Go into every opportunity with an open mind and treat it as a learning opportunity.
As a part of our series about “dreamers who ignored the naysayers and did what others said was impossible”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Apostolos.
Michael Apostolos is the founder and lead creative of Fourline. Starting as a young intern for a local lighting company, he began his career prepping tours in the shop and learning the intricate details of the equipment used for live shows. When not working at the lighting shop, Michael worked as a stagehand with IATSE Local 2, gaining hands on experience in all things production while setting up shows all around Chicago. After a few years working as an intern and perfecting his skills on many lighting consoles, he utilized his experience and talents and began touring the world with a number of artists as their lighting designer. He eventually adopted the role as a production designer and now focuses his work on creative direction and production design. He has quickly made a name for himself in the industry, becoming known for his design abilities and attention to detail in everything he creates. Specifically, he gained attention for his work with Chance The Rapper, landing himself a Parnelli Award nomination for production designer of the year in 2018. Michael has since collaborated on a variety of different projects with artists from all over the world.
Most recently, Michael created the look for Jennifer Hudson’s BET awards, CBS Primetime National Special Honoring the late Congressman John Lewis and her performance at the Democratic National Convention.
He creates set designs for the likes of SNL, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden and others. His work has also been featured on award shows such as Billboard Music Awards, Grammys, ACM, BET and ESPYs. Michael has and continues to create sets for Chance the Rapper, Maren Morris, Billie Eilish, Travis Scott and more.
From producing a nationally televised celebration concert to designing performances on late night tv, he is versatile in every aspect of his work. At Fourline, Michael works closely with clients from the jump, including the initial concept and design phase to the final product. He treats every project as if it’s the largest he’s ever worked on, the goal of leaving those that view his work with a feeling of emotion and an unforgettable experience.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
I am a 25-year-old Chicago native and the idea-person behind creative directions, production and lighting and overall creative design services for some of Hollywood’s biggest and well-loved entertainers.
I took a chance on myself and started working in the industry at age 16. I founded fourline creative, a company which creates set designs for the likes of SNL, Jimmy Fallon, James Corden and others. My work has also been featured on award shows such as Billboard Music Awards, Grammys, ACM, BET and ESPYs. I continue to create sets for Chance the Rapper, Maren Morris, Billie Eilish, Travis Scott and more.
As someone who never earned a college degree, I’m passionate about inspiring my generation by sharing his zest, determination and tenacity to push through for success no matter what.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m working on some holiday specials for the end of the year. I think they will help others by bringing happiness from the holiday spirit into people’s lives. Given the year that 2020 has been, I think everyone needs some happiness in their lives and watching a feel good, music driven Christmas-spirit themed TV special, will bring joy, hope and happiness into the viewers lives.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
We started up as a bunch of freelancers who are passionate and decided to take our passion full-time. I think Fourline stands out from the crowd because of the many collaborators and creative folks who make up the company. We all come from different avenues of the entertainment and creative industry which allows us to have vast knowledge of the many departments that are engaged on projects. We start creating by first getting a deep understanding of the project that we work on. In having a deep understanding of the meaning behind the project, we bring emotion and energy to enhance the experience of the client and the project we are working on.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
When I first started at age 15 and knew that I wanted to get into the industry. I was interning at a local lighting and production company. In my time there and before, I started working and found myself so impressed with the industry that I knew I wanted to pursue entertainment.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? :-)
People, who did not understand the entertainment industry, kept pointing out how large of a task it is to break in. So, I was able to put that aside and keep pushing for my goals.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share the story with us?
There was a culmination of many people who believed in me. They are artists, designers, managers and other industry creatives. I was given the opportunity to succeed and to fail. All these experiences have helped me grow.
When in high school, my parents never put the pressure on me that I had to go to college, graduate and get a traditional job. I always appreciated their openness to let me create freely and follow my dreams.
I made the decision to skip college. My parents were excited for me and wanted to make sure that I made the right decision and they were supportive and wanted to make sure I was happy in my decision.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
1) I lead with my gut instinct.
2) I’m not afraid to take chances..If I’m not afraid of taking chances, In order for others to take chances on you, you need to be willing to take a chance on yourself first!
3) Believe in yourself and have confidence in your abilities.
4)Trust in your ability and have confidence, so others will take a chance on you.
5) Go into every opportunity with an open mind and treat it as a learning opportunity.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
I always love the quote that “Errors are not an option.” I saw this in the movie, Apollo 13. When I go into something difficult, there is no giving up and make the best of it!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams — Don’t be afraid to break the mold and try something new. If you enjoy it, go for it and don’t be afraid to do something different and be someone different.
How Can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you for these great stories. We wish you only continued success!