everyday struggle

A debate-style daily morning show where outspoken hosts DJ Akademiks and (then host) Joe Budden tackle hot topics in hip-hop and pop culture, moderated by Nadeska Alexis.


Senior Art & Scenic Director


This was Complex’s first daily show in the new, premium in-house studio and a one-month design time. This was a show about contrasts – different personalities, conflicting views, a morning show without the typical “good morning” vibe. It needed to have a familiar consistency that would allow the show to easily integrate into viewers’ morning routines, and simultaneously maintain an authentic voice with minimal frills.


Inspired by the hosts’ opposing personalities, the frequent tension and confrontations, we used the visual metaphor of boxing as the theme for the set design.  Representing NYC was an equally strong visual motif for background graphics.

The studio adopted the look of a waiting room in a boxing ring, with visual cues such as boxing gloves under the table, a water cooler, and a punching bag. The vintage style of old-school street posters, gritty graphics, and cheap printing presses prompted the creation of our wheatpaste walls.

In order to immediately stand out from other primarily red-based hip-hop shows, we selected royal blue as the brand’s leading color. Yellow became the secondary color to keep a connection to Complex News.

Challenge: Adding dimension and versatility to a small set with a fast-paced schedule

To prevent the set from feeling flat and enhance it beyond the monitor walls, we built wheatpaste walls and other similarly stylized elements. The imperfections and heavy texture of the handmade pieces added to the environment’s realness. We also designed the walls to function in place of a step-and-repeat for quick promo shoots. Finally, the wheatpaste walls provided a creative solution for sponsors to seamlessly integrate branding onto the set.

Challenge: Defining the number of scenes needed during pre-production without wasting resources

Knowing that some viewers might not have time to watch a full episode, we designed a pop-up menu to dissuade them from navigating away from the show. The menu displays the a list of daily topics, and topics are highlighted as they become the current subject. With this assistance in navigation, we’re able to maintain viewers that want to jump directly to a section of interest.

Minimal set for field shoots

Complexcon 2018 – Long Beach


“Everyday Struggle” premiered on April 10, 2017, and airs Monday-Thursday at 11 AM EST. As the show became established with a committed fanbase, many of the stronger visual boxing theme cues were removed. At the show’s height, it averaged over a million views per episode.