Easily recognisable in Auckland, New Zealand, Andrew J Steel is a force to be reckoned with. Creating exquisite forms of art but widely known for his public works & interior artworks. Steel has created some of the largest scale public artworks in the country and now works with some of New Zealand’s most forward thinking & innovative people to get artwork into their lives.
From his artistic niche and outgoing nature, Andrew J. Steel has come a long way from his upbringing in New Plymouth, tagging fences out of creative boredom, admitting “I used to get chased off for tagging peoples fences, now people hope I tag their fence.” He visualises the world as a playground, combining his creative skill and understanding whilst seeing the world as a creative space and environment. Applying the idea of ‘creative space’ to the world surrounding him, this is the elucidation behind his artwork.
Fast forward to today, and Andrew J Steel is a rising household name in the art scene, creating a creative chaos in suburban streets. Defying all odds, and visually communicating his uncomplicated lifestyle, Andrew states “I like to keep things simple, clear and relatable. How you do something is often how you do everything. My room’s tidy, my art’s tidy. Don't know why people go and complicate things.”
Using public areas, walls, any space to interact with and integrate into his work. Steel obviously draws a lot and this stemmed from his childhood. He has managed to proliferate his work into the world and develop different areas to push it in. It went from outside, to inside, to collectable fine art & digital works and to body painting. Admitting that “my philosophy was always to make good work, and make people aware of it and that’s lead me to this day”. From this, it comes as no surprise that being such a creative in a highly prolific modern technological age, that there is a vast selection of inspiration that Andrew takes into consideration.
In many instances inspiration comes from a variety of different avenues, Andrew is no stranger to such situations. “I spread myself far and wide; I travel a lot, run, sail, lip sync to rap. Being a creative is about doing a bunch of diverse things and translating that into an art form” assures Steel. Looking around and constantly searching for the time and opportunity and things to paint, people to work with is part of the process of being inspired. Learning from work ethic of athletes, photographers, and sex as a whole is a key practice in Andrews discipline, “they’re a dedicated bunch… get up, train, repeat”.
Ultimately inspired by the way that these certain individuals in such disciplines present themselves and tell a story, because as he assures “at the end of the day being dedicated to what you do is great… that’s the whole point of doing art in the first place”.
With such defined influences and inspirations, it is clear that the impact on Steel’s work is a mandatory force. Andrew reassures that “everyone’s a remix”, whereas everyone is shaped purely by genes and experiences where progressively this gets established in the personality injection on work and life. Thus, Andrew administrates his own personality into his creative work. Only recently a studio artist; he has worked remotely for the majority of his career. Emphasising how much he is enjoying having a functional space to produce work, as well as space that’s an extension of his arts practice to bring people to. Whilst currently renovating the studio, a new look is on the way which will without a doubt defy all creative odds.
Upon interest on interior residential work in particular, Andrew worked restlessly painting public spaces for half of his career, until he realised that all the walls he was painting had another side – an inside. Changing tactics slightly, interior work began a new path in his work – essentially something more considered and refined for an interior environment, whilst still keeping the scale and novelty of working directly onto a wall. Conventionally, artists produce work and the audience or consumer isn’t part of that process. Andrew’s niche is creating bespoke artworks, bringing people and his clients into the initial artwork direction and producing something unique for them.
Steel considers himself lucky in the fact that most of his clients have a similar taste to his own, creating work that represents his niche as well as sanctuaries to create in. “I’m always amazed at the spaces I see and people I work with, no one needs me but they choose me because they like me. It’s quite an interesting relationship to build with a person” says Andrew. It can be considered remarkable in the uptown vs. downtown opposites in his work and where it lands, ultimately loving the diversity in his days and in his work practice.
Living in such a technologically advanced world, the discipline of the art realm presents total freedom in each day. Andrew feels lucky to be an artist “I could have been a cactus or a snail but somehow I’m an artist”. In the world of Steel and his work there is no structure unless he makes it, which essentially takes discipline in a world of distractions.
Renovating the streets and walls of New Zealand and beyond is something that Andrew has been successful at, defining the thin line of sacrificing security for freedom is something he deems an amazing way to live, keeping him hungry to produce new ideas but also the availability to enjoy the short life we all have on earth.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL | Q&A
What do you not leave home without? Music
You are deported to a desert island tomorrow. You can take 3 things. Name them. 1 best friend, 1 girlfriend & a yacht.
You can have dinner with one person dead or alive. Name them. My dad.
Describe what you do in 3 words or less. Art exercise sex
One thing you wish you knew 5 years ago? Know your worth, trust your ideas and fucking exercise. Like all creatives we can be crippled with self-doubt (I almost quit art) and those 3 things could have helped me a lot.
Final words? Advice? Support the arts and date an artist
Check out more of Andrews work and all the cool accompaniments.
All published copy is subject to be deemed accurate at time of publication. Read and see more in Issue 23 of Renovate Magazine.