In the fall of 2018, our staff at Columns Magazine decided to do a feature story on Myles Gaskin, the senior running back for the University of Washington Huskies. Gaskin was on pace to break practically every school record for rushing—yards, touchdowns, 100-yard games—as well as enter the pantheon of the Pac-12’s best players.
By the end of the season, Gaskin became the second player in NCAA history to rush for 1,200 yards in four consecutive seasons. Nobody else in Pac-12 history had even done that with 1,000 yards, and only nine others had done it with 1,000 in NCAA history.
(I commissioned my brother to draw 8-bit illustrations of Myles, and then I animated them. I will sprinkle some of those throughout this post.)
Here’s a look at where Myles ended up on the list of all-time rushing leaders, from Wiki:
I probably could’ve made some nice portraits of Myles in his uniform, but I never even considered it. My first thought was to style him in nice clothes—everything from elevated streetwear to a suit—in order to show him in a different light. After all, Myles was about to become Husky royalty.
This was logical and comfortable for me, since I tend to only shoot people in regular clothes looking like regular people. But my main inspiration for this project was Peter Yang’s ESPN coverage of Ed Oliver, the defensive tackle for the Houston Cougars (photos here: 1, 2). Peter dressed Ed in a suit and street clothes and had a lot of fun, and I wanted to emulate that approach. (I did a workshop with Peter in the summer and now I constantly steal from him.)
I reached out to Rosin Saez, the style editor the Seattle Met, for advice on someone to hire for the clothes. She put me in touch with Curtis Bright, a stylist in Seattle. We hired Curtis and spent a few weeks exchanging mood boards and ideas, and then checking out Scotch & Soda in Capitol Hill.
Curtis knows how to rock a leather jacket, so we immediately wanted to put Myles in one. Another inspiration: Since my fianceé makes me watch “World of Dance,” I was exposed to Ne-Yo’s hats a lot, and I thought that would work well on Myles.
Myles had recently put his hair into rows, but before the shoot, we hired local barber Colter Thomas to give him a nice lineup. With a nice view of the field.
Look 1: Camo
Look 2: Black patterned suit
To represent how many yards Myles has run, art director Ken Shafer and I decided to incorporate yardsticks into a shot. Set designer and photographer Lela Wulsin put together an amazing wall of yardsticks for us.
Look 3: Leather jacket
Look 4: Red suit
Look 5: Coat with yellow sweater
We headed to the stairs, for a shot that directly echoed what Peter did on his shoot (for the record, I showed Peter my shot and told him that I took it from him!).
In print and online
The whole concept came together with the cover line “Going Out In Style” / headline “Going out in Myles Style.” Design by Ken Shafer.
Here it is on our magazine’s website, followed by a screenshot of the homepage of the University of Washington.
Here’s a cool part of the story: My mom is a reporter for The Everett Herald, and I connected her with Myles’ parents. She wrote a great story about his parents that came out the morning of the Rose Bowl.