“For anyone reading this, finish it and then make shit happen”: A selection of supportive resources made available by Virgil Abloh

The chances are, you’ll have read a fair amount about the visionary Virgil Abloh over the last few days. Like so many others all over the world, we were shocked and incredibly saddened to hear of his passing earlier this week. A generation-defining talent, his influence and ideas stretched far and wide across contemporary culture, from architecture and design to music, art and, of course, fashion. But what’s equally impressive was his work to support emerging creatives. Here, we’re sharing a selection of just some of the brilliant resources he made available through his career – from talks and guides to a full scholarship platform.

Virgil Abloh’s legacy will be felt for many generations to come – not only for his inimitable output and fresh take on anything he touched, but also for his efforts to uplift, empower and grant access to emerging talent. Not confined to the many talks and advice he shared, he also established initiatives, created tools, guidance and open-source information for those just starting out.

Having started out in the mid-2000s with degrees in both civil engineering and architecture, he was soon interning at Fendi in Rome alongside frequent collaborator Kanye West. This is where he first caught the attention of Michael Burke, CEO at Louis Vuitton – where Virgil was eventually to become artistic director in 2018. In that time, he also attracted huge global acclaim and demand for his own label Off-White, art-directed for musicians including Jay Z, collaborated on a line for Ikea, dressed countless celebrities and played DJ sets all over the world.

Free Game, a resource for emerging creatives

Then in 2020, at the height of his career, Virgil launched “Free Game”, an online educational platform for young talent featuring a broad range of resources, from talks and online lectures to tools and advice. Both continuing his work as part of the Post-Modern scholarship, and inspired by many of the common career-related questions Virgil received, the platform was created as part of his “longstanding initiative to see design, art and culture more inclusive to young Black designers and those coming from non-traditional backgrounds,” Virgil told Vogue last year, “ultimately ensuring that the future looks different from the past.”

Below we’re spotlighting just a few of the amazing talks and other resources from the platform.

Guides

How to Make a Brand

As part of the Free Game offering, Virgil created multiple step-by-step guides to everything from naming your brand and using Adobe Creative Suite to shooting a lookbook. Based on Virgil’s own experience, the aim was to provide “a mass form of mentorship to give information and access to black POC and to all those that are interested“. Below are just some of the available guides on the site:

Talks and Advice

On education, art, culture and design

Known for embracing links between activism, community and design, during a period of uncertainty and protest, Virgil gave Black creatives ways to uplift their community, foster their brands and journey. “A lot of people individualise their trajectory but as soon as you foster a community with the same trajectory, your success becomes real,” Virgil shares here.

In this talk, he joins design student Abigail “Beez” Africa and XQ CEO Russlynn Ali to discuss representation, diversity, and activism within the education and design world. The virtual discussion focused on creating for the future, and allowed Virgil to pass on what he’s learned throughout his career to the next generation of makers.

On building your brand DNA, with A-Cold-Wall's Samuel Ross

During this discussion, Virgil and fellow fashion designer Samuel Ross talk about their personal ideologies, sharing tangible advice about how to brand yourself and your ideas.

The conversation touches on the importance of a personal narrative and story, mentioning how the name of your brand should reflect all of its elements and identity. Encouraging emerging creatives to stay true to even the smallest parts of their brand’s identity, Virgil shares how one element should be able to be translated into different outputs. For example, the concept behind a single fashion piece should be able to be applied to the foundations for an entire fashion brand.

On mentorship and creativity, with A-Cold-Wall's Samuel Ross

Virgil Abloh and Samuel Ross on mentorship and creativity

As part of the Converse All Star Series, Virgil and Samuel Ross team up again along with Converse’s senior director of special projects, Jimmy Manley, to talk about mentorship through creativity and supporting the next generation of game changers.

Together they talk about the power of mentoring – from knowing when to reach out to someone, to how the relationship often benefits both parties and its potential to build community.

On being newsworthy, with British Vogue’s fashion news director, Olivia Singer

British Vogue’s fashion news director, Olivia Singer, talks with Virgil about strategies that can help emerging talent to capture the attention of editorial platforms. Together they talk about building a context around your work, and the importance of telling the story around it – whether that be on social media or in an email when reaching out for press.

On working in a multidisciplinary way

In this article with architecture and design publication, Dezeen, Virgil explains why he doesn’t doesn’t “believe in disciplines”, sharing how his background in architecture helped to inspire and inform his fashion brand, Off-White. Flying the flag for transferrable skills, the interview is an interesting read for anyone looking to work in a more multidisciplinary way: “You know, I don't believe that fashion is needed to make fashion... I think our generation is more like what does fashion mean?”

Read the article here.

On generating ideas and seizing the moment

In 2015, Virgil spoke with i-D about generating ideas, the growth of Off-White and what advice he might have for the next generation. In response, Virgil emphasised the power of embracing the now and putting your ideas into the world as soon as you can.

He said: “If you really want to do what you say you do, leave this conversation and do it. Go and print that T-shirt today, and by today I mean in the next 30 minutes. If you don’t do it, that's your problem.

“If I hadn’t sat on Illustrator and gone to the screen printers to make it a reality, then it wouldn’t have happened - everything else is a domino effect. It might be obvious, but for anyone reading this, finish it and then make shit happen, give it to your friends and then boom, you’ve entered the domino effect phase.”

Read the article here.

Scholarship

Post-Modern Scholarship Fund

Virgil set up the Post-Modern scholarship fund in July 2020 to “foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarship to students of academic promise of Black, African-American, or African descent.” As well as funding, the scholarship also offers mentorship opportunities, information and support services.

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We know that these resources will continue to help and inspire so many others for years to come. So a big thank you to Virgil Abloh, and our thoughts are very much with his family and friends at this time.

Written by Creative Lives in Progress
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