Graphic illustrator Andy Evans looks like a skater boy, thinks like a businessman and is on a mission to make art cool
Andy Evans looks like a typical teenager kitted out head-to-toe in his skater style baseball cap and retro sunnies. He is even often seen with a skateboard tucked under one arm. Yet, in terms of talent, determination, and get up and go he is refreshingly single-minded and ambitious. He isn’t hanging about until he graduates to contemplate his career – that’s already well under way.
The 19-year-old is embarking on a degree in graphic design in September, although his business, Gingerbread Graphics, is already 18-months-old and thriving. Andy is a talented artist and loves what he does, but crucially he is confident and tenacious. Our interview didn’t come about through a PR or a pushy parent. He picked up the phone and talked about himself, his art, his business and followed up with a self-assured email with examples of his work and suggested interview dates. All this as he prepared for a two week exhibition at the Solihull Arts Complex. He’s impressive and professional.
Andy hasn’t always been into art. “My parents aren’t arty at all and the closest thing I came to art at school was woodwork,” he says. A decision to study graphics at A-level changed all that. He found a talent and ran with it. Andy prefers the tag ‘graphic illustrator’ to ‘designer’ and favours traditional methods, although his marketing tactics are thoroughly modern. He works every inch of social media and uploads a regular YouTube diary. A speculative group message about his work on Facebook resulted in a response from comedian James Cordon who agreed to let Andy create his FB cover page. He has since created a further cover for the star. “James has been brilliant giving me shout outs on Facebook which has boosted the number of likes. I’ve been banned from Facebook twice for spamming, but it’s a way of getting my work out there and getting noticed,” he says. “My parents aren’t from the art world. I haven’t got the benefit of contacts in the right places, so I find other ways to raise my profile.”
Andy puts his parent’s lack of knowledge to good use though. “Mum and Dad are my sounding boards. I bounce ideas of them and get their feedback. Not everybody I create work for will be arty, so it’s useful to get their opinion. We have a nice little routine. It works,” he says.
Andy’s YouTube diaries include standard teenage japes, but they also have a common theme – Gingerbread Graphics. In one clip the camera follows Andy to a radio interview to promote his exhibition ‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’. In another, Andy is dressed up like a gingerbread man walking the streets of Solihull putting flyers through doors and chatting to locals about his exhibition. In another he is holidaying in Turkey and placing stickers of the customary gingerbread man relaxing on a lilo in carefully chosen spots. One of Andy’s inspirations is Banksy and his street art reflects that. While there are probably a lot of teenagers who are decent artists few have his inventiveness or commitment.
SELL OUT EXHIBITION
‘A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ brought in a record number of visitors to Solihull Arts Complex. Andy stood outside in the street encouraging passers-by to take a look. “One of the workers said he’d never seen anybody pulling people in off the street before. Usually a two week exhibition attracts 400 visitors. I reached that figure on day four and the final number was 1500,” says Andy. In actual fact the exhibition closed early because Andy’s work had sold out, so it wasn’t even two weeks. The Mayor was so impressed he came twice.
When asked about future plans Andy says, “to make Gingerbread Graphics a success. I don’t want to work for anybody else. And to make art cool again.” Andy has an extraordinary knack for making things happen which is a talent in itself. That teamed with his artistic ability and likeable nature is a potent combination and one that you wouldn’t bet against becoming a huge success.