Bret Taylor is a 16-year Vancouver resident, a transplanted Newfoundlander, a multi-disciplinary visual artist, and a detail fetishist. His principal venue of artistic expression is an ongoing experiment in acrylics – the metalflake technique. He’s based in the West End, and on a good night can smell salt air wafting through the open windows of his studio. We are honoured to have him display his fascinating artwork on September 28th at the Dude Chilling Park (a.k.a. Guelph Park) along the Brewery Creek Community Garden fence.
How would you describe your art?
BT: When you come right down to it, it’s a mix of pop art sensibility, graphic design, and the classic French grisaille technique (updated with modern materials, of course).
Where do you find inspiration?
BT: It comes from everywhere, from everything I experience in my day-to-day life, particularly the gains and losses. My biggest visual influences, though, are rock ‘n’ roll, comics, custom cars, and outsider art.
How did you begin your journey through the arts?
BT: I’ve been drawing and painting my entire life, and my family has always been very supportive of that. When I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, my mom, looking for some way to get me to behave in church, gave me a pen and paper one day. Outside after the service, my uncle asked to see what I’d drawn. This happened several weeks in a row, and each time it did, there’d be more people waiting outside to view the art. My first, fleeting taste of “fame”, and the desire for more always stayed with me.
What is the story behind one of your pieces that you find particularly meaningful?
BT: I have a close friend who helped me get through a very rough time in my life, and she means the world to me. I came up with a pin-up girl painting called “Cheeky” that’s (very) loosely based on a quick glimpse of a photo of her dancing, and it’ll be on display on Saturday. I don’t think she even knows she inspired the painting, but maybe if she comes to the show…
How would you describe your medium. What are its strengths and weaknesses?
BT: I work primarily in acrylics. It’s all about creating texture and depth, and even a sense of longing, through a multi-layered process. I start with texture and reflectivity, and from there coloured glazes are laid down over the textured substrate. After that I build a thick, protective coat of clear – a barrier between the colour/texture interplay and the surface design.
Which mentor(s) do you admire the most and what have they taught you?
BT: I’ve been influenced by many people, artists or otherwise. I can’t really say I’ve ever had a mentor, but I’ve learned an awful lot by picking apart the techniques of comic artists like John Byrne, Chris Bachalo, and Jim Lee, and such painters as Rheni Tauchid and Howard Cowdrick (those last two are almost like mad scientists in their inventiveness and approaches to painting, so they constantly inspire me). Collaborating with local artist (and friend) Alex Stewart in a show back in February was highly educational, too.