PK 049: Artist Brandon Pike on Style and Simplicity

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Brandon Pike likes to break his compositions down into simple, but effective, shapes and lines

“Good art is all about finding the right balance in your compositions.”

When you look at a painting by Brandon Pike, the first things you notice are his clean simple lines and bold, organic shapes. Yet, although they appear simple, the creative process behind his charming creations can take many hours of planning.

Listen to this week’s podcast to get a fascinating insight into how this San Francisco-based artist works and hear what inspires him…

Brandon Pike was just five years old when he decided he wanted to be an artist. He’d seen Batman: The Animated Series, and was inspired by the work of Bruce Timm and many other comic book artists.

He says: “Seeing Batman was what really set me off on my journey. Ever since that point, I knew I wanted to pursue art as a career.”

So he started copying images from comic books, spending hours and hours practicing and getting everything right. And, as he worked, Brandon Pike found himself becoming increasingly interested in the shapes and silhouettes in the drawings he was copying.

Although he was too young to know it then, this fascination with shapes was to form the basis of Brandon’s unique style.

How Brandon Pike Became an Artist

And, as he went through high school, it was something he was able to explore further when a local movie theater in his small Maine hometown commissioned him for a series of murals to announce their latest blockbusters.

“I learned such a lot from working on those murals,” says Brandon, “but, growing up in a small town, I had no idea what opportunities there were for becoming a full-time artist.”

It was only while sweeping up one night at the movie theater that those opportunities presented themselves to him. As he watched the end credits roll for the Lord of The Rings trilogy, Brandon noticed the huge list of artists’ names who’d worked on the film.

And, at that very moment, he decided that he wanted to become a concept artist.

The San Francisco Academy of Art And Beyond

So, after graduating from high school in 2006, he went to the Academy of Art in San Francisco to improve his skills – even though the tuition fees looked pretty daunting.

He says: “I had no idea how I was going to pay for going to art school, but it seemed like it was something I had to do.”

Brandon will probably still be paying back his student loan for many years to come, but he says he doesn’t regret a thing, saying: “It was a really good education and, for me, it was exactly the right thing to do at the time.”

So what’s life been like for Brandon Pike since leaving art school?

He now works as a concept artist in San Francisco, and has spent the years since leaving art school to work on developing his own unique style. It’s a journey that’s made him completely re-evaluate how he sees and draws things.

“When I was at art school, I found myself always being very literal,” he explains. “There are lots of rules to follow with realism, and I always felt like I was missing something.

“It wasn’t until I started working in a team that I saw how other artists could work completely differently from each other. It’s then that I started to pay more attention to stylized lines and shapes and develop my own style.”

How to Develop Your Own Style

Brandon Pike’s style can be seen in all his work – from the cats on our featured image to the Star Wars and comic-book influenced pieces on his website.

“It’s all about the little details,” he explains, “such as where the characters are looking, what poses they’re in, and the materials things are made from. It’s those little hints of life that can make all the difference to a painting.”

Although Brandon’s paintings are often based around simple shapes, the planning and concept of these pieces can take many hours. For example, the cat painting took between 12 and 16 hours to complete.

He says: “Doing all the preparation and research for a painting can take up to 75% of your time, and it’s only in the final few hours of a painting that you can wrap it all up.”

In other words, you can’t hurry art…but you can keep pushing through until you get the results you’re looking for!

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How to find the key elements in your composition
  • How to simplify shapes in your paintings
  • Why working in a team can help inspire you
  • Why planning and research are crucial in any painting

People on this Episode:

Mitch
Brandon

Mentioned in the episode:

Brandon’s Website
Brandon on Facebook
Brandon on Twitter
Brandon on Tumblr

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Thanks for listening to our show! We’ll be back next Wednesday morning 8AM EST.

Cheers,

Mitch

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