Designer in all materials
Andy finds it flattering when someone calls him an artist, though he considers himself a designer. Seeing him hands-deep in materials and surrounded by tools, he earns whatever word you prefer among artisan, craftsman, artist, or maker.
How did you get into your craft?
I have a degree in industrial design and I worked in playground design for a little while. That made me think about public space and seating a lot. I began making concrete benches for public parks. This has become philanthropy, mostly, simply giving the benches to a space where it will benefit. I began earning a living by doing commissions in concrete. I looked into mass production, which led to mold making, then casting. I began designing other products in concrete, specifically countertops. Although I don't think of each piece as an original, it turns out that way because of the medium. Each counter or bench or bowl is slightly different because the materials respond differently each time. The concrete bowls and candle holders resulted from a search of what to do with the waste. You always mix more concrete that you ultimately need, and I wanted to use that extra.
What do you look forward to most in your work?
Problem solving. Not always the nitty gritty of executing it, but the big picture problem solving. The goal is to come up with a process that is simple and elegant enough to be affordable. Take my swing, for example. The porch swing is a piece of Southern vernacular. But there's only one basic porch swing design. I set out to challenge that design. With interchangeable back pieces, the swinglab is more useful, more unique than the traditional design.
What would you say to a young person who wants to do what you do?
Think about it real hard. Be cautious. If you are passionate about entering a craft, then do it. Just know that you won't make much money up front. People always compliment your work, but that's not the same as buying it. At the same time, I have a much cooler day than someone that goes into an office.