Welcome to 'One of a Kind', a new series in partnership with Tia Maria celebrating the uniqueness and self-expression of some of the UK’s brightest creative talents. Here, we’re given first-hand accounts from three ‘One of a Kind’ creatives on the come up, exploring how their unapologetic approach to their respective crafts elevated them to where they are today. First up, it’s visual designer Jasmine Lasode, whose work has gone from strength to strength since winning Nike’s On:Air campaign with their "Summer Of Love" sneaker back in 2018.
If there was one word that sums up Jasmine Lasode's approach to visual art it would be: “random”.
Jasmine's strikingly unconventional approach is what makes them one of the most exciting visual artists of this generation. Having beaten hundreds of London's new wave of creatives to be crowned the winner of Nike's On Air competition in 2018, their work has gone from strength to strength ever since.
How have they managed to do it? Taking the time to reflect and discover new meaning to their down-to-earth ethos, Jasmine's freedom in self-expression has continued to grow on every project she's worked on ever since. Having worked on campaigns with Foot Locker and EverPress to being featured in Vogue this year, it's clear to see that Jasmine has continue to level up in 2020.
In a year which has been pretty disorienting for most people, we caught up with Jasmine to find out more about how she's been keeping their creative vision future-focussed, what's been keeping them inspired and what makes their visual art 'One of a Kind'.
COMPLEX: Most people became aware of your work off the back of you winning Nike: On Air, which saw you design your own customised shoe that got a public release – would you say making the decision to do that changed your life?
Jasmine: 100%. As a creative, it’s really difficult to get yourself on the radar these days, so having won that competition out of the blue was just absolutely massive for me. It opened so many eyes to my work and gave me massive exposure – and that’s definitely changed my life.
Did you think you’d win?
Oh my god, no! I didn’t even think I had a chance – I wasn’t even going to do it. But because I didn’t really care about it as a competition so much, I was just really free with my design and had a real freedom with the expression I put into it. My girlfriend really helped me out with the submission, she made sure I wasn’t uptight with it at all. So I went and had fun with it, had no expectations with it, and then everything about the submission was just way more relaxed – I think that’s why it did so well.
In this day and age, being free, open and showing your personality is really beneficial for creatives like yourself. Would you say you’re a free spirit?
Yeah, I’m definitely a free spirit in my work. I’m very random with everything that I do off the back of that campaign. Now, I can do things like create art that combines shoes with my favourite cereals… which is completely out there. My teachers at uni – where I didn’t get a first, I got a 2.1 – were like, “your work isn’t the best in the world, but you’re always ready to try new and different things.” That’s sort of what I’ve stuck to – keeping it random.
How have you found your personal style has shifted throughout 2020?
My personal style is always shifting, I am on a journey of self-discovery and I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am, and using my style and self-expression to tell that story. Style for me should be fun, I dress differently day-to-day, almost like creating new characters or versions of myself.
2020 has been a mad year for the majority of people – has everything that's happened throughout it made you rethink your craft?
2020 has been mental. If I could rewind back to Haloween last year and tell my friends, "guys, a global pandemic is gonna keep us all from seeing each other this time next year," everyone would've told me to shut up. So in many ways, everything that's gone down has made me realise how important my craft is to me; it’s not just a craft, it's a massive part of who I am. I think, before lockdown, I was taking my craft too seriously. I got to a point where it was all about work. I’ve been thriving in my own bubble. This year has taught me to have more fun with my craft. I also know how much I have to learn, I definitely want to continue to develop my skills, there is always room for growth.
What have been your main sources of inspiration for your work this year?
My main sources of inspiration has always been my feelings. I know that sounds a bit cringe, but when I design and create art it really comes from how I am feeling at the time! This year especially has been filled with highs and lows and I think that’s helped to create some of my best work. Also, I think music is always a massive inspiration for me – I listen to music for the majority of the day. It really impacts my work, I went through an 80’s phase in lockdown and created a lot of work that reflected that era. But I can just stick on some house, or hip-hop, while I work and be emotionally charged up from the feeling I get listening to certain artists.
