Dream Big: J. Cole and Puma Launch Signature Sneaker Together
Welcome to Dreamville. Make your hoop dreams come true in the Puma RS-Dreamer from J. Cole.
It’s 2020. You’d think by now we’d have flying cars, alien best friends, and gender equality, but before those dreams come true, science has more to discover, and we’ve got more to conqHER.
In the meantime, Eastbay continues making history of its own. For Women’s History Month, Destyni Swoope designed our March catalog cover, becoming the first external artist to do so. If you’re on our catalog mailing list, you’ll be able to see her cool art in person, but her inspiration and her story are equally amazing, so we decided to talk with her about Eastbay, her art, and women’s empowerment. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: What was your experience with Eastbay growing up?
A: Growing up as a young athlete, I anticipated getting the Eastbay catalogs in the mail. It was like the sneaker bible! Back then, my brother and I would circle and star all the things we wanted and leave it out on the table in hopes that our mom would feel generous and buy us something. Haha! It was fun to see the gear that our favorite players wore and then be able to copy their swag. Eastbay catalogs have always been a huge part of the culture; I don’t know too many people who didn’t love flipping through them as a kid.
Q: You said you were a young athlete, what sports did you play growing up?
A: My love for basketball began when my older brother introduced it to me. We shared a room most of our younger years, so I naturally took after him and embraced hoop culture. I started playing with the kids on my block, and eventually my family signed me up at the rec center where I played through high school. I had coaches, but my father was the one who really pushed and supported my desire to play – we practiced and worked on my game constantly. When I got older, he even took me to the gym to play games of 21 with grown men on the courts to really put me to the test. That’s where my drive and love for basketball flourished.
Q: So, as a former youth athlete to now being an artist, what life advice would you give to young Eastbay athletes?
A: I’d say, always let the passion you have for your craft lead the way. Be open to learning experiences and remain a student of the game, because, outside of the game, you’re a student of life. The fundamentals and skills you learn in your craft follow you into life. Embrace your inner beast and constantly reach for perfection. A great high school coach of mine drilled this into my head saying, “MTXE,” which stands for “Mental Toughness, Extra Effort.” I found that this follows me outside of athletics in my journey as an artist. I strive to always reach higher and put my all into each opportunity.
Q: One important characteristic of both top-tier athletes and artists is their individuality. What’s unique in your creative process that sets you apart?
A: My creative process is unique because I take a gameday approach to my work. I mean, I’m not doing intense pregame warm-ups or full-court sprints, but I exercise my mind and flex my creative ideas. I’ll create a nice playlist to get me in my groove, eat something that makes me feel good, and go crazy on the water. Then I let my skills take over. I don’t go into my pieces with much of a game plan; I like to have fun and trust my energy and creative judgment.
Q: So, for your Eastbay cover art specifically, what was your design inspiration?
A: I wanted to bring Eastbay and the rest of the world into my imaginative perspective, to bring a new energy and style to the magazine that’s fun, playful, and bold. I wanted the athletes to be seen with an undeniable essence. My aim was to draw people in with color, design, and something unique.
Q: You do have a unique look to your art, what or who influences your style?
A: My artistic style is really influenced by the culture that I live in – sports, sneakers, music, fashion – all the things I’ve grown up and connected with. More and more people are tapping into their creativity, and it’s opening up new opportunities and ideas to make the world more colorful and fun. I’m not just influenced by visual artists, but by all types of creative people from musicians to athletes and other performers – really anybody who excels in their lane. I try to be consistent with my style and remain true to myself, because that’s how you create lanes for not just yourself, but others as well.
Q: So how do you hope your art translates to others? What do you hope people feel when they look at your art?
A: I hope that they take away some sort of inspiration or new perspective. I try to tell stories and capture moments in my art; it can be silly, weird, fun, or intense. My hope is that they don’t walk away empty-handed. I want them to remember each time they’ve come across my images and remember who created them.
Q: Your catalog cover features two athletes, A’ja Wilson and Julie Ertz, who stand out in their professions, not just because they’re amazing athletes, but because they speak up for others. How does seeing this in A’ja and Julie inspire you in your own career?
A: I was already familiar with both A’ja and Julie before this project, but, while working on the cover, I learned amazing things about them being active in their communities and pushing positive movements outside of their sports. I’m honored to have my art represent them. Women like A’ja and Julie inspire me as a female artist by displaying dominance, strength, and grace within their sports, not just in female athletics but in the whole world of athletics. Since the beginning of time, sports have always seemed to focus more on men; the art world is very similar. Women are often not heard, respected, or acknowledged as much as men. A’ja and Julie break through this barrier and display top-notch excellence while providing a passionate and powerful voice to women around the world.
Q: Definitely! And March is a perfect month for this catalog since it’s Women’s History Month. As you look back, how have you been impacted by the women who have come before you?
A: They impact me every single day. Whenever I work towards a new achievement or reach a new goal, I’m reminded that someone before me worked to make this possible, now I’ve got to do the same for whoever comes after me. I’m so thankful that tons of women from all walks of life fought to make HERstory so that I can break through barriers and open doors for other female artists. I’m grateful to be the first external artist Eastbay has ever had design a catalog cover, and I hope this opportunity is an inspiration for female creatives and entrepreneurs to continue creating and taking exciting new steps.
Q: Lastly, we want to mention that March 8 was International Women’s Day, and this year’s theme is “Each for Equal” which seems appropriate considering the circumstances that many female athletes are currently in. In your opinion, why’s it important to both celebrate the achievements of women so far and continue fighting for a gender-equal world?
A: It’s vital to celebrate the achievements of women because, while being the muse and inspiration for countless works of art, in life we often go unheard and unnoticed! We’re in a time now where people are putting their foot down and fighting for an equal-gender world. Women have become CEOs, bosses, owners, hall-of-famers, millionaires, entrepreneurs, and more, which is helping to reshape the world. I see a future now that is VERY much female. I’m surrounded by inspiring, powerful women, and I’m proud to continue fighting with them to reach new heights.
To view more of Destyni’s work, check out her Instagram.
Welcome to Dreamville. Make your hoop dreams come true in the Puma RS-Dreamer from J. Cole.
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