2 Minutes With ... Ish Traoré, Creative at Wieden+Kennedy NY

On #Project86, Nike x Coral Studios, and the creative lens of lived experiences

Ismaila "Ish" Traoré is a creative visionary and strategic thinker specializing in cultural forecasting, translating themes, experiences and insights from niche groups to broader markets. During his agency tenures, and currently at Wieden+Kennedy, he leverages his insights from working with major brands, artists and influencers pushing the cultural envelope globally to drive awareness and change brand perception among Gen Z and new consumer market segments.

Ish is the co-founder of Coral Studios, a multidisciplinary creative agency and collective with recent projects and collaborations including Nordstrom, Umbro and most notably the highly coveted special release Nike Coral Studios Air Max 95 sneaker. Since 2014, he has been the co-host of "Woody vs. Papi," a monthly podcast on music, gaming and sports culture with over 100 episodes to date, catapulted into the spotlight by the podcast's "Communiversity" episode with Tremaine Emory.

We spent two minutes with Ish to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.


Ish, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Born in Harlem, raised in Florida, now i'm back uptown in NYC.

How you first realized you were creative.

When I was in high school, none of the options for careers sounded realistic. I honestly wanted to be me and get paid for it LOL.

A person you idolized creatively early on.

Nigo, Tinker Hatfield, Pharrell, Kanye West. In no particular order (also, this was 2007).

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

Kinda was before either. I saw the Jimmy Smith Nike Basketball spot, a few years later I saw the Mos Def Jordan commercial where the song "Umi Says" was being played. Honestly changed my life. Although in college, I truly knew it was time to make a change when I would travel home to NYC and it felt more natural than waking up trying play basketball or walk college halls.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

KING KRULE, Badbadnotgood and The Clipse.

A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Any video with Neil deGrasse Tyson talking. He really gets me going creatively. (Saw him on the train one time and he put on shades, he didn't want to be talked to LOL.)

Your favorite fictional character.

Goku (Dragon Ball Z).

Someone or something worth following in social media.

@violadavis. That woman does not disappoint!

How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.

Personally, it validated my laziness of not wanting to be outside or to force myself to go outside and be social. Professionally, it made me sharper, and my POV for a lot of things that weren't always valuable that much more useful in day-to-day work.

One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.

Nothing feels like your first rodeo. Before the credibility before the hype, there was just hope. This project changed my life forever.

A recent project you're proud of.

The brand is small but the message is huge. Impact and doing the right thing is just as cool working with the titans in the industry. Really enjoyed informing NYC about what's actually going on in the restaurant industry.

Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.

Jimmy Smith, Jim Riswold, what's even cooler is being able to tell them that their work inspired me. That was a full circle moment, too.

Someone else's work you admired lately.

Anything Denise O'Bleness does. Worth the Google search.

Your main strength as a creative person.

My insights a lot of times come from lived experiences and not estimates or guesses.

Your biggest weakness.

I'm a "lazy lover," meaning I'm not as attached to an idea as some would be. Even if you know you're 100000 percent right about something, the follow-through is everything. Not everyone is creative and will get it just because you said they should haha.

One thing that always makes you happy

The first and the 15th, and my mother.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Dogs not having a longer stay on earth. One of the dopest animals, and we only get such a short time with each one.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.

Weird question for me. I wouldn't call myself the exception to the rule. But I live in a world where I'm doing what I wouldn't be doing if I wasn't in advertising. Those things have melted into hobbies because I have committed myself to this wonderful journey with the Wieden folks.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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