maintain focus?

Honestly, caffeine!

Who are some fellow UK creatives that you are inspired by right now?

I love Shy Girl at the moment, she’s really cool. Also, a photographer called Jack Bridgland is really, really cool.

How do you navigate the external pressures of social media? And is comparison the thief of joy?

I don’t know! I love social media. It can be hard with hate comments and stuff, but I usually turn it into content or get something good out of it, so yeah. I love it though, it’s fun!

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