Police & Thieves Designer Extraordinaire Drew Heffron Discusses Branding and Creating With Purpose
"Visual communication is at the heart of what I practice..."
Next up in the Police & Thieves advertorial spotlight series is Drew Heffron, designer extraordinaire and the creative force behind our brand identity. A native of Charleston, South Carolina he now resides in New York City and makes a living melding art, design, and business with his studio, Practical People.
PØT: Can you explain your process for how you approach branding? How you connect an image to a logo? A typeface to a company name? How much of it is art and how much business?
Drew Heffron: 100% of both– I think your brand is an apt example. What intrigued me about Police & Thieves is that it is contrary to most other dispensaries: a daring name and a meaningful mission. It’s like – wait a minute - marijuana was illegal not very long ago, and many people, mostly minorities, are still unjustly facing repercussions because of this plant. How can we acknowledge this and challenge the status quo of what is allowed and not allowed? How can we represent the future we want? The visual identity embraces this tension by utilizing an anti-symbol, branding the product as essentially contraband. The very act of using the product is acknowledging and breaking the rules. The typography is meant to be distinctive and clear, letting the words speak for themselves. Visual communication is at the heart of what I practice, and frequently that is tied to a business by helping them communicate who they are, and in this case, what they stand for and the quality of their offering. Imagining the ways and means of this communication with originality is where the art comes in.
What is the most satisfying part of a project?
Aside from design itself, bringing together talented people to create with purpose. For example, I discovered the work of CACAO collective in Oaxaca, Mexico a few years ago.
Commissioning them to create a mural at both Denver dispensaries meaningfully recontextualizes their iconographic work and the result is delightful.
Finally, can you give any striving designers one piece advice on how to translate their artistic talent into a sustainable living?
Find a mentor! I worked many years at a studio under a designer I greatly admire and learned as much or more than I did in my degree program.