For our latest instalment of Going Through the Emotions, Tayler Willson caught up with creative, photographer and self-proclaimed footwear nerd Morgan Weekes. We spoke about well-being, how he’s dealt with mental health issues in the past and why he thinks it’s important to always make time for yourself. What has been your biggest life challenge […]
For our latest instalment of Going Through the Emotions, Tayler Willson caught up with creative, photographer and self-proclaimed footwear nerd Morgan Weekes. We spoke about well-being, how he’s dealt with mental health issues in the past and why he thinks it’s important to always make time for yourself.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
I always find my biggest challenge is trying to cope with my disabilities and issues while leading what is quite a front facing roll in the industry. I’m the touch point in the UK for a lot of brands and stores and I’ve always found it difficult to fit in to what is quite an image-based sector, where people judge you for what you have, what you like or who you know.
When I started out, people didn’t take me seriously. I was stuck in this limbo where I was too young to be considered an OG, but too old to be seen as a youngster which allows some form of cushion when making mistakes or wrong calls. I really had to up my knowledge, put in the work and earn my stripes and with time things improved and people could see I was in this for the long haul.
Even with the above, I still considered myself lucky to be part of a very small generation that lived through the pre-social media Crooked Tongues era. I got to witness moments like the rise of adidas, the fall of the Huarache and growth of sneakers from a healthy-yet-niche hobby, to the huge beast and world-wide phenomenon it is today.
What do you think affects your mental health positively?
I’ve always thrived in the company of friends and family.
So in the past I have zoned out and shut myself away from people. It’s always been the support of friends in the physical realm and those in online communities who have played a big role in getting me through dark times. I also think I’m a sucker for goals achieved and love seeing a task completed or a job well done.
The combination of health issues and finding the correct help can be a tiring process.
What role does creativity play in your well-being?
I think human ability to create in all its forms is one of our most amazing attributes. No matter how skilled you are there will always be something you’ll vibe with more than the next person. That will allow you to put something out into the world that will inspire conversation and connection, no matter how big or small.
I’ve taken on so many hobbies in the last few years I find it hard to find the time or keep track of projects that I’m working on, but I think that’s more down to me having 0 points in the organisation stat.
That being said I’m a big believer of the benefits of making stuff either with your hands, a camera or a computer. It’s important to block out that time in the week for your own progression and enjoyment.
How did you get into trainers? Tell us a bit about you…
It’s a story I’ve told many times, but it started with my mum trusting me with £30 to grab a new pair of school shoes and returning home with a fresh black pair of Nike AF1 Lows. These were actually banned at the time but as I had orchestrated this plan to leave me with no other possible alternatives, I was allowed to wear these as my daily. I believe that was the moment I became infatuated with footwear and the stories that flow around them.
I’ve been collecting now for 13 years and have been a part of the industry for around 10 years, working in stores, events, brands and freelance. I’ve had points where I’ve been absolutely rock bottom and broke having to sell off large parts of my collection to survive, but I’m currently sat at around 600 pairs and have locked down a lot of my most sought-after trainers.
Currently I work for Sneaker Freaker running things here in the UK. In my spare time I’m a photographer, avid collector of toys, figures and anything else I couldn’t afford in my youth. I also try to mentor and assist up and coming creatives who want to work in the footwear industry, but may have gone about it through a similar path as me who may not have that academic background but have a drive and passion to do great things.
What are you reading, watching and listening to at the moment?
I used to read a book every few days but just find it hard to give it the time. TV wise well I’m in a constant spiral of Peep Show, The Office and Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Listening wise, I’ve found Audio books a great way to take in knowledge before bed.
What’s your go to music if you need a boost?
I have very odd taste in Jazz, 80s Fantasy Metal and Hip-Hop, but don’t have much of a connection with what’s current – which makes me feel very old.
What are your favourite foods?
My diet is a running joke between all my friends. I have a few stomach issues which somehow don’t stop me consuming a vast amount of sugar each week. Come summer my freezer is full to the brim with ice lollies which are my real weakness.
On a more serious note, I’ve been experimenting with trying out different diets and challenges. I might ditch meat one day each week, eating more foods that have a positive effect on my body. I’d be all for going vegan in future but just don’t find it very enjoyable currently, so I’m taking baby steps.
Do you like to exercise or meditate at all?
I train four or five times-a-week. It’s a huge part of my life and acts as stress relief for me. I’ve never put too much energy into workout plans or courses, like most of my interests I’ve picked up tips and and advice along the way and crafted it into my own path. The camaraderie and support that my friends who train bring also makes it a highlight of the week especially if a few of us are at the same gym at once.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received in regards to your mental well-being?
Right, so I own a one year old chameleon called Conan. When researching care advice I came across a few articles talking about the health and longevity of these creatures, with some having a lifespan of seven or more years, but this is dependent on its environment, care and happiness.
Chameleons are intelligent creatures but quite anti-social, so you can’t actually keep two together as they fight an invisible war for the dominant position. This scenario and many others can lead to increased stress levels and leaves them more susceptible to illness, ailments and shortens their lifespan.
I found real truth in this in my own life as pressure or stress would always effect my mental health. I would always push back things that would make me happy because I was worried about a deadline, an invoice or something small in reality, but big to me. I now make sure I block out as much time as possible for things I enjoy – if that’s sitting around on a Saturday playing video games or spending an evening painting Warhammer. I need that to get through the week so I’d say treating your hobbies and what you enjoy with respect for what they do for you is a nice bit of advice I wish I new sooner.
How have you changed since 15, and what advice would you give to that person?
That’s a hard one! I try not to play in hindsight. Maybe grabbing some Bitcoin? I think every negative, trial or hardship created what I am today and I think everyone would wish it could of been a little easier or they knew something they didn’t then but if I dwell on that I’ll go crazy!
For now I’m content with the fact people seem to enjoy what I create and care about my views, opinions and insights when it comes to footwear and I’ve managed to help a few people get further in their own careers and hopefully my advice will let them skip past the pitfalls and challenges I’ve faced made and move onto greater things.
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