[LiS] Firstly, why don’t you introduce yourself
[Brian Pollett] My name is Brian Pollett and for the past couple years people have enjoyed referring to me as “Psy-Bry“. I define myself by my passions and amongst my many passions, I find visual digital art to be the most prominent and transformative passion in my life.
How did you first get into digital art, or art in general? When did you realize this was something you wanted to take seriously?
I’ve been dabbling in different forms of creative expression my whole life. When I was younger, I wrote music to make my parents proud, studied performing arts to make people laugh, and did creative writing to express how stupid I thought people were. I didn’t seriously pick up a pencil until I was 18 years old and even then, I only made art to impress girls (It worked). Before I discovered the digital canvas, all my creative endeavors were skills that I used to seek approval from others because I was terrified of being alone and unloved. It wasn’t until 2012 that I realized that my kindness and supportive nature are traits that outlast and impact people’s lives more than any of my technical skills. Among such personal growth, I discovered that the digital art medium is a powerful tool to put forth the idea of spreading kindness through creativity. I love the ability to presently create artwork that people don’t just respect, but truly enjoy. I love expressing my appreciation of the world and extending such appreciation to others who feel the same. Of course I still seek some level of approval from others, but while creating artwork that comes from a source of love and appreciation, I cannot help but feel connected with humanity, even when I am alone in my studio. I seriously doubt I will ever grow numb to making people smile when they look at my colorfully manipulated pixels.
In the most basic sense – what is art to you? I’m not so much looking for a general definition, more so what role art plays in your life.
Beyond much of my digital artwork being a way to express ideas of appreciation, love, connectedness, freedom, etc. I find my artwork plays a role of stability in my life. Though I may lose my lovers, my friends, my money, when I sit in photoshop, I feel safe and reconnected. As if the digital canvas is my own world in which I can create whatever rules I wish. And in this illusionary world of pixels, why not create something beautiful? Overall digital art makes me feel that my consciousness is invincible and reaffirms that I am connected to the right people.
My muses are people of all sorts. Whether it be a woman I enjoy flirting with, solid homies, or another artist who’s work I love. Going on an epic adventure with my friends makes me feel the need to encapsulate a portion of our experience in a psychedelic still life to remember. Sharing a romantic evening with a classy lady becomes an excuse to paint her beautiful portrait. I can get my creative juices flowing without fail by sitting for hours researching the artwork of Android Jones and James Jean. Overall, my inspiration comes from others aspirations to inspire, which I intern contribute to with my aspirations to inspire.
Talk a bit about your creative process. How does new material and styles come about?
Most of my artwork (or at least my most popular work) begin with a hurricane of color which are later solidified into a subject matter relevant to the present moment. I may have an idea of an end goal, but usually my inspiration and creative energies shift throughout the creative process. As far as style development goes, I tend to base my style from ideas, music, and visuals I come across. For example, I’ve recently been listening to a lot of nu Disco music and so I change my palette and compositions based on my romanticized idea of the 70s. Much of the time, I use the exact same brushes and resources for my next few paintings and tweek them ever so slightly until these resources become something completely different.
How did you get connected to the wormhole crew, and how did you end up doing both live digital art as well as helping out with their flyers?
I started creating digital artwork live at Wormhole at the beginning of February 2014 when the event was still held at Era Art bar in Oakland. Sam Lewis invited me out randomly and hooked me up to four big screen T.Vs and trusted that I would create trippy artwork. Making digital art displayed on big screens certainly made me stand out from traditional painters. I start from scratch and patrons can watch the progress through the night. Something that might take me hours to paint in oils/acrylics, might take me less than a minute in photoshop, which opens up far more possibilities during the course of my process. Wormhole crew and patrons picked up on this process fairly quickly and almost every Wormhole, I get a bunch of people coming up to me asking me questions, or giving me suggestions on what they would like to see. Beyond my artistic skill, I think the uniqueness/rarity of live digital art really helped grab the attention of the Wormhole crew, which lead to Gleb Tchertcov asking if he could use my first Wormhole painting for the March 2014 flier. The artwork was so well received that it seemed the definitive aesthetic of the event began to establish. So I packed my gear and went out to paint at Wormhole almost every week, being pushed to create something greater but also feel comfortable with experimenting. And to be clear, I simply make the artwork for the fliers and then the hand over my right brained mess over to fellow Wormhole artist, James Hawkins who really brings it together with his graphic design.
