I love street art; I love the colors, the raw nature of the subject and materials, and I love that its charm comes from the fact that it originated on the streets. Because of the fact that street art is associated with graffiti and tagging however, it has a fairly negative identification. To me this is a tragedy; an highly skilled, highly detailed art form, totally underrated because of misguided perceptions. It sounds like some over-dramatized movie plot, similar to The Soloist, but it really is sad that so many beautiful pieces are overlooked simply because they are done in spray paint and draw inspiration from the streets.
Which is why I’m glad there are people like Bryce Chisholm to change all of that. Bryce takes the skill and practice that it often used in artworks on the streets, and puts them to a canvas, blending the spontaneity of oil painted backgrounds, with the crispness of hand drawn stencils. What comes out in the end are intricate works of art–with small details, complementary colors, and great variety–that harness the badass personality of general graffiti, as well as the class of formal visual arts.
Each piece is unique, drawing on different subjects, and colors, and shapes, and I was so surprised to find out that we had something like this here in Reno–it’s times like these when I feel lucky to be from somewhere that’s cultural enough to take interest in things like art, but small enough that artists don’t have a complex when it comes to the public.
I couldn’t wait to pick yet another creative brain from big-little Reno, and as usual, Bryce did not disappoint. If you haven’t come across his work yet, it will be on display at Reno Art Works May 3 through the 31, and I highly encourage you to go check out his street art innovation.
Lets start with the first question, why stencil?
I was going to UNR at the time, doing big oil painting with Michael Sarich. I started painting these things that were two, three colors that were basically stencils and I started wondering why I wasn’t just doing stencils. It started with small things and then expanded. I do brushwork and stuff too, it’s not just stencil.
Do you have schooling, or are you self-taught?
I went to UNR, I never really graduated. It was my minor, and Spanish. I’m self taught with the stencil part. It’s online, with banksy and whatever, but I didn’t know anyone that was doing it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I did a series of kids, one is my daughter, so that was some of it. I did a bunch of native Americans, and a bunch of animals. I’m really into, obviously, females. I’ve sent prints to Germany, Canada, [etc], and pretty much every state in the US.
Have a favorite artist?
I would have to say maybe like C215, he is a stencil artist as well. He does a lot of street work. I went to Europe and saw a bunch of his stuff. I like Banksy, but I wouldn’t say I do things like him.
I would like to be doing this, of course. I did a Colin Kaepernick piece, and this guy called me to design for the NFL. If I could do what I’m doing, and work it with the NFL or MLB that would be great. I could pick my favorite athlete and design shirts and stuff. I want to go to New York and have a show, and San Francisco and have a show.
What do you aim to do with your painting, other than making money?
I guess I just try to like, portray street art in a beautiful way. Street art and graffiti get a bad name. If I could do murals on like graffiti covered walls and incorporate other graffiti into my work it would be really awesome. If I could just get people to see it as a beautiful artwork.
Best experience painting?
I would have to say, doing the Nevada Fine Arts mural. I had wanted to paint with those guys for a long time. It brought together a bunch of really great artists, it was a big space and a really great learning experience. Learning that you can make a living doing what you want.
Probably when you get commissions, and then don’t get paid. So you paint something for someone, spend a bunch of time and money, and then they tell you they don’t want it. I always get half up front now.
What do you find most rewarding about it?
Well I mean I love to do it, and have people see it. But it’s something that I have to do. The background are like a therapy to me, I mix colors, and paint. When you start cutting a piece, it looks like nothing, and then as you go on it comes together, that’s always rewarding, finishing.
What do you find most difficult?
Maybe people undervaluing it. Everybody wants something for nothing. That’s why I started making prints, it’s cheaper for other people.
How would you describe your style?
I’d say mine is a street art high graphic. I try to make my cuts nice and smooth. I just do it by my eye, not Photoshop like a lot of people do, so I get smooth lines.
Do you think your painting could change the world?
I wouldn’t say in any great way. If I can effect the people around me that like them–I have like 300 followers from Brazil, maybe I can change Brazil?
Do you want it to?
If it could make people see things in a different view or different light… Everyone is going to see something different and it could change the world that’s awesome. If it could change a few people that’s enough for me.
What other kinds of things do you do?
Well I have a kid, so that takes up a lot of time–gymnastics, swimming, etc. I pick up side jobs when I have to.
You’ve lived in Reno pretty much you’re whole life, what are the ups and downs, artistically and otherwise?
I would say as far as ups, there’s a good crowd, good people, positive outlooks, good artists. For the downs, it’s a lot of the same people over and over. There are places like Stremmel that can sell painting for like $20,000, but there aren’t a lot of big buyers, and if there are they only go there. A lot of people love it, they’re into it, they like it, but there’s no market.
Are you methodical and by the books, or impulsive and random?
I’m kind of random on what I work on and how I do it, but I definitely like my method. There’s no set schedule so a little bit of both. My backgrounds are random, I grab colors, do brushstrokes, I add stuff until I like it. There’s no method, just madness, it’s my therapy. I try not to think about it or worry about it too much.
Bryce was great to talk to; he’s a very friendly guy that shares a love of art and a desire to increase its appreciation. He has pieces up in the gallery, as well as on his Facebook page, Abc Art Attack, and as I said earlier I highly encourage you to go see it. Meeting an artist like this reminds me that the practice of art is changing, and what it comes down to is someone caring deeply about their craft. There is a lot of work and effort that goes into Bryce’s paintings (you don’t win RAW Reno Artist of the Year and Visual Art Blast Juror’s Choice for nothing)–my hope is that people really do begin to see the beauty he tries (and succeeds) to convey.