Images via Instagram
Twenty years ago, at a small mall on the outskirts of Halifax, Trevor Andrew celebrated a successful snowboard competition by buying his first piece of Gucci. Now, at 37, Andrew is designing for them. Bridging the gap between then and now, the Canadian export competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, as well as the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Today, he's the brains behind Gucci's latest street-line (pieces of which have been sported by the likes of Beyonce, Elton John, Madonna, and Rihanna — to name a few). He now has a following of some 53,000 on Instagram — where he documents snippets of his studio, his family and his day-to-day life between hours of painting, parenting and travelling the world. But despite his active online presence, not many people know much about the man behind the art.
Andrew, a.k.a Trouble, a.k.a Gucci Ghost, is a Nova Scotia-born athlete and artist who has lived in NYC for the past 15 years or so. A creator in every sense of the word, Andrew's also been making music for years, which has been mainly featured in skate and snowboard films. Three years ago, Andrew started out on his mission to get Gucci's attention — including the birth of his alter-ego, signature design and namesake of the would-be collaboration: Gucci Ghost — by pushing the art project on as many platforms as possible "so that they'd either have to sue me or hire me."
I finally got a hold of the elusive designer to find out more about how he got to where he is and where he's headed next. He was skateboarding to his Brooklyn studio just after being relieved from his father duties by his wife, Santigold.
Noisey: Your real name is Trevor Andrew, but you also go by Trouble Andrew and Gucci Ghost. What do your friends call you?
Trevor Andrew: My friends called me Trevor. Or Trouble. Or Gucci Ghost — I don't know — I guess it depends what friend and how they know me.
Where does Trouble come from?
I'm not sure exactly to be honest — it's kind of old. A couple of my friends started saying it probably when I was like 16 or something. It's kind of funny 'cause I wasn't really a bad kid or anything. I guess I used to find myself in funny situations, [but] to be honest, I don't know. My mom calls me Trevor.
So a few Halloweens ago, you cut eyeholes in a Gucci bedsheet and called yourself Gucci Ghost before heading out in New York City. You sort of created this alter ego for yourself before eventually getting noticed by Gucci's creative director, [Alessandro Michele]. How did that all actually manifest itself into the current Gucci collaboration?
I think it actually started with a tweet [to Gucci]. And then I kind of started drawing [Gucci Ghost]. I'm a pretty obsessive person, so I just kind of really went in full-on to the point where friends and family were like, "what is this, are you crazy?" But I really started having a clear vision of how it actually could apply to the brand and that became part of the art project — getting the brand to notice what it was that I was doing.
People just kept saying "you know you're going to get sued, what's the point, Gucci would never talk to you." So then I was even more motivated, 'cause I was like, "you know, fuck that — I actually don't believe that." I kept thinking to myself, "damn, it would just take the right person to see it." And then Alessandro came across it through a mutual friend, which is weird because this friend (Ari Marcopoulos) keeps popping up in my life in really significant points. He's a photographer I met through my snowboard years when I was young. He was actually there for the first pro contest I was in that I ever won, and it was kinda the kick-starter to my career, after which I returned to Nova Scotia and went to Bedford and went in the mall and bought a Gucci watch with the winnings. It was the first luxury item I ever owned in my life.
I hadn't spoke to [Ari] in a couple years and we reconnected [on Halloween] in New York. He got hired by Alessandro to shoot the lookbook for Gucci this year, so then he went to Italy and he hit me up just knowing I'd be super geeked that he's working for them. He was just like, "Yo, send me some pictures of some paintings and stuff that you've been making." So I sent him some images of clothing and paintings and a video of my studio and he wrote me back and was like, "oh god they think you're cool, they love you." And then I didn't hear anything for a month and then I got a call on January 3rd from Rome.
Even though the whole time I really truly believed it, it was still really surreal at that moment. I had to kind of double check my phone. So then I got on a call with them and they were like, 'do you want to come to Rome next week and talk to us about doing a collaboration?' So then I flew to Rome and I brought two suitcases full of paintings and clothes and bags and hard drives with ideas, and Alessandro opened the bag and he went through it. And from that point, I had directions and saw what he was really attracted to.
Do you believe in serendipity or is this all premeditated and well-thought-out — something you've always envisioned?
I just believe that you can believe in something so much that it can become real — whether that's good or bad. I mean, at this point I had this vision and was like this would really fucking work. So, a bit of both I guess. I guess what you put out, you kind of get back in a way. Unless you're totally delusional, which there was probably moments where I was feeling like damn am I trippin'? But then I just kept believing in it.
Do you have any haters that would criticize what you're doing with Gucci, saying maybe it's tacky or off-brand? What sort of backlash have you faced?
