A Sit Down with The Bear

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asset-2A finals break should be in order this weekend because we all know it’s been a long semester that needs to end on a high note. On December 9, DJBear will be performing at Logie’s from 9pm to 2am. Maroon Weekly got the chance to interview DJBear, who is not only a DJ, but also known as Martin Hooper, a successful graphic designer based out of College Station.

MW: So, to start, can you tell us a bit about your design firm?

MH: Drift is a full service ad firm in College Station. We’re a little over 7 years old, and we have a team of 7 people. We create smarter strategy that leads to harder working creative. We have local clients, national clients, and a few clients outside of the U.S. Our clients range from multi-million-dollar investment firms to bars and restaurants.

MW: You said you are just over 7 years old, can you tell us how the firm got started?

MH: Drift started in 2009 when Gavin (the other founding partner) and I graduated from Texas A&M. Fresh out of school, with the economy crashing, neither of us had job opportunities we were stoked about. I’d been in a touring band for a couple of years, and we had a 3-month tour booked immediately after graduation. A few weeks before graduation the tour fell apart and I was left with a completely blank summer in front of me. After a few beers, Gavin and I decided that we should tour the country as graphic designers. The idea was that we would stop in smaller cities and help small businesses with design work for gas and food money. We’d originally intended the trip to last about a month, we ended up being on the road 6 months, hitting the lower 48, and driving around 30,000 miles. We were in a few national design publications, spoke at universities, and spoke at the AIGA (the professional association for design) national conference. When we returned to College Station people kept requesting to hire us, so we decided to set up shop and open Drift officially in the fall of 2009.

MW: What a story! What kind of work does Drift do?

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MH: We’re a full service ad firm with a focus in creative, so our main focus is crafting meaningful brands. Business is personal. People don’t purchase brands; they buy shared values based on emotional connections. We help clients connect with customers through brand strategies that build trust, relationships and reputations. By focusing on what our clients stand for, we help them stand out. Our services include Brand Strategy, Web Design, Print Design, and Photography, just to name a few.

MW: Can you tell us any of the highlights? Any noteworthy clients?

MH: I’m always thrilled when I’m asked to speak at a school or a conference. Sharing whatever knowledge I’ve gained always feels great, and I’ve always felt really honored to be asked to speak at a relatively young age. From a work perspective, there are quite a few projects I love. The rebrand for Bison Coolers got attention nationally for the work, and also helped them see a huge spike in growth. Designing the website for International Coffee Day for the International Coffee Association in London was a great feeling for everyone at the company. The Backyard on Northgate was our first bar on Northgate so that one was special to me, while in college I never pictured myself rebranding a bar on Northgate. I was also a little nervous about rebranding the old Fitzwillie’s building, so seeing The Backyard received so well was really awesome. I also really love how our line of cans for Blackwater Brewing Co. turned out, and I love seeing them in my fridge. As for clients, a few of the high points would be Texas A&M, Sonic Drive In (National), Bison Coolers, and The Salvation Army.

MW: Sounds like Drift is making big moves. But Martin, we are dying to know about your DJBear persona!

MH: Well, DJBear is all about having a great time. Bears, Beats, Big Ass Beers. I came up with the name because my friends in high school called me “The Bear” and it has stuck with me ever since.

MW: So when did you start DJing?

MH: I’ve always loved music. I was in my first band at 14 and continued all the way through college. In our group of friends, I was always the guy who controlled the music, and was able to read the party to get the people going. A couple months ago, a friend of mine asked me to fill in for his normal DJ, and not being able to do anything halfway, I really dove in a started learning as much as I could.

MW: How often do you DJ? Is it more of a career move or just a hobby?

MH: I’m starting to pick up more gigs, it is coming together a lot quicker than expected. I’ve already had requests for parties in 2017, so I’m guessing I’ll have quite a few more shows in the spring. It is something I do as a hobby. It’s a blast, but nothing more than a side hustle at the moment.

MW: So, can you tell us how this fits in with your design career?

MH: I think most creative people have creative outlets outside of their 8-5. Cody, one of my employees at Drift, writes electronic music and raps with the group Rabbit Realm for instance. I think it helps you come back to work recharged and feeling fulfilled.

DJBear will be DJing at Logie’s from 9pm to 2am on December 9. The music ranges from hip hop to classic rock. Be sure to send your music request before the event with the hashtag, #logiesbear!

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