DeAndre Washington, Arts & Entertainment Editor
The Atlanta University Center has seen many creative ideas come and go throughout the years. Some ideas have come to fruition; while others wait to be picked up from the shelves we tend to leave them on. Deláno Young plans to make sure that all his ideas catch more attention than dust. The Maroon Tiger sat down with the young entrepreneur who proclaims himself as the voice of the black dollar to discuss his recent airbrush t-shirt collaboration with local Atlanta brand “All Friends Welcome” that has gained so much attention.
Our conversation, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below:
DW: So we’ve never met before and I just want to know what do you do? What are you doing currently?
DY: I like to call myself a visionary; I’m involved in technology and apps, fashion, creative direction, and music. As of right now, I’m a creative director for several organizations on campus. I just put out samples of my own work with a collaboration with All Friends Welcome. I’m also building an app at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport that allows passengers to not only order but deliver food from different terminals. I’m into everything creative. It can be music, It can be fashion, It could be technology, It could be business. I’m a creative person. That’s what I wanted to do.
DW: When did you get interested in making clothes?
DY: Probably elementary. Back then I used to love fashion as well. I remember coming to school like fresh and designing my own Vans. At the time Vans were popular so I used to go online and design sneakers, order on my mom’s card, and wear them to school. I used to design the KD 4s. I had designed three pairs of them. That’s what I was on.
DW: So what inspired you to get started with your own brand?
DY: Well personally I don’t have an actual clothing brand. I feel like my name, Deláno Young, is a brand within itself. So what I do is just try to come on other projects and collab with different people so I can create a bigger audience. I believe I’m the voice of the black dollar in Houston and Atlanta. I feel like whatever project I’m on, I can make it to where it’s bigger than what it actually is or I can actually have people see the ins and outs of that brand. So my name itself is just a brand. That’s really it.
DW: Would you say you have any designers you look to?
DY: I feel like with everything I do, I thrive off of good vibes and energy. So I wouldn’t say that I have a particular person that I look at. I can see something Lil Yachty does [I think his style is dope] — I’ll see something from that. And it’ll give me inspiration to do something better or bigger in that manner. Anybody can inspire me. My friends inspire me just by seeing them and how they interact with people. That inspires me to have the projects that I do.
DW: Could you tell me about the process for making the airbrush t-shirts for All Friends Welcome?
DY: So originally I created a Morehouse HBCU tee back in 2016. My friend and I both sat down and actually did everything when we created this t-shirt. And when we first put out samples, they didn’t get the amount of buzz that they’ve got now because it was way ahead of its time. Even though airbrush been around it’s way ahead of its time. So I sat down on it, I waited to try it again sophomore year with a different design but same concept that didn’t work. I tried again last year — didn’t work.
And so this time, I wanted to do something different where it’s not just some guy airbrushed on a tee. I wanted something that was going to hit harder; which is why I came up with the design — finding the 80s and 90s logos of the AUC (Atlanta University Center) and put it on the t-shirts and having them airbrushed. I see what’s going on at Morehouse where we had kind of a bad summer. Then I saw what happened at Clark with the shooting and said, “hey, let’s come together”. “On the back, let’s put All Friends Welcome”. And I think that’s what, to me matters the most is the back. At the end of the day, the front logo is hard but the back stands for so much more unique and different within the AUC, which is why all friends are welcome. We’re here for a bigger purpose, these institutions were created for us to live our bigger purpose and we have to act accordingly.
DW: Not everyone is familiar with the behind the scenes of decision making when it comes to clothes, could you explain the pricing for the shirts for people that aren’t aware?
DY: So the shirts were originally priced at $120 because airbrush material costs so much. Not only that, the quality t-shirts that’s getting airbrushed on to where you can wash, dry, and it will look the same forever, that costs money. And not only that, people don’t notice that the whole shirt is airbrushed. So that front logo is not stencil, it’s freehand. You have to have a designer come and do that freehand. So just with materials and everything, the shirt costs 80 bucks to produce. And like I said, these were samples. They weren’t supposed to be sold but people wanted them. So we priced them at $120 and they will be available. For right now, they’re going to stay at $120 but we have produced a way cheaper version of the shirt that’s still 100% airbrush and still going to have everything that you love about the shirt. It’s everything — just going to be a cheaper version that makes it more affordable for college students so we could all have something to wear.
I felt as if students thought I was taxing $120 or hitting them upside the head just cause I want to be a black entrepreneur. But that was not the case, when the shirt is roughly $85 just to make. And don’t let it be more customizing to it because that’s more money. That’s not a gildan shirt; that’s an actual vintage shirt you can wash, dry, and it will look like that forever. No matter what you do, the design will look like that forever.
DW: Do you have any advice to anybody interested in t-shirt making?
DY: From what I’ve learned personally, use God’s timing and put out material but don’t rush it. This airbrush tee — I did it literally three years ago, this is just a different design. But it was timing. Now this is something that not only we needed but the world needs right now. Airbrush is starting to come back in style really heavy. You have so many of these companies starting airbrush collections. We needed to stamp this as our representation.
DW: What’s next?
DY: I actually have other designs that are cheaper and some that are a bit more expensive than the $120; but it will be a “Friends and Family” t-shirt for the AUC. A pop up is on the way as well and just having the shirts ready now for homecoming because that’s what matters the most.