100 Creatives

Andrew King on Why Tempe Needs More Art

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 40. Andrew King.

Andrew King didn't have a plan. He moved to Tempe and spent a few years working what he calls terrible jobs. Think call centers, insurance sales, and bartending at a "crazy gay nightclub." He walked away with lots of stories, but ultimately, he says, "all of those experiences helped guide me back to my creative self and put me back on the right track for me."

That meant going back to school to study graphic design. Which led the now-31-year-old to where he is at present: working as a visual artist and the co-owner of candle company Standard Wax, for which he creates the ceramic vessels.

"My greatest accomplishment is definitely making it this far and having a multitude of creative outlets that define my career," King says. "From graphic design to painting to ceramics and candles, I’ve never been shy about trying to turn anything into a fulfilling creative outlet and a way to make a living."

Such variety keeps King engaged — and inspired. "When I come up with a new idea for a series of some sort, I literally cannot focus on anything else until it’s done," he says. "I obsess over it, and that’s how I know that I am meant to create and that my motivation comes from a very primal and nomadic part of me."

He finds inspiration all around him. "Good to bad, beautiful to ugly," he says. "I’m so hyper-aware of everything around me — quite possibly to a fault — that there’s a constant visual orgy in my mind, churning out random bits of inspired ideas when I least expect them."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, his work has a sharp edge to it. King likens it to his personality, though stylistically he doesn't limit himself. "My recent work isn’t necessarily creepy or dark," he says, "but I think that I am successfully creating desert-inspired art that breaks the mold of what people would expect in that genre and is still true to my personal art aesthetic."

Turns out, having a plan isn't really the goal.

"I definitely thrive on change," he says. "The beautiful thing about being an artist is that you have the ability literally at your fingertips to create that change and fill that need."

I came to Phoenix with a Jeep Wrangler and no real plan.

I make art because it makes me who I am — if I cannot create something new, then I start to go crazy (literally).

I'm most productive when I am alone. I’m very personal about my creative process, and I definitely thrive by myself (I must have been the asshole kid that wouldn't share his toys).

My inspiration wall is full of other people’s art. I'm a big proponent of supporting artists, and I love collecting all types of work to keep around me for inspiration. There’s also a lot of my own art because I am a terrible salesperson (someone please help me, I will pay you a handsome commission).

I've learned most from experience. With each year that passes, I hone in more on what I really want. I feel like as an artist, it’s an especially long path to self-actualization, but with each job, each new connection, each triumph and mistake, that path becomes more and more clear.

Good work should always stop you in your tracks. Whether it’s a drag queen whose face is painted so impeccably, a street musician with skills that blow your mind, or a painting at a museum that speaks directly to your soul (or lack of soul, which is fine too) — good work will always find a way to mesmerize you.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more art in Tempe … and I am working on it. I’m a Tempe boy through and through (don’t judge too hard), and I know that we can do so much more to showcase the tremendous talent of Tempe and grow a thriving art scene here again.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski