Dozie is an Artist and Product Designer living in Brooklyn, NY. While looking over the photos that Dozie took for us, we talked to him about his background, his influences, criticism, patience, and self promotion.
Alyssa (Springtide): So we know you have your work but obviously these pictures were focused on kind of a social element, which I thought was really interesting. Was it at one event that all of these pictures were taken?
Dozie: A majority of them were taken at my friend Michael Goldberg’s birthday which was held at my friend Daniel’s new apartment on Bond St. but then the rest of them were just random. Random nights.
Emma (Springtide): Alyssa probably already asked you this, but where are you from?
Dozie: I’m from Houston, Texas. My dad is Nigerian. He moved here when he was 21. My mom is also Nigerian but she grew up in London, so I consider her English. She moved here when she was 25 I believe.
Emma: When did you move to New York?
Dozie: Right after I graduated High School. I moved here like 2 months later.
Emma: Did you go to school here?
Dozie: Yeah, I went to School of Visual Arts … on a partial scholarship. I got into the University of Texas and almost went there to study pharmacy cause my parents wanted me to ... but I couldn’t (laughs).
Alyssa: So, were you interested in pharmacy?
Dozie: No…. That was around the time I was just looking at salaries online and stuff, like, “How much do people get paid?”... but I really want to do something that I enjoy.
Emma: What did you study at SVA?
Dozie: I was a Fine Art major, focused in Set Design. So that’s sort of how I got into furniture, cause I was designing sets.
Emma: So we sent you some questions earlier ... were there any that felt especially pertinent to you?
Dozie: I liked the question, “To what extent is criticism beneficial to you?” and It’s funny that you asked “Are you impatient?” because I’ve been really working on sort of mastering my emotional state in situations, cause, you really can’t let your emotions get the best of you.
Emma: I feel like making furniture is such a long process that there is no immediate gratification. Does that ever frustrate you or is it more theraputic?
Dozie: Not at all. I’m not into instant gratification. If I was I’d be like, posted up on Instagram everyday with thousands of followers showing my outfits off and stuff (laughs).
Emma: So the criticism thing ... what were your feelings about that?
Dozie: I think that criticism is only beneficial when it's from someone who knows you. I feel like a lot of the time there are critics that blindly criticize someone who they know nothing about. They don’t know they’re background, they’re just criticizing the work and that’s not helpful. It’s not helpful at all and it’s just wrong, kind of. I think when you’re in that position it should just be more like critical analysis. You should just be analyzing what you’re seeing. You shouldn’t be really criticizing ... but people who know you know who you are and what you’re capable of and what you should be doing ... they’re the ones who can judge you, sort of. I don’t think anyone should really judge anyone but I feel like they are more fit to judge you. You know?
Emma: Is there someone who really influences you? Either someone that you know personally or someone who you just look up to?
Dozie: There are multiple artists who I aspire to .... not be like but just admire their career trajectories ... like the way they were able to jump into different industries like Tom Sachs, for example. He was able to collaborate with Nike and do things for the New Museum and do things with other artists. Like if you didn’t notice, in the Frank Ocean stream that just came out, that’s (Tom Sachs’) installation. Honestly, anyone who is able to develop a visual language, whether or not it's something thats like me or something I’m about. I just think that having a visual language is really hard to develop. It’s not like style. Style and a language are two different things. When you have a language, I think, it’s so much more broad. There’s so much more you can do. You really have a career if you develop a language. It’s not like a style where it’s so fleeting, you know?
Alyssa: So you see more longevity in having an actual language that you’re creating?
Dozie: Yeah that’s why (Tom Sachs) is still here. He has a language. You can look at something and be like,“That’s how he talks”. He’s speaking without saying words.
Alyssa: Are any of your friends an influence to you? Like, would you say there are social influences as well?
Dozie: Well, I grew up in Missouri City, Texas and one of my good friends in High School was Travis Scott. He’s like a rapper / producer. I guess it was at that age...14, 15, 16, that he really decided, “I’m gonna do music seriously”... and then he did it. Like, 6-7 years later he’s having meetings with record labels and meeting Kanye West and stuff. That was really inspiring because it’s not that I didn’t believe that you could really do what you set out to do, but it was proof.
Alyssa: I’ve been in a similar situation where I saw people who weren’t necessarily people who I expected to be successful, become incredibly successful. It’s kind of crazy to see what can happen if you just put all of your energy into it.
Dozie: All of your energy has to be put into it. Every second. You sort of have to radiate what you’re doing. That’s totally what he did. Every conversation from that age was about, “How I’m gonna make it:”, you know? Or ,“How can you help me?” and if someone had no incentives or like, anything to offer him, he kind of just dismissed them.
Alyssa: Which is good and bad I guess.
Dozie: Its good and bad but … he got there.
Emma: Do you think there is a right or wrong way to promote yourself?
Dozie: Definitely. There’s sort of a lot of thirst happening right now with people promoting themselves on the internet. I think there’s a much more genuine, subtle way to like, let people know you’re here. Cause that’s basically what everyone wants is to prove that they exist.
“Yo, I’m a person. I’m an individual.”… that’s what everyone’s screaming, you know? But there’s a way to do it.I feel like a lot of people get popular without having a talent and then they try to like, back door with the talent afterwards. That’s not the way to do it.
Emma: Everything is super fast now and it’s almost like the media outlets that we have to express ourselves produce a cropped or truncated version of everything. So I feel like part of what we're doing is looking at people who are making things or doing things and like, lengthening that out and asking, “Ok, What do you actually have to say?”.
Alyssa: Especially for people like yourself who work on a project that is so time consuming and it’s not an immediate gratification thing. So much goes into it that that you don't see.
Dozie: Exactly. It goes through a computer rendering, then you get the materials, then you go to the fabricator… It’s really satisfying actually. I’ve done it a few times now and I know I’m going to get to a point where its just second nature. The first thing I did was those chairs. That was like a six month process and I finally did it. Then I made a few other pieces ... artworks. Now I’m working on my next big piece which is called “Cube”. It’s like these two marble cubes that I actually picked up the other day from Jersey and they’re on wheels. They look really cool ... they oddly go really well with the chairs that I made, even though they are two different pieces.
I also try to do black and white versions of everything I make. It’s sort of like the white is angelic and black is very dark. White is like feminine, black is like masculine ... and you have in America you know ... white and black ... white privilege, black people coming from poverty. I don’t know... I like having the dual aspect.
Emma: Where do you hang out when you aren’t at factories in Jersey?
Dozie: When I do hang out its mostly Chinatown, Lower East Side area or Little Italy area. I really just get wine with my friends...just get wine and talk really. But it's weird, all of our conversations are just working, really. We’re always just hashing out, “What do we need to be doing? What are we not doing?”, you know? Things we need to be looking at...things we need to be paying attention to, stuff like that.