Sunday, June 16, 2013

Interview: Patrick Brennan

Hello everyone! I am honored to be able to bring you my latest blog post, an interview with a fantastic artist that I've been very fortunate to get to know lately. I really can't say enough about Patrick Brennan. His work really resonates with me and seems to have a unique ability to evoke deep emotion and raw vulnerability, all at the same time. Please take the time to read about him, and enjoy his work. You'll be glad you did!

When I first began talking with Patrick, I was captivated by how easy it was to just chat with him. He shared openly about his art and influences, and I hope my interview shows that he's a great guy who can draw really awesomely.

Hi Patrick, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

"Hi. I guess you could say that I'm an artist-student-man-child-general-eff-up, doing my best to make sense of life with mixed results – I’ve served coffee to zombies, punched koalas and time cards, and I’m pretty sure I once saw someone “google” google. I'm a graphic designer, animation thingy guy, scribbler and words are pretty fun too. I'm always on the never ending quest to find the perfect pen and stuff. I'm basically just a guy who likes making lines on paper."

LOL, wow! Quite the personal summary. I've always loved art, and have been drawing my whole life. Can you remember how you first became interested in art, or was it something that was always just part of who you were?

"I've been at it as long as I can remember, coloring books, big pencils on gray lined paper, it was there from early on. I remember being frustrated once when I was trying to draw a rose in bloom, I remember seeing it so clearly in my head and not being able to translate that to the paper. Stuff like that, I’m sure pretty much everyone has felt that at some point or another. I guess I really started on it in elementary school and even more so in high school. It was sometime around then that it went from something I did to something I wanted to do, if that makes any sense."

That makes a lot of sense. It's who you are, very similar to how it is with me. But, if you could no longer illustrate for whatever reason, what other art discipline would you be interested in pursuing?

"Sculpture maybe? Industrial art, welding, that sort of thing probably, I don’t see really much difference though; it’s all just physical interaction with a medium."

I agree. Many artist who I like feel that way, about interacting with a medium. I believe it all comes down to inspiration. What/who inspires you?

"Mostly life, things that happen either to or around me, the people I interact with, random thoughts that come from who knows where in my mind. Most of the work that I’ve been doing over the last few years had been largely semi-autobiographical. I read a lot, so that helps, and I tend to watch my share of movies, I try to stay current, especially since I've gradually become a recluse, but I find that those magazines women tend to buy have great examples of hair and clothing trends, tattoo magazines and the odd geek oriented magazines round out the mix. I used to live in a more metropolitan city and it was much easier to just go outside and look around, there was a lot more diversity there than where I am now."

I couldn't help but notice in many of your pieces that you've portrayed your overcoming alcoholism. How did you decide to add this personal achievement to your art? Do you feel that your work in this area can help others, or do you just need to express yourself?

"I didn’t. Decide, that is. When I was drinking, a lot of the things I drew involved those activities. Now that I’ve stopped, the same seems to be the case. As for helping someone else, I doubt it. People might be able to relate to some of it, but really it’s up to them to decide if they have a problem and/or need to stop."

Indeed, and yet, sometimes people find inspiration in works of artists who have gone through things they're facing themselves. Music as a motivational art form is a perfect example. So, your content has progressed as your situations have. Has your style pretty much remained consistent, or does it tend to evolve as you go?

"I would hope that its evolved, if not improved… I went through a few years where I didn’t draw at all, and when I started up again - wow, it’s true, if you don’t use a skill it suffers for it."

We always tend to be our own worst critics, but we can also see more clearly things that others don't in our own work. Do you hate when people watch you draw, or do you dig it?

"It doesn’t realy bother me, unless people are watching me instead of paying attention to whatever it is that they should be focused on. I can multitask, I have years of practice and it just comes naturally. Basically I hate it when people accuse me of being a distraction – I’m sitting quietly in a corner and paying attention – its not up to me to manage other people's lack of impulse control. Clearly this strikes a nerve, lol, It was something I had to deal with a lot growing up, I actually listen better when I’m drawing, if I’m not I’m usually spacing out or something."

LOL! I actually can relate to that. I focus much better while drawing, too. Who is your favorite artist of all time? Why?

"Hmmmn. Egon Schiele comes to mind, although I wouldn’t google him at work, its not so much the content as much as the style, which strikes me as ahead of its time, around the beginning of the 1900’s, its very graphical (and graphic for that matter) if you were to see it on a shelf it looks contemporary. Then there’s Jamie Hewitt –Tank Girl/Gorillaz, Kurt Halsey, Jim Mahfood, Andy Kurbert, Norman Rockwell, whoever did all those propraganda art back in the 40’s in the US, and Russia for that matter, as well. That whole Art Deco movement in the twenties through the forties, god I could go on and on and I know I'm forgetting a few so I guess so I'll wrap it up with Chris Bachalo who is probably my all time favorite."

I really enjoy Jim Mahfood, as well, and have been very influenced by Bachalo. If you could pass any advice/knowledge on to aspiring artists, what would it be?

"If you want to make money from art, go into graphic design or sell art supplies. Art school can be good, but it might be a waste of money. Junior colleges generally have pretty good art classes anyway and really all you are paying for is time and experience. Those you can get on your own and there are plenty of places to find instruction that won’t put you into debt. Other than that, listen to critique but don’t quit because someone tells you that you don’t have talent or that your work sucks, keep at it, if the art career doesn’t work out just remember that at worst you’ll have a hobby that you love."

Very well put! I know many artists who began illustrating because they loved comics. Did you grow up reading comics? If so, which ones in particular sparked your interest?

"I didn’t, I read real books… yeah I was kind of a snob as a kid, around eleven though I discovered the ninja turtles (Eastman and Liard), graphic novels, and Spiderman, I loves me some Spiderman. Between the ages of eleven to around twenty-eight I actively collected comics, like on a weekly basis, I have a respectable collection of graphic novels and boxes of comics in the garage that I haven’t touched since I moved back home."

I myself loved comics, and, like you, collected my fair share. If you could have one super power, what it would be and why?

"I could just say that I’d want Rogue’s ability to absorb other powers, but that’s like wishing for more wishes… and since it is such a serious question I’d better treat it with the gravity and respect it deserves. Honestly, I don’t think that I would want one, I’ve been thinking about this, although it doesn’t translate well in this format, and really when you have one go to solution – like say a hammer- every problem begins to look like a nail. I'd rather be adaptable, I know that’s a lame answer but it’s all I’ve got."

It's not lame. I myself would love to be able to fly. What one illustration have you done that resonates the most with you, and means the most to you?

"Again, I’m going to disappoint, I don’t have one. It changes, depending on what I’m dealing with, coping with, going through– whatever. I wish I could say that it was whatever I am currently working on and that wouldn’t be true either. And maybe that’s the point, like if I had one, I wouldn’t feel the need to create more– I know this is sounding like some douchie art snob answer but I guess that’s what is, at least a part of why I'm doing this, I'm searching."

We're all searching, and that IS exhibited often in a compulsion to create. Do you always sketch in pencil first, or do you do the initial drawing in pen?

"I usually do most of the work in pencil, especially the last few years, ink is expensive and I generally clean everything up in Photoshop anyway, I know that might sound silly considering that I am doing the whole “a pen a day” side project, but mostly I do that digitally. However, that isn’t a rule, if what I have on me is a pen, then a pen it is. Mostly I just use whatever I happen to have on hand."

Thank you, Patrick, for your interview and for sharing your wonderful work with us.

You can visit Patrick's above-mentioned side project, "a pen a day," view more of his work, and keep up with him at these following links:

a pen a day

52 Fridays

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The Couch is a Lie

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