What you are about to read is an excerpt of Urban-Muse Magazine Issue #2, currently available as part of $5 pledge on Patreon.com. Over the course of the next month and a half we will release all 5 interviews on the blog. Work on Issue #3 and a new set of artist features is already in progress. When you pledge on Patreon you will be sent a download link for Issue #1 of the magazine, as well as #2, and of course issue #3 when it is complete. If you want to read all the features, see the specific layouts/images chosen, read additional articles that will not be on the blog, view the images in High Res Lossless Quality, and support the project ensuring future issues can be made. Please consider supporting the Urban-Muse Magazine Patreon here:
Andra Watson is an amazing person. Andra is also an amazing artist and her story is so special and honestly heartbreaking I honestly wasn’t prepared for the range of emotions our interview would bring out. Last issue when I interviewed Qing Han, and Hallie Elizabeth both of their interviews and responses honestly got me personally emotional when I was writing them because I knew they had overcome incredible adversity, pain and hardships to create their art.
Andra is the same way, Andra has been a friend of mine on Facebook for about the past 4 or 5 years, which coincides with about the extent of her professional art career because she was originally an Architecht but felt unfulfilled and un-appreciated and decided she wanted to try art and painting instead, and recently just landed a great concept art job and is doing exceedingly well! In our messages Andra confided some deeply personal things that I am not going to go into here, but they just helped me understand her so much better as a person and to have a much deeper appreciation and love for her work because this woman has been through A LOT you guys, more than I can say here, but in spite of all this she has reached for her dreams and made them a reality.
This is what Art is all about. Andra Watson is precisely the kind of Artist Urban-Muse was created for. We are beyond honored to have her feature here for you to read, and learn about her.
Introductory Statement: Andra! This interview is something I’ve actually known I wanted to do with you for a long time. You’re one of the “Old School” Urban-Muse supporters, and even have posted work on the wall before. Usually people who post to the wall are completely new to me, or just something I actually don’t care about but I actually was familiar with your work before then, your work has something “special” about it, you have done what so many artists struggle with, you have developed a “look” and even a “style” all of your own, there really isn’t another artist who does work exactly like yours, when you see a “Andra Watson” piece you instantly can recognize it’s yours. This “uniqueness” I feel lis really important for artists and I wanted a chance to celebrate that aspect of your work, so it’s a real pleasure to be highlighting you in this issue!
Urban-Muse.com: Ok, lets get started! So currently you’re working in London, England, but while I was researching you I found you used to be located in, Bucharest, Romania. To be honest for a long time I thought you were actually American for some reason. Can you talk about your nationality, and these places you’ve lived and how it has influenced your work?
Andra Watson: Well, I was born in Romania, graduated University of Architecture Bucharest. I started digital painting after my mum passed away. Because of my early job as an architect I travelled quite a lot but until 2011 I didn’t even know about digital painting. Everything started as I mentioned earlier after my mum passed away and I was looking on Internet for some references and I found a painting, then I found out is digital painting, few days later I bought a tablet and this is how I started.
Urban-Muse.com: Like I mentioned earlier, your art has a really specific look, it’s primarily digital but has a somewhat traditional feel, you can almost imagine the brush strokes of globby paint on the canvas. What artists do you admire that might have helped influence this? Contemporary and or current.
Andra Watson: Since I was in college I used to paint in oil or water colors, my first few artists who I admired their work and I learned a lot from the are Dice Tsutsumi, John Park, Zac Retz and many others. I don’t know if I have a favorite artist, All are great to me, and I learn form each one, where to improve. The classical favorites are Rembrandt, Carravagio, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez.
Urban-Muse.com: You seem to have some really good pop culture references from Star Wars and Disney/Pixar Animated films, to Maddie Ziegler and Harley Quinn. How important has pop culture been to you? What are your favorite Movies, Games, and TV Shows?
Andra Watson: I like to paint portraits , but I don’t like to paint identical to the picture, It’s not fun to me, I like to add that touch that people know.
I am a big fan of Disney animation movies, one of my favorite movies are Prince of Tides, also I like all Marvel movies.
Games…though one …I don’t like games, I get bored when I start playing and I think I don’t have patience. TV shows, I like The Simpsons a lot and that’s all, usually I don’t watch TV, all the time, I consider it wasting time.
