IN FOCUS: DEREK BRADLEY
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID YOU END UP HERE?
In a word - serendipity. I grew up in a poor part of East Atlanta and then another part of Georgia for a little while. I was a horrible student except for art and music class. My love for art making would eventually take me to Savannah College of Art & Design where I studied studio art and graphic design.
After college I ended up working at a music company in San Francisco as a designer, right around the time of the "web 2.0" movement. From there it just made sense to get involved with all of these Silicon Valley startups, so I did. It was definitely a case of the being in the right place at the right time and I was able to be a design consultant for many years helping companies get off the ground. I eventually ended up working for some of the major companies like Google, Airbnb and Facebook and while the work was always good, I just didn't like the homogeneous culture of San Francisco and I found myself spending all of my free time traveling to other cities like Los Angeles, New York and Tokyo.
New York City always felt the most like home to me, so in 2014 I packed my shit and moved to New York. I ended up being lucky and got a job as a product designer for Facebook for a few years in New York, but my work had lost it's soul, so I decided to quit my job. I recently left my design career to start my studio art practice up again. I literally just got the keys to my new art studio in Crown Heights and it feels amazing to be doing what I really love again. I'm terrified and excited to see where this will take me next.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
I'm a synesthetic painter, printmaker, photographer, sculptor, muralist and designer. I use pen, inks, paints, paper, pencil, resin, cement, wood, digital photography and software to intuitively explore the dynamic relationship between color, shape, form, feels and memories. A deep respect for craftsmanship manifests itself through my process and my work references minimalism, color field painting, realism, photo-realism, de stijl, hard-edge painting, suprematism and pop art.
I recently completed a series of paintings in the tradition of photorealists like Chuck Close, Richard Estes, and Audrey Flack. My process involves paintings rendered with exacting detail from photographic self-portraits. For me, this painstakingly slow and considered painting technique is a response to the emotional consequences of selfie culture—which I became hyper-aware of during my time as a product designer at Facebook—and I endeavor to bring self-reflection back into self-portraiture. I'm preparing the paintings for an upcoming solo show to be announced soon. I'm presently working on a series of abstract, minimal, geometric paintings, patterns and prints. These works are explorations and studies in movement, the interaction of color, structure, dimensionality, perspectives and inspired by synesthetic visual experiences triggered from sound, language, people and memories.
WHAT DO YOU IDENTIFY AS YOUR CULTURAL HERITAGE?
My immigrant ancestors are from all over the world: Ireland, Holland, England, Israel, France, Russia. Maybe some others? I'm not sure exactly, due to poor family tree documentation and several name changes a long the way, but I'm definitely proud of my heritage and I love learning more about it and connecting back to my roots. I went to Ireland a few years ago and I loved it there. It's so green, the people are ridiculously friendly and it's true, the Guinness does taste better there.
DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND INSPIRATION
I'd say that my style is very casual. Maybe even a little bit of a Southern California vibe? I literally wear the cheapest Vans, ripped Levi's, and a faded baseball cap every day, but I also pair that with dope designer shirts that could be worn with a suit.
Sometimes I'll wear everything all one color (often black or white, like a good New Yorker) and really love colorful patterns.
DEREK BRADLEY is a fine artist, printmaker, photographer, sculptor, muralist, designer and happy hour companion.You can explore his work on Instagram - @derekbradley.