[Editor’s Note: For this interview, I met up with Brad at Tattoo Mom’s, here in Philadelphia. After Tuesday Tacos and beer, we headed to his studio, where I took some photos of his current works.]
Name: Bradford Carmichael
Current town: Philadelphia
Job description: Visual Artist of Drawing/ Painting/ Sculpture
Bio: Tyler School of Art BFA, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts MFA
Describe your work.
My paintings and sculptures investigate connection, exchange, separation and transit. I explore this with metaphor, such as the strata of the earth’s crust, sections of the atmosphere, the passage of time and mythology. Things which traverse these layers are used as exploration vehicles; parachutes, time-machines, Air Jordan sneakers, gods and more. These travel between separate places, bring things together into the same space, connect or separate them and facilitate exchange. I explore points along the paths these travel, and the places they go. This is approached using things which are around me in the studio, things which I spend a lot of time with, usually books on history, art, music, warfare, and myths, as well as what I see or experience everyday.
What materials do you work with?
Usually the paintings are mixed media, including but not limited to: Oil, Acrylic, Latex, Encaustic, Graphite, Charcoal, Markers, Oil Pencils, Spray Paint, and whatever else is on hand. I have an extensive collection of art supplies and do not shy at using all them in a single work. My sculpture includes found objects like chainsaws and snowblowers, with gold leaf, paint and whatever else i can find.
What are you currently working on?
A new series of paintings and sculptures which deal with the subject matter mentioned previously. This series will probably have more sculpture, the last series had only one. When finished I am making small catalogues of the work, and also some prints. The original work will hang in a show, though I don’t know exactly where just yet.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I work very quickly at the beginning of a project, in an intuitive way but with a concept in mind. I am very picky and will destroy many paintings at this stage, while keeping the ones I see fit. After passing the initial cut I will work on a single work for days, months or years. I work on about five to fifteen at the same time.
What’s been happening in your life ?
I graduated from PAFA with an MFA in 2014, and am doing lots of work while looking for new places to show, while working a day job.
What’s next for you?
Keep painting, read, sleep.
Describe your current state of mind.
Paint. Read. Sleep.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
It’s about opening a dialogue with things that are related to each other. Like a catalogue of vignettes, or a book with different chapters, observing the relationship of these images and abstractions in the space of the painting. Sometimes the work is like a cryptic message, with the solution out of reach.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
Doing work while supporting it financially with an unrelated profession.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time?
I think that is hasn’t changed exactly, but has become more focused and conceptually simple. Visually is has done the opposite and become busier and more complex, with a much wider color range.
What do you dislike about your work?
Hopefully nothing when its finished. Everything I dislike I destroy, except for some work I did as a student . I think Ill keep that stuff (my student work) in my parents basement forever.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
Film. I’ve had an idea for a short film for a while now and would love to get to work on it with the right equipment.
What is your dream project?
A film with a good budget.
Do you collaborate with other artists?
I have before with artwork, but do not see that in my immediate future. I am also a musician, and collaborate with other players quite often.
What are a few of your favorite spots in your area?
Walking around south Philadelphia is new to me. I just moved here recently and I see things all the time which are of interest. There is always something going on, many galleries, interesting businesses and people are all around.
Favorite artists and why? People in your field whom you most admire:
Michelangelo, Hieronymus Bosch, Wlliam Kentridge, Basquiat, Robert Henri, Picasso, Trenton Doyle Hancock, whoever carved “Laocoon and His Sons”, Robert Rauschenberg, Reubens, Goya, and many more.
What are you reading?
Right now, H.P. Lovecraft. Also some philosophy like Plato, Slavoj Zizek, Descartes, Hickey, Derrida, and others. Dumas is probably the best fiction writer in history. I also read the news everyday.
What are you listening to these days?
I will listen to pretty much anything if it is well written or has a good concept. Currently, everything from gangster rap, to The Allman Brothers and Sunn O))). I listen to music while I work, often the same artist or genre for each piece.
What was the last exhibit you attended?
I go to local shows in Philadelphia often, and I live above an art gallery (Da Vinci Art Alliance). Every first Friday I make a tour of many galleries in Philadelphia and make sure to visit the Vox Populi building, which houses a dozen some galleries.