Artistic entrepreneur creates opportunities


Lou Foglia

Jameel Bridgewater, a junior art + design major, works with photography and graphic design through Bridgesx1913, a company he founded in 2012. He said his company has provided him with networking and travel opportunities, and he plans to establish a global presence by 2025.

By Campus Editor

Jameel Bridgewater, a junior art + design major, founded Bridgesx1913, a media company that collaborates with artists to showcase their work at gallery exhibitions and events. Since starting his company in 2012, Bridgewater has had the opportunity to work and network with artists across the country.

The Champaign, Illinois, native notably worked with hip-hop artist Jeremih in the summer of 2014. He shot promotional photos and video footage for Jeremih’s 2014 Dub Chicago Tour. Between constantly creating content and updating his website, Bridgewater frequently travels to New York City to collaborate with other artists. During his most recent trip there in November, he worked with Nana B, a Brooklyn-based R&B singer.   

Bridgewater, who is expected to graduate in May 2016, said he is currently working on a show titled “Everything Under 21,” an event in which he will showcase the work he has completed to date. 

To further his efforts in reaching a global audience, Bridgewater said he aims to expand his company with branches in New York City, Tokyo, Toronto and Los Angeles by 2025.

The Chronicle spoke with Bridgewater about his passion for photography, working with Jeremih and his future plans.

THE CHRONICLE: What inspired your passion for photography and graphic design?

JAMEEL BRIDGEWATER: I’m more of an illustrator. I started drawing and painting at first and then [a teacher] introduced me to [graphic design]. I’ve always liked [photography]. My dad did photography, but I just started at the beginning of summer 2014. He gave me one of his cameras and I got to grab a whole bunch of cameras from my grandpa which he used to use. I just started shooting whatever I enjoyed.

How do you merge your photography and design skills?

JB: They overlap—I’ll take a photo and maybe illustrate it or put it into Photoshop and try to change it around and use it for flyers and some graphic design work. I started from graffiti, so I would say [my design style] has that sense of street art. But at the same time, I try to make it a little cleaner and make sure that it has that unique feel that nobody has ever seen before. 

What is your favorite thing to take photos of?

JB: The typical things I take photos of are people. I love taking pictures of specific parts of people, like lips, hair or just little details. I love nature as well—trees and anything that catches my eye. 

What kind of projects did you work on when you collaborated with Jeremih?

JB: The coolest project I ever worked on was editing a video for Jeremih. I edited video for him as well as just doing some design work for him, like illustration and then a couple short films and just little side projects everywhere. 

What do you hope to accomplish with your show “Everything Under 21?”

JB: I’m going to grab everything I’ve seen or done up until [age] 21 and I’m going to showcase it all. From emails to Facebook posts that I’ve done with artists, I’m trying to connect and post them in a gallery and then bring some of the artists that I’ve worked with in my past and showcase them at this show. It will be like a new beginning in my personal design life. 

What kind of projects do you plan to work on in the future?

JB: I want to do bigger shows in bigger places. I’ve done one show and I’ve taken a group of artists that I [represent] and we had a show in Brooklyn. I set the show up and got a couple artists that I knew out there. I want to continue doing that and get on a bigger scale and grab a couple bigger artists. The main project is to eventually move out there and gain a team of 15 graphic designers and some videographers in every sector that we work on and get a building somewhere that we can work out of. 

What projects did you work on during your last trip to New York City?

JB: I shot photos and videos in the studio of an artist named Nana B and a producer I’ve known out there for a while. I was looking for jobs as well—just trying to grow a bigger network and people that I can meet to bring back here and try to introduce them to the kind of people that I know and gain more knowledge.

What are your post-graduation plans?

JB: My post-graduation plans are to pack up and go where I need to be and try to find a job right away. I hope and wish to work with Complex Magazine. I want to design for them and work with them for a while and just to have a network and segue into opening my own company.

How has attending Columbia helped you develop as an artist?

JB: Columbia definitely introduced me to the people that I need to know. It’s a huge networking school outside of class. Meeting these types of people inspired what I was doing and they definitely gave us the platform to be able to do things. I’ve done my first showcase here at Columbia and I was able to get the space really easily.

What is your advice for aspiring photographers and graphic designers?

JB: Be yourself. Take a little inspiration from each person that you see. Ultimately, just keep pushing and try to be as original and as inspiring as you can be with it. Try to say 1,001 words instead of just 1,000 with a picture. Speak all the words and have a purpose of your own.

What is something most people do not know about you?

JB: I’m the shyest person ever. I’m like a shy networker. That’s really one of my flaws, but I’m going to try to grow from it.

How do you stay original?

JB: When I’m going to work on a piece, I try not to look at any other type of art. I try to stay off social media and keep my mind 100 percent clear of everything for a while. I’ll sit there and sketch some stuff up and go off of what I’ve been working on—looking back and referencing my old work.