Fellow Deadheads will recognise the title but for the rest of you this is merely a brief history of Drew

Novembre 8, 20204 Minuti

At eighteen I was working in General Motors to make money for college. I’d had many part-time jobs in the past beginning when I was fourteen delivering newspapers at sub-zero temperatures. In following years I worked as a janitor, a mechanic, and a construction grunt. I never made much money but I learned that even the most menial tasks can be a source of pride. The auto factory was a dismal intimidating place but the 32 dollars an hour they paid for triple shifts made it worthwhile. My first job was feeding sheet metal into a towering thirty ton press. I was put on the infamous “Number Six” where a past worker had somehow managed to crawl inside and end his life as a fender. The veterans enjoyed telling these stories and pranking rookies like me. It was mostly goodhearted but one guy for some reason took pleasure in constantly provoking me. One day, eating alone in the lunchroom trying to avoid him and feeling miserable an old guy sat down across from me. He told me that I shouldn’t be upset. He said, “You should pity him. After all, you only have to deal with him for a moment but that poor bastard is going to have to deal with himself for the rest of his life”. He’ll never know how much his wise words have helped me throughout my life.

After college I worked as an assistant animator. Every morning on my desk I’d find thousands of acetate “gels” to paint. I’d start with white, flip the pile over and continue with the other colours. At the end of the day I’d go home with the satisfaction of having added another few seconds to a cartoon. My next job was visualising courtroom proceedings for Tv. Capturing the likenesses of murderers and trying to avoid being lynched by their friends as I rushed to deliver them in time for the evening news. In my late twenties after moving to Italy I was making a name for myself as a freelance designer and illustrator. I think a lot of my success was due to the memorability of my bad Italian and that I was unwittingly charging the double of anyone else which strangely made me more alluring to the cash rich agencies at the time. At thirty while teaching at Parsons in Paris the late great Gerard Caron of Carr Noir asked me to help him establish an agency in Turin. It was successful and two years later I sold out to become a director at Robilant. Maurizio, the owner, had a charisma that fostered enormous dedication among all who worked for him, myself included. I endured countless weekends and all nighters doing some of my best work but after four years it was either burn out or move on. Future Brand UK hired me as a CD for their office in Milan. I got to know Gio Rossi and we shared a lot of battle stories over negronis.

He would often express regret for having ceded control to the Yankees, telling me that no matter what I do, to never let anyone take over my dreams. As Maurizio used to say to me: “Everything in life happens as it should”. It’s true. We make our own luck if we’re willing to take a long strange trip and learn from others along the way.

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Drew Smith

An award winning designer and an expert in consumer brand management, NPD and packaging design with over twenty years of experience. Canadian by birth, he has been the Creative Director of several leading international consultancies and is a graduate of Art Center College of Design and Sheridan College, School of Visual Arts.