There’s an ease about Charlie Brand’s work that’s endlessly refreshing among our over-stimulated world. Where the media batters your brain with images and information, his medium fills you with a sort-of nostalgia for your current life. Like the frozen moment of a polaroid, it’s impossible not to imbue his depictions with romanticism for the captured split second. It reminds you of new friends on old couches, of tossing your keys on the counter, of forgetting to change the water in your vase (which is now a mossy green). It reminds you of life. Along with his illustration, Charlie also fronts Miniature Tigers, a band I’m convinced anyone would like. Listen here, check out his work/life here, and read our interview with the artist below.
What was your first love, art? Music? Batman?
I started playing the drums when I was 10, and have spent a majority of my life focused on music. I’ve always admired artists but didn’t think I had the skill to be one.
Do you think of your artwork and your music as connected in any way? Or do they exist on their own planes?
As far as process is concerned, they exist very separately for me, I’m either really working on music or working on art. However, it is nice to be able to switch between the two when I’m not feeling very inspired. One way they’re connected is through my approach. I’ve learned a lot about simplicity through my art that I’ve applied to my music. I’ve also always been very visual when writing music. Sometimes I see colors or places and try to make music that feels like that.
Give us some insight into your artistic process. How do you start? How do you know when you’re done?
Everything for me starts on my iPhone. I just sketch things out and sometimes that ends up being the finished product. When I want to make an actual painting, I look through my iPhone drawings as if it were my sketch book. I try to work fast because the stuff I spend too much time on ends up losing its soul and looking over-worked.
I feel like there’s an element of brevity in everything you do. Not farce, or some kind of obvious comedic relief, but a lightness that allows for a laugh to creep in every once in awhile. Is this intentional?
It’s not exactly intentional, but it’s what comes most natural to me. I grew up on Snoopy and Steve Martin. I love humor and things that are smart without beating you over the head with it. I love David Hockney’s “Portrait of an Artist” because it’s so sad, but also very soothing to look at. I absolutely have a more serious side to me but making dark or moody art would feel unnatural to me.
How did you land on your current artistic style?
I was on tour and reading about David Hockney’s iPhone drawings and downloaded the same app he was using. I became obsessed with visual art and started drawing on my phone with all my free time, which I still do. I’m really drawn to simplicity and not over-thinking what I’m working on. That really informs my style.
Simplicity is often much harder than complexity. (The mastery of Matisse’s line drawings gets me every time.) Are you “classically” trained? Or self-taught?
That’s my whole philosophy with art and music! Perfection is boring to me, I love people who, regardless of their talent level, choose to leave mistakes and not over-work things. To me, that takes so much more skill than constantly flexing. I am self taught in both music and art and couldn’t rip a crazy solo or paint something photorealistic, but I’m happier that way.
What would you tell someone who really wants to paint or draw or make music, but feels like they’re “not good enough”?
I mean, I almost didn’t even attempt art because I thought I couldn’t. You have to put in the hours and really keep doing it and pushing past the voice in your head that says you suck. I’ve been writing music for 20 years and still hear that voice, now, I just don’t let it stop me.
As a creative in our current political climate, what do you think is the best way to amplify the voices of the marginalized?
I’m very passionate about what’s going on in the world right now, but I’m also sort of turned off by protest art. However, I think art is the most powerful expression there is. 2017 has been challenging to figure out what I want to say; writing love songs feels even more silly in these times. But writing “Blowing In The Wind” is also really inauthentic in my particular artistic voice. I’m trying to figure out how to channel what I’m feeling through art and music, but haven’t found it just yet.
Answer these, quick!
Favorite bad font: Papyrus!
TV show that always makes you laugh: Frasier
Weirdest place you’ve ever been: Inside the Great Pyramid in Egypt at 3am.