“Mine is a Cinderella story of sorts,” says Toronto-based Andrew Williams, before recounting his convoluted route into a design career. In summary: schoolboy goes from sketches to graffiti, branches off at anime, prepares to do a film degree but gets seduced by computer graphics and interactive design. Nowadays he produces collages that are pretty much totally Photoshop-based for the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Calvin Klein, though he says he still gets a kick out of film, particularly from the output of producers Jerry Bruckheimer and JJ Abrams.
His work typically begins with an idea and some research into what’s hot on design sites. It is, he says, a matter of being discerning in order to figure out how to remain current and not appear derivative.
Andrew is a fan of traditional design rules, though he will transgress them as necessary. He allocates around half the time on a job to retouching images, and also puts a great deal of effort into cut-outs, making sure he is pixel-perfect. “It’s very important as I am an attention-to-detail freak,” he says. He is also careful about feathering, as he feels it makes all the difference between the achieving the right look and being blighted by the “cheese factor”.
For Andrew, collage is about getting the colour right and understanding depth of field. “These are most important in my mind,” he explains. “I always have a focal point in my collages and then use it to draw attention to details. So I take a lot of time choosing that specific object.
“I approach my work with a design style that is the same as many out there today, but I try to make it different by using methods that most don’t use,” he says. “I prefer work that looks real, rather than something that looks fake just for the sake of making something look cool.”
What is that certain something that makes a piece an Andrew Williams piece? “I can’t really say what that is,” he muses, “but I do use a lot of women in my work.”