Andrew Thompson

interactive designer & lifestyle brand

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November 2006

Tell us a little bit about your background? How did you start out as a designer?

I was born in 1982, and raised in White Plains/Westchester County, NY. Both my parents are of Jamaican descent. I was a late 1980’s, early 1990’s kid. Some of my early influences growing up were Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Nintendo, A-team, 1980’s San Francisco 49ers. My creative spirit came from watching Saturday morning cartoons and toys. Since then I believed in God, that I was destined to do something in creative arts when I got older.

I didn’t start drawing until 1988-89; some of my favorite things to draw were Ninja Turtles, and various other cartoon characters. Around 1997, I started drawing my own versions of Nike sneakers. But I didn’t get serious about art/design until my final year of high school in 2000. By then, I put together my portfolio and sent it to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). After a couple of rejections, I prayed, got refocused, and I got in on the 3rd portfolio review.

At RIT, I studied New Media Design and Imaging. I gained great experience in emerging multimedia and interactive design, as well as animation. In 2004 I graduated, and late that year started work as an Interactive/Motion Designer at R/GA in NYC. Being in such a fast and creative agency like R/GA really helped me to develop my skills as well as gain confidence as a designer. By the end of 2005, I left to pursue various freelance opportunities at various motion-graphic shops.

Recently as this summer 2006, I did Creative Direction at EuroRSCG 4D Interactive. I am currently doing freelance art direction as well as design in and around NYC. It’s truly a blessing to do something you love as a way to make a living. I really like to think of my work by case-by-case basis, I don’t conform to any media or particular style. My work ranges from interactive, motion, creative direction, illustration, etc. Currently I’m open and available for freelance commissions and collaborations at various design agencies.

The style of your work seems to have hints of graffiti and sports; would you say these are what influences your work?

Definitely! I’m really a fan of graffiti and sports. I believe that, as well as urban/youth culture, is the driving force behind a lot of companies today. A lot of corporate and traditional companies five years ago wouldn’t even use those elements in their commercials are now using it to push their products into market. It’s hypocritical but it sells. They realize if they incorporate or connect elements like spray paint, arrowheads, hip-hop/black & urban culture or some cool trend, it can draw attention to their products, and make them seem cool, no matter how bland and boring they may actually be. It has to be used properly and with a purpose, or else it looks like fluff, with no purpose. So definitely it helps having knowledge, skills and understanding of that market. From time to time I try to mix those elements into my work.

In the past you have worked with some high profile companies (Lugz, Nike, Fifa); how do you find working with clients as opposed to your personal work?

Clients like these really allow for personal freedom so, to me, it is a personal project. Companies nowadays realize that, to achieve the best experience, they have to give artists some kind of creative freedom. A company like Nike will always be cutting-edge because they allow artists to really use their imagination and come up with ideas that are out of the box, so long as they keep the company vision in mind.

Do you prefer working on motion-graphics more than print? Why?

I prefer motion-graphics because it’s moving, not static. The current generation doesn’t want to read. So to me, print is dead. People aged 7-40 are more likely to watch a 30-second commercial than to pick an article on that same product and read it all the way through. So print to me, if it’s a single image, has to be really eye-grabbing or have a lasting effect on someone. Whereas, the difficulty and challenges about motion is that every frame has to look like a work of art. So it depends on a case-by-case basis; but for right now I prefer motion just because it’s just more dynamic.

What has been your most rewarding and challenging project to date? Why?

Probably my new Flash site. I want it to be the greatest thing I’ve ever created. So I’m putting huge amount of pressure on myself to make it something that’s truly amazing and groundbreaking. I don’t know what it’s going to be, but with God’s help it will turn out great.

What advice can you give the novice designer?

Stay true to yourself and don’t follow trends. A lot of young designers never achieve their full potential until they find out who they are as a person first. Believe me, I’ve seen a ton of designers just starting out. Most try to copy people’s work; five years later after college, you look at their portfolios and they’ve never really developed a strong identity. There’s no progression or thought process involved. Just bad design without a purpose. A ton of times they will look and try to emulate other people’s work without any thought process on the project at hand.

Good designers have storyboards, sketches, etc., and do their homework and research to be the best. To be good you have to do the little things, and develop good habits. Opening up the program and try to whip things out without the initial thought process is a recipe for disaster. Remember that no designer is perfect: we all have one flaw or another; you can never cover all your bases; the best you can do is to be yourself, keep current on what’s going on in the design world and, eventually, you will find your niche.

To see more of Andrew’s work, please visit: