Transcript of Sushi Fridays EP014: Drew Thompson, Art Director, Designer, Brand Owner

This was transcribed using AI. Please pardon any typos or errors.

Andrea: [00:00:00] Sometimes I feel like there's an age limit for, for people being welcomed into design roles. Like, what is your thought on that? 

Drew: I'm so glad you brought that up because I feel like things are rapidly changing. So she, with that, I've seen, um, clients go directly to creatives versus going to the agencies themselves.

And I'm so glad that it happened because. Back in the day when I started, I used to just do spec work, which is like, I'll take a Nike creative or I'll put my spin on something and I'll still do it nowadays, but I'll just create like spec work and put it in my portfolio to show like, potentially this is what I can do for an agency.

Andrea: Welcome, welcome to Sushi Fridays, the podcast about style, culture, creative, and biz from the POV of diverse creatives and entrepreneurs. Today's feature is about navigating the creative industry as an art director. designer, brand owner, and creative. I am your host, Andrea Pascual. Welcome [00:01:00] to episode 14. In this episode, Drew Thompson shares his creative journey as an art director, designer, and owner of his apparel brand, New York Posse.

Like most of my Sushi Fridays guests so far, I connected with Drew on LinkedIn, and I knew we had a ton in common as creative peers, both of us designers, As well, fellow brand owners. Now, before we get into this conversation with Drew, I want to first clarify what it means to be a working art director or designer.

There are different ways to be employed. You can work in house for a brand. You can work at a creative agency or studio and work on different client, and creative projects. You can also be a freelancer who gets contracted out by creative agencies or studios to work on brand projects. Or you can work as a solo freelancer where you seek out your own [00:02:00] clients.

Unlike me, Drew is a creative who has agency experience. And like me, we are both millennials and it's been years since we finished design school. I wanted to know how Drew navigated it. How? The industry has changed and what he's learned since he first started. Without further ado, I introduced to you, Andrew Thompson, art director, designer, illustrator, and brand owner of New York Posse.

Drew: My name is Andrew Thompson. I am a ACD or senior art director in the advertising lane of creativity. I also run my own apparel brand called New York Posse. And I am a husband to my wonderful wife named Jasmine. And I'm currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Andrea: Thank you for the intro. What inspired you to get into design?[00:03:00] 

Drew: Uh, I think early on, I used to watch a lot of the eighties cartoons. What inspired me really was, uh, just the aesthetic of it growing up. I was really drawn to like the cartoons, just like the, the movement. Um, my favorite cartoon growing up was like Ninja Turtles, Transformers, um, Silver Hawks. The Simpsons.

So I just like the, just the funny things that you'd see on the, on the TV screen. So that's really what drew me to design and, and, um, creativity, you know, there was a program, uh, in at RIT Rochester Institute of Technology, and they had this program called new media design. And then when they were reviewing my portfolio, I'm so grateful.

One of the reviewers was like, Hey man, you don't want to just do graphic design. You want to do new media design and new media definitely incorporated more of the cutting edge technology. It incorporated like animation, definitely interactive. They also had like, um, illustration versus just like graphic design is just like [00:04:00] typography by, so I still did take a graphic design courses, but you know, new media definitely was like a, a step up from that, you know?

Andrea: For people who aren't familiar with that role, what exactly does an art director do?

Drew: Well, it's, you know, what I find out, especially with art direction is ever changing. So basically what an art director does is they basically are the lead as far as like giving direction for the agency and what the look and the feel and the tone of the campaign should be.

But it also like you work with outside vendors as far as like sourcing, like different production studios or artists or illustrators. So it's like, I find it to be very challenging, but it's also cool at the same time, you know, 

Andrea: What kind of skills does an art director need to have to be successful at their job?

Drew: Ooh, that, that's another topic. What I would definitely say, like, um, a diverse, um, creative palette. So you gotta know like different styles and mediums, uh, I would say keep up on trends. [00:05:00] You know, I, I think the AI is the newest thing now. So you kind of have to be keeping up on the new, the new creative technologies that are going on.

Um, definitely being synced with like pop culture. 

Andrea: I've, I've taken a look at your work and it spans back a lot of years. So you may be considered an OG to creatives who are just trying to get into the design and creative game. Looking back and from your own personal experience, how different do you think the creative 2024 now versus when you entered.

Drew: I would say it's definitely different, um, versus back then, back then you could be good in one thing and you could basically ride that throughout your career. But now it seems like we're in, in a creator economy. So you kind of have to be good in illustration, design, art direction, um, technology trends.

You have to have your own thing popping [00:06:00] off at the same time too. Back in the day, I remember my creative directors, they didn't even have websites. I'm like, That was really strange for me because I, me coming into the industry, I'm like, okay, I got to look up to these people, like, you know, they're, they're above me.

But if you look at it on LinkedIn and even on social, like creative directors have to have their own thing really going on on the outside of their career, you know, to really make people like, wow, this person's like really dope, you know? 

