Andrei Draworking Talks Early Beginnings, Achieving Peace Within, Losing His Idol, and Who Inspires His Next-Level Artistry
PC: Andrei, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. As I was getting ready for the interview, I was thinking about how crazy this is… I’m out in the middle of the bush in the Eastern Townships on one side of the country, while you’re at the other end in a crazy metropolis! How different could that be?
AD: Lol, right! Thank you Patrick, and you’re right, quite the opposite. Everything is ok now, though we’ve been through a few natural hiccups!
PC: Glad you guys are ok! Before we get into your history, I wanted to say thank you for participating in our #drawallnight drawing contest! You really delivered the goods with your painting. WOW - THANK YOU! Now tell me, what DOES #poweredbyeikon mean to you?
AD: Awww, thank you Patrick. Thank you Eikon! It’s not every day that an opportunity comes around to help such a meaningful company! I’m so pleased, THANK YOU.
For me, it’s the innovation, the power supply of course, the community you have around tattooing. Eikon is a huge part of tattooing and to me represents the love for tattoos, the industry, the behind the scenes. Really, it takes hours for what you guys do. The past, the present and the future, represented by the retro-futuristic and how far we are vs where you and I came from. Positive vibes…. You know…. You guys always took it further every time, always with beautiful design and so I tried to represent that. I love these interviews too, truly, you get to know people you did not!!.
PC: Thank you, you rock! To me it’s dead on, so thank you! I think you might have a chance to win!! :P
PC: Andrei, let’s get to know you a bit better now that you're acquainted with us! I know a bit about your story. It’s a young one, yet you walk and talk with a bit of wisdom and to me that means you’ve travelled a fair bit! Tell us more about it…
AD: Hmm, well, I started drawing when I was 2…
AD: Yeah, yeah! I always had a pencil in my hand. I’d be extremely into it. You would lose me with a pen and a paper, always! I just never stopped.
In school I was drawing all the time. The teacher would get mad at me for that but wouldn’t complain much because I was a good student, like straight A’s and everything. I was a geek and a nerd, lol. I was drawing on exam sheets at times… I couldn't stop! I was far from the perfect kid, you know? I was always done before everybody else so I started talking to the others, getting in trouble that way, you know, trying to make friends and all that.
I was born in Romania, came to Montreal with my parents, changed schools every year, and yeah, that part about trying to make friends… I was redoing it every year for a while.
My mom was a teacher and my dad was an engineer. We had family here, and they'd been working hard all their lives.
PC: I see where your good work ethic comes from! So you don’t get into trouble much anymore?
AD: Lol, no. I work and I like to be busy, lol! But I love it, so I don't see it as work, you know? Sometimes I’d rather sleep, but it all motivates me and at the end of the day I’m happy, and I’ve done better than yesterday!
Sometimes it’s hard work. Being good isn’t the end of it. Talent is a great asset, but often you’ve gotta put that extra work in to be the better version of yourself.
PC: I hear you. Very well spoken. With a lifelong passion for visual literacy and all that connects with art, when and how did the tattoo bug hit you?
AD: I was in school for programming. I was getting quite good at programming and then, at the last minute, I quit everything just before the last exam. At that time I’d started meditating. I was going out into nature and meditating, like, for a whole month and at one point it occurred to me that I wouldn't be that happy in front of a computer for the rest of my life. Being a tattooer was always there in the background.
One day a friend showed my drawing to a tattooer, and told me he wanted to meet me!
PC: Holy, that escalated quickly!
AD: Lol, yes! I was like “Oookkayyyy”, but the funny thing is that I went to that shop a few weeks before and they didn’t want to hear any of it… Now, he wants to meet me! So I went with my drawing, and after a little while I started drawing. Two hours later he came back and said “Oh! You’re still here. Good, I’ll be back in two minutes.” Two more hours passed, so four hours… At that point I was drawing with the artist who was doing walk-ins, talking and everything. The dude came by once more “Oh! Still here? You're patient enough… You’ve passed the first test to be a tattoo artist!”
AD: Yeah, he was really old-school! Very biker-like, you know? Rough.. They told me: mind your business, ask questions about tattooing and you’ll be fine!
I’d been and seen quite a bit, so I was fine with that.. So at 20 years old, that’s where I was. A couple of years after my first tattoo at the Art Tattoo Show in Montreal, that’s where I fell in love, truly in love, and where tattooing found me!
So… I was getting tattooed and I was asking a bunch of questions like; how we get into tattooing and all that. They told me to get a real apprenticeship and buy good supplies!
Really, I just wanted a chance to start. I wasn't the best or the greatest, but it got me started.
PC: Any good juicy stories from that era?
AD: Well, at one point the electricity went out, for no payment! Lol, at one point some huge guy took over the shop… It was bad!!
AD: …But really, I wasn't partaking so it was fine for me. After a while I changed places, this time with a good tattooer that I was working with, so I learned quite a bit more there.
In the beginning I was going to my first show; Toronto - NIX, and everybody from the shop I was at was supposed to be going, but they ALL bailed on me.
At the last minute, I was like “Fuck it! I’m going!” Backpack and all, right off the bus, I met with my cousin, and we went to a small patio restaurant and we were sitting right next to the guys from System of a Down!
