14 November 2011

The Fight for Expression: Bryant W.

Punk Rock is Dead....So Riot (2011)
   Let's raise the volume up a notch, now, with some punk rawk ethos. Our third feature artist creates his pieces in a distinct, gripping style which melds nicely with several interesting themes and moods, among them the challenge of recognizing the goodness in images and characters that have often been used as symbols of evil and the unwanted. But I'm not going to do more interpreting than that, for this post. Instead, let's have the artist do the explaining himself. I hope you enjoy the following interview with Bryant W., short for Bryant Wieczorek (pronounced "which-orick").


Yowzer!Yowzer!: Let's dive right into some of your themes. You seem to work quite a bit with skeletons and with some interesting creatures called "Goons". Why the concentration on these traditionally scary subjects?

Bryant W.: I am not trying to scare anybody. I grew up in a Catholic household and went to church where I experienced the great haunting imagery the priests would paint for my mind in their sermons. I just think naturally that affected my work along with punk rock and hardcore music. Ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and Goons are very iconic primal things to look at and think about and my goal is to always try to emotionally connect with a viewer.

YY: Your piece, Punk Rock is Dead... so Riot, certainly grabs the eyes. I'm curious how you would describe its message. Does it advocate violence?

Inspiration for "The Willow Tree"
BW: I think my work as a whole expresses a very macabre and deep-seated frustration with society. Personally, I don’t think violence is called for in any way unless it is to combat injustice and only after peace is no longer found to be possible. This image, to me, is set in a moment of reflecting, "Should I stand up for what I believe in?" If you look at the individual, you'll see he or she is naked and his or her body has been cut to the bone. His or her true feelings and guts are spilled out on the floor for everyone to see.

YY: Ah, I do see that now. It's not just a stock skeleton. It's an individual with a soul. So, is this what you were thinking when you created it? The fight for justice? Or does it relate at all to punk rock music, like the title suggests?

Close-up of Inspiration
BW: This may sound funny, but this painting takes me back to when I knew nothing about punk rock. It reminds me of going to hang out with my older sister at her boyfriend’s house, walking into his room and seeing stacks of punk albums. I must have been in 8th grade or so and I knew, at least in my 8th grade mind, that this guy was cool. I finally got the courage to ask him who this band N. O. F. X. was, totally looking like a fool by saying each letter, one at a time. He laughed, but that week they made me my first punk mix cd, and I've never looked back since.
   Back to the painting, I finished the whole thing in a matter of hours. Like a true punk rock song, I don’t like to take my time. I want the moment to express the feelings and fate to lead my hands. Punk rock today is dead… so why not riot? Today, we see people in the streets around the world protesting, fighting for true liberties that we here in America take for granted and are slowly losing. This painting is my expression of the punk ethos. Baring ones soul/bones and expressing one's frustration is truly what punk rock has always been about.

The Willow Tree (2010)

YY: The story behind The Willow Tree, if I understand correctly, is that you were painting when you noticed a smudge mark on your hand, which interested you. In the arrangement of the black, silver and blue marks on your hand, you saw the beginning of a tree and so you transferred that idea to a canvas. But when I first saw it, I assumed you had taken a photo of your hand and then digitally manipulated the image to arrive at the final product.

BW: I have used a lot of digital editing software in my illustration work, such as Photoshop and Illustrator. But with this painting I used no such programs, just my eyes and hands. I actually love using computer software but I like to keep my design work very raw so that the viewer can feel a presence of humanity in it.

Heart Mom Goon (2011)
YY: Speaking of your design work, I read that the Goons characters, which you created, are going to have their own product line. Is that right?

BW: Yes they are. I created a large number of Skate Goons designs which will be up for sale very soon at SkateGoons.com.

YY: How would you describe the Goons?

BW: The Goons characters are a range of muscular monsters and skeletons set in everyday life. The designs were originally created as skeleton men with overly large shoulders to make them look like mob bosses' henchmen or goons.

Smile, Girl Goon (2011)
YY: I think they're great. I can't help smiling every time I look at them. I think it's because they're friendly and bad-assed, at the same time.

BW: They have slowly become an obsession in my work, and now they are transitioning into something even more refined. I consider them a combination of all of my work and messages into one package.

YY: Nice. I'm curious what you think about San Diego and the state of original art here?

BW: San Diego is an amazing place. The weather and the people are kind to me. And I find art blossoming around every corner and on every wall.

YY: I agree. I have one last question, if you don't mind. I'd like to know if you have any comments to add about your painting The Perfect Suitor?

The Perfect Suitor (2011)
BW: Sure. The Perfect Suitor is a reflection of myself. I tried to express the emotions found deep within an endless love. The suitor pictured will go as far as to sacrifice himself to express his true feelings. I contrasted the physical pain that love can cause with the flowers in his hand that have been pulled from his own head. Hopefully that helps.

YY: Whoa, tremendous! Yes, that helped. Best of luck to you, Bryant. And thanks for sharing your thoughtful visions and ideas. I don't think I'll ever look at a skeleton or a Goon the same way again!

BW: No, no, thank you.

[We will keep be keeping in touch with Bryant W., and will hopefully have many follow-up features with him, but if you'd like more info on his work in the meantime, feel free to visit BryantW.com.]

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