Andrea: Do you think, I don't want to say the word threatening, but when an art director is looking or creative director or art directors is looking to add someone to their team like do they consider that about the candidate how?

Involved they are in other things. Does that work against them or for them? 

Drew: You know what me personally? I cherish people that are able to do stuff outside the Advertising industry that just shows me personally that They are self motivated and, and they bring a lot to the [00:07:00] table versus someone's like, Oh, I just went to ad school and this is my book.

I really kind of lean towards people that really are self motivated and go getters. Especially nowadays, like things to the table that are for me, like, okay, dope. They can do design, but are they tapped into the culture? At the same time, cause I've been in meetings where they're like, there's no granted, like, yes, you can be a great, awesome designer, but if you have no idea how to apply it to like the campaign, like what's the point.

So I really, me personally, I love books that are like multifaceted and diverse. You know, I think it gives them a leg up for sure. Even clients too. Like if you look at, even in the meetings, like you don't want a person that's just like, you want people that bring different things to the table versus it's being monolithic, like.

Okay. They're a designer or they're a good copywriter, but is there some kind of nuance that they can bring to the conversation? It's like, Oh wow. I never even. And most of the times that the dope campaigns you see nowadays, it's like there's these little things [00:08:00] that someone throws into me like, Oh, what about this?

Or what about that? That makes it pop or really go far. You know? So I think it's good to be multi. I don't feel like it's a threat to me personally. You know, in fact, I can learn something from them. 

Andrea: Aside from their body of work, what kind of other traits does a creative need to have to get ahead in the creative industry?

Drew: Uh, I would, I would definitely say self starter, um, friendly, um, be able to tap into different industries. Cause one thing that I would definitely say to help me is just like, I don't know, I just don't know people, not only in the advertising industry, but I know people in the entertainment industry. I know people in the sports industry.

I know people in, um, different facets of life. So knowing different people, and in fact, I've gotten gigs from a lot of my gigs come from outside the industry to like side hustles. 

Andrea: What would you say is the best way for a creative to promote? Themselves and their work to actually get clients or to get different [00:09:00] gigs.

How do they go about doing that? 

Drew: I would, I would say like the Gen Z definitely. Um, I'm not personally on Tik TOK, but I plan to get on there. I've been over there for a minute. Uh, one platform I definitely see that's like on the up and up is like LinkedIn. You'd be surprised, like. Different people that have hit me up from different industries.

Like, yo, I seen your illustration on LinkedIn and I want to hire you for this, or I seen your stuff on LinkedIn. Like, I feel like LinkedIn is like an unhidden gem for a lot of creatives. And maybe they might post their stuff on, um, IG, but definitely LinkedIn helps you Connect to people that actually have real budgets to spend, you know, on, um, actually people like, okay, I seen your work and I'm willing to invest in you to do something with you, you know?

So I definitely say LinkedIn has been a gold mine for me. 

Andrea: I love how you said LinkedIn because most of my Sushi Fridays guests from last year. I met them on LinkedIn. I met you on LinkedIn. Like the creative [00:10:00] It's such a I didn't even know that we existed in there until I started becoming active. So i'm so happy that I'm, so happy that we're on linkedin.

I agree with the real budget thing ig is not popping You can get dms the dms and ig are not serious. LinkedIn is like legit businesses with money to spend.

Drew: Yeah. You know, you know, the funny thing is me and it's becoming a trend. Now I see a couple of my friends have been saying that they'll get hit up by quote, unquote, fake companies.

So now I see a lot of the you're right. You'll get business on there, but there's a lot of like scammer people because they know it's a professional pose. It's like a professional company, like, Hey, I want to work with you. And you're like, Oh gosh, this is a scam. So you had to look out for that too. But I feel like LinkedIn is really good for chief creatives just to.

Get their voice out there. You never know who's looking on there, you know, and sometimes these people could become your coworkers or even your creative directors. 

Andrea: Exactly. You've worked with a [00:11:00] multitude of brands, including Nike, Pepsi, Snapchat, ESPN, just to name a few. What was your all time favorite project that you've ever worked on and why?

Drew: Uh, I would definitely say, and I know this is cliche, like Nike, why is it your favorite product? I would say Nike because I was just coming into the industry. And, um, shout out to RGA is my first, um, actually real agency that I work with. And they actually put me on a project with, for Nike ID and a lot of other clients like SCJ, Avaya this back in the day in 2005 and six, but definitely like Nike, because it helped me like, Oh, I did, I was a good designer, but I didn't know the level of craft and thinking that went into actually doing a campaign.

So I would say that was like a really good, um, Uh, not barometer, but like a really good litmus test. I'm like, this is the level up here. I'm here, but so I need to graze myself to this level. So it was really good to like get involved and get a campaign. Cause I was [00:12:00] very young. They didn't have to put me on that, you know?

