January 3, 2011

Interview with Bryan Collins

I've been lovin the art of Bryan Collins since I discovered him back in January 2009. Amazingly, I got to see his work in person right off the bat at Art Whino in Maryland. Since then, I've collected five original paintings/drawings, several prints, and several other goodies from his Etsy Shop. I feel like I can really relate to his work as it shows joys and struggles, while connecting them with faith. So here we go; my first artist interview of the year. 
To Everything by Bryan Collins
To Everything
Where are you from and how did you get started doing art?

Literally I am from St Petersburg, FL. That's where I was born, but my family left the area before I was one, and I spent the first seven years of my life growing up in Montery, CA. After that we moved to High Springs, FL and I lived in and around Gainesville for about sixteen years.

I didn't really get into art on purpose. I drew pictures like any other kid, but around the 5th or 6th grade I noticed I was getting positive attention toward the things I drew. Art was also more enjoyable than homework. My mom worked at my school so I had time to kill at the end of each day before she would take me home. One Wednesday after school a senior art mentor started tutoring another student in the school library. I started eavesdropping until the mentor invited me over. I was so fascinated by the things he taught me about drawing. I think it was during that experience of being taught a few technical skills that art catalyzed into my blood and soul.

Totem by Bryan Collins
When did you first discover your creative talents?

It has to have been playing Legos. I used to spend countless hours building with them. I also took apart my GIJoe figures to switch out their head, bodies, and arms. I liked changing things from the way they were intended to be. I suppose that is the root of creativity (or psychosis) - not accepting things as they are.

What inspires you?

In one word: God. He is the original artist. Everything that inspires me was created by Him. Whether it's animals, nature, space and sky, or my children, they are all created by the hand of God. I am intrigued and inspired by body language and emotional struggles as well, but those are both human situations and humans are also the handiwork of God so really any sources of inspiration are always going to spring from the Creator of all.

Her Dedication to Purpose
Her Dedication to Purpose
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

I've heard many people say that a true artist has found freedom in his own mind. If this is the case I don't know any true artists. The thing I cherish most about making art is that my brushes and pencils act as keys to the cell my mind is in, but that does not mean my mind is ever free. I get a glimpse of understanding from time to time but just when I think I've resolved a struggle, I embrace another. Art isn't a solution to anything, but a treatment for it. At least I have this treatment to deal with my nightmares, my confusion about life, my loneliness, my depression, my stress, and so on.

To Those Who Wait
To Those Who Wait
What is your dream project?

Oh, wow. I have so many! I would like to do a mural in a hospital. There is so much sadness and pain in hospitals and maybe I could paint something that would lift people up. I can't really think of anything I'd like to do more than that.

Professionally, what is your goal?

If I can keep making art full-time until I die, I'd say I reached my goal. To get there I have a great deal of mini-goals. One is to never stagnate. I see too many artists getting themselves locked into one thing or one repetitive image. I hope to keep changing and evolving. More specifically, I have begun working with bands to create tour posters. I am a musician aside from my visual art, so I really like the ability to bring art and music together. I am also working on illustrating some books.

Rebuked Retribution by Bryan Collins
Rebuked Retribution
What memorable responses have you had to your work?

There was a girl looking at my exhibit at The Gallery Underground in Fort Collins, CO and she started crying. She was looking at the painting called "When None Listen". She told me she couldn't even really explain why it was making her cry, but that it was pulling some kind of emotion out of her that evoked tears. I think I will always remember that.

When None Listen
When None Listen
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.

I wish I could. I don't recall any tangible story of a direct correlation between a situation and how it translated to a painting or illustration. I tend to pull fragments from many different observations and experiences and then put them all together. Kind of like a chef using many ingredients to create a meal. There are times when I am just people-watching and someone will do something subtle that will make me want to go straight to my studio and draw. What comes out may have nothing to do with what I saw, but seeing it made me feel creative. It doesn't always make sense, but it works for me.

Hiding from Choices by Bryan Collins
Hiding from Choices
Why do you do what you do?

I don't mean to sound dramatic but I make art because I have no other choice. In the past I have spent long periods of time without drawing. I have also spent long periods of time struggling with anger and depression and hid these problems by telling people I was just tired. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I put the things together and realized it was not the negative emotions that caused the lack of creativity, but the other way around. When I don't make art, I fall apart. I would love to sound self-righteous and say that I make art solely to benefit others, but that is just a wonderful side effect of my use of art to self-medicate.

Peace That Conquered Beast
Peace That Conquered the Beast
Lastly, any advice for an artist just starting out?

Think of an artist who you wish you could be like. Now, don't ever look at that person's work again. Okay, maybe that's a little extreme but the point is that you don't want to be like anyone else. Art must come from your soul. Your work should be a conversation with something personal to be said. Not the emulation of someone who you think is better than you, or who is sitting on the rung of success you hope to sit on. Make your art becuase it needs to be made, not becuase it needs to be sold or seen. If it gets sold or gets seen, thank God. If not, make it anyways.

Next, go ahead and start wearing the same clothes for days on end becuase if you plan to make art full time, you'll be doing that whether you want to or not. Don't try to get famous. Fame will dictate your creativity and your work will suffer or die. Live a clean life, don't watch too much TV, read some books, and pray. Even if you don't believe in God, try praying to Him anyway and ask Him to make your art better and to show you something amazing. I'm serious. Try it and see what happens.

For more Bryan Collins visit:
Website - http://www.bacstudio.com/
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/useeverycolor
Blog - http://www.useeverycolor.com/
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/bryancollinsart