Multi-Talented and Boundless All-Around Artist
Multi-talented Jason Brammer is a distinguished visual artist, muralist, and all-around craftsman. He’s known on the art scene as an experimental artist who is not afraid to test the boundaries. Whether it’s through his inimitable paintings or grand murals, Brammer creates unique imagery like that of his “Axis Mundi” and “Time Machines” series. In these series, he’s managed to merge real life objects such as reclaimed wood and antique parts into the paintings. The finished products of his creativity are so unique that viewers find themselves questioning their very own eyes. Often viewers find themselves asking “are they real or are they painted?”
Brammer is a true all around artist, not limited to the visual arts. From record deals to being commissioned to paint large murals, Brammer is a well-rounded experienced artist. Coming from a musical and fine arts background, he discusses with 1stAmendment Media how he’s transitioned from music to art and what he’s done to become so successful.
Bonding with the Arts from Infancy Through Youth
Brammer grew up in a small town in Ohio with his mother and father. His mother, who was also an artist introduced a young Brammer to the world of artistry as their bonding time consisted of painting murals together. Early in his childhood, he moved to Indianapolis and he stayed there throughout high school. During this time, Brammer decided to experiment more with his talent. Through various classes, he began learning how to airbrush. In fact, his father whom was also supportive of his talent, set up a space in his room, where he could practice airbrushing. In addition to airbrushing, he was also learning how to figure draw, which is the art of drawing human form in any shape or posture. However, drawing and painting were not the only arts he developed a love for in high school. Outside of art, he began playing music.
Balancing Love of Music and Visual Art
“I was always playing music and painting both at the same time,” he said.
Brammer navigated his way through high school and into college, concurrently trying to balance the two art forms. He attended Savannah College of Art and Design and eventually Indiana University for painting and drawing. However, his five-man rock and roll band “Old Pike” was becoming immensely successful. In fact, they landed a record deal with Sony Records. So, the artist dropped out of college to pursue music, traveling the U.S performing at various venues and festivals.
“When I was in school and playing shows,” he said. “It was way more exciting to go to New York and play shows than painting pears in the studio on Saturdays. So, I dropped out of art school.”
Returning Art to Center Stage
After spending a few years recording and traveling, “Old Pike” eventually broke up and Brammer moved to Chicago. He rented an apartment in the city’s Ukranian Village neighborhood. After developing a positive relationship with the landlord, Brammer began using the garden apartment in that building as an art studio. Working hard for extensive hours in his studio paid off for the extraordinary artist and craftsman. The artist quickly started developing a body of work which led him to get projects like decorative painting gigs. As his body of work grew, Brammer eventually had enough work to start conducting exhibits.
Exhibitions Become the New Stage
“I was showing everywhere, that was anywhere that would have me basically,” he said. I did shows all up and down Milwaukee Avenue at coffee shops, hair salons, lots of restaurants.”
It was these shows that helped Brammer become successful. At every show, he would collect emails from viewers who gave him positive feedback. After some time, the artist had collected thousands of emails.
“If anyone said, ‘Awe this is kind of cool,’ we would ask them to put down their email and we’ll let them know when the next show is.”
Tug-of-War Between Music and Art Continues
While having tremendous success with his art, Brammer still continued to pursue music. Although “Old Pike” was a thing of the past, the muralist still found himself bouncing back and forth between bands. It took Brammer some time to realize that he wanted to utilize all of his time creating visual art versus making music. Brammer began fantasizing about painting while playing at shows. Finally, he understood that the best part about being in the band was spending time with his friends versus actually rehearsing and recording music. It was then that he realized that becoming a visual artist was the path that he needed to commit to.
Finding a Balance between Music and Art
“I’m rehearsing and I’m looking at all the connecting cords,” he said. “You know all the connecting cords and cables and thinking how I’d paint it. And those cables and cords ended up into my paintings, but I was always around this gear and in my brain I’d rather be painting.”
According to Brammer, the two worlds of music and fine arts are vastly different. In a band, “you’re friends for life, it’s comradery,” he said. “Fine art is very isolated, you’re very alone, a very solitary pursuit. So the music is more of a collective.”
Signature Murals Bring Brammer Unique Satisfaction
The muralists continued to describe the difference between his work as a visual artist versus his work as a performing artist. He feels that being a visual artist requires a bit more accountability. “…When you’re in a band you’re one of maybe four or five people, so you’re a collective, but as an artist whatever you do, you’re responsible for that,” he confessed. “So your work of art is your own responsibility and so I liked having that idea, that this is completely mine.”
Since this realization, Brammer’s success has continued to grow. He’s done indoor, outdoor and ceiling murals. He describes his work as “super fun” and “super hard.”
Is it Worth It?
Painting a mural that reaches as high as 25 feet requires a lift and according to Brammer, painting murals in 95-degree weather can make you question yourself. “You’re in direct sun and you’re up there sizzling and things are kinda swaying…you’re thirty feet in the air,” he said. “You can get sea sick up there, then you ask ‘what am I doing?’”
He admits though that although it can be difficult, it’s all worth it in the end. Speaking of his murals, he said, “But the overall is fun. It’s gratifying when you ride by it at night.”
Historical Giants Inspire Artist’s Freedom
Brammer’s artistry is inspired by historical figures such as Alphonse Mucha, a turn of the century artist from the 1800s and Gustavo Klimt, a muralist. “He (Gustavo Klimt) was commissioned to do a lot of murals…,” said Brammer. “Then he took those skills that he learned and brought it to his own ability. Then he gets to a point where he’s painting like “The Kiss” and all these other famous paintings.”
According to Brammer, studying these historical artists taught him that he doesn’t have to be restricted in any aspect. “I guess they were not limited in what they did,” he said. “If you look at their overall career, it looks like different people at different times.” Brammer feels that each tool you learn as an artist is another tool used to hone your craft and set you apart from the rest.
Advice: Invest the Time
Brammer has advice for up-and-coming artists. He suggests to work hard and develop your skill sets by investing the time into your artistry.
“I didn’t realize that when I was younger, that it requires thousands of hours of brush in your hand making your mark in any field; like drumming,” he insists. “Like virtuosic drumming, it takes maybe a thousand hours of practice and if that’s an hour a day, it will take you a thousand days…”
What’s Up Now and Next
Brammer currently works out of a studio in Humboldt Park, where he is in the process of creating a new mural. His art can be viewed at Gallery 19 on November 4th, 2016. This exhibition will feature his most recent body of work. To learn more about Jason Brammer, visit jasonbrammer.com.