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Mad About Drew – Illustrator/Artist Spotlight

At Brooklyn Boulders, one of our core values is to make it beautiful. Thanks to our badass community members, living up to that particular value is not difficult.

An Interview with BKB Member, Illustrator, and Artist Andrew Colaprete

Climber illustration
Now that’s a nice heel hook.

Make it Beautiful

In fact, we are constantly being inspired by our artists and creative superhumans who blaze new paths and find cool ways to express their ideas. Pardon our humblebrag, but the creativity of BKB members is nothing short of impressive.

In an effort to make our little corner of the internet a little more beautiful, this month we wanted to highlight Andrew Colaprete, BKB member and skillful illustrator behind the Instagram account, @drawn.by.drew. After tagging us in an illustration (featured here), we fell in love with his work. We had to reach out to him to say hi and learn more.

Check out our convo with Andrew below (spoiler alert: he’s awesome) and, at the end, learn more about how you, too, can be featured on the BKB blog.

Our conversation with Andrew

Illustration of carabiner with flowers

From the beginning

BKB: Andrew, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. First up: How did you get started becoming an illustrator, and how long have you been doing it?

Andrew: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember! I specifically recall being in fifth grade, right around the time Finding Nemo was released, and deciding then that I would like to be an illustrator. However, as I got older, I developed other interests and kind of lost track of that idea. But I always continued to draw.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that the idea of working as an illustrator came back to me, and I was lucky enough to have incredible family members, friends, and teachers who supported the idea. I also got a lot of criticism from others about finding a job (I was graduating high school in the middle of the recession, and all I was hearing as a kid was how difficult it would be to find work). I remember thinking to myself, what a good time to consider taking this risk. What did I have to lose?

Andrew’s influencesIllustration of compass

BKB: What inspired you to begin drawing and illustrating? Who or what influences your work?

Andrew: I think one of my biggest influences was all the 90’s Nickelodeon cartoons, especially Hey Arnold! As a kid I looked up to that football-headed character. He was this cool—but also very philosophical—kid who was always trying to improve the community around him. I really connected to his character.

There are also so many children’s book illustrators that I absolutely cherish, including Oliver Jeffers and Erin Stead, to name a few. Their work has so much personality, charm, and individuality.

And, lastly, it wasn’t until recently that I’ve started to express my love for the outdoors through my illustrations. It’s been really exciting to start developing a new voice in this field. Not only do I get a lot of inspiration from my own adventures, but I am often inspired by many of the outdoor gear companies like North Face, United By Blue, Topo Design, and Patagonia.

BKB: Speaking of your own adventures, how did you get started climbing? What brought you to BKB?

Andrew: I had few experiences climbing before joining BKB. However, when I moved in across the street from the Long Island City location, a friend of mine brought me in as a guest. I instantly fell in love and decided to make it a goal of mine to learn how to climb. I was immediately engulfed into the community of people I felt connected to. It challenged both my body and mind, all while allowing me to take advantage of their workout facilities, classes, and farmshare opportunities. Overall I found what I missed about home right here in New York City!

Room detailsEducation, hobbies, etc.

BKB: Tell us a little more about your background. We’re talking education, hobbies, etc.

Andrew: I studied at Syracuse University (Go Orange!), which was such a remarkable experience. I was so eager to take advantage of everything that Syracuse had to offer. I was studying illustration, but I also took several courses in design, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Not only did I meet some of my best friends at Syracuse, but I also had incredible mentors who introduced me to the world of licensing and consumer products within the field of illustration.

From there I managed to land an internship at Sesame Street. This was one of the most eye-opening and inspiring experiences of my career thus far. The fact that I was working right alongside the talent that exists within their creative team was unbelievable. I fell in love with their characters and their mission as a company, and left telling myself, “I want to create work for a company whose values mirror my own.”

Currently, I work for the backpack company, Sprayground. It’s been amazing to see how rapidly my work has grown over the past 3 years. I was originally hired as an illustrator, but quickly gained roles in developing and designing new bags, as well as more graphic design-oriented projects. I found that I really enjoy juggling these different skill sets!

Girl tying shoe on trail

Current projects and future goals

BKB: What’s your favorite creation so far (and why)?

Andrew: As of this past month, the actor Zach Braff reached out to me about creating a custom illustration for him! It was such an honor to have an assignment from someone whose work I had admired growing up! My buddies and I were huge fans of the show, “Scrubs,” and when the show ended we continued to follow his career and watch his movies and shows. So it was a pretty surreal experience when I set up a call to let them know I was being commissioned to create an illustration for Zach Braff!

It's lit lantern by illustrator Andrew Colaprete

I’ve also been developing an idea for a children’s book that I’m super excited about! It’s still so early in the process—and as of now it’s just a passion project—but I really hope I can get this story out there to lift people up. The book combines my love for the outdoors along with a heartfelt story that can remind us of the light we can create after an unfortunate event. Stay tuned…!

BKB: That sounds incredible. With those passion projects in mind, what big goals do you have for your art?

Andrew: I think my overall goal with my art is just creating something that can make people laugh, smile, and sometimes even cry. But, as I said before, it is so important to me to try and balance out the projects that pay the bills with the ones that mirror my own values.

BKB: Those are admirable goals. Andrew, before we go, is there anything else you want us to know about you? Or that you want our BKB community to know?

Andrew: I have a personal goal of hiking all 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks!

BKB: Lastly, a BKB classic: What’s the weirdest thing about you?

Andrew: My favorite TV show is Good Morning America.

Fall flag

Tell us your story

Are you a BKB member with art to share or a story to tell? Cool, let us know! We’d be stoked to talk to you. If you are interested in being featured, just send an email to stories@brooklynboulders.com or tag us/DM us on Instagram, @brooklynboulders.

Our magical blog wizards will get back to you ASAP.

Love Andrew’s work? Check out more at his website and/or his Instagram page, @drawn.by.drew.

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