Andrew Myers sees himself not only as an artist, but also as an explorer, always looking for his next unique medium.
The Laguna Beach-based sculptor has developed a following for his "screw art," an art form he discovered serendipitously.
"The best part of art for me has always been the inventing part," Myers said. "It's the feeling of being a kid."
A Festival of Arts artist for nine years, Myers' portraits — made out of patterns of artistically arranged screws — draw a crowd of admirers. They are fascinated by the two-dimensional art that is part painting, part sculpture.
Myers, 32, said he was just hanging out with friends and playing around with screws when he realized their potential in his art.
"One day it hit me," he said. "If I did it on a grid, it was almost like a sculpture."
Myers first draws a portrait of his subject on plywood and then drills holes for a grid, in which he mounts the screws into place. He then paints each of the screw heads to bring the piece to life.
The true fun is the experiment, he said.
Myers said that he almost gave up on screw art after once tirelessly drilling 20,000 holes. Reflecting on it now four years later, he said it's probably best that he didn't.
In addition to his screw art, he is known for his bronze sculptures with poignant storylines, such as "I've tried it all," which refers to the economic climate, or "Worth the Weight," which features a man dragging a heavy key to a door marked "forgiveness."
"This is what my passion has been, storytelling — being honest about my emotions and other people's emotions," he said.
Now he's imagining his "next, big thing," which he describes as a hybrid of screw art and bronze sculptures.
Although Myers now accepts commissions from as far away as China, and is set to show at the prestigious Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) Chicago in November, he wasn't always sure where he would end up.
Myers, who was raised outside Madrid by missionary parents, knew he wanted to be an artist but didn't even consider art school until he was an adult.
At 16, he moved to Seattle, where he graduated from high school and worked in construction.
"In high school I was extremely disillusioned," he said. "Career Day came along, and there was no table for artists."
His parents moved to Laguna Beach, and he followed them in 1999, enrolling at the Laguna College of Art & Design to take his first art classes in sculpting and painting.
After two and a half years, he dropped out to pursue art full time.
He was broke for three years and admitted that he even traded art for food.
However, gallery owners and clients took a chance on Myers. Eventually he got the exposure he needed.
In 2004, he got recognition from the city when he won a public art contest with his bronze sculpture "The Shopper," which stands at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Beach Street.
His pieces of screw art also give nods to the city. Their background, which looks like newsprint, are taken from the Laguna Beach White Pages.
Someone told him that he couldn't include everyone in his art, to which he responded: "Watch me."
The artist laughed when he recalled how someone called him once to remark that they had found their name in the painting.
"Laguna — I consider my home and my launching pad," he said.
For more information, visit andrewmyersaart.com.