We love inspiring stories from amazing people across the globe who are doing great things. This week’s feature focuses Andre Williams, owner and founder of A. Will A. Way Art Creations.
Andre is an artist and poet from Akron Ohio. A. Will A. Way Art Creations is a business that he started with the goal of creating unique works of art that would really touch the heart and mind of the buyer and allow them to feel like they possess something special, that can’t just be purchased at any random store.
Who is Andre Williams?
I’m just a pretty chill and laid back guy that likes to enjoy life and people. I don’t take life too seriously. I’m always trying to enjoy the moment. Moments of down-time come far and few between since starting my business. I’m always on the go as of lately promoting my paint night here in Columbus and Akron, Ohio. It’s called “The Wet Whistle and Canvas Experience.” I still manage to go perform spoken word poetry every now and again when I take a breather.
What type of medium do you use and what subject matter do you like?
The medium I use is acrylic on canvas. As far as subject matter, I paint everything; sports figures, portraits, and landscapes. I haven’t really gotten into painting abstracts but I will soon. My favorite pieces of art that I create would be the paintings that I do that combine special moments within the black family with a poem that is integrated into the painting.
What made you leap forward to make the first step to becoming an artist/entrepreneur?
The honest to goodness truth is that I didn’t know that I wanted to start my own business as an artist. It was an accident as well as God’s will. All of my life my specialty throughout school since I was young had been sketching and sculpting. In 2013 a woman I was dating asked me to paint her something for her birthday. My response was “I don’t know anything about painting.” At the time I really didn’t. I took on the challenge but only after calling a friend of mine that knew everything about painting. He told me everything I would need to get the job done. After successfully creating her gift, I decided to paint myself something of my own to hang up In my place. I posted pictures of my painting on social media sites and all of a sudden my peers were blowing up my phone and pages with art requests. A. Will A. Way Art Creations was born. Painting was and still is very relaxing to me. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world to be paid to do something that I had come to really love and enjoy. I’m still humbled by how much people admire and appreciate my art. If someone would have told me years ago that I’d be selling art I would have called them a liar.
So after getting set up, what were the setbacks and what did you do to improve?
After getting set up, one of the biggest setbacks I faced was the lack of exposure. It was depressing at times. I was creating art worth hundreds of dollars yet selling it for crumbs because nobody knew who I was. I let a lot of pieces go cheap as my friend/ artistic mentor let me feel my way around the business myself. He told me those cheap pieces would turn into more business and that I would figure out my own value in time and he was right. I will never forget the first time someone asked me how much a particular painting was and I was able to look them in the eye without hesitation and say “$300” and they replied “Ok is cash fine?” I just had to stick to the script and produce quality work and know that my moment was coming.
You have featured work that you sell? Tell us about them and what inspired the message?
Lately I’ve been working on a black art collection solely focused on displaying positive images of black men and women playing important roles in family life as well as paintings that promote self worth. The painting “Quality Time” is of a father reading a book to his son. In that book is a poem about how happy the father is to be a dad and how his son can be anything in life that he wishes. In the painting “Lift her Up” you see a father lifting his young daughter in the air, both with big smiles. In the background is a poem in which the father let’s his daughter know he is going to do everything he can to make sure she values herself and has all the confidence she needs as a result of the love and guidance he will give her as she grows. “Beautifully Made” is a painting in which you see a black woman who of proud of who she is. On the front of her dress is a poem that states just how confident and secure she is with who she is and that being the reason she is “Beautifully Made.” My goal in creating these pieces as well as those that are to come, is to touch people’s emotions and for them to be able to make a real connection with the message conveyed by the painting. I also wanted my works to be unique and that’s why I added my own original poetry to each one to really drive the message home.
What is your advice to people having a fear of launching as artists?
My best advice would be to go for it! You have to have confidence in the quality and uniqueness of your work. Sure there are other great artists out there and honestly it can be intimidating. You have to make sure you give your art that special thing that sets it apart. Also, you can’t get discouraged if things start slow. You have to stick with it. Just as a flower grows from a nurtured seed, your success will grow from nurturing your craft. You have to put the work in. Most importantly you have to ask yourself, “do I want to wonder how much success I could have had?” Or “do I want to try and know how successful I could be?” When you look back on your life you always want to be able to say “I tried and I had success” or “I tried and I failed.” Either way it goes you tried and you know. The “what if” factor is eliminated.
Where and how can people find you?
Right now all of my work both finished and in progress can be seen on my page at www.facebook.com/awillawayart I always post pictures of the different steps in my creation process just to let people follow along from beginning to end. Much of my work can also be viewed on instagram @drewilli. For inquiries on custom work or paintings I can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 330-285-4169.