Drew Blake is a retail artist here at Arrow Creative! He has been selling with Arrow since last year's Holiday Bazaar, and has participated at Saturday Spotlight's in the retail marketplace. Drew's watercolor paintings depict iconic buildings and images from around Memphis to celebrate the city's unique culture and history. We asked him a little bit about his work and how he got to where he is today.
Can you tell us a little bit about the moment you realized you were an artist? I don’t remember the exact moment, but I do remember always being among the best drawers in my class at school! I also enjoyed just drawing by myself in my room for hours as a kid.
How did you learn your necessary skills?
Practice! I always loved drawing. As a kid, I always carried around a sketchbook with me and would draw when I was bored. Doing that for many years sharpened my skills
Are there specific opportunities or challenges that focused your career?
Traveling to Vienna, Austria as a college student was very impactful. I studied abroad there for a semester and was exposed to lord of classic Western art, which was awesome. That reinvigorated my creative spirit.
Who do you consider as your most influential mentor? My uncle, Scott Blake, was a huge influence on me. He taught me pretty advanced perspective drawing techniques when I was young, which helped shape my strengths as an artist. He is a truly talented artist and designer, and I always appreciated his guidance
Artists are extremely resourceful and often create multiple streams of income. How do you generate income to support yourself and artistic practice?
I have a full time marketing job, which I love and is an excellent source of income.
How do you measure success in your work?
If other people love my work, I love my work! As long as other people appreciate and want the art I create, I can be satisfied.
What artist inspires you the most?
I love Gustav Klimt (from seeing lots of his work when I studied abroad in Vienna). I also love Picasso (the ultimate draftsman) because of his propensity to draw constantly and produce a prodigious catalogue of work over his lifetime.
Do you have a creative hour, or a time/ place/ or activity that inspires your creativity? I’m a night owl. I usually paint late at night — 11pm to about 2am is the sweet spot
Do you have a ritual or do you set specific assignments for yourself?
I don’t set specific assignments for myself. If I love something or it inspires me, I draw it.
As a kid what did you see yourself doing as a career?
I had no idea! That gave me a lot of trepidation, all through high school and college. Thankfully, God was looking out for me, and I landed in a nice corporate gig after college, and I loved it. It took a long time for me to gain the emotional maturity to realize that life is not a Disney movie, however. Today, I can recognize that true satisfaction comes not from “following my dreams,” but from serving others, and by extension, serving God Himself.
What told you ‘this is the life for me’? (and when)
My wife! She really encouraged me to share and sell my art to others after we got married. At least, she helped me share it with many more people, and I’m very thankful for that.
What compromises have you had to make in order to succeed (ie: location of studio, driving a lot, not doing something you really want to do, working seasonally etc) Has it been worth all of your effort? I’ve had to accept that I can only do so much. After working a full time job all day and spending time with my loved ones, there’s not much time left in the day. So I’ve had to come to terms with my own finitude in that regard
What do you love about being a creative in Memphis? Memphis is a very creative town with a lot of creative people. More importantly for us: the people of Memphis truly appreciate creatives, and support us very well. Every art show that I do, people are always so nice and encouraging. So I really love the community of Memphis for that reason.
To check out Drew Blake art in person, stop by the Arrow retail marketplace where you can take home a print of your favorite iconic Memphis image!
You can also follow Drew's art on instagram @drew_blake_art.