Brian Huntress Brings Art to Lowell
As the art world continues to evolve and change, there are few things as exciting as the opportunity to witness a new exhibition by a talented artist. With an upcoming gallery opening featuring the works of Brian Huntress opening this April at LTC, we had the chance to sit down with him to discuss his art, creative process, and personal experiences.
Throughout the interview, we delved deep into the inspirations and motivations behind Huntress' unique style, and explored the techniques and approaches he used to create his latest pieces. We also discussed the challenges he has faced in his artistic career, and the exciting new projects and collaborations he has in store for the future.
As we dove deeper into Brian Huntress' world, we explored the role of technology in the art world, as well as the importance of successful gallery partnerships in promoting and selling artwork. Finally, we concluded our discussion with Brian Huntress' advice for emerging artists looking to make their mark in the industry.
Join us as we explore the fascinating world of fine art with the talented and inspiring Brian Huntress. See the artwork for yourself this April at the Lowell Telemedia Center in Lowell, Massachusetts.
What inspired you to become a fine artist, and how did you develop your unique style?
I developed my art style by studying great art and emulating what I saw. For many years, as a child and in my youth, I simply saw things that I liked and tried to draw it. I drew SpongeBob, Inuyasha, Naruto, etc, and this continued for a couple years until I began drawing my own characters. Eventually I graduated out of the sketchbook and took it to the canvas. Still in high school, I would just splash paint around and scribble. I didn’t make a lot of representational art. I just made marks. These were almost exclusively process focused artworks that made no effort to look good. I was getting something out. Exercising demons, almost. It wasn’t until well after high school and into my early 20s that I started to consider myself a fine artist. Through that time I went to school, refined my skills, and studied art history.
Can you tell us about the process behind creating the pieces in this exhibition? What techniques did you use, and what was your creative approach?
Many of these pieces are mixed media works though they are all anchored in a standard acrylic painting technique. Most of what I do is something called ‘wet on wet’ though I also deploy indirect paintings techniques with transparent layering. In terms of my mixed media work, I make all of my paintings as layered as possible. I paint a thick and bold layer and then let it dry. After that, I go in again with another layer. Maybe I’ll even add a completely new medium like oil pastels or graphite. This rotation can be done forever until the I like the how piece looks and how it feels.
How do you feel your work fits into the contemporary art world, and what do you hope viewers will take away from your pieces?
It’s hard to even imagine my work in the contemporary art world. I relate a lot to Andrew Wyeth’s story. He was a figurative artist, a landscape painter, and he was completely representational during a time when art was all about abstract expressionism. He was successful in his time but he didn’t do what was in vogue. He did what he liked and what he was good at. I make the art that I make and I don’t worry about fitting into the contemporary art world. I should add, it’s impossible to make any blanket statement about the art world in any time period. There are countless amazing painters and artists like me getting recognition for their work just the same as there are artists making things one might call conventional contemporary art. I just keep my head down and keep doing my thing.
What challenges have you faced as a fine artist, and how have you overcome them?
I’ve found it uniquely challenging to learn about the administrative part of the art world. Arts professionals are extremely organized people. They are punctual, hyper competent, and and proactive about the business. I’ve felt intimidated by those expectations in the past but after working closely with gallerists, art consultants, and other collaborators I was able to rise to the occasion and develop my professional skills where they lacked. This challenge made me a better artist.
Can you discuss any recurring themes or concepts in your work, and how they relate to your personal experiences or beliefs?
I’ve painted about mental illness, trauma, and spirituality for many, many years. I’ll probably work with this theme for as long as I’m alive. My commitment to personal development and artistic enrichment calls for me to find more intelligent, more creative, and more elegant ways to explore these repeated concepts and philosophies. The reason I make art about mental illness and trauma is because I’ve been through it.
How do you think technology has influenced the art world, and have you incorporated any new technology into your creative process?
I’m very interested in AI and other computer generated tools for creativity but in a more practical sense, I have been using computers to make art, learn, and express myself for as long as I can remember. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a computer therefore I was able to learn these tools early. From MS Paint to PicsArt all the way to Photoshop, I’ve been using photo editing and digital illustration tools forever. Sometimes I make art that bounces back and forth from digital to physical. In my world, digital tools are just another piece of the mixed media tool box.
Can you speak to any notable collaborations or partnerships you've had in the past, and how they have influenced your work?
My closest collaborator is Theodora Earthwurms, an artist, curator, writer, and my partner. We started making art together during the COVID 19 lockdown in 2020 and we never stopped. Since then we have published a book of collaborative drawings called, ‘The Letter Project,’ started an online show called ‘The Boston Art Podcast,’ and enabled each others art careers in countless ways. We help each other put shows together, network, and build our portfolios. I consider Theo to be an irreplaceable and vital team member in my art making and the person closest to me.
How do you feel about the role of the gallery in promoting and selling artwork, and what do you look for in a successful gallery partnership?
Art galleries are amazing, crucial, and a great way to get your art in front of people. Galleries are also a powerful and irreplaceable player in the facilitating of conversations, culture building, and supporting the arts. I support curators and gallerists whole heartedly in their fight to get good art out there in front of people and into the hands of the people that love it most. In terms of what I look for in a gallery partnership, I like working with fun, inspired, and curious people who like to see good things happen in the world.
How do you envision your artistic career evolving over the next few years, and what projects or exhibitions are you currently working on?
I see myself continuing to paint, record artist interviews with hundreds and hundreds more artists, and collaborating with larger institutions like museums and non profits. I believe to make a big impact you have to swing big and put more on the line so I’m going to continue going all in and putting my art out there. I focus very heavily on promoting my art and my perspective on social media apps like Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube. So much so that I have now gained over 100,000 followers on Tik Tok and I’m continuing grow accounts on other platforms. I believe social is going to be a massive source of growth for my art career over the next few years and I plan to keep the pressure on. Besides all of that, I’m going to just keep making good art.
Finally, can you discuss any advice you have for emerging artists looking to make a name for themselves in the art world?
I think all artists should be open minded and humble. Don’t cringe or flinch when you’re exposed to different perspectives or different ways of life. Open your heart and open your mind. Listen to people when they talk and don’t be too selective about who you listen to. There is a wealth of knowledge out there in unsuspecting places.
As we wrap up our interview with Huntress, we are left with a deep appreciation for the passion and dedication that he brings to his art. It is clear that his work is the product of many years of hard work and experimentation, and that he is constantly seeking new avenues for creative expression.
Throughout the interview, we were struck by the recurring themes of this work, which often explore the interplay between mental illness, trauma, and the spirituality. His pieces are both thought-provoking and visually stunning.
Don't miss the reception and artist networking event April 27th featuring singer-songwriters Joel Mongeon, ZeroAtBest, and standup comedian Casey Woods.