Droga5 Fights Anti-AAPI Bigotry With 'I'm Really From' Travel Posters

Artful project for the Asian American Federation

"Where are you really from?"

How many times must Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders field that question? They're Americans, hailing from this country. Full stop.

Droga5 vividly illustrates that point with a series of special "travel posters" created pro-bono for the Asian American Federation, a public-advocacy group. The "I'm Really From" project spotlights personal stories from community members, including novelist Kevin Kwan, speed skater Apollo Ohno, Instagram fashion partnerships director Eva Chen, and victims of anti-Asian hate crimes such as Noel Quintana.

Each subject collaborated with a different Asian American artist, who created banners hyping locales like New York, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and San Diego. Because that's where the subjects are really from.They were ether born in these places or lived there for many years.

Ohno, winner of two Olympic gold medals on behalf of the United States, inspired this piece from Bianca Austria:

"This project was an amazing opportunity to not only offer my expertise as an artist, but also to reconcile with the part of myself that has been victimized by racial discrimination," Austria says. "I believe art is a powerful tool that communicates universally. It transcends barriers."

Jiaqi Wang based her illustration on Kwan's reminiscences about growing up in Houston:

And Lydia Ortiz provides a stylized map to Quintana's New York City, dispelling all doubt about which city he calls home:

"The insight for the idea came from multiple instances I've encountered as a Filipino American in the United States on both coasts," Droga5 art director Nod Arceo McFall tells Muse.

"Most recently, it happened at a doctor's appointment in midtown Manhattan, when a Caucasian nurse asked me 'But where are you really from?' after I told her the name of the city in Washington State where I was raised," McFall recalls. "The commonality in which AAPI folks encounter this question is ubiquitous, and really is a sign that many in the United States still associate Asian Americans as a population to be 'other-ed.' It signals to AAPI people that in some ways, we are still not welcome in the country that many of us were born and raised in."

"The implication of the question 'Where are you really from?' is that the person being asked is not from where they say they're from—after all, how could they be, when they don't look like the asker?" adds copywriter Gabriel Sehringer. "In thinking about travel and geography and the idea of 'foreignness,' we were struck by the simplicity of traditional travel posters. Not only were they bold and visually interesting, but a travel poster conveniently has the country or city's name written at the top."

The work seeks to raise funds for the Federation's "Hope Against Hate" community programs, with poster downloads priced at $25, and large limited-edition prints selling for $150.

"I hope that people can think more about the implications of the questions they ask," McFall says. "Our words and the way we use them matter and can mean the difference between celebrating someone's home or invalidating it."

Anti-Asian racism has risen in the pandemic era. The Ad Council tacked this especially insidious brand of dehumanization in PSAs featuring Melissa King, while Wieden + Kennedy created a picture book examining the problem through the lens of old stereotypes.

You can check out the rest of the AAF's posters below:

Click the images to enlarge:


New York City
Subject: Suki Terada Ports  
Illustrator: Kezia Gabriella

Subject: Christina Mui
Illustrator: Deborah Lee
Subject: Syeda Tasnim
Illustrator: Jun Cen

Subject: Noel Quintana
Illustrator: Lydia Ortiz

St. Louis
Subject: Shayn Prapaisilp
Illustrator: Lisk Feng

San Diego
Subject: Sha Eisen
Illustrator: Dani Choi

Subject: Apolo Ohno
Illustrator: Bianca Austria

Subject: Kevin Kwan
Illustrator: Jiaqi Wang

*Two additional NYC posters will launch in December. Artist Sophie Diao profiles Eva Chen, while illustrator Gica Tam collaborates with Christine Yi

Client The Asian American Federation
Campaign "I'm Really From"

Agency Droga5 NY
Co-Chief Creative Officer Tim Gordon
Co-Chief Creative Officer Felix Richter
Executive Creative Director Karen Land Short
Copywriter Gabriel Sehringer
Art Director Nod Arceo McFall
Group Design Director Mark Yoon
Associate Design Director Albie Eloy
Designer Kenisha Rullan
Director of Art Production Cliff Lewis
Producer, Art Caroline Fahey
Associate Producer, Interactive Lauren Williams
Producer, Print Abraham Nowels
Director of Business Affairs Dan Simonetti
Senior Business Affairs Manager Jeannie Curcio
Senior Business Affairs Manager Whitney Vose
Senior Talent Manager Sunny Valencia
Brand Strategy Director Rik Mistry
Brand Strategist Sarah Khan
Communications Strategy Director Mariel Milner
Senior Communications Strategist Cherish Lee
Junior Communications Strategist Matthew Myers
Group Data Strategy Director Lily Ng
Group Account Director Ji You
Account Director Angela Li
Senior Project Manager Janelle Jordan

Client Asian American Federation
Jo-Ann Yoo Executive Director
Joo Han Deputy Director
Meera Venugopal Associate Director of Development and Communications
Jenny Shin Development and Communications Coordinator

Production Company Second Child
Managing Director Scott Chinn
Photographer Paul McGeiver
Photo Producer Rachel Scarpelli
Graphics Studio Manager Michael Mockler
Studio Artist George McAvoy
Studio Producer Virginia Vargas
Quality Control Lisa Bishai

Web Development
Web Developer Rushil Shakya

Illustration Agents
Closer & Closer Olivia Ratzch
Closer & Closer Megan Israel
Dutch Uncle Helen Cowley
JSR Agency Raya Alkhayal
Killington Arts Kit Killington

Print Production Publicide, Inc.

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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