We were lucky to catch up with Paul Granade recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Paul thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Naming anything – including a business – is so hard. Right? What’s the story behind how you came up with the name of your brand?
Coming up with the name for my company was far more difficult than creating the actual art. i wanted something that not only could potentially become a brand, but also represented what it is that i do. Working with the medium that i work with, which is skulls, i completely understood the stigma associated with this type of medium. I know it’s not for everyone, but i have been surprised by the number of people that have enjoyed what i am doing and the medium i use to do it.
one of the main purposes of Brightest Black Creative was to remove the stigma and help people understand that it doesn’t have to be dark or occult in nature. do I paint things that are dark in nature? of course! but i also try use bright and and uplifting color palettes and highlight the beauty in the shapes and forms of medium.
Whether achieved this or not? i have no idea, but being that i seem to attract all age groups including children, i feel like i have succeeded in taking some of that darkness that is constantly associated with Skulls.
Paul, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Since as early as i can recall, i have loved art. All kinds of art… Music, film, photography, paintings, mixed media, all of it.
As a child all the way through high school i was always drawing something. could of been a logo for a friends band, or just doodles and even a poor attempt at writing and drawing a comic book (which was a goal for a long long time). Over the years and with no formal education outside of whatever art class i was taking in school. I kept trying and trying. As i watched friends who had far more of a aptitude for drawing and sculpting and painting, i came to the realization that i wasn’t very good at it. i tried to move to music which unfortunately i didn’t have the aptitude for either. i have always been more of a math and science brain. so after a while, i just sort of stopped and started focusing on things that i was more naturally gifted at. Sports and academics filled my teenage years and the idea of painting or creating music sort of just moved to the back of the line.
As i got older, i focused on a career and making enough money to be comfortable, that became the goal… there was always something calling to me to create something. i shook it off time and time again. occasionally i would buy sketch books or draw a funny cartoon to make my friends laugh, but overall it was not something i regularly engaged with.
Over time i would have a sort of vision of something i wanted to create, and after i would look around to see if someone else already had this vision. Majority of the time it was unique and i would attempt to create it myself. this usually revolves around some sort of decoration for my home, so a lot of what i was doing was really just for me.
without going to far back down memory lane, all of those experiences led me to now. back in September of 2021 i was wandering around a store and looking at some halloween decorations. Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays so i am constantly adding to my collection. i came across some inexpensive hollow plastic skulls. at the time i was thinking i’d incorporate them in to my display for the year. As i kept looking at them i kept thinking the shape is fantastic but the paint job on them to make them look realistic was terrible. so i decided i was going to paint them. just something simple. one black and one orange to celebrate the colors of the holiday. after i finished with spray painting them i thought they looked a lot better, but was still missing something. i had seen a lot of this “liquid flow” paint style recently and while i thought it was okay on a canvas. i thought doing it on something that has shape could be a lot of fun. so i gave it a go. with orange one i kept it really simple, black and more orange. it came out really cool looking. almost like a marble effect. with the black one i went nuts and just through colors on until it has the right combo.
as they dried and as i cleaned up the giant mess i had made, they took shape. after a couple days i looked at them again and thought about how happy i was how they came out, but had a lot of different ideas on how to paint others.
i reached out to a friend of mine whom i have always looked up to as a mentor and a Big brother( Chris Hamer, Urbnpop) and asked him about his thoughts and if there was a potential market for it. He suggested i find out. He was running a comic con the next month and said he would put me in artist alley if i made a bunch more and brought them out. I cautiously agreed.
i started a instagram page bought a bunch of stuff to photograph my work and a bunch of stuff to display it at this comic-con. i’m a few hundred bucks in the hole and have no idea if i will connect with anyone. so here i am, almost 40 years old, at a comic con with some amazing artists who have been doing this a long time. There are no words that can describe my vulnerability on that day. i took 24 skulls to that comic con and sold 18. i was absolutely floored by the positive response i got.
when i got back home after the comic con i had a pretty serious conversation with my wife and we agreed together that i would give this a go. i wasn’t planning to stop my day job, but i found it helped me tremendously with managing my stress from the day to day.
over the next several months i would go to art markets, gain a decent amount of attention, sell some skulls and go back and make more. I had a fair amount of people who wanted to commission skulls with custom colors or specific patterns and i just kept going and going. i would work some local casting houses and different distributors to get some different types of skulls large full-size resins, some scaled medical models, all trying to find what i prefer to work with.
i mixed up some painting styles , i started painting canvases and got real creative with some 3D wall art as i realized not every one has room on their bookshelf or coffee table for a full sized human skull replica. it’s continued on like this for several months now.
My medium is unique. when you go to art markets, you don’t see other things like mine. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, and i haven’t always had the success that i had at my first few markets. but i still enjoy working with it every day. i have new ideas and creations every day.
i’m incredibly proud of what i’ve created. i’m incredibly happy that people seem to enjoy what i am doing and it’s really surreal to think about all the people that have something i created sitting in their homes.
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
Word of mouth and the local art markets have been the best source of new clients for me. Anything that gains new exposure. i do the social media thing but want an organic growth there. i won’t pay for followers. i want those who follow me to be people who have enjoyed my art and want to genuinely keep up with what i’m doing.
Do you sell on your site, or do you use a platform like Amazon, Etsy, Cratejoy, etc?
i currently have an Etsy store. i made the decision to go with Etsy due to the analytics they provide and the ease of listing an item for sale there. As i mentioned earlier, this is not full time for me. So the less time i have to spend getting an item uploaded the better. It gives me more time to focus on creating. There are a lot of tricks to gain more exposure with Etsy. I am still constantly learning. the cons with etsy are getting organic people to see what you are making. Go type in skulls in etsy and it will open hundreds of pages of items for sale. getting your stuff toward the front isn’t always easy or cheap.
- Website: https://brightestblackcreative.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brightest_black_creative/
- Facebook: https://facebook.com/brightestblackcreative/
- Other: Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/BrightestBlackCreate teepublic: https://www.teepublic.com/user/brightest-black-creative