Urban-Muse.com: What is your absolute favorite piece of yours so far?
Andra Watson: Hmm I don’t know if I have a favorite one, but I think is Saoirse Ronan.
(Redraw Challenge using Irakli Nadar Brushes)
Urban-Muse.com: What are your tools of the trade? What programs do you use, tablet model, computer, etc?
Andra Watson: I use a Mac laptop, I used to paint on hd, but I noticed there wasn’t a color match between my Mac and Cintiq so I returned to Wacom Intuos Pro.
Urban-Muse.com: Do you have any specific brushes or plugins you could recommend to our readers?
Andra Watson: Took me a while to get the brushes that I feel is represent me, I used few brushes belong to John Park, Zac Retz, Gabriel Soares. (Editors Note: Since writing this Andra has also been using Irakli Nadar’s Brushes)
Urban-Muse.com: What is your artistic process like? Where do you like to work, what do you do to get in “the zone.?” Do you have any specific music you like to listen to?
Andra Watson: Usually I like a lot to paint during the night, it’s more quiet. Before I start to paint I like to get out in the garden to smoke and to drink a can of coke where I love to look to the sky. Usually when I paint I love to listen to movie soundtracks, my favorite ones are Two Steps from Hell and Hans Zimmer.
Urban-Muse.com: A big emphasis on this issue is helping people deal with artists block. What do you do when you encounter artist’s block? What do you do to get yourself inspired?
Andra Watson: Happens many times to not have inspiration, I get nervous and frustrated.
I have found if I have a 30 minute nap before I start to paint it helps to clear my mind.
Before I start I painting, I like to google/research about the person I paint, every painting is very personal to me.
Urban-Muse.com: Has there ever been a piece that you really struggled with? What did you do? What did you learn from that?
Andra Watson: The pieces that usually I struggle with are landscapes, I am quite new and I try to learn and to improve myself. For portraits the pieces that I struggled with a little was Princess Leia, in the photo reference the princess was a little older and my idea was to make her really young, took me 2 days to come to finish this painting. Painting is damned difficult – you always think you’ve got it, but you haven’t.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re on virtually every art site and social media outlet. Which one has been most important to you? Which has helped you build your fanbase the most? Which is the best place to interact with your fans?
Andra Watson: I think Facebook has helped me to grow the most in art. usually I interact with people who like my work on Facebook, I had a Facebook Page with my art but was too much to have a Facebook profile and a Facebook Page, so I just opened a website.
Urban-Muse.com: How do you balance your life and find time to create art?
Andra Watson: Working in art I often don’t have time for myself. But I try to not neglect my family and friends, usually they understand me when I am locked in at home for few days without giving them a sign.
Urban-Muse.com: This is a specific question for you. I’ve asked the artists in this issue to talk about external factors like diet and exercise, relationships romantic/friendships, relaxation techniques, and even sleep as to how it affects your life and therefore the art that you create. I want to ask you these things do so you can extrapolate on what I’ve just asked. But, I want to mention that because we’re friends on Facebook I already know part of this answer, the past few months you’ve been hitting the gym frequently, and posting progress from a fit bit type tracker app, how long, how many steps etc, how much weight you’ve lost. All great stuff, but what I am interested in, is talking about how you think this has affected your work and your creativity?
Andra Watson: The gym really helped to lose weight, I had 11, 8 stones a lot for my height, I started a drastic diet and gym regimen and I have 10,1 stones, I’m still struggling to lose weight but in the last few months I didn’t have time to go to gym but I kept my weight and tried to not go over 10,2 stones.
Sleep is a problem usually for me, I sleep around 6 hours, and since last month I ceased all commissions because I like to focus more on personal work for myself and to improve my landscapes.
Urban-Muse.com: What would you say to an artist who just wants to get better?
Andra Watson: To have a lot of patience, to prepare for failure and to have the strength to stand up and continue to work. As a beginner, you must have a foundation, study after other paintings (it’s not cheating it’s exercise, I did that too), use references. Try to find your own style.
Urban-Muse.com: What would you say to an artist who is just thinking of giving up art all tighter? Man of us probably have gone through something like that before. So how do you get past feeling like that, what would you tell someone going through something like that?
