Phoenix Fashion Designer Cody Nathaniel Johnson: 100 Creatives

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Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 5. Cody Nathaniel Johnson.

Though Cody Nathaniel Johnson's fashion designs look ultra-modern, his approach is steeped in tradition.

When he was a kid growing up on the Tohono O'odham reservation, Johnson's aunts Ruby Thomas and Dorina Garcia taught him how to hand sew horsehair baskets using a small needle, a thimble, and a single stand of horsehair. Looking back, the 26-year-old designer says the experience "taught me a lot of patience and craftsmanship that I put into my work all the time."

See also: Tempe Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo: 100 Creatives

"My grandmother first taught me how to sew, sewing pillow cases was my first experience with a sewing machine at the age of 8 or 9," the Collins College fashion student says of moving beyond hand sewing with his aunts.

That foundation in craftsmanship has earned Johnson, who's based in Phoenix, recognition. His freshman year at Collins, he applied for Project Runway, got a callback and met with producers, but he didnt end up making it to the next round. The following year, he was named Fashion Designer of the Year for RAW Artist in 2012.

Now he's in the midst of creating a new 16-piece collection. "So far seven of them are done," he says, "but hiding in my closet for no one to see until the big reveal."

While he doesn't yet have plans to show the collection, organizing a debut event is on his to-do list -- between coffee-fueled days full of designing and perfecting his new body of work.

I came to Phoenix with the idea that some day I'll move away from here. Don't get me wrong, I'm a local born and raised Native American from the Tohono O'odham reservation. And been here ever since.

I make art because I feel that my talent should be shared with others. Using my hands and doing what their suppose to do, creating my work is what makes me the most happiest from the beginning to end result. When others seen what I created for the first time, and they like it, it melts my heart.

I'm most productive when I'm in the zone, at home, wearing big comfy clothing, music playing, and working away.

My inspiration wall is full of nothing... I keep everything in my sketch books, 16 and counting. I always have a sketchbook on me, if I can't use it, I'm sketching on my phone and writing notes down on my phone, which I later print out and add to my books. Inside my sketch books I have notes, ideas, sketches, magazine cutouts, self made fabric swatches, art work that someday would be turned into printed fabric. If I pinned everything on my inspirational wall, I'm pretty sure I'd have new wallpaper from floor to ceiling.

I've learned most from books, biographies, world news even local, any type of documentaries and classic movies, then take notes in my inspiration book. TED is one of my favorite apps on my phone I would have to say it's second from my Vogue app.

Good work should always speak for itself. That moment when you stop and something catches your eye, that's the moment when it's speaks for itself. Go walk down First Friday area and you'll see what I mean.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more open minded people that accept the freedom of art in any shape or form.

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres 22. Laura Spalding Best 21. Shawnte Orion 20. Mike Olbinski 19. Christina You-Sun Park 18. Jon Arvizu 17. Anya Melkozernova 16. J.B. Snyder 15. Damon Dering 14. Rebekah Cancino 13. Liz Warren 12. Timothy Brennan 11. Mimi Jardine 10. Rosalind Shipley 9. Nic Wiesinger 8. Kendra Sollars 7. Dan Hull 6. Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

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