Behind the Hustle
Stories worth telling.
Stories worth telling.
A LONG WAY FROM LEGOS
Andrew Oslovar is a maker. A drawer. A builder. A compiler. A designer. For him, creating art was never about becoming an artist, but rather a pathway to pursue his passion of creating things. From a young age this Southern California native was fascinated by the mundane and obscure objects that surround us every day and was in constant pursuit to better his understanding of how things are built, from what materials, and for what purpose. While many children exist in an unceasing state of “when I grow up, I want to be…” thoughts of future plans and careers bored Drew. “I didn’t think much past what I was currently doing or currently working on. And mainly, I think I wasn’t quite capable of it because my interests would change so frequently. My goals flip-flopped but were usually influenced by my need to make things, build things, or follow some sort of instructions on how to put something together,” Drew explained. This marriage of creativity and technical interest drove Drew to art school, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Art and a Master’s in Sculpture and Three-Dimensional Space. Today, Drew (aka Druber, aka the man with the magnificent mustache) is DLX’s Lead Technical Artist, Lead Trainer, and a valued member of our Research and Development Team.
PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES
During his undergrad Drew realized he could mostly adhere to class guidelines while producing art that was still relevant to his interests. World War II ephemera was a theme of his work, as was inspiration from the people he admired. “I always had great professors that encouraged me to push the boundaries of art,” Drew said. If he had an idea that resembled the assigned project, it was not uncommon for him to approach his professor and pitch his own ideas that met similar criteria. Drew connected with mentors who had common interests, and his work undoubtably pulled inspiration from theirs: “I was making stuff for them or helping them set up their shows. A lot of the ideas of how to hang stuff, or the types of woods and the types of cuts just invariably became similar.” Nonetheless, Drew maintained focus on creations that fulfilled him, like ceramic airplane models that, upon completion, he would launch off a ramp and crash into a wall.
Graduate school brought Drew to the University of Oregon. He quickly developed a passion for climbing and backpacking, which introduced a layer of kinesthetic, outdoor influence to his work. “It was kind of a phase where I was like, ‘Yeah I’m in Oregon. I’m into this.’ And so, I did all these drawings of mountains. But I did them standing on top of a rickety 10-foot ladder and drawing with a pen attached to a tent pole.” Again, this exemplifies Drew taking inspiration from another artist (in this case, contemporary artist Matthew Barney) while doing work he found entertaining. Something new emerged during this phase of his education, however: a sort of revelation many artists are known to experience. Drew realized that personal satisfaction in the process of making things was his art-form, with the final result suddenly having much less significance.
ONE MAN’S TRASH…
Drew became an athlete in his studio. Armed with a hot glue gun and a bucket of random objects, he challenged himself to make ten new objects in ten minutes. The more things he could pull apart, rearrange, and reconfigure, the more he thought about the materials we use in our day-to-day lives. Many afternoons were spent wandering the aisles of thrift shops looking for items that sparked his imagination or were just downright weird. Plastic objects in particular intrigued Drew. He explained, “Plastic is such a ubiquitous material. One, it’s destroying our planet. In some ways, it’s made to package items that already, through nature, have a package on it like a banana. It’s absurd. But then at the same time, that material is used in all these incredibly lifesaving, high-tech ways. It’s the ultimate material that we’ve used to its utmost – and also abused. I just think it’s fascinating.” Drew began to use plastic as a primary medium: compiling bins of “colorful junk” and allowing personal taste to determine what items made the cut: “I didn’t necessarily care that much about what it did or how much it cost. I just like the way objects look, especially when they are occupying our space.” Thus, began another chapter of Drew’s story. He built upon his interest of putting objects together and taking them apart to grasp how they worked and started to assemble things in a way that made sense to him.
With a nuanced understanding that his works were art – simply because he wanted them to be – Drew began his master’s thesis. He noticed some of his colleagues’ projects seemed to be prescribed by Art Theory, a philosophy that deals with the nature, expression, and perception of art. To Drew, creating art was about moving things through iterations of two-dimensional space to three-dimensional space; about developing a narrative to tell some kind of story, whether personal or collective. And most importantly, creating art was about the personal gratification of bringing an object into existence. He sourced inspiration from deconstructionism, humor, and an inquiry of personal masculinity. In abandonment of the inauthentic, Drew tossed out 25 pages of dissertation progress, much of which was forced “Art Theory jargon” that didn’t really mean anything to him. By personal definition his master’s thesis display was “a bunch of three-dimensional inside jokes,” so in true Drew fashion, he wrote a collection of 150 short stories and turned that in for his final. “It’s so easy to convince yourself that your work is smarter than it is. I thought my work was stupid, and not smart. I didn’t want it to be. I wanted to make art that could be funny and approachable, but also complex and honest.”