[Laughs.] No, I haven't. I really haven't — but I mean, whatever. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so it doesn't really bother me too much — or at all, really. It's not like I've never had anything bad said about me, but I know my intentions are pure. I'm just trying to be happy and that's what I'm focused on. I'm not really focused on other people's misery and shit.
So, you're flipping Gucci on its head. You're putting graffiti tags on $4,000 handbags and $400 t-shirts, and people like Rihanna and Elton John are buying them. How does that feel?
Yeah, it's pretty exciting. Just working with Gucci, it's obviously such a big platform, it's allowing me to reach a lot of people. Just to see anybody buying a piece and being excited or being in the store — that to me is just as rad as seeing a celebrity in it. Because I can relate to the experience of going in and buying something — 'cause I didn't grow up having designer stuff. That feeling of buying something that's really well-made and being super proud — that makes me happy, to see other people happy.
If you could pick any artist or athlete or celebrity to be spotted wearing your stuff, do you have one in mind that you'd freak out about?
I was pretty excited to see 21 Savage wearing a piece recently… [and] Gucci Mane. I mean GG Allin would be cool, but he's dead. A lot of dead people, I'd like to see wearing it. Most of my heroes are dead people.
What do you see your relationship with Gucci like in the future?
It's funny, because when I received the call from them, none of us knew how far we would have already gotten. I was thinking, maybe I'll do a print or something, and I think they thought the same. But then I went in there with so much stuff and we just vibed so hard that that turned into the women Fall/Winter [collection], which had quite a few pieces in it. And that went into the Cruise Collection which went into [the] summer [collection], and now we're doing these events. It's really been the most organic relationship that you could think of — from where we started to where we are now. We've just not been putting too much weight on it and having fun, and it seems to be just growing — which is awesome
Is there a certain place you seek inspiration for your designs?
I think everywhere. Just travelling and being exposed to as much as I can. I've been fortunate enough to travel most of my life. Obviously, I've spent a lot of time in New York, but earlier in my life, I was spending a lot of time in the mountains, [which is] sort of more quiet and peaceful. I have pretty good balance, I think, in between the madness and the quiet.
Speaking of quiet, you're from Falmouth, Nova Scotia?
Do you ever visit Nova Scotia — do you still have family here?
Yeah, totally. Both my parents still live there. So I go back as much as I possibly can, but it usually ends up being like two or three times a year. And then I also have family in outside of Vancouver, in Squamish. My brother lives there and I also have a place out there, so I kind of bounce in between the east and west.
You're married to Santigold. What's it like being such a rad power couple?
[Laughs.] We've been together forever. We've been together before she was Santigold and before I was doing any of this stuff. It's been almost 15 years, so I don't really see it that way. I mean, I'm super proud of her. We have our independence in the way we create stuff, but we do share, and we do understand what we're both going through — being on the road and all that stuff — so it's really nice, and that's probably why we've been together for so long. But I mean, it's rad just to have been there the whole journey and for us to see the ups and downs. Being an artist, it's not so consistent — you have to really be in it and really live it and be committed to it —otherwise, it's probably not going to work out.
And you guys have a kid together — how old is he?
We have a two-and-a-half-year-old son. His name's Rad.
That's amazing. Noisey wrote an article on you back in 2013. Are you still pursuing a music career?
I wouldn't even say I was ever pursuing a music career. I think I was just making music. I'm still making music. I've been working on some stuff for a while, but I don't have and never really had a label or any kind of thing that makes me legitimate in the music world. I've just always really enjoyed making music and playing it. Even the first music I ever made, I never really intended to put it out. It was only [because of] the encouragement from other people, like Santi. I really just did it to kill time. The community kind of supporting it and putting it in [skate or snow] films and stuff — that's what encouraged me to even put it anywhere people could discover it.
"Life is Gucci" seems to sort of be your social media mantra. Do you feel compelled to showcase the exclusivity of the brand that you've partnered with, or has Gucci really become your entire life?
Yeah, I mean, it's more a message to be positive. Gucci represents good, and I found it's something you can actually say and people understand you're saying it's good or great. I found that intriguing about the brand. That's really special and fun for me to play with within the art – I like to put positive vibes out in the world. So this [just kind of] furthers that idea.
Do you think you're the best at what you do, or do you think you're the only one who does what you do? In terms of fashion designing, is there competition or did you just create a whole new category?
Damn, I haven't really even thought of it either way. I would definitely not be like, "I'm the best at it" or the only one doing it. I'm just me and I'm doing it how I'm doing it. That's what I think it comes down to — taking all of your influences and all of your experiences and processing them and putting them back out into the world in your way that is honest to you. And I think that's what resonates with people. I'm super proud that I'm the one doing what I'm doing with Gucci and it's exciting to see people responding the way they are. I'm just doing me. I don't think it's about being the best, I think it's about being you.