Software Developer by Day, Father and Ever-Evolving Artist the Rest of the Time

By Roxann Shapwaykeesic

Andrew Wigwas of Gull Bay First Nation (Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek) is evolving his craft of digital Woodland artwork. He had drawn as a youth, but after his first son was born four years ago, the software developer felt the sudden urge to paint.

“I remember my first painting didn’t turn out very well at all. I painted over it. Then the second one went a little better. I walked out [of my apartment] with my first piece because I was going to gloss coat it and people were trying to buy it before I even got off the parking lot,” says Wigwas, explaining that the first coating he attempted ruined the painting. “It’s forever sitting in my garage. There’s a few of those. I was learning about materials and how I wanted to get my art across.”

Unlike traditional Woodland painters, Wigwas then moved to Adobe Photoshop and a graphics tablet to draw digitally. The technique allows him to evolve previous concepts and develop new layouts with new colour schemes. “I feel like some of [the pieces] are never finished. Because they are digital, I go back and release new versions of them. They’re all labeled by the month and year they’re printed. I’ll change it in a bunch of ways.”

Wigwas uses new techniques to keep refining his art. “Now I’m doing digital art, which allows me to do all kinds of crazy things. And it’s a better price for the end user and a lot of people enjoy it,” he says.

He describes his art as linear Woodland style and is really inspired by colour. “If you see my digital art, it’s super, super vibrant. There’s just tonnes of colour… I like the combinations of colours and animals together.” Wigwas also bought a printer to have more control of the colours and create the best quality end-product. “It depends on the type of ink and paper you’re using. I am very technical about these sorts of things,” says Wigwas, who once travelled to London, Ontario just to buy the best paper he could find.

“My next strategy is to get the website up and launch an Instagram account,” he says. He will also share videos of his creation process. “People can share and understand how I work and understand what the themes mean.”

For commissions and print installations, email