*Drew is going live on the Flylords Facebook page to show you how he draws fish! Be sure to tune in with your favorite beverage and drawing utensil on Wednesday, July 22nd, at 6:30 PM EST.*
Flylords caught up with Arkansas based Tattoo artist Drew Wilson to discuss how COVID has been impacting him and his business and some of the creative ways he has been keeping his business afloat. Check out the full interview below.
Flylords: Can you give us a little background about yourself?
Drew: I’m currently 32, living in Fayetteville Arkansas. I’ve been fishing since I was born, so the full 32 years. I grew up fishing and skateboarding. I started working in a tattoo shop in 2008 and from that, I was introduced to fly fishing. Maybe five years ago I started making a lot of fishing artwork and it has pretty much been my life ever since! Now I’m lucky enough to travel around the country fishing and doing fishing tattoos. I also have a small business that sells fishing artwork, stickers, etc…
Flylords: How did COVID impact you and your business?
Drew: Well. Heavily I guess is the best way to put it. Being that I work in a tattoo shop we were the first ones to be shut down. I actually quit going to work a week before they told us to quit tattooing to try and help. I pretty much spent ten weeks making a bunch of art from home and fishing locally. The shutdown did actually really help my sticker/art business. I get so busy tattooing that I never take the time to focus on just putting out a lot of art. So the break for me was actually nice. Got to find the good in all the bad I guess. With all the time to draw, I even took a few graphic design gigs, which I never do as it takes my focus off tattooing. So while it hurt one side of my business, it really helped the other.
Flylords: What were some of the ideas you had to combat COVID?
Drew: Oh man. I don’t really know. I’ve had to take a mandatory blood born pathogen and cross-contamination class every year that I’ve worked in a tattoo shop. So I have an alright understanding of how things spread. But with this, I didn’t pretend to have a clue. I basically was just careful getting gas and only went to the grocery store once every ten days.
Flylords: Can you talk about the Anatomy of a Fish Drawings? What inspired them?
Drew: Boredom mostly! I was trying to put out a new illustration every day during quarantine and was just slowly working my way through my list of ideas. I’ll usually think of something goofy when I’m out on the river and write it down on the list. Sometimes it’s months before I put it to paper. I think I’d been sitting on the “anatomy of a trout” idea for a long time.
Flylords: Can we expect more fish out of this series?
Drew: Absolutely! I know for certain a largemouth and maybe another trout. I am tattooing again now, so it may be a bit before it happens. I have several comics that I’m hoping to put out also.
Flylords: Any tips for aspiring artists?
Drew: Just draw and create as much as possible. Learn and memorize formulas for drawing. Pick a certain topic and beat it to death before moving on. Once you draw something a few hundred times it becomes second nature. Then you can start to bend the rules and get creative.
Flylords: What have been some of the most popular sticker designs you have had in the past year?
Drew: I’ve hand a few this year that have done really well! The “take me to your leader” sticker and the “velvet underwater” has probably been my best sellers of the recent stuff. But all in all, I’ve been really happy with how most of them have been received. I put out a few COVID themed stickers and had a great response.
Flylords: Any positives you experienced from COVID?
Drew: Plenty! Aside from the midnight anxiety attacks and being away from my family, it was really good for me. I fished more than I ever have. Which was great! Usually, when I have a day off, I have to pick a river and make a drive. If the fishing is bad, I have to wait another week before I get to go again. During quarantine, I fished probably six hours a day every day of the week. Having that much river time, I didn’t have to prioritize water. I could spend all day fishing a ditch for bluegill and not feel like I wasted a day.
My small business really thrived as well. I think with the number of people sitting at home with nothing to do, way more people saw my stuff than usual. At least that’s what I’ve been chalking it up to. The fishing community really came to bat for me during all this also. I’m super lucky to have their support.
Flylords: How can the angling community support your small business right now?
Drew: Buy art, stickers, and prints. That stuff helps of course. I know that a lot of people have been out of work and don’t have the means to drop cash on silly fish stickers. So if those people are interested in supporting me, or any other fishing based artist, sharing artwork online helps! Reposting art brings awareness to small art-based businesses like myself and increases sales. It’s a huge help!