A Journey Home | Out of the Past Records

Marie, June 2019.



A true creative, entrepreneur, and historian of the westside of Chicago. Marie and her husband owned over 10 businesses in the Austin/Garfield Park neighborhood since the 70’s; most situated down Madison street. One of their many endeavors included a photography studio on the corner of Madison & Pulaski. Where her husband captured members of the community posted on their front porch to Martin Luther King when he visited Chicago. With such a deep history, their most notable accomplishment can be found in Out of the Past Records. 


An archival hub of black history within the arts. As well as the city’s largest vinyl record collection. It’s truly a crate diggers paradise and impossible to gage its wonders with even multiple visits. Being the first time we met, she welcomed me with open arms and knowledge. Our conversations focused on the community we call home, it’s magical history, and promising future. Sparking a sense of pride in where I’m from and inspiration during a time I’ve felt uninspired.


Marie and family who continue to run this gem are forever necessary and define the ethos of the westside. As young creatives from this area, we continue to weave the fabric. 



 - Willie

Whether You’re Leonardo DiCaprio Or Jesse Heiman, There’s A Path Towards Acting Royalty

The life of a celebrity is both revered and fetishized by the world. Some love the art, want the status, the money, or all the above. From scripted shows to vlogs on YouTube, reality tv has been the driving force in our obsession with fame. But traditional theater is still the dream many chase. I’ve never dreamt of becoming an actor but I do believe we’re all connecting the dots in our lives one experience at a time; so who knows. 

My passion and curiosity of the unknown tends to lead me to places I’ve would of never expected. So when the opportunity to be casted as an extra for a network television show appeared, I said why not see what that worlds about. Due to the agreed confidentiality and ever growing list of NDA’s I’ve signed this year, I won’t be name dropping for cool points (which I think is corny anyway, say less do more). This is more so centered around my experience through the process and learning the journey of a working actor.

Not everyone has the “I was discovered on the bus home” story. Many usually try and break through starting as an extra. After getting a 6:00 AM text from my friend who acts about a casting, sending in my info at 9:14 AM, I was booked for my first extra role by 1:53 PM. The booking wasn’t until a few days after so it gave me time to “prepare” and calm my nerves. All extra’s were required to supply their own wardrobe based off the crews guidelines. Arriving fully dressed in our desired option and two other alternatives. 

My call time was scheduled for 6:48 AM and I was notified in advance to expect to be on location for about 14 hours. Which really meant you’re going to be here for the ENTIRE day so I hope you don’t have plans.  Once I arrived on set I was greeted by security and surrounded by crew members hyper-focused on their task. I made my way to holdings for sign-in, paperwork, and a continental breakfast. The room was clearly filled with aspiring actors toting their luggage and people who just enjoy being an extra for the extra funds. I grabbed a blueberry muffin, cup of milk, and sat at the first open table I seen.

Minutes after I was approached by the wardrobe stylist. He started to judge my outfit and asked to see my other options. Which I forgot to mention I was so focused on not being late, I realized once I got there (10 minutes late) that I left my bag that I prepared the night before at home. Rookie mistake number one. I explained my noob-ness and it seemed to be whatever. But he wasn’t too impressed by my outfit and gave me a shirt to change into. Sadly my JW Anderson alternative wouldn’t make the cut. 

After changing, the next hour consisted of waiting patiently until it was time for my scene. People watching and unintentionally eavesdropping about how back in the day hustlers would use a straight razor to slice open old drunk men’s sagging pants on the train for a clean grab-&-go robbery. All I could think about was how comical those Looney Tones robberies must of looked. As well as how sweet, for lack of better words, when the person mentioned, “they never wanted to kill you in the process like these boys do now”. 

The story book ending lead to it finally being time to shoot my scene. The PA’s ushered my group of extra’s to the shooting area and stressed multiple times to silence our phones and photography is strictly prohibited. I already planned on secretly snapping a few photos for my personal viewing, just a matter of catching moments as opportunity arise. But during the first couple of hours I did oblige to their wish. 

I quickly realized how important extra’s are to the overall production. One would assume only the leads and characters with lines are the main focus. But the director held us to the same regards as everyone else. Showing nothing but respect, encouragement, and feedback as we went through the scenes until perfection. Despite not having lines, extra’s do have the ability to freestyle a few words depending on the scene. Natural emotions and reactions help create the moments viewers will react to. It was beautiful to see how dedicated everyone was no matter their role. The mentality that any face-time is great exposure for an actor held true. You never know who might be watching and where that 10 seconds will take you on your journey to stardom. 

My only dissatisfaction came from how long the day is. The pay is enticing but they sure make you work for every single dollar. It does get quite boring between scenes and rehearsals. You can’t leave or make a sound. No choice but to thug it out as the director reminds everyone to “settle down background” at the sound of a peep. The lunch wasn’t good but it wasn’t bad. “Meh” is the best way to explain it. If you’re hungry, which you will be, you’ll eat it. 

My day ended with exhaustion and inspiration. Ready to go home, eat a meal, shower, then sleep. As I prepared to go I was graced with “this check about to be fat” by another extra and Sicko Mode playing in the background. A proper end to my scene. 


- Willie

Shut up and Listen: A list of my favorite podcast

When I’m tired of 808s bleeding my ears and want prerecorded conversations from people in rooms I’ve never been, here’s what enjoy.

My rotation of podcast I frequently listen to. Ranging from art snobbery, fashion mischief, food chain restaurant analysis, and murder stories. With a sprinkle of CEO bag talk and ”the culture”.


Bad At Sports 

Art talk within Chicago and everywhere else. 


