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Heavy Metal Affliction AWS Graphics

John Schommer
Thursday, May 22, 2014

There seems to be this thing with artists; people are always telling them to forget it, it will never happen, they’ll never amount to anything doing that. It’s a shame that many folks end up listening, conforming to the system, and getting a job that they can’t stand. I get it, not everyone can take the path less travelled.


Andrew Stewart of Wanganui, New Zealand, the winner of the recent Falken Tire Forza Motorsport 5 BRZ Livery Contest – has been travelling the path less travelled for a long time now. He has been drawing since he was a little boy. “Since I was two I have been drawing, mainly cars,” Stewart told me. “I was more than happy to spend hours and hours drawing.” At age five Stewart won his first art award for a drawing of a blind man with his Seeing Eye dog that he had entered in a Blindness Awareness competition among local schools.



Stewart never listened to those who told him he would never make any money drawing cars. He followed his dream. After high-school Stewart attended Wanganui UCOL School of Design and studied graphic design. “In my mind it was the best way to combine cars and art,” Stewart said. He later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Graphic Design and, five years ago, he started AWS Graphics.


“I design everything [including] tailored sponsorship proposals, merchandise, posters, and race liveries, race suits and transporters. Anything is possible,” he said. Yes, Stewart makes money drawing cars.


His mate Jon Hawthorne, discovered the recent Forza 5 Falken contest and encouraged him to enter. “You design it and I’ll make it in Forza for you,” Hawthorne said. Hawthorne – Gamertag: D1 HAWKZ –recreates all of Stewart’s designs in Forza, mostly in Forza Motorsport 4 for now. Stewart used to spend hours designing cars in Forza games but, his one-man graphic design studio keeps him up long hours as it is. In Forza 4 you can find Stewart’s designs by searching for keyword “AWS Graphics”.



For the Falken contest, the goal was to design a new livery for Formula Drift diver Dai Yoshihara’s new 2014 Subaru BRZ drift car. “So I drew the BRZ,” Stewart said, “and recreated the Rocket Bunny body kit and Dai’s wheels and then started on the design process.”


In designing the livery, Stewart closely outlined what Falken stated they wanted to see. Then he went about the design like he does for any of his other clients. He designed three concepts for the competition, spending about three hours on each one.


Stewart was at round four of the D1NZ Championship (New Zealand Pro Drift Championship), when he got an email from Falken telling him he had won the contest. “It was very exciting and was very hard to keep quiet about it until Falken released the information themselves,” Stewart said.


Before winning the Falken contest, AWS Graphics had a few clients overseas. “Winning this competition has catapulted AWS Graphics into the international spotlight,” Stewart said. Now he has two cars competing in Formula Drift, Yoshihara’s BRZ and Chris Jeanneret’s Honda S2000. AWS has many clients in Europe and Stewart says he is just beginning to break in to the U.K. market.



Where did Stewart get his love of cars? “My father has had me surrounded with motorsport my whole life,” Stewart said. “It didn’t matter if it was rally events or speedway events, I was there. I have been lucky enough to be brought up around competitive teams in those sports which helped to fuel my love of motorsport and the car scene in general. Every weekend the family would jump in the car and head to a different form of motorsport.“


New Zealand is the home of many legendary drivers, and car culture is everywhere. “Every road leads to a motorsport event,” Stewart said and he spends most weekends travelling all over the country to one event or another. In his home town of Wanganui, it’s not uncommon to see 10-second drag cars rolling around as daily drivers. Even the world famous 6b PPRE 6Rotor Rx4 is seen from time to time “threatening the strength of the glass on the store fronts,” Stewart said.


As you can imagine Stewart has a love of cars that has carried to his own projects. Stewart’s daily driver is a black BMW E36 coupe dressed in lime green BBS wheels and adorned in an AWS Graphics livery. His real love – and much of his spare time and money – is spent on his Mk2 Escort Mexico Replica.



Currently the Escort is going through its second restoration. The car was purchased as a rolling shell from the previous owner who had plans to make a race car out of it. After Stewart’s first restoration of the car – which included painting it Toxic Green, installing some proper tunes and Mazda FD seats -- the paint faded. So this time he is building it to his own specs. Stewart’s father is rebuilding the 1600GT engine, the car is getting a full repaint, and it will roll on BBS RS Split wheels.


The first car Stewart ever had was an Escort Ghia four-door. He has a thing for these sweet little cars that never made their way to the States, partially foretold by his Gamertag, Escort2. That first Escort he built with his father at age fifteen. “We had spent hours on it making it perfect. I ended up rolling that car, it taught me a lesson. Get better at driving” Stewart said.


Once the restoration of the Toxic Green Escort Mexico is finished, it will it will return to the New Zealand car show scene. On its first run of shows the car was well-received; with its new look and fresh motor, it should receive further praise from Kiwi car lovers.


If you want to follow Stewart and AWS Graphics latest designs you can give them a “like” on Facebook.


You can also follow Dai Yoshihara as he makes his mark on the 2014 Formula Drift season on his Facebook page.


The next round of the Formula Drift series will be held at Homestead-Miami Speedway the weekend of May 30-31.


Take a closer look at Yoshihara’s BRZ in this video that shows Yoshihara in action and details the car’s engine setup.



What did you think of this edition of Heavy Metal Affliction? We want to hear from you in the HMA thread.


If you have a car you love and want to share it with the Forza community drop us a photo and a brief description in the 2014 request for community rides thread.