We recently connected with Brandon Dudley and have shared our conversation below.
Brandon, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Do you wish you had started sooner?
I guess I wish that I would have taken the leap into pursuing a different creative career a lot earlier in my life. Now, that’s not to say I regret being where I am today, because I don’t, it was my journey that has led me here today. I just wish I would have taken the leap into the visual arts and pursuing it in a more serious fashion before now.
I was in a somewhat creative career before when I worked as a hairstylist. I was a hairstylist for 12 years, and it was great and creative, and challenging in so many ways. If you ask any hairstylist, I can almost guarantee they would agree that Doing hair is an art form in and of itself. Perhaps, this is why I didn’t feel the same drive then as I do now to show take a stab at being a professional artist.
During those 12 years, I would paint off and on (but I would keep it to my self for the most part) and take on new creative hobbies, but it was really being a hairstylist, and then acting on the side that kept my creative glass filled. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I decided I wanted to try something new for career, something that had more predictability in income. That’s when I left hair and acting behind and took on a 9-5 working in the corporate world.
I think it was working tech that my creative glass began to deplete and I needed to find a way to fill it up again, which is when I decided to get back into painting and take it more serious and attempt to make it a full time gig (something I’m still trying to do). However, the art world is not an easy world to break into and is a full time job on its own (that’s not including painting). I can’t help but to think about where I would be if I would have tried harder as an artist 10 years ago. But then again, I like the life I have today.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
Well, I am in communications and knowledge management by day, and primarily a painter at night – and on the weekends. I consider myself a contemporary abstract artist for the most part but I hate putting myself into any one slot and I dabble in a bit of everything. Along with painting I recently began making jewelry. I started that as a way to keep creative when I wasn’t feeling inspired to paint, or as a way to cure my creative block. Making jewelry, to me, is much lower stake than my painting.
I actually find it very difficult to talk about my art and my paintings, and I think its because painting is such an intimate experience to me and I feel vulnerable, so I often respond with my art just “is.” The painting and the process of getting a painting to where it is, is the art. The vulnerability and soul bearing of each painting is the art.
You see, my art is a reflection of who I am as a person, and as an artist. It’s a reflection of my feelings and emotions, it’s how I experience life and how I see the world. I take my dreams, emotions, and experiences and turn them into a painting. Whether that is to create a landscape of sorts or something that is more intuitive in nature where I rely on colors and heavy stokes of the paint brush to create itself. Where I take something and then break it down into its most basic and child like elements and place it onto a canvas for others to experience life through my eyes.
To know me, is to know my art. I will challenge myself with experimenting with interesting color pallets, or take risks by leaving most of a canvas white in one painting, and then covering the next one in various textures and colors. Chaotic by nature, alone, each painting might look different from the other, or that they don’t belong together. However, when you put them all together I think they tell a story. A story about a gay man who struggles with mental health issues, trying to survive everyday, and is just trying to add some more beauty in the world by showing others that there really is beauty in the chaos of it all.
Learning and unlearning are both critical parts of growth – can you share a story of a time when you had to unlearn a lesson?
That you have to be classically trained to be a successful artist. I thought this was the case. For so long, I thought that because I didn’t have my MFA there was no way I would ever find myself in a gallery. That because I didn’t know gallery owners I would never get paintings out there for the world to see. That is far from the truth.
Being an artist is about trusting your own instincts and curiosity. Sure, would it have been easier to break in to the art world had I done an MFA, or even a BA in fine arts? Possibly. But what I have learned is that it’s about putting yourself out there. Submitting to galleries and competitions. If you would have asked me a few years ago if I would be showing 5 galleries in a year, I would have told you no way. But alas, here I am.
I also think that my lack of education allowed me to take more risks with my art because I don’t know if I’m breaking any conventional rules. Not knowing, allows me to just paint what I want how I want. I can be unapologetically me.
How can we best help foster a strong, supportive environment for artists and creatives?
Buy art! Support local artists. Go to local shows and galleries. Christmas is coming up, if you friend is an artist, buy something from them. I think as a society we need to understand that the arts and artists have always played an important role. What else sits in museums as relics of out past? Art. Who created all the paintings in the Louvre , or the National Gallery? Artists. We help push our society forward, we add beauty and entertainment to the world, and preserve the present moment for future generations to experience. Don’t cut arts programs from schools. Give more credit to artists of all kinds. Celebrate local artists to the same level we celebrate celebrities and big name artists. Go see a local band play, go watch community theater.