I had such a wonderful time interviewing the incredible Andrew Spear. Andrew is a down to earth, humble, straight up, cool dude! He works hard, he plays hard, he lives life with an extreme passion, not only for his artwork, but for music and community projects as well. Just doing his part in making people feel good in downtown Orlando Florida, he’s all over the place really. I suppose I’d call him a mixed media artist, but I’ll allow Andrew to elaborate on that himself. He basically dabbles in all areas and mediums. We get further into that and much more during our chat. See below my interview with the funny, sweet, adorable artist/DJ Mr. Andrew Spear. Along with a look through some of his dope art!
What turns me on?!? Women in disco pants of course!! Oh you mean artistically speaking? Inspired by the usual I guess, music, film, comedians, photography, friends. As artists all we are is collectors, collecting all these little things that once put together, become you. I’m inspired everyday by something, which I think is important to recognize. Some hero’s include Stevie Wonder, my mum, David Lee Roth, Sade, Adam Yauch, Erykah Badu, Richard Prior, Erin Nolan, Philip Burke, Ralph Steadmen, Armand Van Helden, Martin Scorsese, my dad, etc., I could write this list all day long.
How old were you when you KNEW in your heart art was IT? Was there anything else you ever wanted to do?
My youngest, vivid memory was drawing in my living room as a child, listening to my parents Beatles records. Nothing has really changed since then. Everyone is a doodler as a child – I just never stopped doodling. Always found it satisfying and still do. I wanted to be Eddie Van Halen when I was a child, but that didn’t happen so…I always knew I’d be involved in the visual arts one way or another. I’ve been lucky to do what I call, “Octopusing” myself artistaclly, meaning using different outlets and not being contrictied to one medium/style. Between fine art, illustration, murals, set design, t-shirt design, faux finishing to guitar playing and djing, I’m always keeping myself busy. In fact, most of my free time is taken by djing at the moment. To be honest, I’m really struggling to pull myself away from the decks after treating myself to some new dj equipment. There is no better way to express yourself if you are an artistic and creative person.
Growing up in Boston was the corner stone of my personality. You know that saying, “You can take the boy out of Boston, but not the Boston out of the boy”, it’s true! From a small blue collar work ethic, getting your balls busted by your friends on a daily basis, to the loyalty of your family and friends. I couldn’t imagine not having that childhood experience. I love Boston very much, but the weather I can do without. I came to Florida after high school (1993) to attend Ringling College in Sarasota. That was paradise, absolute paradise. Climate can change a whole mind set & did! I eventually went on to live in California and New York City for a while. I was offered a job here in Orlando in 1999, doing some scenic work with Universal Studios, thought I’d only be here a few years, but I ended up really enjoying the people and what was here to offer. I took full advantage of that.
You’re very involved in community projects around Orlando, which happens to be one of my favorite little cities. From my time living there, I remember so fondly the very tight knit community of Downtown, which includes more culture than most people realize. Not just the art scene, but also extending to a really unique, incredibly talented music scene as well. Combine those things, along with the beautiful murals of yours that are throughout the city, and it can be quite magical! How does it make you feel to have a part in making the city so beautiful? Bringing your original style to the streets of the city you call home?
I’m happy about some of the changes my artwork has made on the Orlando Urban Landscape. Some people still don’t understand how difficult it was (is) to get some of those murals up legally! However, it has opened some closed minds and has become something that helps identify our city visually. I’m not just talking about myself, I’m talking about artists like Dolla Bill, Peterson, Tobar, Danny Rock, etc….so many that are doing their part to contribute. No one can succeed on their own, no matter how talented they may be, or think they are. The days of people thinking we’re just about “Disney World”, HA, those days are long gone, RECOGNIZE! Orlando is so much more!
The easiest thing I saw when I first moved to Orlando was opportunity. There was (is) so much if you apply yourself. That’s the thing that makes me a little frustrated, that people think these opportunities are just handed to me – they aren’t. There’s a lot of work you have to do. Artists aren’t the most reliable people on earth either. It’s a combination of your personal hustle, drive and the people that are opening the doors for you to go forward on certain projects. Chuck Dinkins (Orlando Cultural Adviser and Hall of Fame Skateboarder) gave me my first shot when I muraled the Orlando City Arts entrance back in the day. Then that turned into muraling at the (recently defunct) Peacock Room. That was some of the best advertising I could of had at the time. Then some of the National work came up. Muraling for MTV’s Real World in the Penthouse of the HardRock in Las Vegas. I just recently finished a mural project for a hip hop group in L.A. – “Run the Jewels”. All these jobs are steps to move forward, but each one is as important as the last one. I’ve been extremely lucky to have these opportunities presented to me, but I also take full advantage of them. Look, I’m 41 now, I don’t give a fuck about anyone considering me a sell out, I just want to work, that’s it.
Tell me a story about yourself Andrew, whatever comes to mind, something crazy or funny, or just straight up insane will do just fine.
I once hustled a clothing store on Melrose in L.A. in 2004. There was a red leather jacket I wanted for $700, I didn’t have that money. I told the manager of the store that I was Jay Leno’s son and if the store was to give me a discount on the coat I’d talk to NBC about them doing some wardrobe for us at the Tonight Show. All the manager had to do was look at my I.D to see that my last name wasn’t Leno, but he didn’t! He went for it and I got the coat for $300. Later that night I had dinner with a producer girl friend of mine who brought along a friend that happened to be a writer for the Tonight Show! I explained the story while showing off my new jacket. Needless to say her friend brought me down to the Burbank Studios the very next day, I met Jay Leno and was on The Tonight Show that Friday. True Story!
Any future plans you’d like to share? I know you have a lot of offers coming in from other cities and states. Will Orlando loose Mr. Spear to the big city of New York or L.A. one day? Or will you always call Orlando home and just travel for your work? Any thoughts on this?
I’ve been working on getting myself established in L.A. Been out there a lot lately, new place to sink my teeth into. I feel that any artist can go anywhere they want without actually moving now because of the internet. You can get into shows, always find new opportunities, sell your artwork out of state, etc. I’m just a zip code in Orlando now. The last thing any artist should have is Locality Disease. I’ve seen a lot of that in my life and know that I don’t want to be one of those type of artists. It’s all about NEW EYES on your work. What might be old to people in Orlando, may be brand new to people out West. I’m willing to make the jump if I need to.
What aggravates you about the art world as it is today and what do you love most about it? What would you describe your style as?
Seeing the same artists doing the same work over and over again in national magazines is a bore. There’s a lot of great undiscovered artists out there. Wish more diversity was happening on that end. What I love about it is the responsibility I can control. Working all the time, for real, but I love it, so most of the time it’s not work, it’s just another day in the life – so to speak. Funny, if people can classify themselves as a one themed artist, then that’s up to them. Like I said earlier about Octopusing myself out through different creative outlets in my work is vital. I tend to go towards women on more occasions than not, mostly because I love it. Simple as that. Artists for the most part work in a series. I’ve got a whole bunch that I constantly work on, between portraits of women and pop culture icons I admire, to the Taliban Disco series, to sampling old album cover art. I find it’s diverse to me. Style comes when you work on your techniques and mediums. The more you collect those techniques/mediums, the more your style will start to create itself.
It was a true delight speaking to you Andrew. Thank you for your time and patience. Great interview! I enjoyed it immensely!