So it was good to get that opportunity. And I know a lot of creatives, um, she might feel like they don't, the first two, three years, if they don't get a solid. Client list. It's really hard to sell yourself. Like nowadays, if you look on a LinkedIn, they're like, must have this, must have this, must have this.

So I was really blessed to get on early on, you know? Yeah, 

Andrea: I do see that actually. It's like five to 10 years agency experience, ex Nike, ex Meta, ex Google. Like I see that 

Drew: all the time, you know, and, and, and, and, you know, a person could be really talented and it's just like, I would say that either it's the luck of the draw or.

Sometimes if you don't land in those type of places early on in your career, it's, it's hard to, cause then again, you're pitching your book against other people who've been there and it's just like, you can be super nice, but the recruiter is like, well, they have this and this, this client in the book, you don't have that.

But in order for them to take a risk on you, they got to have at least one or two of those [00:13:00] in your book, you know? 

Andrea: When you're working with these big clients, um, can you walk us through what the process is to create a campaign? And like, as well, I'm curious about how collaborative it is from like the top of people involved to the junior production designers, if they're part of the project.

Drew: You're getting the brief and you're ideating either in Google slides or, um, In a notepad and you come up with ideas, usually in the smaller agencies, it's a more collaborative. So you'll have the account director, you'll have you as a art director, the writer, the strategist, and maybe you might have a creative director overseeing these ideas and what you bring to the table.

So it, it varies this, I would say the smaller agencies, multiple people are involved in the larger agencies. They might have two or three teams attack a brief and then pitch [00:14:00] ideas, you know, and to present to the creative director. 

Andrea: Would the creative director take the best ideas and then pitch to the client?

Drew: You know what, even to this day, that's like the most trickiest question. Cause sometimes it can be an ego thing. I would say half and half, like sometimes like if they know like, are this idea is solid that it does like no ego involved. We really got to win this. Yeah. Still bring the best ideas to the table.

If there's a lot of time and there's a lot of. Bureaucracy and BS, then sometimes the best ideas, me personally, I feel like 75 percent of the best ideas never get seen in the, either through ego, through, um, politics or, um, people not willing to take a chance in that idea. So it, it varies, you know, it's a shame, like, damn, like, why wouldn't you let this thing roll through?

And it's just like, why was that killed back in the deck? And it's like, why wouldn't you even present it to give it a chance? I rather you present it to get a chance versus. Not [00:15:00] even showing it. I feel like the best work never gets seen. Just my opinion. Wow. Hot take. Hot take. Yeah. Yeah. 

Andrea: What was your biggest challenge working in the creative industry so far?

Drew: I know for a lot of creatives, especially now, it's like unemployment and downtime. So sometimes you're like, man, I got a huge buffer time between my freelance into this freelance. What can I do in the meantime? And then, um, I would say that and being in the right position. Cause a lot of times it's not really about your talent.

It's being in the right place at the right time on the right brief with the right agency. Cause I've been in, in the slumps and I would be totally honest. I've been in slumps where like, dang, I got to get onto this agency to make myself really go. So it's like, damn, I, I know I'm pretty good, but it's just like, I'm not at the right place.

And then sometimes I've been fortunate and blessed to be at the right place where things are just clicking. Um, they're using my skillset. To the best of their ability. And it's just, things are just rolling. So a challenge is [00:16:00] usually like either being at the wrong place or having that downtime. You're like, you know, it's usually doing that town time.

I'll, I'll just learn new skills or something, but I say downtime for creative can be like the toughest thing. Cause it's like a guessing game is like things get in your head. Like, am I talented enough? Hiring people calling, but, and then sometimes like everybody's hitting you up. You're like, you know, it's all sun, uh, sunshine and roses.

So it's like, I would say the downtime is like, it's kind of this, the, the most challenging thing of, of, for being a creative, you know, downtime. Yeah, 

Andrea: I agree. And I, I, it, it's so hard because you start questioning your abilities and your talents. You're like, nobody's hitting me up. What is going on right now?

Drew: Right. 

Andrea: So I know you touched on AI a little bit um But i'm curious to know your opinion on the role of AI in design So for example, uh, I think a couple weeks ago. I was on threads I don't [00:17:00] know if you're active on threads, but I saw I saw a designer post something about some magazine saying how she was looking through the magazine and then the illustrations were Made in mid journey.

I, I really wanted to save that. What is your, what is your feeling on the use of AI and AI generated imagery in any sort of creative, 

Drew: uh, to me personally, it's, it's, there's no stopping it. Uh, if you have a style that can be easily manipulated or, um, if you're, let me put it, put it like this. If you, if you have a, if you're an artist and you have a style that can be manipulated by the computer.

Either you move or, or, or you're going to not to say die is, is, is, is either, or because it's, it's coming where it's, it's the inevitable. Like you have to have a style that's so unique where a computer can't manipulate. It's like, okay, I can have a career in this. I would [00:18:00] even say for like 3d artists, illustrators and stuff like that.

