“I think that’d be cool,” I answered. I hadn’t given much thought to owning a mural before.
“How would you feel about having an Andrew Spear mural on this wall?” He obviously had been thinking about it for sometime now.
“Yeah, that’d be good.” And within seconds we were on Andrew’s website looking for ways to connect with him. Cory had pointed out Spear’s work to me at City Arts Factory and Mother Falcon’s Star Wars tribute months before. That was before I knew that Andrew had done a wall in the Las Vegas Real World house (which I found out from Andrew’s site. I’m too old to watch the Real World that is now a Real Train Wreck.) Cory was unsure he’d even have time for us now that his work was receiving so much attention.
“I’ll just ask him. Send him an email,” I said. “I’ve been wanting to start up the blog again. Maybe he’ll let me interview him too.”
Within one day, I received an email response. The next day a phone call. And by the following day he was at our house scoping out the situation. One thing I love about Orlando is its artist are accessible and willing.
“Disco Circus was just something I whipped up for the back of a skateboard,” Andrew explained. Out of the three pieces we were considering, it was the piece featuring an elephant that I wanted.
“We just love the black and white lines with the pop of color you do,” Cory replied. “So we’d like to change the red carpet possibly.”
“Done. We’ll work it out. It’ll be dope.”
By that following Monday, Andrew began moving himself and his art stuff into our house. He stayed and painted for a total of five days, dedicating a few hours to his piece each day. It’s an experience I recommend to everyone. He will leave you with more than just his art work.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Describe myself in three words? Loyal. Critical. And ready.
How would someone else describe you in three words?
Asshole. I’d hope they say funny. And motivated.
What about your mother?
She’d probably say I’m motivated. We’ve discussed that. She actually thinks I work too much. She wants me to stop. She doesn’t think I take time for myself. But she also thinks I ruin my relationships with people because I work all the time. What’s a word to describe that?
Yeah. I’m the selfish son. You know? I’ve definitely forgotten birthdays. She’s called me and left me messages like, “Hello. It’s your Mom. Remember me? The woman that spawned you?”
So, yeah, I get that every now and again. But it’s her fault. She made me this way.
When I was a kid I said I was bored once. I must have been about eleven. She said, “You don’t have anytime to be bored in this house. If you’re bored, than you’re depressed. I don’t have depression around me. Get outside and rake!”
What made you move from Boston to Orlando?
I wanted to get the hell out of the Boston weather. I couldn’t take it anymore.
I figure, if you’re gonna be neurotic and crazy you might as well take something off the list that’s gonna make it easier to deal with life. For me, it was dealing with weather and getting that off the radar. Not worrying if it was going to be gray and all that shit.
What do you think has made you stay here for over a decade?
Probably the weather. [Laughs] I was just in New York yesterday, and even then I was like, “Okay, I’m ready to go.” It was shitty and rainy the whole time I was there. When you walk around Manhattan and in between subway stops and you don’t have an umbrella when it’s raining, it sucks. It’s pissing rain. It’s 40 degrees, too cold for it to be raining. It should be snowing. That whole thing just sucks.
Are you a Celtics or Magic fan?
Awe man. I’m not really a sports person. You have to understand that I grew up in Boston with the Celtics in the 80’s. Do you know what that means? It means Larry Bird, Robbie Parish and Kevin McHale—I know them because up there it’s a religion. But now that I’m down here, I’m definitely a Magic fan. There I didn’t have a choice. It was like I had a gun to my head.
What made you pick up a paintbrush?
The Celtics. [Laughs] No. My Dad was an artist. Not like gallery show artist but he was a creative guy. My Mom is creative too. Like I said, we weren’t really raised on TV. We had to do shit all the time. It was about music and art, and sports kind of fell to the wayside. We played instruments and drew, and our parents supported us with all that, which I think is good. I don’t think a lot of parents want their kids to be A. an artist or B. a musician because you don’t make any money as you get older. You can if work your ass off. But even that’s a pain in the ass.
Can you remember how old you were when you first picked up a paintbrush?
The first memory I have of that is painting the back of Beatles albums when I was a kid. The first time I had any credit to my name was when I was in the first grade. I drew a pig, and then we had to write the name “pig” in upper case and lower case letters all around it. My Mom kept all my stuff, but this one particular drawing I just was recently looking at and it’s so weird. It’s so particular and detailed. I wouldn’t have seen it as a kid but now I could.
You see these kids doing something and it’s like, “That kid’s got something. That kid’s got something. That kid’s a doodler. That kid’s a stoner. That kid should be doing something but his parents won’t let him.” All that shit happens.
Anyways, this one particular time I remember getting recognition. The teacher wrote on the page: This is outstanding! He should do more of this! And that’s all it took.
It’s crazy how one person can be so encouraging to us as kids.
Yeah. We need that as adults too. I don’t think it ever goes away.
What’s that? The need for validation?
Yeah. Meaning you have to fail to succeed. Sometimes you fail so many times you just wanna give up, but then someone comes along and it changes. It’s like in dating or going for a job interview. Many people are gonna say no before someone says yes. You just have to have the nerve to find out. A compliment on an illustration or art piece can go a long way.
I started doing these bigger murals when these Krink pens came out because basically it allows me to do my illustration stuff on a bigger scale. I wouldn’t be able to do this line work with a brush. I’d go crazy. The linear side of my work couldn’t read as well until these pens were available. Now, it’s like, the sky is the limit. You can do anything. It’s only been about three years since these pens came out.
And what do lines mean to you? What draws you to them?
What draws me to them? Is that a pun? [Laughs] Um, it’s weird because I like to think that I’m an all-over-the-place kind of person. This [he points the mural he’s painting] is kinda like someone who does yoga, controlled. I’m not using a ruler. You have to get in the flow to keep the lines straight. There’s a rhythm.
There’s also a lot of sound to it. Line work being heavier and thinner, and if there is a lot of weight to it, that’s like music to me. I don’t want to sound like too analytical because it’s not that crazy. But if you were to analyze it, I guess there ya go.
Which murals around town are yours?
The Peacock Room. The Hideaway. The Dynatech Building. City Arts Building. Sam Flax, both stores.
Which ones are your favorites?
The Peacock Room. The Hideaway. The Dynatech Building. [Laughs] I love them all. They’re like kids. You give birth to these things and then you let them go. There’s different moods to different pieces. The one I like the best is probably the one at City Arts Factory, the big black and white of the woman’s face. It’s the one that has the most raw energy.
What’s with all the women in your work?
Is [my girlfriend] Becky gonna read this?
I don’t know. Does she read blogs?
[Laughs] There’s a lot of sexual stuff going on there and there’s a lot of … [Laughs] I don’t want to sound like an idiot. I like drawing women because I like women. The face, the hair, the whole thing. It’s a good subject for me.
Do you draw women you know?
I try to keep it anonymous. If I were to do someone you know it takes the mystique out of the piece. If there’s a resemblance that’s fine, as long as it’s not exact. I’ve seen people use real people in their work and I just can’t take it seriously. I’m like, “C’mon really? That’s the guy from Octopus carwash.”
What artists do you look up to?
My favorite is Paul Guaguin. He’s old school. If you look at my stuff you’ll notice a lot of black woman and features and Tahitian. Ralph Steadman, the illustrator. He did the Hunter S. Thompson line stuff. Philip Burke. He became a Buddhist, but he was the guy who did the main illustrations for Rolling Stone back in the 80’s.
Then there’s Stevie Wonder and Eddie Van Halan. And actors, Scorcese. All that stuff. It’s not just visual. It’s all things. All things are important in shaping who you are.
Do you care to comment on the Orlando art scene?
Yeah. I’d love to comment on the Orlando art scene. [Pauses] It’s easy for anyone who wants to get involved. That’s a very positive thing. It’s also a negative because the scene is not as big as it should be, and it’s usually the same people doing the same thing, which is redundant. People here get locality disease. They get comfortable and stop pushing themselves outside their boundaries. Then again, it’s always hard to tell. That has to do with ambition, and I don’t know what everyone’s ambitions are.
I do know that there’s been a lot of change for the better since I’ve lived here. And that’s a good thing.
What do you think Orlando will look like in 10 years?
Hopefully the whole city will be murals. I’d like to see a lot more public art work, and not just mine. I’d like to see more sculptures and more … just more. More growth. And more art.
Where do you think you’ll be by then?
I don’t know where I’ll be in a month, never mind ten years. I hope to be happier and I hope it’s easier. That’s what I want. I’m not one of those people who are leaving. You know what I’m talking about. The ones that are always like, “I’m leaving I’m getting out of here.” I’m not that guy.
I’m just gonna let the art work takes me where it wants. And recently, that’s been to some pretty dope places.
*Interview Date: April 12, 2011
To check out what Mr. Spear is up to and possibly sign up for your own wall mural, go to www.spearlife.com.