Andrew Watson

Bridgeman Studio speak to Andrew Watson about his wonderful nature inspired surface designs

Watson, Andrew / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
1.  What is your earliest memory of an artwork and who was it by?
Its the front cover of a children's book called The Pirate Twins and the illustrator is William Nicholson. My Grandmother read it to me many times!
2. Surface design is a very important and relevant specialization how did you come to it and what excites you about it?
Nowadays design in any form can be transferred and used in many different ways. Surface design, for me, is a good all encompassing description of a multi-use designed product. For example, I specialised in Printed textiles for my masters at Central Saint Martins back in 2000, and in those days you had to choose between print for fashion or interiors, now, I continue to design pattern for print but it can be for fashion AND interiors AND mobile phone covers for example. Technology and trends have changed so much that its possible to be far more flexible with your end product. This is what excites me and especially placing surface design in unexpected places e.g Smeg fridges or car interiors ... the possibilities are endless!
Watson, Andrew / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


Watson, Andrew / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


3.  You say your work is very much influenced by Andalusian design, how did this influence happen? 
Last year me and my partner decided we needed a change and so we swapped the daily London commute for a very rural cottage deep in the Andalusian countryside, about 30 minutes South of Granada. One of our primary reasons for making this move was to spend some more time being creative and I wanted to start up a surface design business. The light, the awesome countryside, the weather and the wildlife are overwhelmingly beautiful here, it's impossible not to be inspired. Right now, for example the pomegranates are coming into season and I have a freshly picked pomegranate in front of me that I will be painting and featuring in my next collection of designs.  
4. I have read that many of the detailed insects and flowers you depict in your work is from the Andalusian countryside - how did you learn how to draw such detailed subjects - do you photograph them first or what's your process when you're making a work?
Walking and exploring is a big part of my life here and I always take my camera with me, everywhere! In the campo (countryside) the dusty farm tracks and paths are just teaming with insect life and many are so colourful and intricate. I have a great macro lens so I can take close up photos. Trying to get a butterfly or a dragonfly to sit still for more than a few seconds is virtually impossible but I just keep clicking away and about one in 20 photos will give me enough detail for me to draw from. Flowers are easier to photograph and I have quite large collection of florals now. What I love is the juxtaposition of organic shapes of the flowers and the geometric and symmetrical details in the insects. Sometimes I keep the scale lifelike but other times I like to experiment with the scale and the insects become huge, it makes quite an impact!
An insect drawing for example a beetle, would take about 6 or 7 hours to complete. i start with a series of dots which I build up gradually. It's quite a laborious process but the effect is worth it. i recently took photographs throughout the process and turned it into a sort of time lapse animation which you can see in my Instagram account or on my website here
Watson, Andrew / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


Watson, Andrew / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


5. Surface Design is incredibly useful for image licensing in terms of the diversity of what it can be used for - what's your favourite sort of product that your designs could be used for - do you have a dream commission?
Oh yes! Thats what I love about surface design. As I mentioned before I like to see pattern in unexpected places. So for example, designed car interiors or racing bike frames, temporary scaffolding covers where the print can be HUGE!  My dream commission would be to design an interior space of a modern city building such as a hospital or bank and aim to bring a little bit of the tranquility, beauty and sunshine of Andalusia into an otherwise cold utilitarian space.
6. If you could pick 5 artists, dead or alive, to have dinner with who would they be and why?
Oh this is tricky! But here goes:
Grayson Perry - because he would bring colour, intelligence and humour to the table. 
Francis Bacon - I want to talk to him about his painting technique and just how mad was he and also I suspect he likes a good party 
Lucian Freud - He would get on with Francis and i'm dying to know what actually happened at some of those 'parties'
Gilbert & George (can I count them as one person??) they fascinate me and I want to know who their tailor is. 
Picasso - he was born in Malaga and his heart was in Andalucia. he lived a fascinating life and I would like to talk to him about what life in Spain was like and how events in history and personal life really effected his painting and life in general

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