Walking into his private office space in New York City, you’ll find a mural of album covers he’s worked on, Polaroid photos of his posse and a huge printed photo of Naomi Campbell. He prompts anyone who steps foot into the room to autograph a canvas, which is now signed by musicians, friends and media professionals. His inviting aura makes an interview feel like catching up with an old friend. ONE37pm sat down with him to talk about his breakthrough in the music industry, his favorite album art and more.
This interview has been lightly edited/arranged for clarity.
Where did the nickname Nicky Chulo come from?
Nicky Chulo: Well, Nicky is short for my first name, Nicholas, and Chulo was a name my friends would give me because I was smooth with the ladies. It refers to someone who is confident, attractive or cool. Like papi chulo.
Tell us about your contributions to Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy.
Nicky Chulo: Because it was such a big project, it touched my hands last. I wasn’t involved in a lot of the process when it came to the album shoot because they had a lot of money to blow. There wasn’t really a plan, and the outfit they had for her didn’t fit anymore because she was pregnant, so they went with the checkered outfit instead and it ended up working. So because I’m the art director, I kinda go in and make sure everything works. If we need to add type here, if we need merch, etc. Everything that is involved with the cover of the album visually—vinyl, CDs, you name it. So I came in and did kinda like a TV texture, it’s very subtle, then added her name and Invasion of Privacy in two different fonts.
So what’s been your most exciting project to work on? Was it Cardi’s?
Nicky Chulo: Cardi’s got the most recognition and got me a lot of looks. I even got a whole plaque for it. To date, it’s Sebastian Mikael and working with Jon Bellion, because they’ve been the most super talented but super humble and you don’t feel like you’re on a different tier than them. They don’t make you feel like you’re an outsider. They were very involved and hands-on when it came to working with me and all that good stuff.