Designer Spotlight: Andrew Chee-A-Tow
By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Dec 22, 2022
One Club Member shares his design career journey
At The One Club for Creativity, we love to highlight all of our Members, learn about how they got into the ad and design field, and do a deep dive into the behind-the-scenes of their latest projects– personal or professional. We have a crazy talented community, and one of our One Club Members is Canadian Designer Andrew Chee-A-Tow.
Andrew is super inspired by R&B and hip-hop music and works in-house for a prestigious record label. He shared with us about his curated Deep Cuts playlists and celeb-loved airbrush graphic tees. Read on to find out more about Andrew’s journey as a designer.
How did you get into graphic design?
I was always into art and creativity growing up, I was the kid who would be asking for smelly markers and construction paper for Christmas and building custom websites using GeoCities and FreeWebs. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I found out graphic design was an actual occupation and I was going to be able to use my skill set and make it my career. I ended up attending college and taking a Graphic Design/Production Art program in 2011 and have been working in the creative industry since.
What has been your experience working as a POC designer in the music industry?
I started working in the creative music industry in 2018, and overall, it has been a great experience being a POC in this space. You get to bring a different design perspective to the overall vision and creative, while working with a diverse group of people with various skill sets and collectively creating amazing work.
"You get to bring a different design perspective to the overall vision and creative, while working with a diverse group of people with various skill sets and collectively creating amazing work."
When I was at the beginning of my design career, social media wasn’t really utilized to network with other creatives or thought of as a tool to connect and build relationships. So, I’m glad in this era of social media, people are more open to reaching out. I’ve had solid conversations with young creatives who have asked for career advice and how to navigate the industry while being a POC. I genuinely want to offer mentorship and share my design journey and my career struggles, and hope it inspires someone in the process.
What do you like about working with an in-house team, specifically in the music industry?
One of my favorite things about working as a creative at a record label is you get to creatively conceptualize a project from beginning to end. From the logo design to the brand identity, to the album cover, album packaging, and merchandise, we get to design everything needed creatively to launch a musical act. I’m able to bring my years of work experience, my niche design style, as well as my love for music to the record label.
"One of my favorite things about working as a creative at a record label is you get to creatively conceptualize a project from beginning to end."
How would you describe your design style?
To this day, all I listen to is R&B and hip-hop music, specifically from the 90s and 2000s– so naturally for me, music has always inspired me. I grew up collecting VIBE and The Source magazines, I would watch BET 106 & Park every day after school, and I would always stare at the CD packaging and booklets for every album I would get. There was so much long-lasting creativity in the music industry at that time, so it’s something I look to as inspiration when designing. I’m about finding what you love and making that your niche. A lot of my designs are inspired by something I’ve seen in a music video back in the day, flipped past in a magazine, or something in the fashion industry at that time.
What personal and professional projects are you most proud of to date?
A personal project of mine I’ve been working on is my personally curated Deep Cuts playlists. I started creating playlists over the past years that consist of my favorite “deep cut” tracks I grew up listening to. For me, I always favored the album tracks versus the radio singles for many of the artists I listen to. I designed the cover art how I wanted and designed all the video assets to promote it on social. They have so far been well received online, and I hope to continue making more in the future.
Professionally, there are so many I am proud of, but if I had to choose, it would be working at the record label and creatively contributing to artists on the label whose albums or singles are certified gold and platinum in Canada. It’s a great feeling to know you worked on a project that has reached gold and platinum status.
In the future, I would love to tap into more of my own creative direction for developing my own personal brand down the line or lending creative direction to newer and up-and-coming talent in the creative industry.
Let’s talk about your celeb-loved graphic tees! Who was that project for?
My airbrush tees were a personal project of mine. I wanted to learn how to airbrush growing up because I would always see it featured in many hip-hop music videos from back in the day, from Missy Elliott to Destiny’s Child to Ludacris. I never got around to learning how to do it, but one day I decided that maybe I could come close to recreating that airbrush style using my skillset in Photoshop. I posted a few of the designs to social media, and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. I know the airbrush style has been around for decades, but I wanted to pay homage by creating a collection of tees with a modern spin on it.
I’ve had a few well-known people wear them, including, singer, Brent Faiyaz; Soulection founder, Joe Kay; YouTube personality, Trey Richards; actress, Skai Jackson; creatives, Sean Brown, Lamar Taylor, and more. Kelly Rowland reposted one of my shirts on her social media as well.
What value do you find in being a One Club Member? As a new member, what would you like to see from The One Club?
I value that The One Club is one of the few design organizations that have representation for young and upcoming talent. And I love The One Club’s diversity in showcasing all areas of the design industry as well as unique design styles and projects.
"I value that The One Club is one of the few design organizations that have representation for young and upcoming talent."
I would love to see more events and presence in Canada! I hope to attend an in-person event soon, whether it be in NYC or Canada!
One Club for Creativity Members get featured here on the One Club website and across our social media channels. Have a new project you'd love to share? An upcoming exhibition and you'd like us to help spread the word? We always love to know what our One Club Members have been up to, so don’t forget to send us your cool work!