It's like, I would never go to me personally. I would not go to school for that because. If you look at runway, if you look at, I think you mentioned mid journey, like that stuff. If you're a skilled enough artist, you can use that as a reference and either trace over that reference or manipulate it to make it look just as good as a person drawing.

I it's funny because some people are like, well, it's unethical. We personally, I don't think it's unethical because people have to put, um, what do you call it? Have to feed their families. So people are going to use that to feed their families. Who am I to say that it's unethical, but I, it is, it is here.

There's nothing that you can do to stop it. Good or bad. It's, it's here to stay. 

Andrea: Last year I did, um, uh, an experiment using mid journey and I was trying to do like, um, Tiffany and Nike collab, like my take on it and. It blew up on LinkedIn, but then the conversation popped up like, Ooh, is that [00:19:00] ethical? And that's some cool stuff that you did.

But, but the thing is, I was just experimenting cause I wasn't really using it to make money. I was just kind of trying to see how do I use this new technology? 

Drew: So, well, the funny thing is, let me give you a scenario, right? So five years ago, six years ago, I used to use After Effects. It's a known trick, right?

To make my pixel art and stuff. And people used to, this is just like for animation purpose. And people like, well, you're not doing it by hand. And da, da, da, da, da. How do you know I'm not doing it by hand? Like it can either be the machine or it can be pixel by pixel. And those same people now, I noticed that there's certain people that are now involved in the AI, uh, conversations two years prior.

They were like bashing it. Now they're like, damn, I need to learn. I need to take a course immediately. 

Andrea: Yeah, you're right. You're right about that. And just as a side note, I've seen a lot of AI jobs pop off in the past couple of months.

Drew: [00:20:00] Yeah. I mean, well, it does create a lane for like, The Gen Z, even for us as I'm a millennial, but for me, it creates, like, if I have that skill set, there's something else I can use to provide an income for my career.

So if I know it, what's the harm in using it? 

Andrea: What are the key things, um, a designer, a new grad or an aspiring designer slash art director needs to have in their portfolio slash book before applying to an agency or looking for a job? 

Drew: I would say process. Uh, they, I don't know why I, I mean, granted people like to see finished work, but if there's a section of portfolio, if you show you like your thinking and process, cause even when I interview now for senior AD or ACD level roles, like people asking, I want to know your process.

They'll see my portfolio, but I do have a section of like, um, scrap and stuff. Like people want to see like the, the, just like who you are as a person, how do you get from like A [00:21:00] to B versus just showing polished work. So it might not be like, Oh, you needed to have it in there, but. For me personally, I like to see that especially if I'm interviewing a junior creative, like how does this person think?

Like, what's their, you know, process, even if it's just like a notepad of just like sketches or ideas, just like process, you know, I think that's missing in a lot of books. People just usually show the finished product, but like. How, how are you? Are I like to see ideas, you know, and thinking behind ideas, you know.

Andrea: Can someone get into the creative industry at any age?

Only because I, I feel like I'm not a Gen Z. Um, but I applied to a role last year and. I felt like they were trying to say I was too junior. You guys realized when I was in school, it was 20 years ago. Like I'm a millennial, but I've, I haven't, I haven't worked in agency or anything. So it's just doing my own thing.

So sometimes I feel like there's an [00:22:00] age limit for, for people being welcomed into design roles. Like, what is your thought on that? 

Drew: I'm so glad you brought that up because I feel like things are rapidly changing. Especially with that, I've seen, um, clients go directly to creatives versus. Going to the agencies themselves.

And I'm so glad that it happened because back in the day, when I started, I used to just do spec work, which is like, I'll take a Nike creative or I'll put my spin on something and I'll still do it nowadays, but I'll just create like spec work and put it in my portfolio to show like potentially. This is what I can do for an agency, but I'm so glad you brought that up because I feel like that's one of the barriers that hinders a lot of people is that the people that are in this ECD level creative director level, they feel like, well, it was hard for me to get in.

So I'm going to make every lane for these younger people to get in. I feel like essentially now. If you DM these clients directly, I feel like you can pop off with them by yourself and then come back and loop [00:23:00] back. Cause those same agencies were like, shoot, I've seen your work for, um, Mountain Dew, I want to hire you as a, as an art director.

Like there's so many, and then I'm glad that there are proactive and progressive creative directors who actually think that way versus like. You got to go to ad school or, um, portfolio school, because I think they're missing on a lot of dope people, but it's, it's changing quickly because the barrier for entry, especially with mid journey and runway, you can create stuff on your own, upload it on YouTube and you'll get seen like people will pick you up.

Definitely. You know, well, let me just elaborate that sometimes when I interview like recently for some, some, some roles, I'm not even going to name the, the, the client or the, or the agency, but they've actually said to me, yo, I've seen your work before. On LinkedIn or Instagram. Like I've, I've seen your work, small world.

