Muralist paints life on a large scale
Muralist Andrew Williams has always been an artist. Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Williams’ mother was a proponent of his connection with the arts from an early age.
“I had great access to art stores,” Williams remembered. “My mom would buy charcoal pencil sets and paper—I still have my first drawing pad. It started with charcoal drawings, and then I got into drawing Disney characters. From there, I transitioned to watercolor.”
That transition to watercolor was the first time Williams experimented with color—an experiment that led to his future as the muralist he is today. In 2016, Williams was contracted by The Draper Mercantile and Trading Company in Draper, Virginia, for a large-scale mural.
“I was good friends with the folks at Draper Mercantile and I had gifted the owner a watercolor of the building,” he said. “She offered to have me take a stab at the wall outside, which already had a mural on it, but it was faded. It’s a 160-foot wall and was the first mural I ever did.”
The Draper Mercantile mural took three months for Williams to complete. The process began with sketches with pen and pencil on paper and then, once approved by the owner, the design transitioned onto the wall surface.
“While I was working on that mural, I was contacted by someone from Wytheville to do a 90-foot mural,” Williams said. “And it just kind of snowballed from there.”
In 2018, Williams’ muralist work brought him to Lynchburg when he was commissioned to paint a mural of Donkey Kong at The Water Dog. Then, just a few years later, The Water Dog team commissioned Williams to paint a large-scale sign for the entrance of Oktoberfest in downtown Lynchburg.
“Dave [one of the owners of The Water Dog] wanted Donkey Kong, so that was pretty straight forward,” he explained. “But, as for the Oktoberfest sign, that was an incorporation of the logo mixed with German characters and beer. Dave pushed the envelope for me with the Oktoberfest sign because it opened up a different path to travel down and seeing the opportunities that can come with that. I’m excited to see the evolution of public art, and that’s what I’m trying to focus on for these next few years. I’m excited to see what’s next after murals for public art—what balances between a mural, a sculpture, etc. I’m excited to continue to explore the beautification of public events.”
Williams’ work keeps him traveling all over Virginia—hopping from one commission to the next. As of this writing, Williams has just finished a memorial for a WWII veteran and is currently working on a three-dimensional mural in Roanoke.
“I’m at the point in my career where I can find a wall that’s begging to be beautified,” Williams said. “I see a vision, and then I cold call it and pitch it. I’m not afraid to tackle any sort of project that someone may have. The more unique and the more crazy a project is, the more I want to do it.
I’m not scared to push the envelope on some of these projects.”