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RAWard Finalist: Cody Nathaniel Johnson

Cody Nathaniel JohnsonCody Nathaniel Johnson is a 24-year-old Native American from the Tohono O’odham tribe. He grew up in Phoenix with his single mother and three sisters, who remain a constant influence in his life.

“I love the fact that my younger sister who’s 10 years old wants to get into fashion too, but I always tell her, ‘It’s harder than you think, it’s not always fun. Making cute dresses is the fun part, but there’s always the business side you need to learn, fashion is all about business,'” Johnson says.

“…I can see she’s learning from what I’m doing at home. I always keep her pictures she draws, paints etc. and someday I’ll use them as prints for my garments.”

At a young age, Johnson’s grandmother taught him to sew, but it wasn’t until high school that he realized he wanted to get into fashion design.

Johnson is now a sophomore in college and was recently named the Fashion Designer of the Year by RAW Artists Phoenix. He will go on to compete nationally against other RAW fashion designers from across the country.

Cody Nathaniel Johnson spoke to The Spec about his goals in the fashion world and what music he’s listening to along the way, read what he has to say below…

TS: At what age did you know you wanted to get involved in fashion design?
CJ: In high school back in 2003 where I first starting becoming a fan of going onto fashion websites, fashion blogs, and fashion magazine sites. Seeing fashion show videos, and reading Vogue magazine, that’s when I starting drawing my own sketches of garments of what I’d like to wear and what I’d like to make some day.

My grandmother was always a sewer, sewing quilts and such. I starting using a sewing machine at a young age, making pillow cases for myself, her and others, that my grandmother taught me how to make. After that, I never really got into sewing again, but later on in my teen years is when I first got my sewing machine. I’d make wired outfits thinking I knew what I was doing, but didn’t know anything about pattern making, draping, and all the different types of sewing styles. In high school I somewhat knew what I wanted to do after high school– a hair stylist, makeup artist or fashion designer. So I went for fashion!

TS: Upcoming projects? Where do you want to go from here?
CJ: Well hopefully I win RAW nationals, that would be amazing! As of right now, I continue to go to fashion school at Collins College in Phoenix. Being that I’m only a Sophomore in school, I still have a long way to go until graduation, December 2014. During school I’m always busy because we’re terms and not semesters, so we have three months to pass four classes in 10 weeks. So you can see I’m always busy with school, but on the side I do work on new stuff, sketching, patterning making, or draping, then sewing while having free time. I’m starting an avant garde menswear line, that should be coming up soon!

TS: What is your dream project?
CJ: To work with Vogue, of course! For me, a young designer, I want to do anything and everything I possibly can to get into Vogue, which is every fashion person’s bible (fashion bible)! To me, being seeing in Vogue is doing it big!

TS: Who do you look up to in the fashion world?
CJ: Wow, this is such a hard question for me. I look up to everyone who is in fashion, even from the beginning, past, and present, hair, makeup, PR, buyers, bloggers, photographers, seamsters, and so on. Basically because that’s where I want to be a part of, is the fashion world.

If they made it in the fashion world, why can’t I with my talent I have.

TS: Your first (or favorite) concert?
CJ: My first ever concert was Avril Lavigne, back in 2003 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. I was a super fan back when she first started her U.S. singing career. I remember I saved up during my eighth grade year and asked my mother to go buy my tickets while I was in school. Then starting freshmen year of high school, I went to go see her, screamed like a little girl when the concert began because I was a super fan at the time.

TS: If you could hang out backstage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
CJ: The Beatles, of course! John, Paul, George, and Ringo!

TS: Favorite song at the moment?
CJ: “Little Lion Man” – Mumford and Sons.

TS: Favorite musician at the moment?
CJ: Mumford and Sons!! Every time I hear their songs come on the radio or online, I turn it up as loud as I can! If only they came to Arizona for a concert, I’d totally be there!

TS: Musician or type of music you like to listen to, if any, while you do your creative work?
CJ: I listen to anything and everything, after I get tired of the radio stations playing the same thing hour after hour. I go on to online radio or my playlist on iHeart Radio, Pandora, or Spotify. Anything from country, today’s hits, oldies, R&B, blue, folk, Spanish, soft chill, really anything. If I like what I’m listening to, either I save or write it down so I can hear more from that artist.

TS: Preferred music-listening device: vinyl, radio, cassette, CD or digital (MP3s)?
CJ: As of right now, mostly digital: iHeart Radio, Pandora and Spotify.

TS: All-time favorite or go-to musician?
CJ: Even though I did not grow up in the era of the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s music, I still to this day, love hearing classics, without Auto-Tune, no beat masters, stuff like that. Just straight on voice that can really sing!


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