|Greg Andrews is an artist residing in the Tampa Bay region of Florida. He has two commercial art/desigh degrees and over twenty years of experience in the field. This experience includes both commercial and fine art being adept in both digital and traditional techniques. His work has been continually evolving and improving as the environment has required over the years.
I began my career in High School by winning a Scholastic Award of Excellence and receiving the commission of the inside cover of the high school yearbook during my senior year. This is also where I got his first Graphics degree while attending a college level graphics design class provided by the high school (Dixie Hollins, St. Petersburg Fl.) I was attending.
It was the late '70's and I found a job working at small time van conversion company sanding and sweeping and starting to learn the trade. During this time I met a carnival airbrush painter named Larry Farmer who taught me how to use an airbrush. This led me to doing a couple of murals for the company but the company closed shortly after that and I was out of work.
Not long after this I was on my way to a job interview at a concrete company when somebody mention that an auto customizing company called Van a Rama was looking for an airbrush painter. I went and applied. They immediately recognized me as the guy that did a Yosemite Sam on a hood of a truck they had subbed out to the shop I had previously worked at. I was hired on the spot. I did a few jobs for them but the Van craze was quickly coming to an end and This company also folded and I found myself out of work again.
I found a job working for the Auto Trader doing paste up. I worked this job for a couple of years but was not satisfied the direction that my career was taking. So I began to search for something else.
Being frustrated with the art business. I found a job working the Salad Bar of the local Brown Derby restaurant, Not really sure what I wanted to do with my life. This went on for about a year. One day in the restaurant while filling the salad bar I ran into a friend from high school. She told me that she was managing at a small tee shirt boutique and they were looking for an airbrush painter. Tired of having wrinkled fingers I decided to give it a try.
This was the beginning of my real education in art business. For the next twelve years I worked a several tee shirt shops. During those years I learned how to deal with the public and learned some basic but sound business principles. I also gained experience and versatility in a variety of different artistic subjects. It was during this time that I did my first official "Commercial" illustration for a company called Davit Master.
In the early 1990’s the bottom fell out of the shirt painting craze because of an over influx of artist and the rise of the 3 for $10 shirt shops. I again found myself frustrated and out of work.
I eventually found a job doing graphics again. I quickly excelled working with the stat camera’s and learning camera tricks. After a couple of years I found myself doing the training, including the art directors. I realize that there was no real room for advancement beyond that level so I began searching out other options.
It was during this time when I got a phone call from my brother who was sailor stationed in the South Pacific (Guam). I learned that there may be an opportunity to paint custom trucks there. After some consideration and needing a change of pace I decided to take the chance and went. Although the island was very beautiful I soon found that there was very little opportunity. So I dedicated my time to doing painting. Mostly Pinup/Fantasy type art.
While visiting this region I had the opportunity to go to Japan. I felt like I was going home. Contrary to the media portrayal of the Japanese, I found them to be warm and regular people. I also came to understand how much they appreciated Art and artists. This was a nice feeling after living for years in an area where artists and the art scene had yet to be appreciated.
After a year of basically being on vacation I reluctantly returned to Florida. I immediately went to search for work but found out that during my leave of absence, the graphics industry turned digital. Faced with having to scrub pots again I decided to return to school. I got a grant and attended the Pinellas Technical Educational Center (PTEC) to learn to run the computer. I attended for a year of intense teaching. In the end I was doing much of the teaching. I graduated with honors’s.
Through the school I found a part time job doing graphics at Rainbow Graphics, a tee shirt silk screening company. The management soon discovered my talent and put me to work illustrating animals an nature type of subjects. It was ironic that I went to school to learn the computer only to find myself using traditional techniques. This place was frustrating to work for. The management was pushing ideas that were popular in the 1980's. Needless to say the sales suffered and the company eventually went under. By this time I was beginning to have some serious doubts about my career as an artist,
While looking in the paper for a graphics job I noticed an add from a local company called Totally Fun Company looking for someone to do some architectural rendering of Theme Park concepts. I was hired on a freelance basis. It was only temporary though and only provided work for about six months. It was a great learning experience though.
After this I found a couple of freelance jobs and was robbed on both of them. This is when I decided that I’d had enough of it. After nearly twenty years of struggling I decide to leave the business. I got a job working for a friend rehabbing old crack houses. It was dirty nasty work but I was determined to find a different direction for my life. This lasted for the next five years.
During this period I reluctantly went back to work temporarily for the people at Totally Fun. They were making an independent film called “The Profit under the company name of Courage Productions. I mostly did movie posters and mock book covers to be featured in the film. I found myself really enjoying the project and working in Downtown Tampa. But it lasted only six months and I was out again.
Not knowing what I was going to do next I found a job through a friend working at Dean Guitars setting up instruments. I really enjoyed this job but found myself constantly being bugged by my friends to start painting again.
Another year went by when I heard about an opening at a company called Bruce Barry’s Wacky World. That didn’t last long. I was hired on the premise that they needed someone to do “Disney” quality work. What I found was an environment that was the opposite. I moved on.
This is when I went bald wondering if there were any companies in the Tampa Bay area that had any sanity and were really willing to do the quality to compete on a national / international level. For the next year I sat on my butt, depressed not knowing what I was going to do with my life.
When I felt all was lost for the art business along came an old friend whom I trained back at Rainbow Graphics. He told me that the company he was working for needed someone to do murals. I showed them my work and was hired on an on call type of basis. The Company is Creative Arts Unlimited. After my first job for them I realized that I was working for a professional group of people that understood what it took to compete on the national level. We’ve had a good working relationship ever since.
This was the same time I was approached by the guitar designer that worked for Dean. He had since left Dean and was working for company called Elite Music Brands. The parent company of Traben Bass Guitars and Michael Kelly Guitars. They were looking for someone to design custom shaped guitar bridges. This was trial and error in creating designs that would work on CNC machine cutting brass and fitting in the desired area on the guitars. I finally worked it out and created some really great designs for them.
This was the time that I was collaborating with the publisher of Rivot Rag Magazine to do the event program for the 2004 Sun-N-Steel metal fest. This is the show where I met Ice T and his beautiful wife Coco. Coco loved the show poster so much that she commissioned me to do two fantasy paintings of her. She currently has them hanging in her penthouse in New York City.
In 2005 I landed the job of head creative illustrator at Tee shirt company called Dowling Graphics in Clearwater Florida. I held that job until 2012. During this time I was rewarded the rear cover of Heavy Metal Magazine. November issue 2009.
This brings me to the present day. I'm am currently freelancing and painting the things i love. Things are improving and so is my outlook.