ARTIST FOCUS: ANDREW (&REW) WILSON
Never one to take anything too seriously, Andrew (&Rew) Wilson’s light-hearted approach to life resonates within his work. Through his use of curves and bold colors to his choice of subject matter, &Rew’s work resonates the style of Junko but definitively stands out as his own with his attention to detail and use of humor.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
My name is Andrew Wilson. There are a lot of other Andrew Wilsons, and being an artist, you want to differentiate yourself, so I try to go with &Rew (ampersand and “rew”).
It makes sense to me sometimes, but other times it makes less sense. I’m from San Diego, but have recently moved to the PNW that means Pacific Northwest. It’s green, but super rainy. Blessing and a curse.
How long have you been designing/illustrating? What got you interested in art?
I’ve been doing art since I was a fetus. Much like cavemen, I would draw on the “cave walls” of my mother’s uterus. Too much information? Well you asked, didn’t you?
Honestly, I would draw with chalk on the sidewalk when I was a little kid. I would draw video games, since I loved them so much. Space Invaders on the street or Berserk on the sidewalk, it was great fun.
With the imagination of a four year old or whatever, you could get away with scribbling Pac-Man in chalk and thinking that you were part of the scene. At the time, it was amazing. Nowadays, you could Instagram those chalk P.O.S.’s and have a ginormous following.
I used to copy anime drawings out of anime comics before they went so common. The drawings were so bad. So, so, so, bad but eventually I stopped drawing from reference.
I’m at a place now where drawing from reference almost bothers me. There’s a place for that, but I’m not really into it. I just like to make things and stuff. Who wouldn’t want to do that? No rules, nothing to fail at – you’re making things!
If you have to start by copying, that’s alright. Get off that as soon as possible though. It’s a crutch, albeit an important one to youngins.
What was the question? Art. So I’ve been doing it for a number of years, but hopefully that’s twice as much time to me as it is to you. I need to get good. That might not be yet or now, but I’m well on my way.
Who/what influences your art? Is there a particular person’s style that has influenced you?
My influences are people like Brian Froud, Winsor McCay, Katuya Terada, Junko Mizuno. If you look at my work you’ll see mostly Junko. I don’t copy but draw inspiration, though at times it’s pretty obvious. I love those guys. If I accidentally rip them, then so be it. They’re all amazing.
How would you describe your style?
I draw stuff I like to see. I’m greedy that way. Art is too much work to do it for other people, although I love to share and let other people steer the ship, it has to be something I’m down with.
Time is money, and art doesn’t make me any money, so if I’m wasting time, it’s my own – I’d better be happy to do just that.
What medium do you typically use when creating art?
I am mostly digital in PSP, but I love ink washes. I’ve spray painted and done stuff in stereo lithography too, but mostly digital in PSP and maybe Maya.
What is your approach when creating new illustrations? Do you plan out the illustration ahead of time or do you just start drawing and let the experience guide you?
There are two options at the time being. I do plan most pieces with a thumbnail or ten and some careful thought.
Other times, I get loaded up on booze and see what happens – that’s really good, but it can also be really painful. I pretend that artists love to suffer to make great pieces – that can be true, but not always; if I get smashed and paint something pretty, that’s great, because the next morning it will have magically appeared.
More important than that stuff though is music. I love music. I will play a few tracks to sort of push the spirit of what I’m rendering, and hopefully I’ll get something out of it. Painting to a good mix of music is a God send. That’s really great. Soundtracks, classical music, indie music – anything really.
What is your day job?
I work at a video game company called Valve.
Tell us about your current projects. What are you working on? Any upcoming art shows?
I do have an upcoming show, a show through Gallery 1988 (Jensen Karp’s gallery in LA) about cult movies: Crazy for Cult. I have an awesome piece planned. I won’t give it up, but it involves a mix of four movies from 1988, all classics.
That gallery is one of the funnest galleries I’ve done work for. The owner is an ex rapper turned gallery owner and he’s really cool to hang out with. I recommend stopping by his openings except that THEY’RE CRAZY. Thousands of people, all blood thirsty for art (and blood) (and alcohol) but probably mostly art (and blood) (and alcohol).
I’m also showing at the LTD in Seattle. I love this gallery. James Monosmith is a cool dude. Is it cool to use the word “dude”? James is a good guy. The show he’s planning will be good, scout’s honor.
Has video game art, concept art, or fan art influenced you at all?
Not video game concept art – I work with concept artists who are amazing, but it’s the games themselves that interest me. I love the abstraction. Photo-real is boring. I like the pixels and the level of choices that you have to take to reduce a character to a flat plane and a small palette. Games nowadays look better but don’t have interpretation. They’re good, but they don’t have that leap of faith that made some of the old games so memorable.
Are you an avid gamer? If so, what are you currently playing?
Yes. I love video games. Currently I’m finishing Skyward Sword. I haven’t beat it yet because of the paintings I’m cooking. I did Dark Souls. Skyrim. Those are all fantasy, but I like other games as well – can’t wait for new Borderlands. Kid Icarus on my 3DS just because I had to know how it was. Portal 2 and Team Fortress 2, but that doesn’t count cause, well, I work on one of those. Go play Team Fortress 2 by-the-way, it’s free and fun!
If you could be any video game character who would it be? Why?
I would be the head in Lollipop chainsaw. Problem is that he’s missing his important parts, but the awesome part is that he’s chained to a cheerleader’s ass. Imagine the implications of living, neigh dangling just inches away from the promised land. I dare you to pick a character more locked in sweet embrace.
Link? No. He’s always alone with a tiny boring annoying fairy. Samus? More alone than link. I think not. I’d be that head in Lollipop. Just kidding. Seriously.
What do you do for fun?
For fun I like to play pinball (a recent habit) but also, I have a girlfriend and if I’m not painting, I’m with her. It’s great fun. She likes nice food, so if I can afford it—eating nice food is awesome. What’s nice food? That means small interesting plates of things that I know not. Deconstructed this or that, French dishes dripping with sauces, sweet breads, Italian food (yes please carbonara anything). Whatevs.
I also collect art. I have some really dope stuff – Mike Libby sculptures, Junko Mizuno pieces, N8 VanDyke, Alberto Ruiz, Wade Shin, Wayne England, Katie Rice, Brian Despain. I love talking to artists and going to shows. I’m super friendly to a fault, so shoot me an email and I will waste my free time replying about how much I love this or that, or hate this or that. If anybody looks any of that up, prepare to wipe up blown mind, cause that’s going to happen.
If there’s one thing that you want people to know about you, what would that be?
Nothing. Check out my art. Don’t be serious about it. I’m light hearted. I would prefer that us artists did what we did without getting political or standoffish about it. If you don’t like my content, that’s totally okay. I like my content. I want other people to enjoy it, but I can’t control what you think and don’t want to. Give it a shot and if you don’t like it, show me what you do and why it’s better.
The dialogue art provides between artists is more intimate and interesting than many real life conversations. It’s rewarding for me to interact with people and I think that they get a lot from me. Ultimately, I would love to inspire people as Brian Froud did for me, or Don Bluth (another great MF). GLHF. That’s all I got.
Want to keep in touch with &Drew or see what he is currently working on? You can see all of his work or contact him via his Blog.