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A lesson in mixing creative passions with Andrew Groves

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Hey Andrew, tell us a little bit about yourself…

Hey there! I’m an illustrator / image maker / designer / woodworker and a bunch of other things. I currently live in a wood near the South Downs National Park where I divide my time between working on commercial illustration commissions, personal projects and running a small outdoor brand called Miscellaneous Adventures.

“Learning new skills, techniques and ways of doing things is very important in terms of pushing myself both creatively and in daily life.”

Your artwork seems to be heavily influenced by nature and the great outdoors – how did this manifest itself in your work?

Much of my personal work is indeed influenced by nature and the outdoors. These have always been interests of mine and I guess it makes sense to draw about the things you’re interested in. My work is very shape driven and there is no shortage of inspiration for shapes or patterns in the natural world so it’s a great resource and one that I’m always learning about. I’m also interested in the folklore associated with nature so try to include a mystical vibe where I can.

 

Do you like working out of your comfort zone? What kind of commission would be your biggest challenge or fear?

Yes and no. I think it’s important to push yourself occasionally and I do enjoy working on difficult commissions, particularly editorial pieces where you have to work quite conceptually. But on the other hand I really like just drawing the things that are interesting visually to me; trees stumps, fungus, funny shaped rocks and the like. My most feared commissions are ones that don’t have a clear brief or goal in mind – I like to know what I’m trying to achieve before I start work.

“Much of my personal work is influenced by nature and the outdoors. These have always been interests of mine and I guess it makes sense to draw about the things you’re interested in.”

Tell us about Miscellaneous Adventures – is that another creative outlet for you that’s different to your drawing skills?

I started Miscellaneous Adventures 4 years ago shortly after moving into a barn in a woodland. My illustration has always been influenced by nature and the outdoors and I wanted to do something creative that allowed me to spend more time actually out there, rather than just drawing it. I began to make wooden utensils after a trip to Sweden where I saw the locals using wooden cups and spoons whilst out hiking. Since then, it’s grown into a small outdoors brand and we now teach woodcarving and outdoor skills to creative folks on our monthly workshops alongside the shop where we sell a range of handmade items as well as artwork, apparel and accessories. 

How do you juggle your time between the two creative outlets? Does this leave time for any other creative interests or hobbies?

It can be a challenge at times! You never know when an illustration commission is going to come up and with most Miscellaneous Adventures projects taking place out of doors I’m somewhat beholden to good weather to get work done so I’ve learnt to be pretty flexible. I’m also the groundskeeper and woodland manager where I live which takes up a bit of time but somehow I manage to fit in a bunch of hobbies and play guitar, surf, snowboard, hike and camp whenever I can. I’m also a keen amateur naturalist (not naturist) and photographer and am also training for my karate black belt. So yeah, pretty busy!

You’ve done a fair few skateboard graphics – we suppose that’s a mix of both your creative outlets! Have you ever made a skateboard for scratch?!

Yeah, the skateboard graphics I’ve worked on are some of my favourite pieces; skate graphics were one of the things that made me want to to be an illustrator at an early age so to see my own work on a deck is always super exciting. I have made skateboards from scratch and I’m keen to make more as a way of combining my illustration and woodworking.

Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind the design of our Halloween shirt? We gave you a fairly blank canvas – where do you start with something like that?

Halloween is one of my favourite times of year and always inspires creativity so this graphic was a real pleasure to work on. The only real challenge with something like this is trying to not make the content too obvious or cliche but yet still making it clear what the subject matter concerns. I always start with rough sketches on paper, just to give myself an idea of composition and content and then I began building the shapes in Illustrator, starting at the bottom and letting the image grow upwards fairly organically.

“The best advice I can give is to work really hard to try and achieve your goals. Decide what you want to do and just go out there and get it!”

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For artists just starting out – can you please share some sage advice!?

The best advice I can give is to work really hard to try and achieve your goals. Decide what you want to do and just go out there and get it!

You’ve worked for loads of household names, who would you most like to create something awesome for that you haven’t worked with yet?

This is a tough one. I love creating work for brands and projects that are linked to my interests in some way – I’ve yet to create any snowboard graphics so that’s pretty high on my list. It would be really nice to work on something with a good cause or positive message too.

“My illustration has always been influenced by nature and the outdoors and I wanted to do something creative that allowed me to spend more time actually out there… I began to make wooden utensils… Since then, it’s grown into a small outdoors brand”

In terms of creativity – how do you push yourself? Have you got any new challenges you’re looking forward to?

Learning new skills, techniques and ways of doing things is very important in terms of pushing myself both creatively and in daily life. Photography is a relatively new thing for me so I’m excited about improving my creativity and skill with a camera and I’m also co-editing a forthcoming book which is a really interesting new challenge that I’m looking forward to seeing the end result of.

Fun one to end with… what would your ideal weekend consist of in terms of activities?

Anything outdoors. Hiking, exploring and camping. If I could fit some surfing or snowboarding in there somewhere too I’d be pretty happy.

Check out Andrew’s website & learn more about his interesting life!

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