The biggest thrill of La Luz de Jesus‘s annual gianormous group show Laluzapalooza is discovering an artist with a stunning style, one you haven’t seen before, one whose work leaps off the wall. The two pieces she’s exhibiting at Laluzpalooza are very different from the ballpoint pen drawings in her first book, Katherine Brannock: Sketchbooks Volume One.
Piñata Demon and Piñata Demon 1–both delicately shaded, explosive–evoke Art Deco Halloween illustrations and ancient Mexican gods, while Brannock’s ballpoint sketches reveal otherworldly fairytale creatures, part human part animal; strange beasts evolving out of our collective psyches.
Based in San Diego, Brannock has shown throughout the Southland, where she a devoted following, including fellow artists. Recently she has begun spending more in Los Angeles, tattooing at the venerable Bob & Charlie Roberts Spotlight Tattoo while continuing to draw and paint–and hopefully to show more! Her devotion to art is evident in her work and her introduction/statement of purpose on her website:
Art works as an agent,
combining our senses in ways that broaden
the meaning and significance of our existence.
I am grateful for the opportunity
to communicate with art for the enjoyment of others,
as I attempt to uncover and understand the dialogue
that defines our time and place in history.
Work was designed for the function of all people;
in the way a gear was designed for the function of an engine.
We are intended to conduct and construct ourselves in a way that propels us forward,
wherever the destination is necessary.
Reach toward others on a common ground in order to ignite an atmosphere of evolution.
We conducted a brief interview via email, and her answers mirror the thoughtful, graceful detail shown in her art.
How long have you been in LA?
I’ve been in and out of LA since I was a child. I have family in Temple City- they live right off of Rosemead, pretty close to Rosemead High School, and we (my family and I) were always back and forth for holidays or birthdays. It wasn’t until recent years that I developed a network of friends in LA. That was a pleasant result of showing artwork at galleries and conventions as well as attending openings for other artists I admired or developing business connections with people that were interested in working together on long-term projects.
What is the San Diego art scene like?
As far as my own experience, the San Diego art scene has always been at a rather lukewarm standstill. There is no shortage of talent, money, or attendees for an art opening, but for whatever reason these factors rarely translate into financial support for artists. There are small pockets of collectors here and there, but it isn’t until an artist shows nationally or internationally, in major venues outside of San Diego, that they may decide to invest in a piece or two. Most artists who attempt to support themselves entirely with a Fine Art career are forced to either have a second job or navigate outside of San Diego. It’s strange, as much as there is talk about supporting the arts here in San Diego, and there are individuals who claim the art scene supposedly grows every year- the fact remains that people still aren’t putting their money where their mouth is… or at least, I have yet to see that occurrence.
What is your background re: art?
My first formal introduction to art was Old World Printmaking at UC Santa Cruz. There I studied Stone Lithography, Copper Intaglio and various Monotype media in addition to a handful of modern print methods including Digital Printmaking. After graduating I wanted to study classical illustration and figure drawing, which brought me into the hands of the Watts Atelier in Encinitas, California. This institution exposed me to different Renaissance forms of figure study, such as live nude drawing in charcoal, oil painting and gauche. After a little more than a year at the atelier I decided to seriously pursue tattooing professionally. My official apprenticeship took place at Guru Tattoo in Pacific Beach, California and lasted almost two and a half years. During that time I received a very thorough curriculum of tattoo fundamentals, spanning concepts such as artistic tattoo design, tattoo machine building and maintenance, and of course tattoo application.
What are your influences?
I have a pretty broad spectrum of influence. As a young child, my earliest conceptual as well as illustrative influences came from Aesop’s Fables, world mythologies, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales. As I grew into an adolescent, I was lucky enough to attend the San Diego Comic Con International. From that vantage point I was exposed to artists such at Frank Frazetta, Jean Giraud Moebius, Hans Rudolf Geiger, and Olivia deBerardines. I was also drawn to a lot of anime and manga work emerging out of Japan, thus; Hayao Miyazaki, Naoko Takeuchi and Osamu Tezuka were among some of my biggest Eastern influences. In recent years, my interests have shifted from idolizing artistic figures to absorbing vast amounts of uncommon or rare imagery, ranging from wild life photography to scientific anomalies to old world objects.
As someone who does fine art, illustration and tattooing, what do the first two bring to tattooing, and vis versa. How, for you, do the fine art disciplines vary (aside from the canvas) from tattooing and how are the similiar
As someone who is just getting started in the Tattoo Industry, I’m fortunate to have a background in Fine Art and Illustration, but at this point in time I can’t really say how they will influence my tattoo work. Even though an Illustration background may allow me to execute a tattoo design more efficiently, while a Fine Art background may allow me to develop a tattoo design on a broader conceptual level; that doesn’t necessarily mean that either of those skills will propel me forward as an experienced Tattoo Artist.
There are so many factors at play during the technical application of a tattoo, and I feel that you can only really develop those skills from first hand experience- thus, tattooing people as much as possible. It’s imperative that an individual masters the craft of Tattooing before they can adequately express something artistically on another individual’s body. And, having said that, as a result of accepting the uphill battle that one faces every day as a Tattoo Artist, I would say that Tattooing has brought a level of humility to my Illustration and Fine Art that I wouldn’t have achieved otherwise, had my spheres of influence remained engrossed in those more mainstream industries. Tattooing reminds me every day that I still have a long road ahead, and it is so important to just appreciate the baby steps as well as the small triumphs on the way to what is hopefully a grander goal in the end.
Select Images from Katherine Brannock: Sketchbooks Volume One
March 7 through March 30
La Luz de Jesus 4633 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Artwork copyright Katherin Brannock, used by permission.
Photos of Katherine Brannock at La Luz de Jesus by Eric Minh Swenson. Copyright thuvanarts.com, used by permission.