How has working with the wormhole crew effected your art and your creative process?
I’d like to lead into my answer by first stating that the Wormhole crew and community has given me nothing but support for my work and ideas. From the first Wormhole I attended I felt the event was a place to not only party, but a fun avenue to share entrepreneurial endeavors. What I mean by this is that wormhole has always welcomed painters, projection mappers, DJs/producers, crafters with their glass pipes or their jewelry, professional dancers, stage designers and creatives who come together to share their next big project. This energy keeps us perpetually stoked and I have not grown numb to it. Even if some weeks I’m not to excited about the line-up, I can always justify going to Wormhole simply to talk about projects with new and old friends. Kind of like having a business meeting at a cafe, except the barista serves you booze and your boss is wearing tie-dye, talking about lasers.
With all this creative energy buzzing around I really instilled the idea of my live painting at wormhole as a performance/sideshow, I forced myself to make interesting artwork as quickly as possible, continuing to show my process and keep people guessing as to what I’m making. There have a been a few times in which I got stumped and didn’t know what else I could do, so each week I would learn something new in photoshop/corel in order to keep my creative process flowing. This of course has drastically influenced my style and trained me to paint fast! Though I feel one of the most influential aspects of wormhole is how supportive/receptive/curious the patrons are. I love hanging out with people and sharing my knowledge of digital art, philosophy, music, or just simple conversations that arise from my work, like “what if scientists made a crab as large as a man?”
And with all these connections, comes networking, so from a career standpoint, my work has definitely gotten a lot more popular and is seen as apart of a creative movement rather than an individual artist trying to make his big break.
And with that said, I feel Wormhole itself is apart of a movement and a sanctuary for creatives. So many artists I know have said “I created one of my best paintings at wormhole” or “I had this great idea at Wormhole!”
You started working with Wormhole when they were still at the Era Art Bar location, can you tell us a little about the difference between the vibe in the two venues?
I enjoy the vibe of both venues and I feel the most significant aspect that has changed is the variety of people. Era is much smaller and was filled with mostly Local Oakland music geeks who made it a point to get crazy on the dance floor. Though people still come out to The New Parish to lose themselves to the music, being that the new venue is so large and open, new patrons come out from all over the west coast and beyond just to socialize with the artists. Every time my friends from L.A or Portland come to visit me in San Francisco, they make sure to schedule their trip on Wednesday just so they can rage or chill at Wormhole. Even people who may not prefer the music line-ups at Wormhole will still have a great time attending Wormhole, simply for the creative vibes.
You are currently working on a 4-tiled art piece that will unveil itself one quarter at a time over a 4 month period on the wormhole flyers. Amazing idea! How did this come about?
The idea for a four month flier design was proposed to me by Wormhole crew members, Gleb and Jason. I had already produced the artwork that Gleb picked out to use for the project. It is just another example of how wormhole supports/ experiments with new ideas to ultimately give back to the community. Wormhole doesn’t have merchandise, so being able to provide people with something memorable and that they need to collect, is something I am sure will hold a place in their hearts.
Editors Note: At the time that this interview took place wormhole was not yet offering merchandise, but they are now offering t-shirts and much more coming soon!
What next? Where is this all going, or rather where do you HOPE this will go?
I cannot confirm anything but there has been talk and application of creating a Burning Man theme camp and festival stages amongst various projects.
Honestly I don’t know how Wormhole will evolve. At this point I think everyone involved with Wormhole has realized and or re-affirmed the potential of the project and community. They are at a point in which they are getting a lot of attention/support and they have a clean canvas to do with as they please. My only hopes for Wormhole is that it moves in an honest direction, never forgetting what Wormhole means to the community. I hope they never forget that they have provided more than just a party, but a sanctuary for creatives. Wormhole has connected so many people and helped alleviate the feeling of rejection from everyday life. If Wormhole stays true to their values, I am confident that the community with be right there to help out when called upon. Whatever Wormhole decides to do, I give them my trust and I will be there to lend a helping hand.
“When I say ‘worm,’ you say ‘hole.'”