We had the good fortune of connecting with Drew Deng (they/them) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Drew, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Becoming a full-time artist happened somewhat by coincidence. Art has always been my favorite hobby, but I couldn’t imagine myself dedicating my entire life to it. On one hand I didn’t want to ruin my love for art, and on the other I didn’t think I’d be creative enough to constantly imagine new ideas. However as I grew in my skills and as a person, learning about different mediums, techniques, and life lessons made me curious about the world around me. I wanted to explore all the different methods of creation while adding my personal touch wherever I could.
When I first began selling my art I was 16 years old, experimenting with the screen printing process to print designs on a shirt for myself. Proud that my first attempt went well, I shared it to my Instagram story and despite the learning curve, I had a surprising amount of people asking to buy one. Everything that followed became a product of my persistence to improve. My public high school provided a course that taught us how to make stickers and improved methods of screen printing, among other graphic design techniques. I made the best use of this resource, taking on extra lessons to learn everything before my time was up. As graduation rolled around, I had to decide between my previous plan of becoming an engineer or to become an artist. Seeing how organically this path formed itself and knowing that I already laid down a good foundation to build off of, I took a chance on myself. Nowadays I work to create new opportunities for myself by learning new mediums or improving the ones I already know.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Pursuing art or any other career where you’re the only one responsible for your own success is definitely a challenge. It’s frustrating when you don’t immediately see the fruits of your labor. As an artist, especially one that is constantly trying new mediums, everything is trial and error. I’ve learned that the most important traits are consistency, patience, and flexibility. In creative industries it can be nearly impossible to anticipate the next opportunity or big idea, which is why you should know what you and your art stand for. Be consistent in your message and goals. I am someone that is constantly looking to improve, whether it is for myself or others. I create art that helps me learn lessons introspectively, and can be shared with others later. In anything that I am able to accomplish through this, I aim to give back to the community and help those that helped me get to where I am. I’ve noticed that anytime there is a significant change for the positive in my career, it is when I am pursuing it for the reason I started: curiosity. When you are curious you try to learn. When you learn you improve. When you improve, people notice.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is always so much to do in Miami and every week is different. I highly recommend checking out @alwayslunes to stay in touch with local art events throughout the week. You can find all the best raves, local fashion shows, and creative meet ups in the area. Every other week you can also find a bunch of local talent at Casa Crea, a collaborative project created by a few friends and I : Lunes (@alwayslunes), Kennedy (@kenny2kennedy), and Phil (@goon.green). We curate different spaces and DJs to organize art-based get togethers with a priority for community and safety. If you don’t have art materials that’s not a problem because we have enough supplies to share with everyone! It is such a special space that fosters inspiration, allowing our local artists to flourish and connect with others. Last but not least, my favorite place to grab a bite is definitely the Taco Stand in Wynwood. Their elote and al pastor burritos are delicious! All the while you can walk around the neighborhood to catch sights of colorful murals in the area.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dimithry Victor is an amazing artist and close friend of mine that really shifted my career approach. I met him at the beginning of 2021 through Twitter, where we agreed to meet up and create a collaborative painting. As we worked together on this painting, we learned more about one another, building off each other’s ideas in the painting process. I met him during a period in my life where I felt myself stagnating as an artist and as a person, I thought I was already doing the most I could to make my dreams happen. Witnessing Dimithry’s zeal and motivation is inspiring. It pushed me to believe that I was capable of much more, and now I know that I am. As emerging artists, it’s nice to know that we each have someone there that understands the obstacles of this career while also providing an extra shove when its needed.
Feature image: Bobbi “metallicbutterfli” Other: Vince Cuadra