Hey, You’re Cool! Nicholas Fulcher

When it comes to selling a brand, art direction can be crucial. If the look isn’t fire, folks won’t buy into the vision. Graphic designer Nicholas Fulcher knows this well. Appointed Art Director at Atlantic Records last year, Nicholas (a.k.a. NickyChulo) creates album artwork, logos and brand identities for artists like Phil Adé, Wale and Youngboy NBA. The Brooklyn-born, Northern Virginia-bred creative also handles art for Trap Karaoke, the traveling party/concert that allows music fans to perform their favorite rap hits in front of massive audiences.

MASS APPEAL sat down with one of today’s most sought-after up-and-coming designers to chat about his design roots and the thought process behind his work.

What’s your name and who are you?

The government is Nicholas Fulcher, but most people know me as NickyChulo. A couple other aliases include Nicky Nature, Type God, Photoshop Jesus, Baby Album Art, The Black Pixel, Uptown Cocoa Puff and Nickodemus.

What’s your primary medium of choice?

My traditional mediums of choice are gouache paint, ink, paint markers, and mechanical pencils. For my digital work, I use Adobe Illustrator. I was big on Photoshop early in my career, but once you catch that Illustrator wave it’s everything.

When did you start designing?

I started designing in high school. We were lucky enough to have an intro to graphic design class in our county (shout out to Ms. Eppolito). One thing we learned that I picked up quick was screen printing on T-shirts. My best friend Oscar and I used to skip classes to screen print shirts at the design studio. We ended up selling them after school with the help of our hustler homie HD. Such exciting times.

When did you realize designing could be an actual job?

I knew from jump it could be a job, I just didn’t have the capacity at the time to understand its impact and influence. The first year I learned how to design I was already designing mixtape covers for self-proclaimed rappers at my high school (what up Zach!).

What’s the thought process behind your work?

I usually run a mile backwards while eating a Chick-Fil-A sandwich then head uptown on the 1 to get blessings from bruja that used to live by me on 168th. That’s how I begin. Every time.

In all seriousness, it usually starts with a brainstorming session with my client, then I get some preliminary sketches down, then I come up with the most effective, fun, and authentic way to portray their idea visually. Some people have preferences and are very adamant about what they want and that’s hard to work with from time to time, but we usually find a middle ground.

What mindset do you take every time you create something?

It’s tough because creativity isn’t something that’s always ready to go when you need it. My ideal mindset is always: Let’s make this the best thing I’ve created to date, let’s really explore what we can do with this. No matter how big or small the client is. To get myself into that mindset I usually go for a walk and/or listen to some Kanye West, Sylvan LaCue, or Green Day.

What’s your workspace like?

I usually work in an office or a creative workspace, but it depends. Sometimes I need a change of environment so I’ll just go somewhere I’ve never been before to work. Like a coffee shop. Or a friend’s spot.

What types of projects do you work on for Atlantic Records?

My first project at Atlantic Records was a few merch pieces for the wonderful Jojo on her Mad Love tour. I remember completing the assignment and then a month later I saw people walking around the office with one of the hoodies on, like, Wow, hey I made that! Where can I grab one?! Joyner Lucas’ latest project 508-507-2209 was my first official album assignment that I got to work on top-to-bottom. Working with him and his team was nothing short of a good time—very friendly and open squad of humans (what up Dhruv!). During one of Joyner’s shoots he took off my dad hat and put it on for a few shots. Last big and exciting thing I worked on was the logo for SixteenThirtyThree, an urban lifestyle division out of Atlantic Records. I remember I was working one day and Alex Ciccimarro texted me a pic of this SixteenThiryThree x Opening Ceremony all-black coach jacket, exclusively for the big artists on our roster performing at our SXSW showcase. I was ecstatic to the tenth power. In my head it was like I indirectly collaborated with Opening Ceremony. I know the thought alone is very vain, but that’s how I felt at the time [laughs].

 What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever made?

I made a mixtape cover for this artist coming out of VA back in 2010 and I told said individual that I wouldn’t speak on it publicly [laughs]. He was a buzzing artist and it was the first time I got to make physicals, so I got to design the front, back, CD, and accompanying apparel. That’s when I knew this is my shit. I want to do this forever. Also the ThreeSixEight logo I made last year. Hands down the best logo I’ve ever created. I simplified it and made it so impactful that they will never ever need another mark.

What’s your least favorite thing you’ve made or type of thing to make?

There’s really nothing I don’t like to create. I over-cooked chicken the other day. It was dry and I hated it, but God is working on all of us.

What are some words of inspiration for young creatives?

My advice would be to keep going. Execute your ideas. Don’t wait for permission, just do it. When you’re working in these creative fields, you’re usually creating for non-creative people—they will shit on your ideas until they actually see it. You can never tell those types, you have to show them. With that being said, there’s nothing you can’t do. You don’t need a co-sign. You’re your own worst enemy. Double down and put the work in, network, and don’t stop ’till you secure the bag.

What are your goals for the future?

I have a ton of goals, but I don’t like to speak on them I’d rather just let them fly when they fly. One thing I can say is I’d like to create more personal works versus strictly working with others. I’m working on that now.

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