I follow you. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh. So I think now it's like, it's like 50 fifties. Yes. You need to have a good book, but there's ways around, like, if you're clever enough and smart enough, and if you could go viral enough that you can. Go around those type of like [00:24:00] barriers, you know, that's some good, 

Andrea: That's some good insight. So do you recommend that creatives be sharing their work? 

Drew: Every second. I would say every, every, any, any platform, any, any platform at least two to three times a day, put your stuff out there because it's like, especially with a lot of people being out of work, it's like, who's ever on the top of the algorithm gets seen and gets hit up first.

Like for instance, I, Uh, what, what state is it today? Like the seventh, I just posted a three second, uh, stone cold, Steve Austin, um, thing on my LinkedIn. And like two people hit me up, like, yo, I've seen this. Are you available? Like you gotta, and I'm trying to get better with it, but the more you can post and the more you can get involved, even if you're commenting on some, somebody else's work or someone gets hired, you're like, Hey, shout out to you.

I do this. Like the more, the better, you know, it's only going to increase your chances for, for you having a. A great career, you know. [00:25:00] 

Andrea: I want to throw it back to working with a team and working for clients. Um, okay. So fake project, and let's say the client is Nike. How important is having a diverse team, especially when working on a project that is catered.

To people 

Drew: like them. Oh yeah. Especially when I started my career back in 2006, 2005, like it wasn't, it was like maybe 50, 50. Now I would say it's like 85 percent of the time clients are looking in these meetings and observing who's in there. And granted, yes, you can be a general market agency, but it's super important that you have diversity because I've been on projects where the client has pulled me personally inside.

It was like, yo. We are about to ditch y'all if you weren't in the meeting, because they were like, Hey, we're doing something that's, um, catered towards the African American or Asian or Hispanic market, or even if it's a, [00:26:00] uh, a multi diverse audience and clients are like, yo, you do not get us. And they'll be like, Hey, Can you get back to us?

Like say for instance, they might be like, can you get back to a list? We want to use this influencer or artist, music artist for per se, right? Or this basketball player, or this hockey player, whoever. Can you just give, give us a list of 20 candidates you have for that and put it in the deck. And then sometimes they'll come right back to like, we, and they actually put the notes in the deck.

Like, we can just tell you guys do not have a sense, dah, dah, dah. We want this X, Y, Z person in the meeting or else. It's super important. I cannot emphasize that enough. Like they've agencies have gotten away with it for so long. But now, as you there's a lot of Gen Z people in these meetings and they could tell right off the jump if you, if you get it or you don't, and work could look dope.

Like, Oh, this works looks dope. But if you're not, Hitting on, um, what they're asking for. They're going to be like, yo, [00:27:00] it looks bad. Like it looks really bad sometimes. Like I've been on the client side and then I've been on agency side. You can just tell the awkwardness. Like you gotta have people that from diversity, well, diverse audiences in there, cause it's like, And granted to, like, I've been on, uh, at agencies where it's like, um, uh, how would I describe it?

Like monolithic, whether it's like all black or white, you have to have a wide range of people from different genders, sexuality, you have to have diversity. It's really important. Pitching and selling your ideas. 

Andrea: Speaking to Drew, I'm optimistic about finding opportunity in the creative industry as a brand and graphic designer, especially since these days, technology plays a big part in our exposure.

It truly is a different time now since we have the tools to become visible and share our work way more than back in the day. 2000s when I was still studying [00:28:00] advertising and graphic design. At the same time, I also agree that we do have to be great at a handful of things as creatives to be employable.

Not only do we need to have our pulse on the culture, our skills are ever changing and ever stacking, and If you go back two episodes and listen to episode 12, creative Aimé López says the same thing. It's challenging because Can you name another industry where one has to be this well rounded and skill stacked?

I will wait. I will wait. I challenge you. On the topic of LinkedIn, I want to point out that that I use LinkedIn as my main platform for brand and graphic design, as well as to share my founder stories for Andrea Pascual, as well as to share about Sushi Fridays, the podcast. And as you heard from Drew, it really is a gem.

[00:29:00] I agree. You never know who's watching. And from personal experience, it's not as saturated as IG or TikTok. In this next part of our conversation we discuss New York Posse, Drew's apparel brand, and here's why I'm so excited for this. Our love for fashion runs parallel. I too have my own brand and everything I learned about fashion I learned at school at FIT in New York.

Let's listen in and pick up gems from Drew's experience as owner of New York Posse. What is New York Posse 

Drew: all about? Oh, New York Posse. Well, this is the brand that me and my wife started in. 2023. And it's all about the diversity and moving toward a common goal. So back in the day, New Yorkers used to always be about like cliques or groups or people doing things together.

