Meet Andrew Davidson, the creative behind many of our Jim Beam wood engraved illustrations.
Tell us all about you...
I was brought up on the West coast of Scotland a long time ago, and left school at 16 to go to Art College, finishing off studying Graphic Design at the RCA where I was fortunate to meet and be taught by Brian Tattersfield, Margaret Calvert and my drawing tutor Fred Dubery who introduced me to wood engraving. Design and ideas have always been an important part of my practice.
On a personal level my wife Julia, who is a specialist HIV nurse and I have two sons as well as a Cocker Spaniel, and live on the side of a steep hill in Gloucestershire where my studio is also located. I like the peace and quiet my studio offers when I work, but when we have friends over I really like to cook.
What’s something inspiring you’ve seen this week?
It may seem strange, but it's reflections. We have a canal near our house, and in an Escher sort of way I like to see what’s reflected in the water, what’s on the surface and what I can see below. One day I would like to engrave that subject for myself.
How do you prepare before a job? What was the process for Jim Beam?
I feel a great responsibility when I take on a commission, it's other people's money and reputation I’m aware of. So preparation and making enough time is most important. With the Jim Beam job, it also required me working quickly trying out different techniques and printing methods with the woodcuts. Sometimes it felt like a lively conversation as possible ideas were tried out and sent back within a very short time. I think this spontaneity and freshness is shown in the final job. It was very much down to teamwork, and being part of a group of highly skilled and experienced designers and support staff. Altogether it was an exciting and most enjoyable commission, and one I am very proud of.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to create?
One January a few years ago I had little or no work booked in. I never like this. It’s not only worryingly uneconomic but I love working. Solving problems, drawing, engraving, printing, anything to keep me occupied. Then the phone went. Thank heavens, a job. The commission was to produce a wood engraving of a piece of string, and the client had £70. How long is the piece of string? I felt I could ask.
It’s actually the most important job I have ever undertaken as no other will be as bad
Best advice for someone who wants to become a creative or something you wish you knew when just starting out?
We are all different, but be yourself and learn from experience. When I started out it took me a little while to accept this. Always give the client more than they had expected. Work hard and keep your ears and eyes open. The world is a big place and there is so much to see.
Something you cannot live without?
Family and my friends obviously, but somewhat pretentiously, creativity either in music or the visual world which surrounds me.
Last emoji you used?
What’s an emoji?
Describe your work in three words.
Imagined. Designed. Crafted.
What would you be doing if you were not a creative?
That is such a difficult question, but I was interested in becoming an architect, how form and space influence how we live, but that of course is a very creative profession.
Describe your perfect day off?
I’m not great at leaving the studio, but when I do, I lock the doors behind me. That’s work finished.
I like walking and cycling around where we live, meeting up with friends or a drink at the brewery, but what we both love is having the boys back, putting the music on in the kitchen and cooking a great meal.
Finish this sentence, you might not believe this but…
I served on board a square rigged barque sailing around the West of Scotland when I was much younger.
Go-to song when you’re working?
I love music and have a very open mind about what I listen to depending on my mood or what I’m working on.
Strangely if I’m wood engraving I can’t listen to classical music, it’s too rich and intricate, so I need something more contemporary. For the rest of the time I can pick up something on BBC radio 6 or something the boys are listening to.