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How four young creatives caught Converse’s attention

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRUDI TREBLE

WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

Creating, unfiltered.

In true Gen Z style, creatives Hannah Michaela, Daniel Niva, Martha Jang and Sam Milik first met on the Internet. With the former hailing from Sydney and the latter living in Melbourne, the group of young, diverse artists were given a brief from the team at Converse and told to do their thing. 


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After Instagram group chats, Zoom meetings and email chains, the foursome created the latest Converse All Stars campaign Love Unfiltered. The talented group of models, photographers and graphic designers came together to not just create a unique photoshoot but to elevate their own stories and, in turn, stories from their communities. 

Fashion Journal sat down with them to ask where they gather their inspiration, what it was like working together and what the term ‘Love Unfiltered’ really means to them. 

Sam Milik, model and founder of Apademak Marketing Agency

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m 25 and studied law at Victoria University. As COVID started I lost my job working there because I had to be supervised for two years. In the meantime, I started up my own digital marketing agency which has been hard but I’ve been enjoying it. It’s a lot of hours and you have to find the motivation to just push yourself. 

How did you become a part of this Converse campaign?

I’ve always had a particular interest in doing Instagram for my own personal reasons, I feel like every concept I put out onto Instagram has a meaning to me that is not always portrayed on the page. All of these images have representation to me that I don’t always explain. They all tell a story and that’s why I got into Instagram. It wasn’t that I’ve always wanted to model it just kind of all fell into place. 

What does ‘Love Unfiltered’ mean to you? 

My parents passed away when I was a kid so I struggled a lot with emotions and I had to really sit and break down how [the campaign] applies to me. I think it’s just removing the element of a transactional relationship. Whether it’s between yourself or anyone else. It’s making a conscious decision of waking up every morning saying ‘I’m going to love myself’. Removing the ‘You did this for me, so I’ll do this for you’, and just doing it for wanting to do it. 

What would you say to anyone who’s thinking of putting creative work out into the world? 

What I’ve learnt from this campaign is that it’s made me think about [creativity] in different areas of my life that I wouldn’t usually have considered. I’d say when you’re coming up with the idea, think of different elements of your life that you may not have explored with a certain idea. Also be true to yourself and what you think is an accurate representation of your idea. It doesn’t need to conform to anyone else’s. 

Hannah Michaela,  graphic designer, photographer and creative director

How long have you been creating for?

I’ve been a graphic designer for a long time. In university, I was doing communication design and that’s where I found my love for graphic design and photography. I started doing photography professionally only two years ago but I found my passion for that through creating designs for magazine projects. 

What was it like coming up with the concept for this shoot and working with the team? 

Converse gave us the concept about love and reflecting on expressing those feelings so Daniel and I thought of this mirror concept of reflecting people’s inner and outer core and being able to express yourself freely without judgement of others and yourself. 

I feel like a lot of people do compare themselves with others and bring themselves down so we thought why not explore the mirror concept. We had this idea of using powerful words that meant something to all of us so we made a concept where we brought in all of our affirmations of what we feel is really close to our hearts. 

What is your creative process normally?

Normally I would have the client or someone tells me their story and tell me why it’s really important to them and then we’d come up with a brainstorm. It’s really important to me that the stories are expressed through the work. 

The theme for this shoot is ‘Love Unfiltered’. What does that mean to you? 

It means being able to express yourself freely without judgement of others and not judging yourself. Being able to love yourself to your inner and outer core. 

What advice would you give to other young creatives wanting to put their work out there? 

I think it’s all about the motivation and pushing yourself to keep moving forward. I think sometimes, even me personally when I was younger I always felt like I couldn’t do something because I didn’t have enough experience or I was too young for it but I think it comes down to your motivation and dedication to what you want to do and pushing yourself and breaking out of your own boundaries. Also, remember that you shouldn’t only be thinking about yourself but elevating others by connecting with them.

Daniel Niva, photographer and artist 

What’s your story?

I’m originally from the west side of Melbourne and have just relocated to the north. I’m a self-taught creative artist, I do photography and a bit of modelling. Pretty much anything creative and collaborating with people and creating art. I identify as an African-Australian, so storytelling for African-Australians is really important to me. I let that fuel me into making art, the rest is the icing on the cake. 

I’m really passionate about getting stories, people and faces out there because all of us deserve to be on the same table. I do put an emphasis on the great stories coming out of the west, northside, and South East of Melbourne. There’s some great things coming and we see what art does for us. I want that feeling for everyone… so that we can all be heard.

What’s been the collaborative process between the four of you?

When I was younger I always thought, ‘I’ll do it myself’ but over the past year and a half, I’ve learnt that the stuff you can actually create with people is pretty crazy. I’m leaving that mentality of doing it myself and am more interested in working together. 

What does the theme ‘Love Unfiltered’ mean to you?

I think it’s dope because love can mean anything to anybody. It’s like art in that way, it’s up to how you interpret it. I believe love is more natural than any hate, whether it’s self-hatred or hate towards anyone else. It probably sounds cliché to say but it’s a wonderful feeling to love yourself. It’s such a triumphant feeling because it’s not easy but everyone deserves it.

What advice would you give to people wanting to create art? 

Honestly, you won’t know what you’re capable of until you do it. We tend to fear rejection, but at the end of the day, the only thing you can live with is that you at least tried because you will only surprise yourself at what comes after that. Just try because it’s a rewarding feeling seeing what comes out of that. Anything great doesn’t come from a smooth track. Things have to be a bit rugged and uneasy before you think ‘I see this now, it makes sense’.  

Martha Jang, model 

Aside from modelling, who are you as a person?

I want to do a lot of things. I want to inspire people, I want to make sure people feel loved and appreciated and also included in everything I do. On Instagram I create a lot of quotes to motivate people. I started that last year because I started going to the gym and I had a lot of depression. I’m slowly getting myself out of it and in that I want to help other people as well because I know how hard it is. 

What’s that process been like for you? 

Very hard but my family has been there. When I have bad times I think about the good opportunities because we came from a poor country; I came from South Sudan when I was eight. We escaped war and really hard situations. We were separated because when the war happened everyone ran so my mum just had myself and my two brothers.

My other siblings had left for Australia before us and they were looking for us everywhere. We were in Egypt for a month until they found us. Ever since my mum was a teenager she’s had to run from war so to see her come here and make something of herself is amazing. It’s something that pushes me to better myself because my mum says ‘You always have to do good for yourself’.

What advice would you give to people wanting to create art? 

Every year we can just get better so keep doing what you’ve got to do because at the end of the day, the good work that comes out will come out in time. Also, go hard or go home! When you go hard for what you want and you get it and have fun with it then you get results. 

What does ‘Love Unfiltered’ mean to you?

‘Love Unfiltered’ to me is loving yourself, your family and friends. ‘Love Unfiltered’ is a genuine feeling, knowing that you have people that you love for your honesty, sense of humour, joy, and determination to be able to express yourself freely. 

It’s clear that all of these talented people aren’t just creating art for art’s sake. With determination and stories to tell, they are elevating voices, celebrating uniqueness and loving themselves and others no matter what. A group of creatives loving, creating, sharing and all unfiltered. 

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