With two of the “healthiest” soft tacos on my tray that Taco Bell could put together, I grabbed my drink and slid into a one of the many loudly colored booths that make up the in house eating area. It had been years since I had taken a seat in the most famous fast food taco establishment ever created, yet I was immediately taken back to my early college days when making a “run for the border” was almost a daily occurrence.
I didn’t just happen to stop by Taco Bell to reminisce in the middle of last month (March). I was there to meet Ziarekenya Smith, pay for the design I had purchased from him and see what the designer who created the Michael Jordan piece shown above was all about.
This is how the meeting came together.
The Beginning: “The Dopest Pic I’ve Seen!”-Marcus Jordan:
On March 7th, I saw this on Twitter:
I follow both Marcus and Jeff Jordan, Michael’s two sons, on Twitter and while I don’t always click every picture they post, I had to see what Marcus was calling “The Dopest Pic I’ve Seen.”
I clicked the link, did the iPhone reverse pinch to enlarge the image and was amazed! It was an image of Michael Jordan made up on only words. They were words like “Hard Working”, “Dominance”, “Amazing”, and series of words like, “For the Love of the Game”, “I can accept failure. Everyone fails. But I can’t accept Not Trying”, and “Never Give Up”.
I was blown away! I clicked the favorite button on Twitter so that I could go back later and look at it and then went on with my day.
Time To Find A Picture (A series of great events):
Usually the night before any posting I do here, I am typing in search criteria in Flickr, looking for a picture to use for the next day’s post. Monday, March 16th was no exception. I had written a post titled, “What’s Your End Goal” and since my end goal is playing Michael Jordan 1-on-1, I was looking for a picture of greatness aka Michael Jordan.
It didn’t take long and once again I was captivated by the same Jordan image, Marcus Jordan had tweeted about some nine days earlier. When I came out of my trance, I went from one link to the other before I was typing up an email, inquiring about buying this amazing Jordan Typeface for my home.
I sent the email at 6:13 pm Monday evening and continued the search for who this designer/artist could be.
The next morning I awoke, checked my email and had a response at 1:11am on my purchase. I was back to trying to figure out who the creator of this was and using his name from the email I found a Facebook page that said he attended Full Sail University, a school that is just 35-40 minutes from where I live.
One thing led to another and three Fridays ago I was downing two soft tacos at Taco Bell, awaiting Ziarekenya Smith’s arrival.
The Arrival of Mr. Smith
As I was waiting for Smith to arrive, I had no idea how old he was or even what he looked like. I didn’t know much at all about the gentleman who created this mind blowing design of Michael Jordan. As I sat there, I still couldn’t believe that the person who created this, who was getting national attention for this, lived this close to me and was about to walk through the door.
He arrived right on time; bright red ball cap pulled down flush to some jet-black ray bans, a red backpack tugging at his red Nike shirt that said simply yet emphatically, “Doing It!”. He was tall (6’4”), young and hip and it really shouldn’t have been a surprise.
He’s Only 19!!!!
Ziare sat down, pulled is Macbook Pro out of his bag and we began to talk. What I thought might be a brief meeting, one in which I pay for the Jordan Typeface design I bought from him, turned into two and a half hour conversation about his work, his life, his passion.
The 19 year old that created a Jordan design back in September 2010, and was now getting National attention for doing so, was so much bigger than his awe inspiring design.
I left the meeting motivated and inspired!
I had to write about and do my best to let more people know about the young man from Detroit, Michigan with no car, nor any desire to have one (he’s afraid it might take away from his time designing), the guy with a design factory lodged inside his head (as I saw when he showed me other things he had done), and the man who sprinkled God over ever single part of his life during our meeting.
Ziarekenya Smith may only be 19, but has the wisdom of someone more than twice his age, and more dedication and determination than I have seen in anyone in quite some time.
He’s beyond focused on achieving greatness just like MJ and just like Jordan, Smith is about to be very special in this World. Here is a little of our conversation from that Friday in March.
Me and Ziarekenya Smith (The Designer of the Jordan Typeface):
me: How long have you been interested in design?
ZS: I’ve been interested in designing since I was toddler. I always had a thing for creating things when I was little.
me: What made you want to do the Michael Jordan typeface?
ZS: It’s really self explanatory. First off it’s Michael and secondly God gave me a vision. Plus Michael really motivated me as a designer. He really lives up to hard work, dedication, passion, determination, resiliency and love for the game. I treat and look at designing in that way.
me: Where did you get all of the text used for your creation?
ZS: A variety of different Jordan sites.
me: How long did it take you to design the Jordan piece?
ZS: 15 hours a day for 4 days straight, with little procrastination breaks.
me: Were you ever able to see MJ play in person or on TV live?
ZS: I wish I had, but no.
me: Have you been surprised by the response your MJ work has received?
ZS: I really have. I knew it was a good piece, but I never knew it was good enough to catch this many people’s attention. I just thank God for allowing my work to flow around the internet and to hit all the right places.
me: What does it feel like to have Marcus Jordan tweet about your design??
ZS: Most wonderful feeling ever just seeing him tweeting saying this is the dopest picture yet he has seen of his DAD! It really touched me, I was very honored, because who knows how many designs he has seen of his DAD and yet he said that mine was the dopest! It’s the best feeling ever!
me: Do you think he showed his Dad (Michael Jordan)?
ZS: I hope so, but eventually time will tell!
me: This has made you sort of a celebrity around campus, I’m sure. How does that feel?
