Three Degrees of Inspiration: River Jukes-Hudson, Way Wza & Toyin Ojih Odutola


Editor’s Note: This is part 44 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series (previously called “Design Links”). Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the forty-third part in the series, featuring Sid Dueñas, Stephen Serrato & Dante Carlos.

Dante Carlos is inspired by …

River Jukes Hudson

I’m inspired by her purpose and drive to connect people with each other through the medium of design, whether it’s a book, or a series of conversations.

One of the earliest projects I connected with was a book called Blind Eye, where she collected the mugshots, rap sheets, and last statements of prisoners on death row in Texas, around the time GW Bush was governor. Through straightforward editing, she used the book to humanize and memorialize each individual, projecting and idea beyond cold statistics we’re presented with usually.

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She recently started a new Instagram account called Today’s Transmission, where she posts black and white graphics or compositions she’s created recently. Sometimes contained, sometimes random, always abstract, I like how she uses these self-imposed limitations to enable us to focus on specific ideas, moods, or moves.

River Jukes-Hudson is inspired by …

Way Wza

Every now and then you meet a messenger, someone with a true sense of self who shows the world what’s possible. Way Wza leads by example. Moving through life with style and a smile, she turns convention on end. Everyone has the potential to defy expectation; the work of Way Wza is proof.


I encountered this piece at the LA Art Book Fair. A collection/remix of names sourced from album covers of “musical odyssey goddesses.” What stood out was the unexpected mixture of methods and materials: paper, board, particles, letterform, textured, punched, coiled, printed—rhythm wrapped in orange fluorescence. A tribute indeed.


“Dances and rituals of indigenous tribes throughout America utilizing the cosmos and natural architecture to form a language of movement in places of worship.” I see real sensitivity, connections, time passing but also line quality, light, shadow, texture, structure—a VOICE. Anyone who understands the challenge of complex composition will appreciate this.

Way Wza is inspired by …

Toyin Ojih Odutola

She inspires me because I can sense the masterful grasp of the fundamentals of design, understanding of art history and personal voice and vision inherent in these new works.


Her new solo show at the Museum of Africa Diaspora (MOAD) on display til Apr 02, 2017 in San Francisco brought tears to my eyes. Her drawings start off with a pencil drawing, then aligned and layered with mediums like charcoal, pastel, and ball point ink. The way designers and artists work are increasingly blurred these days; her new work conveys a deep understanding of typography with the fictionalized aristocratic family monogram she designed, the painted stenciled patterns often tiled in formation providing an emotive historical backdrop for her portraits, the negative and positive ease on the lines and shapes of fabric on her subjects, and of course the architecture that meditates on the expression and constructs of wealth.


Toyin has just commenced a series of portraits called “The Treatment”. In her own words, she ‘…had never before committed so tightly to a series aesthetic before and never drew so many drawings solely to be consumed as a body, collectively — as opposed to an individual portrait, of which much of my work comprises’. I am thrilled as always to see her expand in the shared language of design that we all inherently possess and understand intuitively. Design and Art, in its collective comm-unity can bring about profound awareness and empowerment.

Tune in next time to see more inspiration!