Tia Maria’s mantra is ‘One of a Kind’ – what makes you and your work ‘One of a Kind’?
My work is one of a kind because it’s inspired by my own life and who I am, who I interact with, the music I listen to, what kind of day I have had. Nobody else can live those same experiences and get the same outcome so I guess that keeps my work individual. Random, too? I guess I’m quite a random person in what I do, what I am interested in, so my work doesn’t exactly flow, it just comes when it comes.
Which ‘One of a Kind’ people or artists influenced your work and the person you are today?
Growing up, I don’t think I have really ever been inspired by any particular artists, my inspiration has always been more random than that. It could be anything from some old vintage packaging to a piece of furniture – I actually love the furniture designer Willy Rizzo.
Recently though I have been listening to an artist called Shygirl a lot, she’s definitely an inspiration, such a babe. Some more of my recent inspirations are Hunter Schafer, an American actress, Alejandra Ghersi – better known as Arca – who is just a walking piece of art, too.
I guess I am drawn to people that are on their own wave, inspired by people who are unapologetically themselves. And then there are the people who are around me day-to-day. Me and my best friend are constantly sending inspiration to one another and there’s also my girlfriend Lauren who is one of my biggest inspirations in my life and in my work. She is super creative, I think it is important to surround yourself with people you can bounce ideas off.
This is a bit of a meta question, but what do you think is needed to stand out from the crowd in your chosen creative field?
Be you! That's the most unique thing you can do above anyone else, there really is only one you. I think people can tell when someone is being authentically themselves. Learn yourself, understand your strengths and weaknesses, and use that in your craft. Being consistent helps you stand out, I think it helps people to see you have a love and a passion for what you do. Just keep creating and don’t be scared of the opinions of others if you love what you do!
How important is it for you to be original in your line of work, with so many people following trends these days?
I think it’s really important to be original. If I am honest, I should be more aware of what's going on sometimes but I am mostly just in my own bubble. So I guess that keeps me original because I am not looking to anyone or anything for validation or inspiration. I do think it’s harder to be original nowadays, we are constantly flooded with trends on platforms like Instagram. Sometimes following trends can’t be helped but you can adapt them or expand them to make them more you own. I think I am always conscious of staying true to myself.
Do you think individuality is getting celebrated more than ever in 2020?
I think individuality is getting celebrated way more in 2020, which I'm so here for. It hasn’t been an easy journey growing up for me. It's nice to see our society becoming more accepting of people's differences. We still have a long way to go and so much more work to do but I hope one day to live in a world where people aren’t afraid to be individuals, I think it’s our differences that make us special.
Do you have a daily routine, habit or mantra to keep yourself independent and true to yourself?
I don’t have a daily routine but I do romanticise about having one. I do wake up everyday and make my bed because 'tidy bed, tidy mind'. I want to be one of those people that has their life together, that wakes up and has a face routine, showers, gets dressed, eats and is ready for the day... but that all depends on my mood. I’m an up and down person so I just go with the flow, sometimes I even forget breakfast. When I grow up having a daily routine is definitely on the cards.
What are your thoughts on Tia Maria? What’s unique about it?
I have previously worked behind a bar on and off for about seven years, and if someone came to the bar to ask for a Tia Maria, I would think of them as a main character in a story! It’s individual – it’s a bold choice for a person who is on their own wave and doesn’t follow the crowd.
What sort of ideal scenario can you see yourself drinking Tia Maria in?
Okay, so imagine… I’m at an Apres Ski, and I’ve just come down the slopes wearing some mad multi-coloured onesie! I take my skis off, go into the little hut and go to the bar, and order a little Salted Caramel Espresso Martini, with Tia Maria in. How banging does that sound!? I then come out, there’s music playing, snowing outside, I’m with all my friends, just celebrating up in the mountains, having a little dance and a drink. That, to me, would be perfect right now! I’m hoping we can get back to normality and be able to do that again soon…