Interview: In the Spotlight – Artist Brandon Drake.
Brandon can’t think of a time in his childhood when he wasn’t drawing on some scrap of paper; art has always been a part of his life. His father, a retired illustrator/graphic designer for AT&T and Bell Laboratories, encouraged him to be creative by constantly drawing as well as learning how to utilize computer programs to design. Brandon’s grandmother, who was also artistic, had been a student at the duCret School of Art, the oldest art school in New Jersey. Any time he visited, she had paper, pencils, and crayons at his disposal. After graduating high school in 2008, it was no surprise that he enrolled at duCret.
While at duCret Brandon initially wanted to study illustration and follow in his father’s footsteps. He enrolled in various classes ranging from traditional sculpture and drawing to graphic and web design. Midway through his freshman year his interests began to shift towards fine art. By his second year he knew that he wanted to focus strictly on traditional academic drawing and painting. With the guidance of instructors, Monica Baumann and Michael Ruple, Brandon began to develop his skills in draftsmanship on canvas. Studying predominantly from live models and still life arrangements, he also began to utilize his own photography. It was at this time that he was introduced to artist and instructor Timothy W. Jahn, founder of Jahn Studios.
The summer of 2009 marked a new the beginning for Brandon when he enrolled and started his studies at Jahn Studios alongside a select group of other talented apprentices. Under Tim’s direction, students began the Language of Drawing program developed by Jahn’s teacher, Anthony J. Waichulis, the founder of The Waichulis Studio located in Pennsylvania. As Brandon’s skills grew, new opportunities at Jahn studios presented themselves, including exhibitions held in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
Where are you from? Where did all of this begin?
I was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey. It’s really interesting to me that my hometown is the location of New Jersey’s oldest art school. Definitely started in the home though, my father was an illustrator so I was around art from the moment I woke up every morning.
When did you realize that art is what you were meant to do?
Near the end of highschool. At that point I was taking some classes at duCret and began to see more of the art world. I saw a painting hanging there and it just captivated me. I remember thinking, this is what I want to do, I have to do this.
Who are your major influences, inspiration in life and in the art world?
My father has always been an influence. If he weren’t an artist I probably wouldn’t be pursuing this now. Timothy Jahn and Anthony Waichulis are playing a huge role in my life as a developing artist. The work ethic and level of success each of them have is what inspires me to be the best artist I can.
What are some essential tools that you consider a must have for every artist?
I keep a sketch book with some graphite pencils in my car at all times. Everyone who wants to draw or paint should be doing it daily.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just began a new painting this week, started laying down the first marks the other day. It’s my take on the idea behind Beauty and the Beast; a simple still life arrangement featuring a rose among other objects. I’m attempting to pull the inner beauty, so to speak, out of what some may not find to be pretty.
A large portion of our audience are artists, like yourself. If you could give them one piece of advice – what would it be?
As long as you are rewarded by what you do, keep doing it.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given & by whom?
To be a genuine person and mean what I say and say what I mean. Both of my parents instilled this in me.
What has been your most rewarding achievement as an artist?
I teach several private students art so whenever I see one of them get really excited about their progress on a new drawing, I get excited for them. It’s always rewarding for me to help others and know that I can give back something I’ve been given.
Could you share with us your favorite quote?
One of my favorites would have to be that, “If you don’t go after what you want you will never have it.”
When you first started, what was your biggest dream? And have you accomplished that?
My biggest dream was and still is to build my future by creating art, to make a career that I can support myself with. Every day that I paint I know I’m one step closer to making it happen. Good old fashion hard work.
What are your hopes for 2013, and where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
I’m very excited for The Big Gamble this year and would love to sell the works in this show. I have the opportunity to receive some scholarship awards this year which I’m excited about. Also, the semi-annual show Capturing Realism is fast approaching for this fall and I’m in the preliminary stages of a painting I’d like to enter in the show. A lot can change in five years, but right now I’d like to be teaching at an international Ani Art Academy and painting. It is more or less what my lifestyle is right now, and I’m quite enjoying it. To do it in another country would be an incredible life experience I’d love to have.