2 Minutes With ... Set Free Richardson, Creative Director of Compound
Born in the Bronx and reared in Philadelphia, Set Free Richardson is known for implementing his experiences with urban culture into breakthrough ideas. His role in creating the AND1 Mixtape propelled that brand into a multimillion-dollar franchise and international sensation.
He is the mastermind behind Compound, a creative entity where art, music, fashion, sports and charity are fused. The space serves as an adult playground for work, curated events, and meetings of the minds, where artistic people, the likes of Chris Rock and Kevin Durant, come together to sharpen each other and give life to imagination.
Set Free's ability to bring unique and authentic concepts to the table have made him one of the most sought-after creatives in the industry, working with clients like Nike, ESPN, EA Sports and others.
We spent two minutes with Set Free to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.
Set Free, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up between Queens in New York and Philadelphia. I now live in Brooklyn.
How you first realized you were creative.
As a child, I would build worlds and environments for my toys. That's when I knew my imagination was different.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
George Lucas. Growing up, I had the chance to see Star Wars in the theater in 1977. Seeing that movie at such a young age fed my imagination. I wanted to understand the Earth and beyond. All of the different walks of life and characters had me dreaming in real time. The movie sparked a creative side of me I never knew I had.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
I lived on Penn State University's campus with some friends when I finished high school, but I never attended. I started DJing and hosting events on campus and realized I was making so much money and growing to understand marketing at the same time. I was creative and found ways to hustle while showcasing my talents. I realized I did not need a degree to define me or make my way in the world.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
Brain Donnelly, p.k.a. Kaws. He's an artist I have been following since his graffiti days in the '90s. The way he took his characters and graffiti to rise and became one of the most prolific artists of our generation helped me look at things differently.
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
The book that always inspires me is the Bible. There are so many examples and stories that are relevant to any situation or guidelines on how to live.
Your favorite fictional character.
Bobba Fett from Star Wars. He was a bounty hunter who worked for Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt and also as a private contractor. I look at myself the same way, able to work with numerous brands and individuals from various industries at the same time.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
Me! Please check out @iam_setfree.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
Professionally, I had to be more creative and learn how to produce and direct remotely through technology. Personally, Covid -19 helped me prioritize my health—to exercise more and eat better. It was all about self-care and self-awareness.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
Creating the AND 1 Mixtape. It allowed me to connect basketball and hip-hop, two of my favorite things. Creating this mixtape changed the game in the marketing, hip-hop and basketball world and propelled the AND1 brand into a multimillion-dollar franchise and international sensation.
A recent project you're proud of.
My Compound x Save the Duck collection. I was able to work with a brand that is about saving animals while creating a functional and fashionable collection inspired by the seven elements. It was a great and successful experience and collaboration.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
Yasiin Bey f.k.a. Mos Def. He lives by integrity, truth and honor both professionally and personally and has always been an inspiration in my life as a mentor and good friend.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
Lio Malca. One of my biggest passions is collecting art. During the pandemic, our two worlds collided when I got stuck in Tulum, Mexico, at his art boutique hotel, Casa Malca. Lio Malca is a renowned Colombian art collector, gallerist and hotelier with projects in New York, Ibiza and Tulum. Learning how he got his start in the art game was so inspiring, and being able to work with and learn from him has elevated my love and knowledge for art to a whole new level.
Your main strength as a creative person.
Your biggest weakness.
I care too much about my fellow man!
One thing that always makes you happy.
One thing that always makes you sad.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.