Imagine if your inspiration wasn't someones' success, but their lack of. Twenty-six year old Toronto resident Andrew Wilson explained to me just that when we met at a Tim Hortons on the corner of College and Spadina. His father would always doodle the same thing, Batman. As a kid, Andrew would see this same drawing over and over again. The thing he remembers about it though is how much it sucked. But still, four year old Andrew would repeat this drawing occasionally, to the point were he felt it may be time to try his own works. Although his dad is more “left-brained” as a financial adviser, he was the inspiration for his son Andrew to start drawing. Now, Andrew is all art.
I first heard about him a few months ago. My friend Jonathan (a big fan of street art and anything of similar style) told me to look up a certain artist on Instagram. Well, I didn't have Instagram. Luckily for me, there was a Facebook group with all the same material. The work was amazing, the style unique, and the fan base numbering 2541. This was back before interviews were a staple of my life, regardless, I wanted to get a hold of him. $140.00 later 'Wilson' from Facebooks' Wilson Art was working on my Christmas gift to myself, a blast from the past, a Pokemon-themed commission painting. Every now and then, it's nice to have something from the past reappear into your life, and my past was filled with Pokemon. Surprisingly, this was a big part of 'Wilson's' as well. We started talking about my commission and several others he had done, and soon we were on a first name basis, my friend Jonathan pretty jealously left behind. In the interview we had February 17th, 2013, I learned that Wilson Art was only one of his current ventures- our first in person meeting being at Golden Iron Tattoo in Toronto where he works, one of our first conversations being his planned tour with the band he's in, The Afterimage. As I said, Andrew is all art. What does art mean to him? Art is simply a form of expression that can't be categorized, there's no base to it, it all depends on the individual.
Painted by Andrew Wilson
After his father, some other artists started to lend inspiration to Andrew. When I took the time to look at artists such as Jeff Soto and Travis Lampe all I could see were aspects of Andrew's own work, little bits from each artist forming works of his own that thousands now love. Later on, I asked him when he even thought to form the Facebook group "Wilson Art", and start working on commissioned illustrations and paintings, he then told me that commissioned works were never even his plan. All he wanted was a venue where he could be able to show his art to a few people who he felt would be interested, maybe a hundred or so,but his group blew up from there. About a year ago he started making some prints when people were interested, sold a few works at the concerts he played at, and now he gets a commission request pretty much every single day. Be it by word of mouth or his Instagram page helping out, the fan base has reached levels Andrew had never imagined.
When asked what his fans meant to him, all he could give were positive answers such as “love them, they're awesome, I really love my fans'” Not only does he enjoy them for the praise though, that's not why he posts his work. They allow him to have an honest avenue to have his work judged and commented on, and always open to advice. As well, he even feels the group can help him to pay them (his fans) back with a little advice of his own to them. As a budding artist, and even now, Andrew loves the moments when those he follows show progress shots or how-to-videos of their work. This helps him learn, to grow, and to enhance his skill. Therefore, he makes sure to show his steps to artists following him since he understands how beneficial it can be- with plans to even soon release a time lapse video of a painting he's done.
Andrew Wilson's Portraits of 2013!
(My favourite is top row, fifth over- Clint Eastwood!)
Doing this can lead to some poor circumstances for artists though, as Andrew realized just recently. One of his fans sent him a message on Facebook, asking if he had noticed a random page on tumblr showing his work, claiming credit for it. He hadn't. While looking through the website he noticed more of his friends work as well. His fans came to the rescue. Upon posting and explaining the situation on his own Facebook page, hundreds of his fans went to work and told her what she was doing was wrong, with a few harsher words probably thrown in. After only a short while, the page was down. Be it her removing it, or tumblr, he doesn't know. What makes Andrew smile is that he didn't do a thing, it was all people he didn't know being there for him when he needed it. Social media pulling through.
Social media is what made Andrew known. A place for him to exhibit his work has led to fans in numbers he never expected. Fans that can give him the advice he needs, and praise he deserves. Fans who can help him when he needs it, and fans who he can help if they're looking for it. At only twenty-six years old, he knows that he's still young but getting on in years. With no idea as to where Wilson Art, Golden Iron Tattoo or The Afterimage are headed, his life could go anywhere. His hopes lie in a combination in all three.
Regardless, art is both behind and ahead of him. Originating with him practicing and using examples, he says that's what all bidding artists should do. Practice, and watch the steps of those you find successful, and you will succeed.
Be it Jeff Soto or Travis Lampe. Be it Andrew Wilson and Wilson Art, or be it your fathers “shitty Batman”. Give yourself time and don't stop when it's hard. That's what Andrew has done, and this is where he is now.
Pencil Crayon sketch by Andrew Wilson