It's been interesting to see the changes behind Dark Art & Craft over the last year. One of the most important components to us was not only continuing to post inspiration from the great masters of Dark Art from eras past, but also continuing to support contemporary artists of all experiences and exposures. It's with excitement that we begin to piece together a series of emerging artist features, specifically intended to provide opportunities to creatives with little to no prior experiences being interviewed or selling their work.
Enter Bad Museum. Bad Museum, aka Beau Brynes, had filled out one of our questions on social media. His work immediately caught our eye, and surely, yours too. His work is unsettling and familiar, like the illustrations to haunting nightmares or stories that honestly you don't want to read or experience. Realistic surrealism with a spritz of Stephen Gammell, the charcoal medium makes his work all the more ethereal and haunting. Brynes let us talk to him about his inspirations, This is his first interview and print release, make sure to give him a follow at @badmuseum and snag one of his prints!
Tell us your name and where you are from.
My name is Beau Brynes. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland and currently reside in Philadelphia, PA.
Another Philly Artist! How awesome! Can you talk more about why you made the move from Baltimore to Philly, and your feelings about the art community? Do you feel like Philly is a good place to be an artist? Why or why not?
My parents split up when I was a kid. I grew up in Maryland with my Dad and would visit Philly pretty often to see my Mom. I always felt an energy pulling me that direction, so after I graduated high school I moved to Philly. Now I’ve been here for about 10 years. My original plan was to attend college here, but there was a huge part of me that felt art school would take away what made art fun and important to me. On one occasion a teacher moved my hand while I was holding a paint brush to show me “how it’s supposed to be done” and I could never get this sour taste for school to go away since.
I was pretty heavily involved in the DIY music scene in Philly for sometime, making flyers for shows and designs for bands. I was also in my own band, so as far as community goes that’s where I was. I’ve pulled back from that scene since I’ve stopped playing music as much. Some of the popularity and social politics that were consuming the crowd was shadowing what was being created. In the meantime, I’m learning about a lot of new artists and galleries to see more work in the area. It’s been a slow burn.
I believe a lot of people move here with the intentions of pursuing a career in art. There are certainly a lot of opportunities here to make a career as an artist. Whether you have a hand in graphic design, furniture, textiles and so on. It’s a pretty central hub to a lot of other cities to see/show work, tour, etc. So to answer the question, yes, it is a good place to be an artist. It’s also very important to get away and see some trees and rivers once in a while.
How long have you been creating artwork? One of the things that we discussed was that you were relatively new to the art world. Can you talk about what that means?
I’ve always been drawing a ton since I was a kid. I would copy cartoon characters or Pokemon cards and would make comics occasionally. I started working for bands making designs and album covers after high school.
What it means to me personally is navigating toward becoming a professional artist on my own terms with little to no guidance. My next goal is to move from solely showing my work online or printed media and begin showing in galleries.
Which artists do you look up to the most in the contemporary world?
Jim Woodring and Chuck Close are first to come to mind. Their work ethic and ability to build worlds is unbelievable to me.
In a sentence, describe your work.
Absurdism exploring the inward and outward perception of mental health.
What inspires you to create - please tell us of any particular themes or subject matters that you draw from to create your amazing work!
My environment can certainly make or break what I’m doing or my willingness to work. Music has always helped evoke something in me, especially when an album can put me in a trance. I’m trying to find a way to combine disfigured imagery from Romanticism with Merrie Melodies cartoons in my work while creating new narratives. This is a relatively new endeavor though you can always see cartoon imagery pop up in my work. There’s this heavy darkness and story telling by artists like Delaroche and Goya that has swept me off my feet. Witches eating children, somber deathbed portraits - what’s not to love?
Music seems to be a huge inspiration from you, can you unpack this more for us? When did you realize that connection? Five bands that you listen to when you're creating - please and thank you!
In high school I was really into emo/grindcore/screamo music and still revisit that music pretty often these days. The record and artist that made me realize I wanted to connect my work to music is “In Love and Death” by The Used and the artist is Alex Pardee. Like a lot of records, the insert had lyrics pages with different illustrations for each song. The idea of portraying each song visually feels really fun and powerful. Combining my favorite forms of art together just makes sense. I was really fortunate to design my first record layout for my favorite band in 2011 and have created a handful since then. I’m working on some now that I imagine they will be out sometime next year.
Sort of a mixed bag, but lately I’ve been listening to Big Thief, Burzum and My Chemical Romance when I’m working on stuff. Another favorite is a Philly local band The Spirit of The Beehive. Their whole discography is perfect to work to and makes my mind work differently. Occasionally I need absolute silence or something more ambient like Hiroshi Yoshimura.
What media do you use?
The majority of my work is made up of drawings, using mechanical pencil and charcoal. I also paint with acrylics and occasionally make collages from torn pages with ink or charcoal then develop those further digitally.
When you're not creating artwork, what can people find you doing?
Riding my bike or hiding inside my house. Sometimes I’ll go dancing.
Top three personal creative influences of all time.
Being introduced to Salvador Dali when I was a kid has to be the most significant influence for me. Second would be my favorite band, Weatherbox. Third would be my frequent overanalysis of my past.
Dali introduced me to surrealism and the idea of processing the human psyche more fluidly instead of a direct analysis. Allowing myself to take something positive away from my dreams that didn’t sit well with me, and to address fears or anxiety head-on.
The first time I saw work by Dali was on a calendar in my aunt’s house when I was really young. I can’t recall which piece it was in particular but I just remember staring at it and trying to figure it out. I just knew it was something important. The first time I saw an actual painting of his was during a visit to the PMA. The piece is called “Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War)” It has this remarkable green glow that really takes you over when you witness it in person.
To others struggling to make their own work, what advice do you have?
Often I see other artists say to just make a bunch of work whether you think its good or not and to not be afraid of taking breaks. While that feels like cliche advice, it holds true to me personally. You can really surprise yourself sometimes. Maybe try psychedelics if that’s your thing.