So I just thought it'd be great to like bring that back. So. The brand is really all about [00:30:00] nostalgia, but in a cool updated version of that for New York, you know, he will always say, I miss the old New York. So this is just me just bringing that back. I love that 

Andrea: the old New York, can you let our listeners know a little bit more about your background and how you're connected to New York?

Drew: So, yeah, I grew up in the Westchester County white plains Greenberg Yonkers area, and I've been living there my whole life. You know, it's just outside of the Bronx. So maybe like 15, 20 minutes, but I've been in the city. So basically I've lived in New York most of my life, you know, and right now I reside in Atlanta, but definitely born and raised in New York.

Andrea: So is New York posse, do you define it as a streetwear brand? 

Drew: You know, a lot of people have asked me that, but it's, it's a movement or, you know, I wouldn't really call it movement. So I do art and I do, um, Different things. It's a brand for right now, as far as like streetwear, but I'm definitely branching into more and more things.

You know, um, people have asked me to apply the brand to different like [00:31:00] aesthetics, so it's a, it's a streetwear brand from now, but we're expanding to bags and hats and someone asked me actually to do a furniture piece too. So it's like, Oh, that's cool. Your posse table. So we're morphing into different things right now.


Andrea: dope. So you said the old New York, who defines the old New York for you or the old New York that you know, or that New York posse represents, like who are those 

Drew: people? Well, those people, I would say like the old craftsmen, like it could be whether it's like hip hop, sports, uh, culture, people that were like very instrumental in the culture in the past.

So I'd say like people that cross over. So. Definitely like people like Mike Tyson would be a person like, Oh, that's a person that could definitely be in the New York posse. Um, Daryl strawberry from the, from the New York Mets, like people that transcend sports and culture. And it's like the morphing of the two.

They're multi talented, like, uh, who'd be part of the New York posse. You can be [00:32:00] part of New York posse. I don't know if you will. I just do multi they're multi talented and they're just, they're just all about like living the life of like New York. Cause you know, back in the day, New York was all about the.

The, the nightlife and, and the spotlight and like Madison square garden and things of that nature. So definitely like people that are exciting, um, that people that move the, move the needle, move the culture. I would say that that's part of New York posse. You know, I've had people like, Oh, I think a few like New York giants players, Nicki Minaj, um, fabulous.

A lot of people like we are my stuff, you know, a lot of trendsetters. So definitely trendsetters, I would say would be part of the New York posse. You know, 

Andrea: I think a lot of our Sushi Fridays listeners, especially myself, would like to know, how do you get fab or the locks or Nikki wearing anything that you make?

Drew: I would say I've taken a, me and my wife, we've taken a very humble [00:33:00] approach. So what I'll do is I'll either, you know, reach out to people either on LinkedIn or I'll send them promo package or I'll go to somebody in their, either their entourage or I'll even hit up, um, Uh, people that they might know of know, and I'm like, Hey, you know, I'm doing this, you know, you know, I wanted to show you my appreciation first to you making the intro.

And then could you possibly pass this off to such and such? And usually when I do that, it's more of a, a friendship approach versus like, You know, I, I need to get it on the person, you get it to them. It's like, you know, I don't approach life like that. Is this like, you want to have a common bond before you try to sell yourself?

You know, just try to be more relatable. I would say that helps me like get it on celebs, you know? Yeah. 

Andrea: I know that you also have your brand in some stores. What kind of approach does someone need to take to have their items in a 

Drew: store? I would definitely [00:34:00] say, um, study the market and the store itself, visit the store a couple of times.

You just don't want to, I would say it doesn't work, but you just don't want to cold approach a store. Cause number one, it's a relationship. So they're like, first of all, who are you, why are you even approaching me like this? So you want to definitely like visit the store at least once or twice, um, strike up a conversation with the people that even.

Um, our sales reps in this store is like, Hey, you know, um, you know, don't straight go for the owner. Like I want to meet the owner. No, you just shake up a rapport with the people that are selling the merch. They're like, Hey, my name is Drew. You know, I'm into street wear, you know, here's my brand. Take a look.

And, you know, and you might know if I give you one of these to in this store, cause I've happened to me once or twice where I've given a sales associate a hat. And then the owner's like, where did you get that from? They're like, Oh, this guy drew stopped by. He gave me a hat, you know? So definitely it's the approach is just to be more friendly, approachable.

Just be like, Hey, hi, my name is drew. I'm in the neighborhood. I like your [00:35:00] store versus like, I got this, you know, I want to see it. It's like, they're like, First of all, you're just another skew to them on the radar. And what, what is it in for them to sell your product? You know, you have to be, you know, likable or approachable for it before you try to get in the store.

So that's so 

Andrea: true. You're just another skew to them. Yeah. You 

Drew: know, like what is it? What is it for them to, to bring your brand in? Like, unless it's like I've been blessed enough where people are like, yo, this stuff is awesome, but for, especially for a new brand, you just try to get in, just like have a conversation like, Hey, can I meet you after hours?

