bring them up to the side of the boat and I would jump into the water with my camera and take photos of them swimming away or swimming toward me. Those kinds of angles are really hard to get unless you take photos of them or unless you take them home and pose them with string, which I’ve done before. That really helped a lot in establishing a reputation as somebody who can draw fish, which is really important to those fishing guys. They know their fish. If an eye is too far forward or the mouth is too wide or the gill plate is too far back, they’ll nitpick it to death. They were the toughest customers to ever please, the tournament directors. The shirts wouldn’t sell to the anglers if it didn’t look right. PM: I think people who aren’t around fish very often have this really weird concept of what a fish actually looks like. Typically you can tell when somebody’s been around fish because fish are weird looking. AW: Exactly. They’re weird looking and most people think fish are just gray, silver-gray, but when you haul them up and you shine them in the sunlight, that white belly suddenly turns pink or a turquoise green, you can see stripes of yellow in there. That’s really the hardest part of capturing a silver fish, is capturing the reflection of all the different wavelengths of color that shine off that fish. The darker fish are really easy, like dolphins or sharks, but silver fish like king mackerel, are hard to do, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it. PM: You have a pretty big reputation. You’re doing stuff for people in, you said Guam right? So it’s all over the world, not just Pensacola. AW: You know the reason that is because of the Internet. Thank God for the Internet. Before the Internet I was restricted to just local business. I developed a website back in the late 90s, back when it was the thing to do. I didn’t think I could get business from that. I just wanted to show my work off. Next thing you know, I’m getting an e-mail from people in California, down in Guatemala, South America, wanting me to do shirts for their tournaments. My website has really opened doors for me. PM: What’s your biggest challenge? AW: My biggest challenge is how to price my work. PM: Oh really? I feel like after so long you would figure that out. You’re still having trouble with it? AW: I am because I’m living in Pensacola and in Pensacola you can’t charge the same thing as you can for the same piece of art in
the Bahamas, but to be fair, I have to charge the same thing. I try to be fair to everybody so I have to price myself at the low end of everything. What I charge might sound like a lot to some people and to some people it’s not a lot. So that’s my biggest challenge, trying to keep income coming in but yet not scaring people away by charging too much.
I go over there, I feel like it’s 1820 again, with no technology, there’s no worries, the pace of life is slow. The sun comes up. The sun goes down. And it’s just like it was 200 years ago. Today, everything’s just so fast paced. Once you get in the car and head home, you’re right back to 2019 again, but while you’re out there it’s like going back in time.
PM: What do you think it is about the water and the wildlife that really inspires you?
PM: Was there anything else that you would like to share?
AW: I think I was born inspired by the water. When I was kid my mom taught me how to swim in Bayou Texar, and ever since then I’ve felt so unencumbered. When you’re in the water, you can just float; it’s like being weightless. There’s always something to do at the beach. Even if it’s a rough day you can surf, if it’s a calm day you can go snorkeling. The water itself, I don’t know, it’s just a miracle that I live here and I can have access to it anytime I want. It’s like a pressure valve that pops and it makes you forget all your problems. When
AW: My career here in Pensacola started out really slow, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I love it so much. I’m glad I get to do this instead of getting a job and doing something else. At one time I was a barback, a bartender, and I really actually hated that. Working at night and you have to sleep during the day when you could go fishing? No thank you.