Brendan Styles is a hell of an artist. Having established a crazy persona of himself by using the name «Dr. B. Zurk», he travels around the world creating paintings and pieces of wood art, walking in between Heironymous Bosch and Dr. Suess, and listening from Beatles to Satyricon.
How did you get into art?
I really have been drawing on everything since I was a little kid. There was always some surface that needed a Ninja Turtle drawn on it I felt, haha. Then I went to school for animation, which I was not very happy with unfortunately. From there I was inspired by vinyl toys and lowbrow art, and started to teach myself how to paint, cut wood, etc. It has been big and long evolution of becoming an artist and making artwork. I have been learning new techniques and making art for the past 12 years. It is a path that chose me and I chose it. And is not always an easy path to be on, but who cares about that, an artist loves what they do regardless if it is easy or not. Have Vision and fun!
Why «Dr.B.Zurk» and what are the main differences between him and Brandan?
Dr. B. Zurk is one of my alter egos. That is the part of me that is truly bat shit mad, haha. Its my fusion of Dr. Suess and Heironymous Bosch, that is kind of how I think of myself and my art. Brandan is at the center of all of my egos/ personas. And apparently Brandan is mad as well because of the alter egos I have created, haha. I believe that in order for one to live a fulfilled life, one must make a character of oneself, and live it, become it. This is the process of Individuation that Carl Jung talks about.
According to your statement, your work is about to not be afraid go into the dark night. How do you achieve that?
Do not be afraid to go into the Dark Night is a very life affirming and powerful statement. We must not be afraid of life and all that comes along with it. I say go into it boldly, strive for what you believe and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something. You have the power!
Please take me through your creation process, where do you start?
My creation process is fueled by love, madness, travel, experiences, music, the beauty and grotesqueness of life. My process starts always with my sketchbook. Lots and lots of drawing is always happening. Then I pick a drawing that really resonates with me and one that I feel speaks to how I am feeling and my current experiences in life. From there I work on a tighter drawing while still maintaining the «looseness» from the original sketch. After that I decide whether it will be a painting or a wood cutout piece. From there, it is a lot of back and forth, up and down trying to make the piece come to life. Each piece requires a part of my soul, and it doesn’t work until it has gotten it.
You use the language of mythology, symbols and characters. Which is your favorite mythological figure and why?
I have many favorite myths and characters. I love the story of Prometheus and the rebellion against Zeus and the Stealing of the Holy Fire to give to man. That is pretty much my story, haha. Steal from the Gods, give to the Mortals!! I really enjoy most creation myths as well, they capture such poetry in explaining how all of This came to be. I love myths from all over the world. I am captivated by Kali, Odin, Lucifer, Mars, Athena, Marduk, etc. For me, there is an underlying current or aether in the universe that is all composed of mythology. It is the Great Dream, tune in!
Which is your favorite work and why?
My favorite work by another artist is hard to say, so many great artists out there. But I do love most of Heironymous Bosch’s work, as well as Dali, Magritte, Goya, Leanora Carrington, and pretty much all Mexican Folk art, and folk art in general. Anyone that is going pass the surface and tapping into that something Beyond. As far as a favorite of mine, that is also hard to say. All my pieces are my children, each one has something special to me.
What kind of music do you like to listen?
I listen to a lot music of all different genres. From old to new, from the Beatles to Satyricon, haha. Some favorites of mine are, Secret Chiefs 3, Uncle Acid, Umberto, Tom Waits, Iggy Pop, Roky Erickson, Dead Can Dance, etc. Music is essential to the creation process!
Many artists have a problem when it comes to setting a value for their work. How did you learn how much to quote for your projects?
I learned to value my art above any of the other work that I do. As I said earlier, the pieces I make are my «children» and each one has a part of my soul in it, and is special to me. But, I also need to live and want to make a living as an artist, so I need to sell art, which is a wonderful thing when someone connects with a piece that you have made and finds meaning it and wants to support you and buy it. For me, doing art festivals has helped to know how to price my work. Look at how much time you put into it, while considering how much extra income people who want your work have, and try to figure out a nice balance to where you are making it worth your time and also offering work that people can afford. I want people to own my art. These sales that people see at art auctions are not real, they do not represent what artists can sell their art for, it is a hyper inflation for the rich. So don’t base your prices off of that. Be honest, start small and work your way up as you build collectors, but don’t over price, but it can be tricky.
How long do you usually spend on a project? From beginning to end?
Each piece varies, from a few days to a few weeks and up to a month or more. Always depends on what is being made, details and the Vision of seeing the piece through.
Did you find your experiences traveling the States altered your developing creativity in any way?
Traveling is and has been the greatest inspirer in my life. For me, I am a canvas and traveling is how I come to life, get experienced and find myself. I am always amazed at life all around the States and the World. How people live, how similar we all really are. I love meeting new folks and sharing food, drink and talk, it makes life great. When I am «out there» the myths come to life and magic starts to happen, and an overwhelming feeling of oneness fills me up, and then I have to pour all of that into art. Art is how I make sense of this life, and traveling is the magic the gets it all going.