ZS: Sort of. I just feel like I need to live up to the hype. I don’t want people to think “Oh he just got that one design piece,” no I want to show people I actually do this. I live and breathe designing everyday, and I’m not a one hit wonder.
me: Have companies tried to hire you since this went National on Yahoo Sports?
ZS: Nope, but one of my instructors from “Full Sail University” recommended that I redesign a EA Sports NBA Elite 12 game cover, because he knows the assistant director at EA Sports. He said if you design it i’ll submit it EA Sports for them to check it out.
me: What message would you have for anyone who wants to create killer designs like you?
ZS: Just Do It! Make sure you have a passion for it first, make sure this what your heart desires and make sure you don’t consider designing working. If you check off on all of that, the possibility of you becoming a great designer has no limits! That’s just half the part and I don’t know where y’all at in religion, but God has been everything to my designing life. That’s how my skills as a designer developed at a fast pace. I just believe in God, believe in myself, and am just working hard every day designing, putting in major hours each day designing. I’m dedicated and just want to be the best at what I do. I’ll end it with this, the more hours you put into your craftsmanship which is designing will determine weather you’ll be successful at designing or not.
me: Your official logo is God Inspired Designs. Where did that come from?
ZS: The vision came to me at Feb 5, 2011 at 9am in the morning after I got done reading the Bible. That’s where it came to me because I always put God inspired designs at the end of my caption on my designs. So that’s why I decided to make “God Inspired Designs” my official logo till my life ends. The second reason why I wanted to be “God Inspired Designs” is that I finally realized in life it’s not about me at all, and I refuse to take credit that is not mine. I want people to know God gave everything to me in life: my idea’s, tools, my determination, etc. I just wanted to embrace God’s name and show people that he is real and not a myth, so when I become successful I don’t have to say it was because of man, I can say it was God, nothing more nothing less.
me: What does God mean to you, your life and your designs?
ZS: Everything I mean everything for example the day I put myself first before God that’s the day when my success will end.
me: When do you graduate from Full Sail University?
ZS: March, 2012.
me: What would be your DREAM job?
ZS: Working at Nike or having my own Company.
(This is a video Smith created to show his love of Nike. Simply titled, “I Love Nike”, this might just be the kind of thing that lands him his dream job with the brand. If you can’t see the video, click this link to watch it \”I Love Nike\” (Video))
ZS: YES! Love it!!
me: Do you think you could take me on the court?
ZS: Yes! Show me my opponent! Lol. 😉
me: I love your confidence! I will remember this when we play!! Ok, what had you rather do: Hang with Friends or Design?
ZS: My life is backwards, hard work now to become successful, and have fun and play later when the mission is complete.
me: What do you think that says about you?
ZS: Victory is my only option Failure is not.
me: OK, another one: Date with Rihanna or Design? Haha, sorry, had to:)
ZS: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Designing! because I know it will eventually pay off.
me: Anything else you would like everyone to know about you?
ZS: As a Designer I just want to impact the world! Give this world hope and show people if I can make it, they can as well. Just believe in God and believe in yourself and anything is possible I guarantee.
God Inspired Designs
I left my meeting with Smith feeling like I had just seen Michael Jordan back when he was at Laney High School. Back before the World knew his name, but the people around him knew he was special.
That’s exactly where Ziare is at this moment. He’s relatively unknown today, but that won’t last. This Jordan piece, which is gaining momentum, could be just like Michael’s game winner at UNC, a launching pad to superstardom.
For the bright eyed Smith, who refuses to put his name on his designs these days because as he says, “If it’s good enough, people will find you,” his desire to be the Michael Jordan of design, could have people one day wanting to be the Ziarekenya Smith of whatever it is they do.
He’s special, no doubt.
I drove home following our meeting, picked up my iPad and opened my Bible application. As I read, I couldn’t help but reflect on how God has led me. How a tweet led to a meeting, which led to a lengthy conversation about the importance of God in both of our lives.
Smith’s Michael Jordan typeface, proof that it truly is a God Inspired Design.
Smith’s Future is DOPE!
Right now Ziare is just focused on finishing school and becoming the best designer that he can be.
After that, well we all shall see.
After multiple meetings and interactions, I can tell you this. The young man, who reads the Bible daily because as he says, “If I have time to do everything else, I have time to read the Bible,” has a Future that is as DOPE as one of his God Inspired Designs.
Remember the name Ziarekenya Smith. He’s about to BLOW UP!
Purchase Your Very Own Jordan Typeface ($7,000)
If you’ve got $7,000 to spare, you too can have your own 36×48 Jordan Typeface hanging on your wall. Until then, I will remain the only person in the WORLD (other than Smith) who has one! 😀
Now that’s DOPE!
More of Smith’s Designs and Photos:
Ziarekenya Smith’s Contact Information:
Note: Special thanks to my bro Ziarekenya Smith for the time and insight! I hope to announce our joint project in the coming weeks! Shhh, its a secret!! Stay tuned! [hint: helping=exclusive gift]
My Comeback Update:
So I made my comeback last week against one of the best ballers in the country, Robert Brown! Then Saturday I got in three games of 1-on-1 against some normal competition and went 3-o. I still have a ways to go to get my wind back, but I AM SO THANKFUL and feel SO BLESSED to be back on the court again!
me vs. MJ…the journey continues! Thanks for following along and helping to spread the word (hint, hint 😉 )!!!
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