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Life & Work with Nic Wheat

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nic Wheat.

Hi Nic, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
In high school, I fell in love with photography. That love translated to going to art school and getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative photography and video. I worked as a bartender to fund my creative projects and figure out my future, but after some time, I finally got a job at a video production company and was so excited to chase my dreams in the film world. A little over a year later, I felt something was lacking. As much as I loved the film industry, it fully catered to the needs of men and I was constantly met with derogatory remarks and sexism in the workplace – which ended up fueling a fire in me to make a change. I left that company to start one of my own, and while I was getting that up and running, I returned to bartending to fund my endeavors.

Right before my 25th birthday, I got the phrase “Crave the World” tattooed on my inner forearm. For years before that, it was a saying I would constantly repeat to myself as it was something similar to a sentimental phrase my grandmother would say. It is what I planned to name the production company I was trying to start.

While going through this process, I quickly realized that as passionate as I am about photography and video, it’s also something I hold really sacred, and the idea of doing it as a job was killing the magic of it for me.

I was at work one day at the bar, reeling over this discovery and stressing about what I was going to do with my life. It was a slow day, so I was cleaning out the lost and found, and I came across one of the coolest jean jackets I had ever seen, and it just HAPPENED to be my size. I took it home and for some crazy reason decided I wanted to paint it. I ended up painting “Crave Stvdios” across the back and started wearing it EVERYWHERE. I had so many people ask me where I got it and when I mentioned that I made it, they asked when/where they could buy one. This fueled 11 years old me’s fashion-design-obsessed little heart and about a week later, I went to a consignment store and spent my entire week of tips on blank jackets.

Quarantine happened, which was actually a blessing in disguise for me as it allowed me to spend all day, everyday painting and creating, which is actually when I downloaded TikTok. I posted one video about Crave, and it blew up. It got me more opportunities than I could’ve imagined.

From there, I’ve been doing some crazy projects, from having custom one of one pieces being featured in multiple music videos, making pieces for artists to perform shows in as well as for their press photos, partnering with Jagermeister to create merch for their #1 US bar, and making a whole line of merch for a performing artist, as well as creating and selling custom one of one designs on my website.

It’s crazy how many doors we go through before we find what we’re meant to do and how we are meant to impact the world. The second I painted that first jacket, something clicked for me, and I could see everything starting to unfold.

Now, I get to not only do something I’m passionate about every day, but I get to foster a community of like-minded people, I get to give back to causes that I care deeply about, and I get to use my love of photography to promote all of it. For me, this is not only a business I started, it’s a passion project that turned into an actual dream come true.

As I am today, I am realizing more and more that life is a crazy adventure when you spend it doing something you crave.

Create memories. Crave the world.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Complete transparency: starting a business is HARD. Keeping it going is even harder.

There are times when it is terrifying. Crave was not doing well. I was behind on rent, behind on bills, not making any sales. I was feeling so low that most days it was hard to get out of bed, let alone to find any motivation at all to create anything. I couldn’t even afford groceries most weeks, and I was so afraid that I was going to have to give up on this dream and find other ways to make ends meet.

I finally got motivation to do a project that was so inspiring to me and was so proud of. I released them, and I didn’t sell even ONE shirt: this was practically the breaking point for me. I was crushed.

I made a video for myself to prove all that I had accomplished was for something and was important to me to see how far I had come. I posted it, thinking nothing of it at all, and woke up to over 80 orders in one night (this was more orders than I’d had all-time combined). I was completely shocked to say the least.

And I’ll be the first to say that the process is not linear at all. I rode the sales I was getting from Tiktok videos for a while, but those dropped off too, I had to start Instacart shopping for people to actually pay my bills and would get a few Crave orders here and there.

Now, I’m getting to work on projects that the me a year ago could never have dreamed of and I’ve never been so proud of what I’m creating as I am now.

There are days that I question everything and days I know I was meant to do what I’m doing. The key is finding balance, knowing your passion, and understanding why you started it to begin with.

This business is what I live for. This business is a part of me.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Founder and creative mind behind an anti-culture streetwear brand, I decided to blend my creative loves of art and photography to bring attitude to modern style.

My brand is set to revolutionize popular trends through custom art and design, garnering influence from tattoo, grunge, and underground music scenes.

I’ve created custom designs for multiple performing artists for their shows/tours as well as for their press photos, I run a line of merch for my bad-ass singer/songwriter girlfriend, I am currently working on multiple murals in my other artist-friend’s home, as well as partnering with Jagermeister to create their merch for their #1 US Bar. I also spray-painted half of our DTLA loft (including the furniture) and find myself constantly painting canvases and making fine art, as well as not only filming my girlfriend’s latest music video but also making all the outfits for it, creating the set design, editing the video, and writing the song with her.

From fine art painting to fashion design, production design, styling, videography and photography, to reupholstering and flipping furniture: if it’s creative, I’ll do it.

My girlfriend constantly pitches me to everyone as “the Alt Costco”.

When it comes to my art style, I am heavily influenced by alternative/emo/tattoo culture and graffiti style. I use that to make mixed media paintings as well as functional fine art (like furniture) and wearable art that makes up all of Crave Stvdios designs.

I love mesh, fishnet, safety pins, studs, spikes, anything black/green/red, and anything weird and alt, which can all be seen in my work.

What makes you happy?
I don’t think there is anything in this world that makes me happier than creating.

I’m happiest when I get to work on weird projects that really get my brain working. Whether is it chopping up dozens of stuffed animals to make a custom sweat-set or shooting a horror based music video with references to all my favorite movies, making a straight-jacket into a jumpsuit, or turning a giant shelf that ripped itself out of our closet wall into a fine art painting. Creating is my passion; emphasis on the weird.

When I’m not creating, I get my dopamine fix from my obsession with horror movies, rewatching Game of Thrones, cuddling with my dog and my girlfriend, skating in Santa Monica, and writing music with my girlfriend. I also am a HUGE animal enthusiast, so when I can get myself to stop watching thrillers and horror movies, you can find me obsessing over any animal ever.

When you think about it, happiness is directly derived from what you crave in life. When I began my journey with this business, it was always about the message, about finding happiness. It’s about creating a community of those people who are dreaming of something more. People that felt alone in a world that caters to everyone but them. People who are craving change.

I crave the happiness of a better world.

What do you crave?

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Shot by Nic Wheat (for all images)

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