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Brian Despain

Brian has been working as a professional artist for nigh on 21 years now. He’s held all sorts of jobs from illustrator to photo retoucher but is most happy sitting at his easel, putting the images in his head to canvas. Currently Brian lives in Florida with his amazing wife, his mostly good dog and two jerks of a cat, (But he loves them anyway.)



An interview with Brian Despain
by Selin Yurdakul
January 2010

Hello Brian! Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where do you live? When did drawing and painting become important in your life?
Sure, I’m a thirty-eight year old Aquarius who enjoys a good glass of whiskey and a clever indie film. I’m currently in Jacksonville, Florida. Drawing and painting have been a part of my life for as far back as I can remember but it wasn’t until probably my late teens that I knew that art was going to be my career, in some shape or another, for the rest of my life.

Can you describe your typical day and what time is it right now as you are answering this question? : )
My day begins by getting up and seeing my wife off to work. I make her coffee and breakfast and make sure she’s got everything she needs, then I do a little cleaning before heading into the studio. I’ll usually do a bit of administrative work, like answering emails and the like before getting into the art proper. When I am working on art I like to limit myself to a few hours of work at a time before I take a break to walk the dog or mow the lawn. I’ve found that trying to push myself

to work straight through makes me a little squirrelly and I tend to start caring less about the marks I’m making which can really affect the final outcome. When my wife comes home I break off to make dinner and spend some time with her before heading back to the studio for a couple of hours after she goes to bed. I’m pretty sure there’s a nap or two in there somewhere as well. It’s 3:25 PM right now.

What can you tell us about your creating process? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get inspiration from just about everything. Sometimes it’s from looking another piece of art or listening to a song. Sometimes it’s more abstract, like seeing an interesting bird or a pattern in the sidewalk. Sometimes it’s beamed directly into my head by aliens, while I sleep.

Your main characters and the beautiful, mysterious world they’re in come together in a perfect way. Dark clouds, smoky factories, houses, telephone poles, fish, birds and everyday objects come together and create some sort of subconscious background for the viewer. And surrounded with that world we can clearly see a very familiar, emotionally charged moment, in every metal plate of your robots! How do you accomplish this? Do you know exactly what you’re going to draw from the beginning or does the work takes shape by time?
I honestly can’t tell you exactly how I do what I do. It’d be akin to describing the color blue. It’s just something I do.

However, I can say this... Not a single image I have ever created was exactly what I had planned from the start. Every painting I do has evolved from conception to completion, the perfect blend of idea and process.

Would you live in a world like the one in your works?
Of course.

I’ve read that you prefer to be asked about your favorite part in a piece, rather than a favorite piece. My favorite part in “The Escape” is the one that the robot touches the fish. It adds a very unique sense of touch and makes me feel like I’m actually there, touching that fish with my finger. Which part is your favorite?
I have a couple in this piece. The first is the play of light across the robot’s face and chest. I really love how it focuses the eye in. The second is the ghostly barn and silos in the background. They sublimely enhance the air of melancholy in the piece as they stand there abandoned and ethereal.

How do you know when a work is finished?
Usually by the date. I’m always running right up to the deadline and if I don’t “finish” the work it’ll not get to where it needs to go.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
People’s reactions to it. I try to suggest ideas and emotions in the pieces I do but I’m always surprised and delighted when someone suggests something completely different than I had intended.

I learned that you work as a concept artist for the video games industry. How does it feel to see a character that you created in a game? Do you play video games? Do you have a favorite?
Actually I just recently quit the industry. It was a great job while I had it but when I was given the opportunity to pursue my own work full time I just couldn’t justify staying. However, in answer to your question... Seeing your work come to life in a game is both thrilling and frustrating. On the one hand you get to directly influence the look and feel of the game with your ideas, but due to constraints to technology and design, and not a little bureaucracy many times your ideas get watered down or changed until they no longer have any of the magic you first instilled in them. I had the privilege of working with some very talented artists and as a result the end product was most often pretty awesome but there’s always a little that you have to give up when working in a group dynamic.

What do you do when you're not working?

What are you working on now? Could you tell us about your future projects?
I’ve got a number of things in the pipe. I’m working on paintings for a couple of different shows. I’ve got some ideas for books that I want to do. I’ve been contacted by a group of bronze casters that want to collaborate on some sculpture, and of course there’s always mowing the lawn and walking the dog...







Brian Despain


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