During your quiet moments, what are the memories you hold dear? For multidisciplinary artist Adrian Brandon, it is moments of warmth spent under the sun and with his family. Growing up in Seattle, his family would spend sunny days together out on picnics, relaxing and watching the world go by. It is those moments of stillness that he has returned to in an exclusive, limited-time series of works for us. Each piece depicts stories of Black love and is inspired by moments of affection between Adrian, his family, his partner, and everyday flashes he sees in his new home in Brooklyn, NY. This is his first collection working in printmaking, and it connects him back to his childhood practice of making linocut greeting cards with his mother. We had a chance to chat with Adrian to discuss how the pandemic influenced this series, a few styling tips to add these pieces into your home, and how he hopes this line makes you feel bold, intimate, soft, present, and warm.
Brandon is the latest in our Lulu and Georgia Artist Capsule series, in which we spotlight emerging artists every few months with limited capsule collections. Each artist will select a number of their current works for an exclusive, limited-time release on our site. Discover his exclusive lino block prints and illustrations and shop his complete Artist Capsule here.
Your series on our site is centered around love, family, and exploring emotions like joy and freedom. Tell us about how you got your start and the journey of finding this creative voice.
I have always used art as a way to express things I can’t find the words for, whether that’s identity-related, social commentary, or just a feeling. This series is inspired by just that, feelings of love and connection where words fall short.
What are a few pieces in your collection that you are most proud of?
“Hold” is a piece that I am most proud of because you can feel the loyalty and connection shared between the two individuals. It addresses the importance of physical touch, which many of us have come to appreciate ever since the pandemic.
How does being raised in Seattle reflect in your work? How has it changed since moving to Brooklyn?
I know people always talk about the rain in Seattle as this obnoxious thing, but it helped me shape a perspective that can find beauty amidst the chaos. We never let the rain deter us as kids—we embraced it. I grew up playing soccer games in the mud and taking walks in the rain with the sole intention of getting soaked. Being in Brooklyn now, I think I am still finding ways to capture the beauty amidst the chaos of the city. I’m inspired by those intimate moments of peace in a city that can feel so public and harsh.
One thing you’re customers need to know about this particular collection?
This collection is my first time working in printmaking. Typically, I work in ink, graphite, or digitally, but something about the simplicity and boldness that comes with linocuts made me feel this was the right medium to explore. When I was really young, my mother would help me make greeting cards out of linocuts, and I have always loved the simplicity of the process. What I love most about printmaking are the inevitable imperfections, often the paint isn’t evenly distributed, or the cuts aren’t perfect—I find a lot of beauty in those moments.
You created a collection of artwork that highlights human moments inspired by a warmth that’s both personal and universal. Where did the initial idea for this particular collection come from?
This collection is a direct reflection of the times. In a time with so much loss, pain, and division in this world, I wanted to zoom in on those beautiful truths that we have leaned on while searching for some stability this past year. Of the many things this pandemic has taught me, I am constantly searching for this feeling of stillness. Being still is not physical—I believe it is a mindset where you check-in and see yourself. Stillness to me is composed of being present, feeling grounded, and recognizing gratitude. I’ve found stillness in social gatherings when my community brings me warmth, or on a bike at 2 am cruising through Brooklyn, or with my family in Seattle as we hold one another close while grieving the loss of a family member. This idea of stillness takes shape differently for everyone, but I hope this collection reminds people to seek out and explore whatever it is that brings them closer to themselves.
Similarly, how did you land on these specific pieces for the collection?
These specific pieces spoke to me because there’s a simplicity to each of them that feels representative of this moment—they all capture that stillness in some form or another. A warm embrace, the sun on our skin, resting on a blanket while getting lost in the clouds, finding the perfect blackberries for Mama’s pie, or simply riding a bike are all individual moments that, while in the moment, I want to last forever. As we grow older and our responsibilities increase, it is easy to forget how good those simple moments in life can feel, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
If you had to describe the style and the inspiration behind this collection in 5 words, what would they be?
Bold. Intimate. Soft. Present. Warm.
What’s inspiring you most right now?
My mother has been deeply inspirational throughout my whole life, but she continues to inspire us as we continue to grow closer. My grandfather (her father) died from COVID, and my mother could not be with her three children for those difficult months afterward. How she handled this year of grief reminded me that you can be both a teacher and a student. She has redefined what strength means to me by showing the power in vulnerability and has guided me through my own grief this year.
Can you share a few of the best-kept style secrets you’ve learned when hanging and placing artwork at home?
Don’t underestimate the frame. The frame is what gives the artwork the ability to shine. It’s easy to go for an all-white, simple frame because that always looks good, but my favorite pieces in my home are the ones I took the most risk when picking out a frame.
How do you want your customers to feel about your artwork?
The bold shapes and basic color palette in this collection really exaggerate how powerful simplicity can be. I hope the viewer recognizes the ways that can be applied to their own lives.
What is a holiday tradition you’re excited to celebrate this upcoming season?
Traditions are constantly shifting now as my family is spread across the country. For the first time, we are spending Christmas in Chicago, hosted by my sister. So I’m excited for new traditions and for my parents to have a step back from the role as hosts and let their kids steer the ship.
Tell us what’s next for you?
I have been doing a lot of commission-based work recently, and I’m excited to slow down and work on some more personal projects. For the past three years, I have been working on a series of portraits called Stolen, that focuses on Black lives taken at the hands of the police in the U.S. With each portrait, I set one minute on a timer for every year the individual lived, once the timer is up I am done with the portrait. This unfinished piece represents an unfinished life. Unfortunately, the list of names in this series continues to grow, and there is always work to be done to keep these stories alive.