Interview with Artist, Brett Amory
22 Jul, 2012
To view more of Brett Amory’s work visit his website at: www.BrettAmory.com
Dig In Magazine interviews Brett Amory, a formally trained artist based out of Oakland, California. Drawing inspiration from his surroudings, he paints places and people that he sees everyday. Amory says that the places he paints have similar emotions to the people he paints. He explains that his work is about not being in the now, and isn’t so much about people in urban landscapes, but more about how our egos are in control. Amory presented his "Waiting" Series in London at Lazarides gallery in early 2011, as well as had artwork shown at Gallery Heist, Sandra Lee Gallery, White Walls, and ThinkSpace. He has also been featured in Juxtapoz, Refused, Blue Canvass, Twenty two, and Rooms magazine. [March 29, 2011]
Dig In Magazine: Where were you born and where is your studio currently based?
Brett Amory: I was born in Chesapeake, VA. My studio is in West Oakland, CA.
DIM: What is your art training (formal and informal)?
BA: It is formal.
DIM: What did you study in college, where did you go to college? How did you go from studying Motion Pictures to Fine Art?
BA: I studied fine art at the Academy of Arts in San Francisco. When I started going to school at the Academy I was studying Motion Pictures. I was hanging out with mostly painters and illustrators so I started drawing. After drawing for a couple years I started painting and I really liked it, so I switched to fine art.
DIM: Can you tell me a little about how you started as an artist?
BA: I started pretty late. I started drawing when I was 21 and didn’t start painting until I was 24. I was hanging out with artists, so I sort of just fell into it . I was doing a a lot of skateboarding at the time and kept getting hurt, so art sort of took the place of skating. It was something to do.
DIM: I understand that you also work as a graphic artist, what company do you work for?
BA: I would never consider myself a graphic designer. I worked in print for a long time but was never really good at it. I got laid off last year so I decided to focus on my art. Art is my job now.
DIM: Who in your childhood inspired you to become an artist?
BA: My uncle Ed Roebuck is an amazing artist. He has always been a big influence. We would go to my grandmother’s house and Ed had his studio in the back. Some of my earliest memories are watching him work and checking out his tools.
DIM: What artists, dead or alive, have influenced you?
BA: Ed Roebuck, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Alex Kanevsky, Gage Opdenbrouw, Kim Cogan, David Choong Lee, and Mars-1.
DIM: What in life inspires you?
BA: My biggest influence would have to be my surroundings. My work evolves around where I’m living. Taking public transit was a big influence when I started the “Waiting” series then it evolved into people and places in my neighborhood. I lived in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco for 11 years, so I painted people in my neighborhood. People I would see on a daily basis but never talk to. I moved to West Oakland in 2009 so my work is slowly changing. Oakland feels older. It reminds me of the East Coast. Most of the architecture is more run down compared to San Francisco. There is a different mood in Oakland.
DIM: How would you describe your artistic style?
BA: I really don’t want to be categorized by a style. Some days I like painting tight and realistic, other days I want to be loose and expressive. I tend to build paintings up then break them down. It depends on how I feel that day.
DIM: What is it about architecture, building scenes, and urban landscapes that inspire you?
BA: I paint places I see everyday. The places I paint have similar emotions to the people I paint. I usually fill my camera up with people and places and put compositions together in photoshop based on shared emotions.
DIM: Your artwork consists of people in urban landscapes such as in undergrounds and subways, etc., can you explain your fascination with this subject matter?
BA: My work is about not being in the now. The “waiting” series started out with places of transit. Places where we wait to be somewhere else. Overtime I was taking the bus and the subway less, so I started painting what I was seeing everyday. People on street corners waiting to cross the street or just walking down the street. My work isn’t so much about people in urban landscapes, but more about how our egos are in control.
DIM: You have mentioned in the past that your paintings are “like a type of visual music,” can you explain this concept?
BA: The figures are repeated in my work sometimes to indicate the passage of time. In music phrases are repeated.
DIM: You seem to use a lot of pastel-like colors, what thought is behind your color choices used in your artwork?
BA: I really don’t know. Its like asking a writer why they use certain words to express their thoughts.
DIM: Can you explain your artistic process, from thought to sketch to paint?
BA: I’m always taking pictures of places and people. When it comes time to put together a group of paintings I go through my camera and find places that have a certain feeling. When I find something I like, I import the pic in photoshop and start the elimination process. Once I have a composition I like I go back and find a person that shares the same feeling as the environment and marry the two. Once I have a composition I like I start the painting.
DIM: What are you trying to communicate through your paintings?
BA: The Waiting series is about the anticipation of the next moment. While we are waiting, we are waiting for that moment to end. We anticipate the next moment, so we are rarely in the present one.
DIM: Your artwork has been shown across the county, what galleries have you shown in?
BA: Gallery Heist, Sandra Lee Gallery, White Walls, Fabric 8, Arc Studios, Studio Gallery, Elder Art, Southern Exposure, ThinkSpace, and Bold Hype.
DIM: What magazines has your artwork been featured in?
BA: Juxtapoz, Refused, Blue Canvass, Twenty two, and Rooms magazine.
DIM: I understand that you just wrapped up your first solo show in London at Lazarides, can you tell me a little bit about this show?
BA: It was my first show in London and probably my best show yet. I showed 15 paintings from the Waiting series. Lazarides is a great gallery and a pleasure to work with.
DIM: What do you think about the art scene in London compared to that of the United States?
BA: My work was well received in London, but I wasn’t there long enough to get a good enough feel for comparison.
DIM: You have a published an art book called Convergence, what does this book consist of? What is the theme of the book? How did you come across a book deal?
BA: Convergence is a book of five artists. There was no theme, each artist had their own section. We are all friends so we decided to put a book out.
DIM: What are your plans and goals for the future?
BA: To keep evolving as an artist.