Interview - Coffee Break with Local Artist Brenton See

17th Dec 2018 • Enrichment

Public art can help create a sense of place in a community, or celebrate the environment and history of an area. We sat down with artist Brenton See to ask him about his work, some of the challenges he faces and who inspires him.

Through your eyes, how does public art add value to a space and the local community?

So my opinions on public art has changed a little since I began doing it as a full time practice. In the beginning it was more about me just taking the opportunity to paint large and also paint what I felt like at that point of time. Nowadays I believe it’s important to create a piece that represents the area I’m painting by celebrating the wildlife found there and at the same time making sure it works with the surroundings.

I do not call myself a “Street Artist” because I feel like my works are better suited outside of the street landscape. That said, I also enjoy the opportunity to educate the public in areas that would not normally witness our native wildlife.

I think public art when used correctly can definitely add value to properties and spaces. I believe that if the work enhances the existing area and at the same time increases the foot traffic then it is always going to be a welcome addition.

As my work involves native wildlife and almost always Western Australian species specifically the local community is generally my target audience. If I can educate the public on what species are found in their area through art while creating something positive in a possibly dull area then I feel like I have achieved what I set out to do.

As an artist I feel privileged to be able to do what I love on the property of someone else so I want to make sure I make the most out of the situation and that as many people as possible can appreciate or profit from it physically, mentally and or financially.

Can you tell us something most people wouldn't know about you?

One thing most people may not know about me that are familiar with the work I do today is that up until 2015 I was painting a completely different painting style. Up until 2015 I was very interested in the traditional tattoo style of art. I was still painting animals but the work was a lot more graphic and in a way cartoony. After painting this style for a while I felt like I had created everything I wanted to and felt the need to move into something else but still focusing on wildlife.

When creating large murals, what challenges do you face?

I actually find the process of painting large murals easier then painting small canvas work. The actual technique is the same but using large brushes but instead of painting an eye that is 1cm wide it might be 30cm wide. This means that I can be a little looser and expressive when the total mural is being viewed from further back. The pressure of knowing most people will not be standing a metre away from the work and studying every inch of detail is removed making the painting experience a lot less stressful.

Painting outside amongst the elements can be difficult especially when you have a limited amount of time to complete the piece. I’ve had rain wash away a days work before and I’ve had the sun heat a wall that much that I’ve burnt my hands. Weather I can generally deal with to a certain degree but the surface I’m painting on is usually the biggest hassle.

When you put yourself out there as an artist that paints walls you have to be able to tackle any surface if you want to stay busy. The everyday person generally doesn’t have a perfectly flat rendered concrete wall that is ready to be painted. Bricks with deep recesses and corrugated metal fences are the type of canvas most clients have in their homes. I’ve learnt to slightly tweak certain techniques to be able to paint on these surfaces. A flat wall may take two days to complete but the same size area with a deep recess or corrugation and you could add another day to that time to finish.

Name 3 inspiring people you’re currently following on Instragram:

I think the three most inspiring people I’m currently following on Instagram are Gary Meredith an amazing local photographer, Chad Peacock (peacock visuals) who creates brilliant media productions, and Richard Colman (arecolman) who is my favourite visual artist. I’ve followed his work for years and it’s constantly evolving and blowing me away.

You have so many incredible projects under your belt, the big question is… do you have a favourite?

I think my favourite project to date is possibly the mural I painted at the Beeliar Shopping Centre for KPA Architects. Up until that point I had never painted at that scale or height so it was definitely a mental and physical battle that I thankfully conquered. I learnt so much from that project and so happy with how it turned out.

Instragram @brentonsee

Silo photos by Bewley Shaylor; Bilby and Gecko photos by Billy Ray Stokes