I formally met Andrew Duke sometime in the last calendar year, just after he had finished reverse painting the HH logos on the storefront glass, when he stopped by to get a pair of HARDENCO x HH 006 jeans hemmed in the back of the shop. He's a quiet, perpetually tranquil dude. He's patient, curious, and talented. Very talented. He's constantly moving, gears turning. He had already become friends with William for some time, but gravity brings objects with similar mass closer, so it was inevitable we'd cross paths. After all, it's only Greensboro (...and it's not so bad, after all...).
Over the course of several months, we began crossing paths more frequently. He's more recently become a fixture at Revolution Mill, either slinging coffee at the newest location of Union Coffee Company in the mill's Central Gallery, but he's begun taking up residency in the back of my office at Revolution Mill, plying his craft and honing his skills at sewing on industrial machines, developing, modifying, and optimizing hats he's making under the project's label, No Lifeguards.
Through our time working together, he's come in and helped me in the production of backpacks, chore coats, and bags. He's traveled with Joey Seawell and I to TS Designs in Burlington, where we have worked with Courtney Lochemer to naturally dye Solid State Clothing tees for the shop, and been hands-on in the process. This served as a good starting point for meeting challenges. I asked for his help on the Proximity logo work, and had some good reference material between original Proximity items and Draper manuals. I would term the final product a success, to say the least.
Then, two months ago we dreamed up the beer jacket concept, and off he went, imploring his design skills. The logo is brilliant, and we can't wait to share the garments and event surrounding its use.
This last month, we added Andrew to the Hudson's Hill team, where he will serve as a graphics department, illustrator, smalls producer, and logo generation machine. On top of more routine team work, this will add a new dimension to our business, and help build out our branding and narrative.
Prior to him joining the team, I wanted to write a spotlight on him as an artist, but now he's both. But, he's so much more. We're humble to have him on board, and excited to see what lies ahead.
So, with that I'd like him to tell you a little bit more about himself through a recent interview:
Evan: What is your name? How old are you?
AD: Andrew Duke — 28 years old.
Evan: Where are you from? How long have you been in Greensboro?
AD: I’m originally from Louisburg, NC — a small, rural town north of Raleigh. I began my undergrad experience at UNCG in 2013 and have been here ever since.
Evan: What would you call your professional skillset? What is your brief work history?
AD: I like to think of myself as a visual explorer. The most impactful creatives to me are doing just that: exploring. Practically, I’m a lettering artist & logo designer. Right out of undergrad I began working as a junior designer for a local print shop. That got me interested in typography & lettering, which I’ve sought as a vocation for years now. I left that first job, pivoting to the corporate world with Wrangler, which required me working in-depth with patternmakers on virtual garments as a 3D designer. This job was my first foray into the world of apparel. As such, I can’t deny that my current appreciation of textiles is owed in
some part to the work I did there. I’ve since been laid off, moved into coffee, but kept my fervor for graphic design, apparel, and typography all the while. It’s hard to imagine now but I hope someday I’ll get to see them work in tandem.
Evan: What are your jobs/what does a typical (good) day go like for you?
AD: I’m a part-time freelancer/visual artist/collaborator, part-time barista (classic combo). A good day for me usually starts at 5:30/6am when I wake up. I always love rising with the day. It’s peaceful and allows me to set a course for my work. Then workout/walk/read, coffee, and it’s off to the races. A productive day usually involves sourcing a ton of substantive research for a project, then scrawling design concepts and tangential ramblings on paper. If I’m feeling really motivated, I may start digitizing those concepts immediately. I always find time during each day to disengage and do something I want to do for an hour: bike the greenway, a second coffee, pleasure reading, porch sittin’ —something. It’s important that I give my brain (and eyes) a rest during the day. Allows me to come back and finish off strong, even if it’s just administrative stuff like drafting contracts or logging receipts.
Evan: What is your favorite project you've worked on to date?
AD: The identity I developed for my friend Xine’s photography business; it was the first “big” logo job where I employed all my knowledge of lettering to create a distinct logotype and accompany it with a logomark (with several use cases). They provided conceptual influences and set me off to experiment and play how I saw fit. I think the logo speaks to the mood and elegance they aim to provide as a photographer.
Evan: Tell us about your hat making. How it started, how it’s going, and where it will grow from here?
AD: I like wearing hats and wanted to create my own. Making a hat gives me the agency to troubleshoot problems I find in other hat builds. Plus, I get to rep the products that I make — sort of like wearing my credentials on my head.
So far, hat making has been a slow work in progress. Evan has been incredibly gracious by allowing me in his studio, providing insights as I prototype.
I see these hats as an extension of what I already do. Pattern making is very similar to lettering (at least in the sense of draftsmanship) and allows for a lot of back-and-forth experimentation. Ideally, I’d love to grow these hats into small-batch/capsule releases.
Evan: What do you like best about Hudson's Hill?
AD: From its stylistic influences, to the production and sourcing of its goods, Hudson’s Hill exhibits a timelessness that stems from a cocktail of historical awareness and an unwillingness to compromise. It’s kind of punk in that way, and I love it.
Evan: What's your favorite product at Hudson's Hill that you own?
AD: Definitely the Hiker’s Backpack. It’s not often that I leave the house without it. It’s a low-profile bag that can hold a ton, made from some seriously durable material.
Evan: Tell us something not many people know about you.
AD: Spaghetti Westerns are a weak spot of mine. Not just Sergio Leone’s trilogy either. If I could I’d marathon film after film regardless of director, cast, plot, etc. Honorable mentions: ”My Name Is Nobody,” and “Duck, You Sucker! (or “A Fist Full of Dynamite”).”
Evan: What keeps you curious about apparel and design?
AD: I’ve come to genuinely appreciate the history and supply chain aspect of apparel; especially having worked in corporate apparel, where those details generally serve as marketing cheese more so than the basis of a product’s creation. In terms of design, I love learning about context and precedent. Why do left-hand/right-hand/broken twills exist? Why are busted seams on the pant outer and two needle fells on the inner? Are seven belt loops really necessary? Trivia is big for me. It develops comprehension and adds to my repertoire of talking points for social gatherings.
Evan: Tell us about your lettering, pursuit of font and type, labeling, etc.
AD: Old signage was always compelling to me at a young age. Being from a small rural town has its perks, none as prominent as the ubiquity of old-timey knick-knacks and signage. We even had hand painted grocery signage! I figure it was only a matter of time before my interest in design would begin to point back toward its place of inception. In 2020 I took an online two-week lettering intensive through Old School New School, directed by Veronica Grow. We covered brush etiquette, hand lettering, layout, letter construction, and
typefaces. This was all underlined by brief history lessons which covered the significance of Roman brush script & proportions, well into the innovations of print technology and contemporary type media. It was a great experience and really opened my eyes to the breadth and application of lettering. I recently decided to dedicate my design practice to brush lettering/sign painting and logo
design. As a skill set in its own right, brush competency will enhance my ability to prototype logo designs and open alternate income streams (murals, signs, windows, art installs/pieces, etc.). I’m now four years into a vocation that began as something to do during lunch at a corporate desk job. I’m continually astounded by the opportunities that I keep finding myself involved with
as a result.
Evan: If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
AD: Working for myself, for sure. Preferably alongside a community of fellow creatives with intersecting interests. Freelancing really has been ideal so I’m excited to see how far it will scale in time. For that matter, I’d love to eventually start a clothing brand. It’s been on the back of my mind for a few years now. I definitely want to own a storefront someday with studio space in the
back, tinkering away at illustrations and prints on the daily.
Andrew has an upcoming art show at the Greensoro Project Space from August 2-13, 2022. For more information, click here.
You can follow Andrew on Instagram by clicking here.
You can view Andrew's website by clicking here.