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Nick Fulcher Polywork

NickyChulo probably knows more about microbiology than you

Editor’s note: This conversation was adapted from the Polywork Conversations podcast series that took place in 2022.

Art director and graphic designer Nicholas Fulcher, commonly known as NickyChulo, produces work that cannot be put into a single genre. That is by design — NickyChulo has spent his career pushing limits to his own benefit and in his ever-growing catalog of design for companies like Atlantic Records and collaborators such as Issa Rae.

NickyChulo has attributed his multifaceted portfolio to leaning into the idea that his interests and passions could also moonlight as his work.

“I think it just started with my interests. I mean, I've always loved music. So in middle school I played trumpet, I played piano. But yeah, growing up my mom used to just draw with me all the time. So I guess I had an affinity for just video games and comic books," he says.

Making a career out of curiosity & creativity

Below, we share a few excerpts from our conversation with NickyChulo, covering personal growth and making a career out of translating curiosity into art.

On creative processes

NickyChulo said his process has changed over the years, but tends to err towards his roots of sketching, writing, and research.

"Right now, I like to do mind maps, so it's like, all right, let me get all these ideas out at first. Like, let's say we're designing a firetruck, I'll do a circle around the truck, then do fire red colors. How does that feel? What culture is it? If it's American, of course it's gonna mean something different than if it was in Chinese based on the colors and just kind of flush all that out.

"And then I kind of just like to see what kind of goes together word wise, and then I'll start my sketches and research. So that's essentially my process across the board, whether it be music or logo and identity. I just think having those words on the page helps."

Listen to the full conversation here

On defining polywork

What does polywork mean to NickyChulo? It goes back to balance.

“[It comes down to] just balance and setting expectations. Just kind of like, ‘I can do this here, I can do this here.’ And yeah, it's easy to have an open schedule, especially through Covid. It's kind of like you kind of learn how to work and balance your time and your day."

Work has changed, and while we’ve all adapted to these new norms, many companies have not.

“...I've had jobs in the past where it wasn't okay, where they'd be upset that I did something outside of, but it's, it's like, you have me for X amount of hours. I'm not just gonna sit on my hands. I love what I do.  I like making money. I like helping people. Like why, you know, why not?”

On the benefits of deep dives

NickyChulo takes his curiosity far past fleeting interests. Take biodesign, for one.

“It’s just a couple classes I take here and there just to learn. I think one day I'd like to get into biodesign. So my biggest thing is I went on a Twitter rant one day, like ‘why don't we have bioluminescent light bulbs?’

“There’s jellyfish that light up. We have fireflies that can kind of just like, whoa! Like why haven't we figured that out? I don't think it's necessarily a hard concept. I just think no one's really focusing on it.”

On making it all work

“I think just be honest with yourself because I feel like as designers, most of us are optimistic, so it's like, ‘oh, I can turn this around in like three hours’ and then something happens and throws everything off. So whatever deadline you're thinking of, add like two weeks to that.”