And we just talk street wear or store, how do you start in your store? Just get to know them as a person versus just trying to sell something to them off the bat, you know? Yeah. 

Andrea: For someone who wants to own their own street wear brand or create items to sell like a table or any cool kind [00:36:00] of item that they want to own and create their own brand, essentially what percentage of owning a brand is design versus 

Drew: business?

Ooh, that is a great question because definitely you need good design, but also you need good business savvy because it's one thing. As a lot of designers, yes, you'll have a hot design, but it's just like, is it making sense? Dollar sense wise to actually sell your product in the stores. Like one thing for New York posse.

Now we're trying to transition more of a, uh, not just in the stores, but outside the stores. We're trying to strike relationships with, um, various artists for tour merge. Um, They're trying to strike relationships with like just different avenues, you know, sometimes when you think like, I want to get into this store, that shouldn't be the approach.

It's like, how do I make some noise in this industry? You know, you, I wouldn't say the store should be the first thing you should look at because in business wise, like, yes, you're stuffing [00:37:00] the store, but people are just doing a lot of things online. Are you creating your buzz on your social media?

Probably say 65 business and 45 design. Cause if you don't know what you're doing, where do you, if you don't know, Where are you going? Why are you in business? Like, yes, you have a product, but what is the product for? Is it for yourself? Is it to grab attention? Is it for to start something else through that?

Like, what is the purpose? So that the business comes first, you know? Yeah. 

Andrea: I know that you mentioned that your wife is the co founder of New York posse. How beneficial is it to have a partner? When you're running a business, 

Drew: I would say it out of a hundred percent, 90 percent of the times 90 percent of the time people will fail in business because they don't have someone watching their back or have their best interest at heart because you could be awesome out here.

But if you don't have advisors or someone who's genuinely invested, not even in the [00:38:00] product, but in you, like, do they care that you've gone on a long road trip? Are they going to make you? A sandwich to be like, Hey, you're going to this store. I'm making sure that you're energetic for the day or just someone like, Hey, we're, we need to tackle this or that.

Cause you can only do so much by yourself, you know? So it definitely helps to have someone, whether it's your spouse or it's your family member, or even the community, maybe it's like on someone, there needs to be somebody around you, who's going to have your best interest at heart. That won't. Sell you a dream or a lie, you know, it's very good to have people that have your best interest at heart, you know 

Andrea: Yeah, that is that's great advice and you're so blessed to have your wife by your side Yes, and I do have this conversation with creatives who are starting their own thing.

It's like when you're doing it alone and It's just, it's just too frigging hard. I have my fiance and we've been [00:39:00] together for a long time. He's has my back, but I can only imagine how difficult it is to just be doing it by yourself. 

Drew: So, right. Unless I've seen people, most of you look at most fortune 500 CEOs or people that they have somebody around them.

Like there's no, I know people say like self made, I don't even believe in self made because the person that's driving the, the, the Uber to take you to here or there, or the person that's making your food or something, you need to rely on somebody like, There's no, even the most successful people, they, they, they, they tailor their success to someone who's helped them, you know?

So we all need help. You're not meant to be in this world alone. If that'd be the case, then, then we all would live in silos, you know? Yeah. 

Andrea: It's funny how you mentioned self made because I was literally thinking about that. There's no such thing as self made. Like you need someone to give you a chance.

[00:40:00] You need someone to believe in you. You need someone to help you do this. Like you can't, there's. There's no way that anyone could do anything 

Drew: alone. Right. And he will think like, Oh, I take pride in, I made it by my, I don't even why like I made it by myself, like, what does that prove? Like, are you helping the next generation?

Are you mentoring somebody or. Are you blessing somebody else? Like, I don't believe in people should, I myself made million. Like, I know you had to get somebody to help you. 

Andrea: Exactly. Okay. So you are an art director, you're a designer, you're an illustrator. You have New York posse. You do a lot of creative slash business endeavors.

How do you find balance in your life? Cause you seem like a very busy, very 

Drew: busy person. Uh, balance. I would say, um, definitely, uh, through my relationship with the Lord, I would say like a pray, get up every day. You know, I would probably say that [00:41:00] definitely my wife, she helps me. She helps balance me, um, things that I'm weak and she's strong.

So that definitely helps me balance. Um, I live in Atlanta, so there's a good mix of like. It's a city, but it's also like very laid back too. So definitely having a work life balance is good. So I live in Atlanta, so I try to do things with her travel. That definitely helps, um, play sports. That definitely helps, you know, just definitely sleep.

That helps too. When I was younger as a creative, I would just not get sleep. Um, I was sleeping with like three, four hours. I'm like, all right, I got to get back to it. But definitely sleep helps balance me having a good diet. I would say having a good diet, cause if you don't take care of your body, you will break down no matter how good you are.

