Born and raised amongst the muddy fields of Norfolk, Andy Smith studied illustration at the University of Brighton and the Royal College of Art, London where he spent most of his timetrying to put off getting a 'proper' job.
Graduating in 1998 he quickly established a client list of advertising, publishing and editorial clients including Orange, Mercedes, McDonalds, Expedia, Sony, Vodafone, Random House, Penguin Books and you'll regularly see his work in The Guardian newspaper.
We've known Andy Smith for a while and he first collaborated with Alpkit back when he helped transform our plain white Teepee into the masterpiece that now stands proud at a number of events we do during the year, adorned with quirky outdoor characters inspiring people to Go Nice Places, Do Good Things. He has since designed a couple of mug sets for us, including Battling the Elements. So it was only a matter of time for something to appear on our range of t-shirts. First off the line was the reincarnation of those mythical outdoor inspired Monsters that first appeared on our Monster mugs.
We thought it was time to find out a little bit more about what keeps him ticking over with some incisive questioning.
AK. Hi Andy, so what's the most exciting thing you're up to at the moment?
Andy. Well today I've spent the day in the back garden cutting out big shapes from plywood with a jigsaw. I've not just done it to annoy the neighbours, in the next week or so I'll be screenprinting pictures on to them. Lately I've got a bit bored with printing onto a paper and have moved onto wood- I do a lot of lettering and it means the final product is kind of like a big sign, more of an actual object than just another print. Its good for the buyer too- no framing needed!
ak. What have been your greatest influences to get you into illustration?
as. Ithink a lot of influences come from quite a young age- theres lots of artists and illustrators that I like nowadays but they're always changing. When I was a kid I had a book by Richard Scarry that I really loved - I can't remember what it was called but it was full of drawings of mad characters - a gorilla with watches up his arms, a pig that drove a car shaped like a hot dog and a worm in an apple car (just goggle Lowly Worm, he s great!) I think books like that made me realise that drawings could be a lot of fun and that I wanted to do something like that.
ak. You've established a strong style through the years, how would you describe it in one short and snappy sentence?
as. Lively, upbeat, printy and bold. Is printy a word?
ak. Specific commissions aside, what's the biggest thing that fuels your ability to continually come up with new ideas?
as. Neighbours. No mater where I live I seem to always be surrounded by slightly odd people. I often hear something over the garden fence that sparks off an idea.
ak. Do you get up to much when away from the pens and paper?
as. When I'm not working I like a nice walk in the countryside, I live about 5 minutes form the sea in Hastings, and though I've never actually been in it I sometimes like to go and have a look at that too. Maybe when I'm there I'll get some chips, then its back to the pens..
ak.During a leisurely stroll through the forests of Northern Alaska you get engulfed by a mighty blizzard. With your trusty artbox about to be blown off into the wilderness, what three items would you make sure you saved before becoming snow bound for weeks on end in a remote shack with no form of communication?
as. I'd forget about art and just go for survival. My staple gun would be essential for hunting bears and rabbits (probably need my larger staples for this it would be more humane). A scalpel for butchery/eating my catch would also be necessary. The rest of the box its full of wax crayons I never use that look like they belong to a 2 year old, dried up pens, pencils shavings and 'art fluff' so I don't have a third thing. Maybe an eraser? I would eat it.
ak. Go on then, how big is your portfolio?
Lets just say you can see it on Google Earth