Meet our Artists: The Tale of a Tattooing Fly Fisher

That’s what I love about training, or doing anything to better yourself. You do it for you.  You do it for your own benefit, not for what other’s might think of you. There’s something really good about that. There’s something good about treating yourself well through self improvement.

-Drew Wilson, fly fisher, tattoo artist, and Fayettechill tee designer

Drew shared his personal ethos with the Fayettechill fly fishing film crew during a late breakfast at Shortstop Cafe after shooting Sunday morning on the Beaver Lake Tailwaters. It’s apparent that Drew doesn’t half-ass much when it comes to developing his talents.

As a skilled, celebrated tattoo artist at Fayetteville’s Brainstorm Tattoo shop, Drew’s personal investment into developing his craft jumps off the page, or skin, as soon a you see his work. As a passionate fly fisher, his sense of intuition and confidence in the sport is noticeable in each step he takes before the water. He is determined, experienced, but above all, relaxed. Drew seems to have come from the water and is kin with the fish he finds in rivers. When he returns to the water, it is as if he is going back to where he belongs. Drew is one-of-one in the Ozarks.

Drew's tee art, which made up our Spring fly fishing Special Edition tee, displays a perfect cross section of his passions-- half American classic tattoo, half fly fishing-- including the features of nature that make it possible. When we were first introduced to Drew’s art by our Wholesale Director, Grant Holden, we were immediately taken aback.

The art he produces on a daily bases presents a playful perspective of fish and the ecology that surrounds fly fishing. In featuring the natural components that make fishing possible in the first place - the sun, mountains, and rivers - within his depictions of a unique mountain trout, he blends the lines between internal and external, of separate and together. We’re big fans of blurring the lines between seemingly separate sides of nature. When we saw Drew’s Mountain Trout design, we knew we had the fly fishing special edition we’d been looking for.

But Drew doesn’t create his art for Fayettechill. He does it first and foremost for himself. Not for selfish, or self-centered motivation, but for outward pouring expression of his sense of self, one that has been thoughtfully crafted by many mornings on the river. We sat down for a mindful moment for a Quick Four to learn more about the magic behind his craft. Here’s what he had to say:

Can you share with us how you got into fishing and how long you've been at it?

My dad introduced me to fishing as soon as I was old enough to hold a rod, he'd even cast for me before I could do it on my own from what I remember. My mom supported my love of it as well. Most of the earlier memories I have in life and most other memories that I've pieced together from old home videos are on the water with a rod or net in hand. I was not always a fly fisher though, that's only been happening for the past four years.

How much time a week do you spending prepping for fishing, fishing, or thinking about fishing?

These days I don't actually spend as much time thinking about and prepping for fishing as you would imagine. I do however, spend a stupid amount of time thinking about fish-- trout, particularly. Not as much about how to catch them, or catching them, but more just... thinking about them. What they're doing, why they're doing it, and how their days are going. That kind of stuff.

I get three days off a week from the tattoo shop, and if I'm not there off hours catching up on appointments, I usually spend those three days a week on the water. With summer just around the corner I'll also get to do some morning fishing before work on some of the local creeks.

How has fishing added more "chill" into your life. Where does it add a sense of ease to your days?

I don't know if I can honestly answer where fishing has added a chill or sense of ease to my life. I can’t think of a time where I didn't regularly go fishing, so it’s hard to have a point of reference as to what it brings. I do however, like that when fishing I don't have to think about anything other than my cast and the presentation of my fly, at least for that moment. More than anything I think I just like being in the company of fish in the same sense that you'd enjoy being in the company of a group of beautiful women or in the company of someone who you look up to or admire.  Henry David Thoreau once said, "Many men go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not the fish they are after." I don't think I'm one of those men though, I think I'm actually there for the fish.

Anything you'd like to  tell our audience about the design you did for us? What fish does it feature? What inspired you to create it?

What I'd like to tell people about the design? Well. I drew the design while referencing a splake mount that my lady found for me at a thrift shop. Splake are brown trout / brook trout hybrids, but that doesn't really matter that much. I guess what this design really means for me is what a trout represents-- pure and unbridled wildness. Every dream camping trip, every night sleeping under the stars, your secret swimming hole, and favorite hike, all packed into one spotted fish. Wild and Free.

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