Andra Watson: In the beginning every artist tends to accumulate a lot of frustration and thinks about giving up. My advice is to focus on what you think is a weakness and keep working to improve on it. I know you may think is easy to say, but for me many times I thought of giving up and returning to work as an architect, but this would not have made me happy. If you keep working and sometimes you feel that you want to quit, take break and get a breath of fresh air, take a walk and repeat this as many times as it takes, when you think you want to give up. I know many artists who started digital painting and gave up because they found quite hard to manage with software or tablet or even to illustrate something. Even with me or big artists this has happened to have something in our mind and we have difficulties to putting on a page. Usually before I start to paint I like to look at references, and I think helps a lot specially for beginners, even looking to other artist’s work and trying to think that none of us get to that level without working and many times, we sacrifice time spent with our family or friends.
Urban-Muse.com: My next question is going to be about education, I like to ask everyone if they went to Art School and how they learned to create. When I do these interviews I like to research the person as much as I can before I send them the questions and right now I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile and to my surprise, you’re an Architect! This is so interesting to me because in the previous issue we profiled Nehaal Gonsalves, who is also an Architect and he works on Architecture in Goa India by day, and art as a hobby at night. I remarked at the time that he was the only Artist / Architect I knew of, but it turns out I was wrong because I actually knew you! So maybe there are much more Artists Architects than I am aware of? Can you talk a bit about your education with Architecture and then switching to more of an art based career?
Andra Watson: I graduated architecture in 2009, worked as an architect for 5 years, but I felt that I was not appreciated, as I mentioned earlier, I switched to digital painting and that was the best move of my life. In the beginning it was a struggle, it’s very hard to learn new techniques.
Urban-Muse.com: Just the other day you posted that you had a job interview for a concept art position. And then the other day when we were talking about this interview you told me that you got it! I felt very lucky because I believe I was one of the first people to hear about such a major life event for you and I was honored. Let’s talk a little about it. You mentioned it had to do with a theme park I believe. There probably isn’t much you can say at this point because it’s so early, but maybe we can talk about your emotions. What did you do well in your interview that you think contributed to you landing this job?
Andra Watson: The funny thing was I couldn’t get to the interview in that day, I had and emergency situation, I called the office and apologizing and they say they are willing to wait as long as I need to start the job because they really liked my work, they said was just an informal interview. That was the best feeling and you feel a little nervous at the beginning, because is everything new and its a wonderful feeling.
Urban-Muse.com: Expanding slightly more on the previous question, you recently are starting a new concept art job. What you are doing is probably many artists “dream” and probably many of our readers right now as well. What can you say to them to perhaps give them some motivation to make their “dream” come true just like you just did?
Andra Watson: The advice I would give is to pursue their dreams and keep working, there are no shortcuts.
Urban-Muse.com: If you could talk to a younger version of yourself what would you say? Maybe this could tie into you Architecture schooling. Would you still do that? What might you have done differently? If anything?
Andra Watson: Funny thing I never thought that I would study architecture, I was preparing to become a Doctor, but in High School there was a teacher who thought that it was too hard to get in that school, so I took it as a challenge, and here we are ending up in art eventually.
If I had to talk with a younger version of my I would convince her to start digital painting earlier. I don’t think I would do Architecture school again.
Urban-Muse.com: In addition to your new job what other goals for the future do you have? What can we expect from Andra Watson going on into 2017 and beyond.
Andra Watson: My goal in the future is to work in an animation studio as a visual development artist, in the future I will try to focus more on landscapes and visual development.
Urban-Muse.com: What do you think the future of art is? What do you think society could do to help encourage artists? What technological advancements do you see coming that might help artists create new and amazing art into the future? What do you think that future looks like?
Andra Watson: Hmm tough question, the problem with society is that they don’t want to spend money buying art, we are still on that idea that buying art is only for rich people.Well it’s not…many times I admitted I donate my paintings or commissions for free to people who fell in love with my paintings, but because indeed they couldn’t afford it, but I thought that really make them happy to see that painting in your home and just smile.This sensation made your day. I don’t think is there any technology in the future that will help artists to improve, I think without the foundation, hard work and practice the future will not give you straight away the award of “best artist.”
Urban-Muse.com: Thank you so much for being a part of this Andra!
Andra Watson: Thank you for having this opportunity to speak about my art!
You can follow Andra’s work here: