If you know Nick, he’s a normal 20-year-old from Dunedin, New Zealand, running around with his friends and partying amongst partaking in other activities associated with the small city. To outsiders, he’s Nick Dolan, somewhat of a hometown hero at this point and an underground staple in the digital world of hip hop and fashion.
Nick became a well-known name within niche fashion and hip-hop circles early last year. After uploading a concept video to his Instagram for Sickö, he was flown out to LA by the founder of the brand and fashion mogul, Ian Connor, to help with the creative process and digital appearance of the upcoming brand. Within his first day in LA, he was at Tyga’s crib, shooting and working on content for Psychworld. In April 2020 he started to gain traction after editing a video for Sickö TV of footage from a pre-lockdown Drake listening party. It was a video of Drake previewing his track “Pain 1993” which featured Playboi Carti. This stemmed into Nick becoming somewhat of a source for the cultlike Carti fanbase due to his affiliations with Ian.
The noise surrounding Nick is an extremely loud “if you know, you know.” Rarely associating his face with his work, he stamps his name instead, keeping a keen sense of mystery and ambiguity behind his art.
It seems unfathomable that work being done for fashion and music royalty comes from a bedroom in a small suburb, located in a city of approximately 150,000. But Nick is doing what he’s done for years, working tirelessly from his laptop in an environment he’s comfortable in. He made himself known by peers in his hometown as an editor/content creator long before he was known and always had confidence in his vision. Nick expected his success to come at some point, but he still had a lot of people who wouldn’t take him seriously which is the struggle of being a young creator in a small place. Dunedin and even New Zealand in general, is a place where nobody has made it to this scale of exposure and opportunity. But he’s completely flipped the script while keeping the underdog mentality as he strives to not be placed in a box creatively while continuing to expand his pallet in the industry.
Now as he broadens his horizons further, Nick has branched out into the fashion industry himself. He dropped his first collection back in July, with a long sleeve and short sleeve tee. The artwork on the tees were his original designs that had previously been posted to his Instagram as video concepts. The drop was successful and was an eye opener for Nick, showing that he could be successful in that lane with the following he’s gained alongside his creativity for designs and concepts paired with effortless ability to successfully create an aesthetic. It follows the vibe Nick has created for himself which can be described as rare and sought after.
I talked with Nick about his come up, inspiration, future plans and most importantly, his upcoming drop.
If you had to describe who Nick Dolan is in one sentence, what would that be?
Resourceful, creative and intuitive.
You’ve become well known for your digital work and the VHS kind of style, was there anyone specific who were big influences for you?
Virgil Abloh, CHITO, ArtDealer, A$AP MOB, Mathew M. Williams, Ian Connor, and Zack Bia.
It’s fair to say that being flown out by Ian and working closely with him was probably the biggest moment of your career so far as it catapulted you into the industry. Apart from that, what moments over the last 2 years stand out to you as extreme milestones?
Yeah, for sure. It was a crazy experience that allowed me to work with so many people who I have previously followed or seen and been inspired by. Aside from that, finally learning to drive and getting my license has been a large personal milestone.
Talk to me about this collection: what is it? When can we expect it and how can people purchase/and stay up to date?
I want this collection to be up for interpretation. The prints are based off character archetypes I saw during my time in LA. I was also inspired by classic police sketches, and I wanted to create a satirical look at the faces we often see on police bulletins. The drop will happen over the next two to three weeks, so you’ll have to keep up to date with my website and my Instagram for updates, as I tend to drop my collections at random.
How did your experience in LA as well as the relationships you’ve built inspire you to jump into the fashion world?
I think everything has to do with the people I know or met from LA. Being around a hub of creatives definitely helped me network with people who had similar interests and styles to me, which meant opportunities for collaborations came naturally.
Your first drop in July, the 2 tees, were really successful. How did that feel?
Some moving shit, there was no way on the morning after I dropped the Bart Tee’s I expected the response I got, which prompted me to do another drop for those who missed out as so much interest was generated. It was definitely an experience that has inspired me to work on further drops…
Coming from a small city like Dunedin and achieving everything you have done so far is extremely impressive. However, there seem to be a lot of Nick clones out there; is it surreal to see yourself as somewhat of an influence to others?
Thank you. I’m actually glad a lot of people who follow me don’t know who I am intimately because I enjoy having my privacy respected, and a lot of people don’t even know I come from New Zealand. Overall, it’s been a very interesting experience. My social life changed a lot over the first few months I was back in New Zealand, which was something I had to get used to.
You’ve told me some crazy stories of your time in LA; it seemed like a movie, and you really lived out a lot of people’s dreams. Can you share any stories from your time there?
The first definitely day sticks out. I was on a 13-hour flight to Los Angeles. Once I landed, I met Ian and was taken to Tyga’s house to film a Photoshoot for them both in my pyjamas, all within a 2-hour span of me being there.
If you could go back 4 years and give the 17-year-old Nick some advice (or to any aspiring creatives), what would that be?
Don’t worry too much about the future. But just keep working, you never know what’s gonna happen.
Talk to me about what you’ve been doing outside of this drop and where you see yourself in the next few years?
I’ve been working on a handful of videos and some visuals for a different range of content surrounding music or fashion, both topics I’m very passionate about. In the future I’d like to be going back and forth between home and different places around the world once COVID clears up. I’d like to be on a bigger scale working on bigger projects with people I admire or who show proper uniqueness and talent.