North Texas Daily

Art History: Andy Rolfes sticks with family trade

Art History: Andy Rolfes sticks with family trade

June 14
08:49 2013

Joshua Knopp/Staff Writer

Students who participate in SGA will come out of it with political experience and extra resume credentials. But studio art senior Andy Rolfes, who worked as public relations director through the past year, will come out of it with a much bigger portfolio.

Rolfes has been making art since he was a small child. In his freshman year, he became webmaster for Join the Studio, an online art collective started by his older brother, Sam. Two years later, he has become more involved with the UNT community. Last year, in addition to being involved in SGA for the first time, he worked for Method 7 Magazine in the spring.

“I’m not going to lie, I was wanting to go to a private art school first,” Rolfes said. “I had heard beforehand that UNT was the best public art school in the south. Plus I knew that education is as dependent on the student as it is the teacher, so I decided I could do just as well here as a private art school, without having to sell my kidneys for tuition funds.”

Rolfes said his passion for art was instilled in him from an early age. His mother, Linda, has a BFA in art and worked as a web designer when Andrew and his brother Sam were growing up. Andrew said his mother made sure the family appreciated the arts.

“One of my earliest memories is my brother and I playing with Play Dough as she painted the outdoors in our grandparent’s lake house art studio,” he said. “Just that small, early influence.”

Linda Rolfes said her sons come from a long line of artists. Linda’s mother, her grandmother and her grandmother’s mother were all artists of some kind. Ed Stone, an architect who designed the Kennedy Center and the Museum of Modern Art, is also a relative, she said.

“Sam and Andy were surrounded by art and music as a natural part of their upbringing,” she said.  “One early way they were introduced to drawing was when they would bring me their latest action figure, and I would draw it for them – then they’d finish it out with color. Always Spider-Man, the X-Men, various other improbably muscled figures that I can’t remember.”

Andrew has gone from coloring to creating abstract paintings from his photographs. He combs through his archives to find an interesting photo to work with and starts sketching it out.

“I focus on the essentials,” Rolfes said. “That’s where the sense of design comes in, where I try to communicate whatever deeply-profound idea is supporting the creation of the painting.”

His work for SGA and Method 7 utilizes his photography skills and natural abstract thoughts. Method 7 takes him on photo shoots and SGA has tasked him with branding the organization.

“He’s a great communicator, incredibly professional and highly involved,” said Adriana Solis, merchandising senior and Method 7 editor-in-chief. “He is a great team player, and I am amazed at the fact that he is also the PR director for SGA, and still has time to contribute successfully to us all while he is a full-time student.”

Former SGA president and Spanish senior Rudy Reynoso said he was impressed by the shear volume of design work Rolfes produced.

“Without a doubt, he single-handedly produced the most amount of SGA design material any director of public relations has ever done,” Reynoso said. “Andy’s single most significant impact to the organization this year was that he created a consistent, simple and attractive brand for the SGA that became recognizable to students and administration alike.”

While Reynoso and Rolfes have been friends since their freshman year on the same floor of Kerr Hall, Rolfes is planning his post-college days.

Rolfes said he wants to travel after graduation, and mentioned London and China as target destinations.

“There are so many things I want to do,” Rolfes said. “I just hope someone starts throwing dollar bills onto my lawn while I continue to do what I love inside my apartment.”

Linda Rolfes, having made a career as an artist, said art could be applied in numerous ways that employers may find valuable.

“When I was newly divorced years ago, and had two very young sons to raise, I discovered the Internet – that I could actually design sites for a living and support my family,” she said.

Linda Rolfes worked as a web designer when her children were young, but has since moved into leadership roles. She currently works as the senior technology project manager with the engineering firm HNTB and is still applying her design concepts.

“I have found that the corporate world tends to discount artists – but depends upon them for fresh ideas and approaches. Sometimes my group might create basically the same software that a competitor would. But because ours was easy to use and looked great, we had the edge,” she said. “The world is hungry for innovation – and artists can give it to them.”

Andrew Rolfes said that despite the work he’s done for others, art still hasn’t stopped being fun.

“I don’t really feel like I’m a professional, whether I technically am or not It’s not like you start working on something and suddenly you’re wearing a shirt that says, ‘I’m a professional,'” he said. “The trick is making people think you’re a professional and having your work reflect those high expectations.”

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