HOW CRAZY IS THAT? We had a beer with them and the next day at the convention, I met Bob Tyrell! I was like, “One day I’ll be working at the same conventions as you”, but in my head it was seven years down the road…
The year after, whaddya know, I see Bob and he’s like, “Hey, I remember you!”
PC: Bob is awesome right? Very scruffy! Lol, I’d LOVE to talk to him here… Can you call him?
AD: Lol, sure! He’s a hard working person. He could be there three days in a row tattooing and have those high vibes all weekend. Good memories!
PC: OK, we’ve established that Bob is a great one, but tell me more about your inspirational crush!
AD: Hmmm, at that same convention I met with people who today are good friends! At that time I met @inkbysaga, I met @veroniqueimbo a bit later. They both had a big impact and still do today!
I got tattooed by Vero and that was my very first introduction to realism. I fell for it badly and it’s what I really wanted to do as a tattoo style.
To me, she’s always been legendary and she’s extremely hard working. I consider her my biggest influence. A mentor if you like. When she opened her shop she asked me to do a guest spot there, and BAM! Want to stay longer? Want to come work with us?
I travelled quite a bit at that time, and she introduced me to many great artists who I was looking up to. People like Mashkow, we’re great friends now. He’s also one of my mentors. When he and his wife came to Montreal, we spend a lot of time together and at one point he had to stay a bit longer!! couldn't complain about that!! and learned a lot from him and also drank with my Russian friend.
I also learned a lot with Saga, and we’re great friends too. I met Nikko Hurtado, and also Norm (RIP my friend, I miss you a lot) who tattooed me in Paris. I had many opportunities to hang with him in L.A and all that….
PC: AMAZING! Tell me more about that tattoo, if you please.
AD: Yes! We were at the Mondial du Tatouage in Paris. Vero introduced me to all these great people, and Norm had a cancellation for the day after. He looked at me and said, “You want to get tattooed?”
PC: Just like that?
AD: Yup! Lol. So he asked, “What do you want?” I was like, “Welllll… I’d always thought of getting my jaw tattooed.” He was like, “Well, you gotta shave for that!” The next day, I came in with a baby-face shave! He said, “You were serious!”, so he sat me on a wooden table and then BAM, freehanded and tattoo was done soon after!!
That massive crowd gathered to see Norm doing a masterpiece! I hadn’t seen that many people gathering in front of a booth before! That convention ground was so big, and over at the other end of the venue they were talking about it. It was nuts! Took only 45 minutes, lol. He freehanded, like he always did, and it says RENEGADE. It’s the most meaningful tattoo I’ve got. For me as an artist, it means nobody thinks like I do. I do this with so much positivity. It’s being a different thinker, to be a bit outside the box…
Funny thing, I said this to my mom; there is no place for failure, and so I set myself up for success. I thought about that tattoo for years. Then it was no turning back, and it was my commitment to tattooing.
PC: Amazing story!
AD: thank you, you don't know when you do it, you know? That tattoo got reposted and loved by so many. Sullen reposted it (Shout-out to @Sullencloting ;P). It received so many comments… Some were very funny, like one I remember very well was: “Thank you, we received your application, unfortunately we cannot have you work with us here at McDonalds.” LOL. It was funny, and the replies like; “DUDE that guy is a good artist he doesn't need McDonalds”, and funny stuff like that.
AD: On a more serious note, when you're in Paris, you want to learn a bit about art at the Louvre Museum. It’s just an amazing way to invest time and learn more about what I do for a living.
Another good time was when I went to New York and did a guest spot at the famous Love Machine tattoo shop (l_o_v_e_machine) where you can find @sivak_ @_mashkow_ @val_tatboo. All amazing artists and I learned so much from them. This was also a highlight. To me, it’s one of the best shops in the world.
PC: That’s a high compliment!
AD: Lol, yes! To me it is…
PC: Fair enough my friend!! :P Andrei, you're a kindred spirit and you definitely have your tattoo skills down. Tell me more about your tattoos and your style of tattooing. It’s bright and bold, but not in a traditional way…
AD: Thank you, that’s a very nice compliment, and you're right… Lol, not at all! My style would be retro-futuristic. I love the wow and complexity, every time, of what I can do. Norm told me, “Is it ‘OK’’ art and/or ‘WOW’ art?”
Like Sailor Jerry once said, “The work speaks for itself!”
PC: True that! Now, we know you're active, you can't stay still or you get into trouble, lol… What’s next for you, my man?
AD: Lol, what's next? Hmmm, I’ve been working on my ‘’personal and creative process’’ paintings. I'm prepping a series for galleries, and NFT’s are a thing now, so I’ve got a couple of drops for that coming and I’m aiming for great quality. I don’t like to get bored so I’m gonna keep going at it, share positivity, empower people, just like you!
PC: Awww, thank you man! Look, Andrei, I'm impressed. I can foresee a great deal of success for you in the next few years!
AD: Thank you! I want to say “thank you” to @velvetangels_vancity. He helped me a lot with the video and the behind the scenes shots! He actually worked on the new Spiderman movie! I’m lucky to have him as a friend and a video producer. Also thank you to Vero, @jeanlabourdette who is a major player and is an amazing painter, and I was lucky enough to work with him. I learned so much. @fusion_ink, my sponsors, are like family to me. We wish them the best! @sullenclothing received me so well when I was down in LA, they have an amazing art gallery of true people.
Thank you very much Patrick and cheers to you!