Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew McKee.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My passion for design started very young. As a child, Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, G.I. Joes, and TMNT were my jam. The art on the packaging, the logos, the bright colors they used were so much more than just toys to me.
The most important creative outlet I had as a child was my (absurdly large) collection of Legos. I was addicted and spent summers building endless cities, including an entire replica of the set of Waterworld based on the beloved Keven Costner movie, Waterworld. Fun fact, I collect the vintage packaging for a lot of the same toys today.
My mother, who always nurtured my creative side, became worried when it was time to apply for college and I only applied to art school. She was, rightfully, apprehensive because, you know, there’s “no future in art.” Probably against her better judgment, she backed the idea, and in 2001, I began my first year at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Four years later, I took a graphic designer position at a very small company in the gift industry (see hand-painted wine glasses for your aunt) just to pay the bills right out of college. In fact, I was their first employee. Frankly, it was not my passion and never a career path I envisioned myself walking. I always leaned towards dark and edgy but quickly had to adapt to staring at hot pink and glitter all day. Thirteen years later, I was at the same company, serving as their Creative Director.
The experience I gained in those 13 years and the knowledge accumulated on how to run a successful business through design was invaluable. It was also during this time where I learned the value of leading a team, however that team might have looked at that particular time. I was lucky to work with some truly gifted artists.
While able to freelance in my spare time, my dream was always to work for myself. In 2017, I was able to achieve that. Today I am proud to say I’m a fully independent designer/creative director working with individuals and business owners, helping them to design new products and visualizing their brand.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Haha, nope. Not at all. I think everyone has this idea that they’ll be able to get this all-star job and be able to afford a loft in the Villages after art school. It doesn’t really work like that. Wherever you are, you’re an artist in a world full of professionals and self-taught badasses who are all gunning for the same job, so the hustle is ongoing.
I’ll tell you this. Before I went out on my own, there were countless frustrating times where I just wanted to do what I knew would work design-wise. When you work for someone else, you don’t have the option to call the shots, whether you agree or you don’t.
On the opposite side, when you run your own company, the work, while I love it, really never ends. Any free time goes to keeping an up-to-date portfolio or feeding your design brain with as many books and articles as you can. I love good design, and I’m passionate about it. I’d like to think that shows.
And to be really honest, I started my own business because I got tired of making money for somebody else. Can I say that?
Please tell us about Andrew McKee Design.
My main focus is my personal design company www.andrewmckee.net where I do solo design work ranging from simple logo design to full branding. I’ve worked on anything from creating uniforms, apparel, and new product design to jewelry, posters, and packaging. Video editing? Sure! I like to have my hands in a little bit of everything and work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Recently, I’ve been working with local artisan, J. James, and various Atlanta artists. Additionally, I’ve been able to create, along with a talented artist and friend, Mike, a brand-new line of glassware, 2PourGuys. I’m loving the work we create together.
I’m proud of my business and my projects because I try to avoid limiting myself. I’ve had the opportunity to really be multi-faceted moving out on my own. It was tough to get here, but I learned so much and continue to learn. There’s really nothing more satisfying than giving a client exactly what they want.
I look forward to doing work part-time with companies in a creative director role in the future and spending more time consulting.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I owe everything to my mother. She bent over backwards to encourage me, stayed up late nights teaching me algebra and building dioramas. She inspired me and believed in me. Without her, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’m her clone, but not nearly as amazing.
Another person I owe equal thanks to is my amazing wife, Kate. Never in my life have I met some who understands me more. She is intellectual, strong, and classy and is my cliché “rock” who points me in the right direction. And she’s my hands when I pretend I can’t fill out forms. I hate forms. She’s lucky. 😀
I’d also like to mention my father, Gail, Janis, Mike Clines, and the rest of my family and friends for their endless support. They understand the passion and art of hard work in design, even when they don’t understand what the hell it is sometimes.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Aside from buying Apple stock? No. I’m making money doing art. That’s my career, and I’m unbelievably grateful.
Address: 955 Juniper Street NE. Unit 4227, Atlanta GA 30309