BRANDON BIRD: POP-CULTURE
"Elysium" (c)2001 by Brandon Bird
Anyone who knows this site knows what a pop
culture junkie I am. And I've had a lot of fun making crazy pictures of
Mr. T and other elements of the retro lexicon into insane crayon drawings.
Boy was I blown away when I discovered the work of Brandon Bird, however!
This former fellow Sacramento resident (who currently lives in Santa Cruz, CA),
makes some of the most wonderfully delicious masterpieces I've seen in my life.
Whether its Bea Arthur wrestling dinosaurs, or Abe Lincoln beating up George
Washington "Fight Club" style, his subject matter is original, jaw-dropping, and
funny as hell.
I had to interview Mr. Bird and find out
what makes him tick.
Why do you think Mr. T works so well as
subject matter in artwork?
Mr. T is a sublime paradox: The same man who, as a bouncer, dropped a dude on a
fire hydrant, composed a song called "Treat Your Mother Right." His very
existence challenges the mind, yet his message touches the heart.
The Carmichael library should still have a copy of his autobiography, The Man
With the Gold. Excellent reading!
"Two Warriors Come Out of the Sky" (c)2001 by
What's your all-time favorite painting
In the interest of revealing character details, I'm going to say my first oil
painting, which was a copy of the head of Goliath from a Caravaggio painting as
an exercise for class. Till that point, I'd just worked in acrylics, and all I
knew how to do was paint in a pop-arty, color-and-black-lines style. But when I
finished the Caravaggio copy, and it actually looked how it was supposed to
look, I thought, "Wow, I understand painting; I can paint whatever I want now,"
and then I started figuring out what exactly it was that I wanted to paint
(which would eventually be, "things I like with a strange and/or humorous
I also like the Dukes of Hazzard one, because I love the Dukes of Hazzard.
"Waiting for the Magic
Hour" (c)2002 by Brandon Bird
Tell me about your best idea that you've yet to paint.
Well, the one I'll tell you about, which is not the best but no one will want to
copy it, is to travel around the country and paint a Sears store from every
state. I might actually do it this summer.
"The Dreamer and the Dream" (c)2001 by Brandon
Do you fear reprisals from the Church of
Scientology for your L. Ron Hubbard painting?
Um, yes, because I understand they are a rich and letigous cult. But in my
defense, the painting doesn't say whether he was saintly or shady; I think the
only stance it takes is that he'd probably like pizza.
"Killing Machine" (c)2001 by Brandon Bird
How much would you charge for a nude Bea
I'd pay fifty dollars to see a nude Bea Arthur.
How much have some of your paintings sold for?
I haven't put anything that's on the site up for sale yet, mainly because I want
to keep the whole body of work together for as long as possible. Which was a
fine idea when I had a steady day job, but maybe not so much anymore.
Your work gets such a warm reaction from many fans. How are you received by
your peers in the art world?
I don't really know. Within my immediate vacuum of Santa Cruz, I'm The Bomb with
a side of All That. At least, when people come up to talk to me, they say nice
things and not "You suck!" But I'm still trying to break into the art world
proper. I'll (theoretically) be getting some exposure in Juxtapoz art magazine,
and a speaking gig in Florida, which is all absolutely great, but that big
glamorous one-person show in a trendy-ass gallery hasn't happened yet. My
limited experience has been that you send your slides and portfolio out to
places and then wait and wait and wait for any kind of response at all and
finally realize that if you want something--namely, a show--to happen, you have
to go out and do it yourself, meaning either secure your own space or just march
up to a gallery owner's face and tooting your own horn, and I would rather work
hard slowly building a reputation than have to do the latter.
What are your biggest influences?
Television would be the obvious one. Plus other, less concrete things, like bits
of old stories and myths, Ween, Frank Black--things that inspire moods rather
than specific images. Artisticly-speaking, I pay attention to everything I'm
exposed to, with an eye towards how to put it to use. I want to learn every
style, because darn it, art is fun!
What was your favorite toy as a kid?
I was and remain a Rodimus Prime loyalist. I felt he had far superior leadership
skills than Optimus, namely a giant spoiler fin and flames painted on his chest.
"Anguish" (c)2003 by
How did you get the inspiration for "The
My sister's husband had been wanting me to do a Michael Landon painting, and I
happened on some articles on the internet about the large squids showing up in
Bodega Bay, and it more-or-less clicked together. I feel bad, because I found
out the person who took the photos I stole for reference (Alex Kerstitch) died
in a diving accident.
The whole squid fascination goes back years and years, to the couple of weeks
when my older brother and I thought we were going to be marine biologists when
we grew up.
What are some of the paintings you're currently working on, any sneak peeks
for retroCRUSH readers?
Nothing that's scan-able yet, but I'm working on a new Edward Norton, a couple
of things for the "Law & Order" group show I'm putting together, a whole series
in the grand traditions of Classicism on the life of Captain Sisko, and a few
stand-alone paintings, such as Christopher Walken building a robot in his garage
(to be titled, "Lazy Sunday Afternoon").
You can check out Brandon Bird's amazing
work online at his site BRANDONBIRD.com.
You can view many more of his amazing paintings, and even purchase some cool
T-Shirts and merchandise featuring the images.
There's a lot of other great things to find
there as well. In the "Hate Mail" section, you'll love a letter from an
angry Thomas Kinkade fan (aren't they all?), who is incensed at Bird's use of
the URL www.painteroflight.com to
point at his site.
Bird is also managing an art show dedicated
to the many TV incarnations of "Law and Order" to be held on May 26th in Santa
Cruz. If you'd like to submit a piece, you can do so by May 20th.
You can CLICK HERE
for details. I think the time is right for a HOT HOT Jerry Orbach/Sam
Watterston man on man action pastel, don't you?