The History of Wits End Studios
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted my own studio.
I think it started when I was introduced to the work of William Joyce. When I was 13 years old, while visiting my brother at college, I picked up two books by Joyce from the university bookstore. The first was a children’s book titled Dinosaur Bob. After falling in love with this book instantly, I picked up the second book, a biography of the illustrator titled The World of William Joyce Scrapbook. In it, he described his childhood and then his life as an illustrator. Much of the details surrounded his books, how he spends his holidays, and his family. But on the very last page was a single photo with a peek into his studio space. I saw jars filled with sharpened pencils. Drafting tables backed up against wide open windows and panoramic views of Southern greenery. And artwork everywhere. His studio was spacious, clean, and secluded…a natural place for big stories and new worlds to be crafted. That’s where the idea formed…and it stuck.
As I finished high school, I continued to idolize William Joyce and daydream about my future studio. At nineteen, I took a break from the typical young adult path and served a two year mission for my church in England. That is where the next pivotal studio moment took place. While there, I noticed that many English homes had names like Rose Cottage or The Laurels. This is a long tradition, but one most foreign visitors might not notice as they drive around. But missionaries do a lot of walking and visit lots of homes. One day, as I was walking through the streets of Norwich, I came across a small home with a small sign outside its front fence. It read Wits End. I knew right then that that was the name of my fantasy studio. I don’t think I wrote it down in my journal or anything…it was seared on my brain forever!
Fast forward several years and I’m back in the States, I’m married, and I’m a BFA graduate from the Illustration program at San Jose State University. My first job after school took me to North Carolina, where I worked as a full time concept artist in-house at Ubisoft’s Red Storm studio. It was an amazing opportunity and I enjoyed seven great years there. But my heart still yearned for the freedom and solitude of the freelance life. Experience from running a mural painting business during college taught me, logically, that the freelance life is insane. But my heart won out.
In 2013, after years of developing small freelancing opportunities on the side, I left the stability of my full-time job and moved across the country with my wife and five kids (including a one year old) to a new home I had not seen. And started my full-time freelancing career. We loved North Carolina and the relocation wasn’t completely necessary. But we knew it was the right thing for us to do. Not least in these considerations was the fact that on our future two acre property (we would soon nickname “The Compound”) was a refinished, and recently enclosed, carport that would serve perfectly as a studio. We moved in, I built an enormous desk, turned on my computer, and…Wits End Studios was a reality.
My creative life has always been divided between the work I do for clients and the worlds and projects I developed on my own. Since 2013, Wits End Studios was simply the studio space where I worked. But I want Wits End to mean something special to others. And I want fans to know the difference between a project I was hired to illustrate and a project that has my heart and soul poured into it from start to finish. That’s why I’m branding my personal projects as Wits End projects. Some are already public, but you might not know they’re mine. Others have been in development for decades and are just waiting for their grand entrance into the world. Inevitably, the development of these personal Wits End projects will take a unique (slow and steady) pace as I balance life and client responsibilities. But when you see the Wits End logo on something, you’ll know that you’re getting something with all of Andrew in it.
And that’s it! Just by reading this, you’re now a part of the Wits End journey! Thank you…let’s make it awesome together!