Starting to draw at age five, Mexico-based illustrator Ese Izhi describes himself as a natural born artist. Copying things on the television using acrylics, water colours, pencils and crayons indiscriminately, it wasn’t until high school that he began experimenting with digital art, setting himself upon a path to success. Winning the “Design the Trase Shoe for DC shoes” brief back in 2014, Ese received $10,000 and the chance for his design to be produced and sold across the world. 

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I didn't even think I was going to win, I had actually forgotten about the brief until I got an email saying that I was one of the finalists,” explains Ese. “I was so shocked, I thought they wouldn't even see my design. The day the winner was announced I couldn't get off the computer, I updated the Talenthouse page over and over again for at least 7 hours until the winners' names appeared. When it was my name, I couldn't believe it.” 

Discovering Talenthouse through a friend sharing the brief, Ese decided to give it a go and merge his love of graphic design and skateboarding. Having studied graphic design for a year before dropping out and moving to Mexico City to work in an advertising agency, Ese was able to put his skills in advertising, media, branding and illustration to the test.  

“This design was not at all what I normally do, nor similar, in fact I had never designed a pattern in my life! I had always wanted to do something like that and this was the perfect moment, it just came out,” he tells Talenthouse. 

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Beginning by reading over the brief multiple times, Ese was inspired by the meaning of the letters DC: Defy Convention. From there he turned his research to the judges, researching what they liked, their work and careers in order to tailor his design exactly to their taste.  

“From the beginning I wanted to make a pattern design. I made what felt like a thousand drawings over the next few days but I didn't like them. On the last day, three hours before the deadline, I decided to draw a pattern of marijuana leaves. I knew it was ‘wrong’ to send in marijuana leaves, but at this point I didn’t care about winning anymore and just wanted to send something because I’d been working on the project for so long, I didn’t want to let it go,” he explains. 

“I opened Photoshop and in minutes I drew a leaf and seeds in flourishing colors, I reproduced it and the pattern was born. I called it "healing of the nations" inspired by a verse in the song "Rasta vive" by Fidel Nadal.”

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What happened next, Ese describes as incredible, “I felt like a rockstar”. The product sold better than he could have hoped and as a result Ese was inundated with interview requests. Following his success, Ese began to receive many collaboration offers with national skateboard brands designing skateboards, clothes, wheels and more. He has designed the logos and branding for many skate shops, brands and magazines, and with his prize money he bought a camera and a computer to start shooting professional skateboarding videos.  

As of now, Ese is working on content for YouTube and Instagram, and recently started a podcast about the history of skateboarding in his city. For Ese, the win wasn’t just about work, he tells us “the win changed my life.”

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