His mother’s dining room table is his office, but the world is Nickolay Lamm’s audience.
The 26-year-old Greenfield artist and researcher has been building a successful career posting thought-provoking, vividly designed content on the Internet, with his work appearing everywhere from CNN to the BBC, CBS, TheAtlantic.com and Time.
He scored a big hit last summer with his “regular Barbie” doll which — gasp! — actually possessed the body proportions of the average 19-year-old female. That was a digital mirage, but Mr. Lamm has spent much of the past year developing a real doll for sale called Lammily — complete with reusable stickers that mimic freckles, acne, cellulite, grass stains, moles and stretchmarks — and she’s been selling like hotcakes.
Much of Mr. Lamm’s digital work — a vision of New York City 30 years from now, underwater, or comparisons of male body types based on what country they’re from — gets picked up by media websites looking to boost traffic and ignite discussion, not to mention some late-night TV talkers, such as Conan O’Brien.
Mr. Lamm prefers to focus on environmental and cultural issues, relying on feedback, inspiration and design help from his mother, Yelena Lamm, his aunt Ina Lamm and his cousin Emily Lamm, all smart women who seem to have a good grasp of the zeitgeist. Mr. Lamm, who graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 with a degree in marketing, actually makes a good living, but don’t call him the CEO of his own startup, Lammily LLC.
“I’m an artist,” Mr. Lamm said, “plus event planner, email checker, data entry person, graphic designer and pizza delivery driver. My goal isn’t to make a ton of money. I just want to create the most awesome content on the Internet.” - Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“As a digital artist who majored in marketing at the University of Pittsburgh, he comes up with a provocative idea or question, studies it, and then provides Internet aggregators [...] with visual content that they post on their sites. Those images in turn get picked up on media websites, spurring commentary [...] and gets the aggregators a mention.” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette
“I think my main value comes not from my graphic-design skills, but my thinking about an idea that will get media attention — and something that I care about — and executing my vision to get a cool visual.” – Pittsburgh Tribune Review
“I think he’s being responsible — he’s not making anything up here,” says Dr. Doug Harper, a professor specializing in visual sociology at Duquesne University. “He’s finding ways to present information — visual summaries, really. It’s at the immediate level.” – Pittsburgh Tribune Review
People often ask me, “How do you make something go viral?”
I never try to make something viral for the sake of going viral, which is a very ambiguous term anyways. I try to make visuals, which people have never seen before and which offer a commentary on something important. Virality is just a side effect.
I come up with a unique visual idea and work with artists and experts to bring my vision to life.
I do lots of research. With each project, I say something new or elaborate on a subject in a way that’s never been done before. I consult with recognized professionals or use existing data. I direct each project through the whole process, working with talented artists to create flawless visuals.
One of my biggest inspirations is Steve Jobs. I encourage everyone to see the “Secrets of Life,” a short Steve Jobs interview.