 The Business of Fashion  

Designer and industry insight



The greatest food podcast EVER! 


 My Favorite Murder

Hometown stories that spook and make you giggle


 Failing Upwards

#Failgang, you better CALL IT! East coast media elitism at its finest


 A Waste of Time with ItsTheReal

aka the kings of aka’s  


 The Cutting Room Floor

Mandatory listen for emerging designers, especially of color. Workshopping in real-time   


 How I Built This with Guy Raz 

How the staples we love came to be. I discover something new every listen. 


 Hey, Cool Job! 

It’s Mary H.K. Choi. Talking to people with cool jobs. What else do you need?  



All about great design. 


 Design Matters 

People you may not be too familiar with but should know. Interesting stories. 


The Joe Budden Podcast 

Hilarious and necessary.


4 PM at Fashionista  

The style darlings. 


Fashion Your Seatbelt  

The formal side of the fashion industry. 


Short Story Long 

A variety of well rounded conversations from people you wouldn’t expect. 



Honorable mentions for the podcast I also enjoyed that no longer put out content.  I think they were just for a specific moment in the person’s life. A diary.


A college kid figuring stuff out while I was also in college. I found it interesting at the time.


Party Supplies  

Heron Preston’s first and last attempt at hosting a podcast. I thought it was going to be a good series. He has a unique story and perspective. This, along with his various interviews, made me perceive him differently.


Hopefully someone discovers something new and relatable from this. If you’re reading this, reach out and send me your podcast recommendations or just chat about what the ones above. 

- Willie

Another Gallery Show

This should be fun <3 

Thursday, January 18th, 2018 at 5:30pm

Superior Street Center of the Arts

2744 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL  


Come say hi.

- Willie

Instagrammable Art

This week I’ve been questioning and intrigued by instagrammable art. As of recently, it seems to be transitioning into something more “serious” than in past years. I specifically have noticed that with the birth of The Museum of Ice Cream and Color Factory. The “Is it art?” question comes up a lot by people who favor and dislike the genre. I do consider it art and believe it serves a purpose. Two words that I associate with instagrammable art are installation and interactive. The pieces are usually in the form of an installation that relies on interaction to activate the space or object. As a young artist who is moving in the direction of creating installations that viewers can interact with, I fully enjoy that aspect of it.

The art world has a tendency of differentiating itself between Art with a capital A and art. Kind of like elitist masquerading as egalitarians. Critics and purist jump towards judging instagrammable art on a surface level rather than based on its intentions or potential. You have works that are bringing people together, sparking imagination and commentating on current times; however, because it does not follow the “traditional rules”, we must not consider it Art. It’s as if art is in a constant cycle of contradictions that only become valid when it’s convenient for a certain group.

Despite my position that instagrammable art is art, I do question how it will affect us moving forward. Will this form of creation diminish the value of art as a whole? Artistic value has already been simplified down to aesthetic appeal, size, and popularity. Today if an artist cannot fit themselves into a minimum of two out of the three categories, then it becomes almost impossible for them to make a living and support their practice. This new direction seems to only make things harder than they already are. Yet I’m just as excited for what the future holds. These challenges and changes pushes art forward and opens new possibilities for creativity. Which will hopefully better us a society. One must continue to be open minded and question everything.

Video and article that sparked this writing:

The World of Dries Van Noten

In the never-ending cycle of "fashion is dying", their are few designers left within the industry that are universally held at the highest regard. Dries Van Noten is one of the few continuing to push forward with grace and master craftsmanship. For the first time ever, the Belgian fashion designer allowed his life to be documented for an entire year. 

Reiner Holzemer, the documentarian behind Dries, gives us an intimate looking into the psyche of Dries. Reiner is renowned for capturing pure moments that make the viewer feel as if they are the one behind the camera. Both similar in some respects garner a trusted connection that allows for honest and insightful dialogue. Showing a side of the designer and his life that is not always open to the world. A definite source of information and inspiration.

More about the film, screenings, and purchase: Driesfilm.com 

Film clips courtesy of ShowStudio

- Willie

The Hype of Takashi Murakami

"The hype is real"  

The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg is currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. The exhibition serves as an exploration through the chaotic mind and process of Murakami. An artist you either love or hate. His artistry checks the boxes of both visually and conceptual strong but his commercial work seems to have his artistry questioned by "art purest".


I walked into this exhibition as a causal fan of Murakami. I've always enjoyed his bright anime style, corky personality, and commercial work; especially the direction he did for KanYe West. So as I walked up the spiral stairs to the 4th floor where the exhibition is held, the only thing on my mind was, "is the hype truly real?". I've never seen any of Murakami's work in person and was excited for the opportunity to "judge" it for myself. The experience of viewing a piece on a 15in screen is different from experiencing its aura in front of you. As soon as I entered the space and walked up to the first piece, I knew, the hype is real. 


The pieces were beautiful and their presence could be felt all around. So much so that I didn't want to pull out my phone to photograph anything. I just wanted to enjoy the moment and get the most of my experience. But the impulse to snap a few kicked in.


Once you get pass the surface appeal, the meaning of each piece is just as important. Struggle and perseverance hide within the colorful characters eyes. The spirit and history of Asia is themed throughout. Murakami references historical events and Arhat monks in majority of the work. 


After reading each statement I began to understand more about Murakami as a person. A man who is self-aware of people's criticism and comfortable in being himself. Spreading messages of positivity and the culture that he holds dear to heart. 


This is definitely an exhibit that can't be fully experienced in a single visit and I plan on returning to this journey again until I can't no more. There's a lot more questions that need answers and knowledge to be gained. 


- Willie