Like, I think I could do it. And you need a balance in terms of like eating diet. Uh, definitely have a spouse relationship with the Lord. So I'd probably say those things help me just keep when I, when I think I'm. Like, Oh, I think I'm cool. I'm thinking on this or that. Those things help me [00:42:00] like, just get more down to earth.

You know, it's, he puts things in the right perspective, you know? Yeah. 

Andrea: So what's next for you? 

Drew: What's next for me? I hope by this time, this video years, I will have a full time or a freelance right down in between gigs. So hoping to get some of that stuff going. I hope to expand, uh, as far as my creative.

maybe I can, I'm trying to get an illustration rep. So if any reps see my work and they want to hire me for illustration, I would love to, to get an illustration rep. And as far as the brand, I'm trying to, I think I told you before, branch it off besides streetwear and, um, into different avenues and, um, getting closer to the Lord and just, uh, taking it one day at a time, you know, trying to, um, you know, be a blessing to others and help [00:43:00] others this year, 2024.

Andrea: Album of 

Drew: all time. I'm a more of a, a soundtrack or a soundtrack to our lives type of thing. So if it's like a video game, I'll listen to, I'll play the video game just to hear the music. 

Andrea: Who's your future dream client or collab? 

Drew: Uh, I would've said Virgil Abla, but he's here with us. I would probably say definitely the New York Knicks.

I would like to one day do something with them, dapper Dan, and then, um, maybe something with KI just like their street wear, but they're like, the aesthetic is just so. Smooth. So I was like, yo, maybe, yeah, I'll say the Dabra Dan, the Knicks and Kith. Those are all 

Andrea: good ones. Um, so that crosses out my next question because I was going to ask you the New York Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets.

And I'm feeling you're going to say Knicks. So I'm going to cross. [00:44:00] Okay. Drawing on paper or drawing digitally? 

Drew: You know, I grew up on Doodling on, uh, paper. So I'd probably say paper, paper, paper. Paper. 

Andrea: Okay. Question number four. Do you have a favorite type of sushi? I 

Drew: don't eat sushi. My wife eats sushi. She likes the one with the things I, if you describe something, maybe I'll, it means about what types are there.

Cause I'll just tell you like, yes or no. There's rolls or there's the rolls. Yeah. She 

Andrea: likes that. What's your number one top piece of advice for aspiring creators? 

Drew: My tip is that don't get discouraged. You never know what pops. You'll, it could be the simplest thing that someone could be like, yo, you'll pop off from.

So don't ever get discouraged. That'll be my top word of advice and don't give up. To aspiring creatives, you've got to hit up Andre and get on a podcast. It's dope. It's cool. You know, it's. I like it. So in the past, I would say my best advice, like, Oh, I'm just an artist. Like, no, you got to, in order for [00:45:00] you to be successful nowadays, a lot of people got to know you.

I, I used to think like, Oh, your works is enough. It's not really enough. You need a lot. You need a lot of things going in the right direction to be successful nowadays. Cause I think I said it earlier in my, in the beginning, like my creative directors didn't even have websites. And now I see how hard it's getting.

You gotta be, you gotta be great in a lot of things. So be, be great in a lot of things. The more, the more you're great on, the more you have a chance for it to be successful. 

Andrea: Thank you. Thank you so much, Drew Thompson, for having this conversation with me. To our listeners, Again, this is Sushi Fridays, the podcast about style, culture, creative and biz from the POV of diverse creatives and entrepreneurs.

Drew's story and experience fits our bill to a T. I am your host, Andrea Pascual, signing off. I'm a brand and graphic designer and a fashion brand owner and designer of my own [00:46:00] brand, Andrea Pascual. You can reach me @sushifridayspod on Instagram and TikTok and listen to Sushi Fridays on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio and YouTube. To get a complimentary visual identity brand audit from me, please leave me a rating and review on your fave streaming platform and send me a screenshot of it to my contact info in the show notes. I will hook you up. Thank you so much for listening to Sushi Fridays The Podcast.

Please tune in next Sushi Friday. 

Is there any, like, pressing issues that you think we hould talk about?

Drew: Man, the only pressing issue we need to talk about is Travis Kelce. Those are the only two. You know what the funny thing is? Like, I'm on LinkedIn, right? And, uh, and also, uh, what's that thing called? The Solo Stove, uh, thing with Snoop Dogg.

Those are like the two. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That was the only thing I was like, this is a joke I'm making. But, uh, I mean, we can translate, you can put this in like the, the, but what it's funny, [00:47:00] like, like I see, it's so funny. I see people on LinkedIn like, yo man, like you should have never chose Snoop. And then this Taylor Swift and, And, and, uh, Travis Kelce thing.

I'm like, man, y'all are taking this thing too serious. Let me log off of LinkedIn real quick. 

Andrea: I'm not the only one who feels that way. 

Drew: Yeah. That was the only two things I was going to mention, but yeah, it's all good.

This was transcribed using AI. Please pardon any typos or errors.

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