Dolphin has whale of a time

By Charlotte Wooldridge | posted on July 3, 2020

DUBBED as the “jack of all arts”, Mount Barker’s Andy Dolphin is being highlighted as Regional Artist of the Month throughout July.

A relationship that began with drawing as a child, Dolphin’s love of all things that require him to flex his creativity has led him to explore a wide variety of styles and mediums.

“As a young man I got into custom-painting vehicles then moved into the signwriting industry and even produced scenic art for TV ads and movies,” he said.

“From there I jumped into advertising design and illustration, teaching myself desktop publishing and digital design along the way.”

Dolphin said his passion lies with anything that presents a challenge and is constantly in the pursuit of improvement.

“I’m just driven to try new things,” he said.

“Every once in a while, something catches my attention and although it may be something I’ve ignored or avoided for years, I suddenly decide to give it a go.

“From that point, I obsess over this new thing until I have a firm grasp of it.”

His recent fascination has manifested in re-visiting his skills as a signwriter.

“I did my apprenticeship back in the 1980s, before computers infiltrated the sign industry, and I am enjoying testing my brush skills,” Dolphin said.

“I am particularly interested in ‘heritage-style’ signs and designs – the sort of thing you might associate with tattoo shops, or whiskey labels.”

After having some of his work commissioned for local movie productions like RAMS and H is for Happiness, Dolphin began experimenting with what he was painting the signs on.

“The sign work I did for the movie RAMS rekindled the joy of signwriting and this led me to begin hand painting vintage saws as ‘man-cave art’,” he said.

“The rusty saws are cleaned up and stabilised, ready for hand-painting with professional-quality enamel paint.

“A range of quirky slogans are painted on the saws, including things like ‘Instant Tattoo Removal’ and ‘Cordless Beard Trimmer’.

“The saws are completely done by hand with no stickers or printing.”

The Regional Arts WA program aims to highlight a regional artist every month and hopes to spread their message and talent across the state.

“It is flattering and humbling,” Dolphin said.

“It is a great opportunity for exposure to a much wider audience than usual.

“I suspect my art story will be a little different as it has so many directions to it, but I hope that makes it interesting to others.”