CREATIVITY MEETS INGENUITY
Drew brought his knack for design and putting things together into his career – first as a kitchen designer at a local home improvement center. As fate would have it, one of his customers would be DLX General Manager Adam Barr. When it came time to remodel his kitchen, Adam remembered the customer service Drew provided during a previous visit and returned to seek his expertise. After being impressed yet again, Adam asked if he would be interested in working for DLX. The stars suddenly aligned for Drew, who had been scouring the Pacific Northwest for relevant career opportunities. Fast forward a few weeks, and Drew was using his days off from the home improvement center to help with production at DLX. When he later took the plunge and became a full-time Hustler, Drew knew he could demonstrate his existing skills and teach himself the rest. “Oh, I can do that” became his typical response, and it was never an empty promise. “Either I already knew how to do it and got better at it because I was working here, or I taught myself how to do it.” The complicated software he learned for base camp drawings, for example, reveals Drew’s ability to be self-taught. Today, a big part of Drew’s job includes using this same software to develop customized camp concept drawings for customers based on their mission-specific needs. He also creates all the artwork for our manuals and other support material.
HANDS-ON, EGOS OFF
Drew is motivated to learn, but he was born to lead. Over the years Drew has become a key member of the DLX Training Team. These folks, all of whom have other titles within the company, are the ones who go out in the field and provide hands-on training with our shelter systems and accessories. When asked what his favorite part of his job is, Drew was quick to answer: “Showing other people how it works… explaining a system and then watching people use that system. That’s the most exciting part of my job.” His commanding authority keeps trainees focused, while his encouraging nature and thorough understanding of the products instills confidence. Drew went on to say that being a trainer provides the relationship-building aspect he enjoyed most from working at the home improvement store, without the added pressure of trying to make a sale.
“I have this incredibly wonderful tool, which is our product, and I get to use that to show it off. It’s really rewarding to take a big group of people and set up a camp, and see those people gain self-confidence.”
“EVEN THROUGH ART, THERE WILL ALWAYS BE FAILURE”
One thing I know for sure is Drew is not afraid of failure. In fact, he welcomes shortcomings exactly for what they are: a crucial part of success. “We must understand both the features and limitations of our products,” he explained. This point of view, paired with his inventiveness, landed Drew a spot on the DLX Research and Development Team where he participates in continuous product improvement. Trainings are an opportunity to celebrate the amazing capabilities of our shelters, but more importantly, to identify what we can do better as told by the professionals who use our products for their real-world application. So much of product design is theoretical, and there are only so many scenarios that can be tested from our home base. Most recently, Drew helped design a decontamination shower that will be making its debut in the field soon.
Feedback is always greeted with enthusiasm at DLX and Drew is a walking representation of that ethos. He never stops listening and looking for tools to add to his toolbox: how to make products more intuitive, how to use his art to simplify instructions, and how to best serve those who will use our equipment in high-stress situations.
A CREATIVE COMMUNICATOR WHO CARES
When I first started working at DLX in March 2020, I was assigned a desk right next to Drew. One of my initial assignments was to learn how to use the large format printer, a responsibility that had fallen entirely on him up to this point. He walked me through the process with patience, attention to detail, and a genuine desire to help me learn. Whenever I had a question, which was probably too often, Drew responded with an eagerness to explain. He may not have realized how much I needed to feel confident in something when I first started with the company (it was a sudden and drastic career change caused by the pandemic), but his teaching style and support were contributing factors to my initial success at DLX. He helped me prove to myself and my team that I was worth keeping around. I think anyone who has seen one of Drew’s technical drawings or participated in one of his trainings would agree: the man has a knack for communicating with clarity. Since March I’ve been fortunate to work closely with Drew. Seeing him in action, in the field and at the office, is a true testament to the hustle that runs through this guy’s veins.
In his moments away from DLX, catch Drew Olympic Weightlifting, leading characters through a story in Dungeons and Dragons as a Game Master, and watching Formula One racing on the weekends. Many of his passions come back to his desire to move through space, tell a story, or understand the mechanics behind how things work. He spends most of his free time with his partner Lauren (who is an amazing cook based on the lunches Drew often brings to work) and their beloved feline, Pablo. Drew and Lauren met lifting weights at the gym (can you say swoll-mates?!). They adopted Pablo from Greenhill Humane Society in the spring of 2016.
At DLX we firmly believe that the reinforcement of our loved ones is what keeps the hustle happening.
They are a true extension of our team. With that being said: shout-out to Lauren and Pablo for their unwavering support and to Drew for showing up each and every day to serve those who serve.
Deployed Logix specializes in rapid deployment shelters and scalable, customizable solutions for first responders, healthcare, and private organizations. Our rapid deployment shelters put you under cover and out of the elements in as little as 60-seconds with two personnel. Discover today why we’re the leader in American made rapid deployment disaster preparedness products.
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