We’ve been lucky enough to commission local illustrator artist, Andrew R. Wright to design the mural outside Bow Truss Coffee Roasters. He’s helping up inspire home brewing fans of Bow Truss with his signature and award winning illustrations—the likes have which have been seen in the Saturday Evening Post, the Wall Street Journal, Wired and other spots.
We wanted to follow Andrew from conception to completion for this mural, which will go up next week at 2934 N. Broadway. He let us peek inside his sketchbooks and explore his remarkable portfolio while sharing his design process over coffee (what else?).
Doejo: Where do you work and what is your workspace like?
Andrew: I currently work out of my home studio located right at the edge of Lincoln Park in Chicago. Working from home has its positives and negatives but I wouldn’t trade it for any other situation.
As far as my studio space goes I work on a tall 30×60 drafting table lit by my all time favorite lamp by Gordon and Jane Martz from Marshall Studios. Directly behind where I sit is a tall six drawer Elfa cart holding all of my supplies and above that is a long inspiration/rough idea board where just about every drawing from a given project gets pinned up. Next to my desk is a Takach tabletop etching press. As a printmaker this is where most of my work is completed. This is my black cat’s favorite spot to sleep, which also happens to be my least favorite spot for her to sleep.
How many different mediums of art have you worked in, what do you have a passion for?
I’ve worked in most mediums out there but I specialize in block printing when it comes to producing final pieces of art. It’s fairly important to have consistency to my work as an illustrator in the editorial field. Clients want to be able to hire me trusting that the image they will receive will have a look and feel similar to the work I’ve already produced.
What do you think about working in this larger scale?
I’ve always enjoyed seeing my work on larger scale. It takes on a completely different feeling than when it’s just hanging on a wall or printed in a magazine. Knowing that the mural will be comprised of large graphic shapes I’m hoping that it creates some visual clarity in a world that is consumed by millions of unimportant and voiceless visual details.
Tell me about why your sketchbook is so important to you?
My sketchbook is the most important tool I have as an artist. It’s a place to create free of judgment. Nothing is bad and nothing is good. That being said they take on many different forms. One is only for ideation and research, one is dedicated to a very specific series of drawings, and another is filled with drawings documenting my day-to-day life. The main point of all of them is to maintain a constant relationship between my hand, a pen, and a piece of paper.
What outdoor mural work have you previously worked on?
Other than a few cliché mural projects in high school and college this will be the first mural I have worked on.
What project did you do for the Loyola Press and why was research such a vital component of the work?
Loyola Press commissioned me about a year ago to reinterpret 12 saints. Whether it be 12 saints or a mural based on a coffee brewing method, research is always a vital component of my work. It’s what informs the idea. Without an idea behind the image there is a surface aesthetic, which can only pull people in so far. It’s the idea that holds them there asking questions.
What have been some of your most inspiring client projects?
In all honesty I consider every job I get inspiring. I love what I do and count myself extremely fortunate to be able to do it every day for a living. I’m not in this to make a ton of money but to be happy. So far that has not failed me.