Kendra Gaines July 9th, 2012

Artistically Designed: Get to Know Andrew Archer

Art and design are often very subjective fields when it comes to who and what is good. They can also be very subjective in determining where a particular piece fits. Is it art, or is it design? There are, however, basic principles we all tend to agree on; design is generally more calculated while art is more free. Every so often, you stumble upon a piece that gives you the best of both worlds, great design and great art. It does not happen often that the piece of work is surrounded by other works that are just as amazing. This time, we've stumble upon a wonderfully kept secret by the name of Andrew Archer. He's an illustrator from New Zealand that has a great artistic eye that works with various design principles. Today, we get to pick his brain a little to see how he comes up with such amazing work.

Question & Answers

Q: First off, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Could you start by telling our readers a little bit about your creative process? How do you get a project rolling? A: I always bounce a few emails back and forth or hit Skype with the Art Director to get a clear idea of what he likes about my work or thinks would be good for the project. From here, I put a series of thumbnails (sketches) on paper - I normally pick 1-3 of my strongest, [because] I'm not a super fan of sending a huge set of thumbnails unless I'm lost for ideas. From there the client/art director and I will make any tweaks if necessary and I'll do some research on the subject for the good linework/image. At this point I don't really care for anything but a strong composition, everything else can come after. Q: When it comes to your work, what are your weapons of choice (your go to tools)? A: I do all my thumbs and refined sketches on paper and most of my good linework, also. I use the tablet for fills, controlling colour and values. Pencils, Photoshop, charcoal, acrylics and watercolours are my most used tools. I often make silk screens for certain things and/or scan anything I need - sometimes it can be coffee stains, sometimes crayons - it really is determined by the project itself, but I don't limit myself to a set process for every project. Sometimes I use more by hand, others more digital - it really depends. Q: How did you get started in the art and design fields? A: I studied graphic design originally and worked in the field for 1-2 years. I studied when I was around 18 and didn't really know what I wanted from design except to 'design cool things'. The industry is a lot different than most think it is - I was one of those people who thought you would [get] into a job designing snowboard artwork, realistically it's far from this. I worked as a graphic designer for around 18 months. Most of my design work was illustration related but with a lot of design attributes. Q: Of your many fantastic pieces, what is your favorite? What is the story behind this piece? A: 'Little Large Tokyo' and 'Bully School' are probably two of my favourites, mainly due to them relating to me personally. 'Little Large Tokyo' reminds me of everything I love about asian culture, the art style, the food, the transport and system. 'Bully School', I like the rawness and contrast. Q: How do you stay inspired? Do you have any inspirational tricks for beating creative blocks to pass along to our readers? [I'm inspired by] Travel, cultures, food, music and a massive Tumblr dashboard that fires awesome work from awesome artists at me all the time. Except the [aforementioned], I'm naturally an extremely motivated person and will not give up on anything until I have done or mastered it. It's a good and bad thing, drives me nuts some days but also I know it's what fuels me. I feed off knowing I can do better/greater work personally. There's no real trick for me, I dont really feel like I need to beat a creative block - I've always been full of a lot of ideas and can normally picture in my head how I want something to look when I first read the project. My frustration/hard work comes with colour and the delicate process of achieving an interesting palette. [The] Trick is to keep going! Q: Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you could tell us a little bit about? Currently working on some fashion spreads, a film poster and a few editorial pieces. Q: If you had your way, what would your future in this arena be like?  To be able to keep illustrating, build a long term body of personal and commercial work that I'm proud of, is true to me and enjoyed by others. I see my personal work as the 'bigger' thing which brings the most enjoyment. Q: Do you have any side hobbies — that thing you do really well when you are tired of doing illustrations? I play basketball a lot; around 3-5 times a week. I'm super good at eating and obsessed with food, watch a lot of korean film/movies, play some games and watch way too much NBA. I never really get tired of illustration, I believe you really need to be obsessed with your craft to do well, so it's always in and around my life. Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced getting started that you wish someone had warned you about? A: That it takes time, it really does. You need to be prepared to work hard for quite a long time to develop the portfolio and work ethic to do it professionally. You need to be prepared to be in it for the long run and really work on it every day - it's definitely not easy, but it is rewarding. There's quite a big difference between illustrating as a hobby/side thing and professionally. The business side is so important and very rarely talked about. Q: Do you have any bits of advice that you would like to impart before we wrap-up the interview? A: The most important thing in my opinion is dedication, persistence and diligence. It's a competitive industry but I strongly believe those who are really passionate and loving of their craft will shine through.

The Work of Andrew Archer

A set of illustrations for an editorial about eating, food types, digestion and general tips to losing weight. Illustrations for ESPN magazine about record-breaking big wave pro surfer Garrett McNamara and NHL Philadelphia flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. [Archer] worked together with Oktobor to create and develop a city and 13 characters for Twisties new animated commercial and campaign. The characters and city were all related to music and interact with each other using various instruments and environments. Cover of the NY Observer ... An exclusive tally of the wall streeters who never die. Illustration for OUT's Symposium section - A Single Man. Poster illustration of X-rated movie characters vs G-rated movie characters having a full scale battle in downtown Auckland. Personal Work (Sharing Alike) Opener and spot illustration for Triathletes World about drafting and slip streaming within triathlons. Illustration for Q Magazine of John Niven reading quotes from his new book about people with Tourette's syndrome. Illustration for an article about barbie and her 50th birthday coming in 2009. Series of illustrations & type created for the World Nude Day website. Various illustrations for John Niven's column for Q Magazine UK. Illustration about the growth of steroids and the top steroid influenced outcomes of sporting history.


Via the interview questions, Andrew really dropped some jewels for those of us trying to make a path or living for ourselves, not just with Illustration but any type of artistic career. Not to mention, his work is definitely pleasing to look at and draw inspiration from. What artists inspire you creatively, as well as professionally? (rb)

Kendra Gaines

Kendra Gaines is a young freelance designer for Norfolk, VA. Visit her online portfolio at and follow her on twitter @TheGainesColl.

One comment

  1. Excellent work here. The artwork is unique and extremely stylistic, and you could tell that Archer puts a lot of work into his art. This is extremely inspirational and something I will ad to my favorites. It is good to see artwork that is different and eyecatching.

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