We’ve been eagerly following Brandt’s progress on his new show at AFA this month, and finding ourselves compelled by the work he’s been producing working in for this show. We exploited our insider access to chat with him a bit about his work and Vixen, and find out more about his upcoming year.
Circus Posterus : The life sized drawings you’re doing to Vixen are wonderful – what made you decide to work in this scale for this show?
Brandt Peters: I actually have been thinking about large scale works for while, and even tried a couple for Trigger II. It was all about finding the right exhibition gallery that could fit these works in their space (due to their size) and the ideal window of time for it to work. AFA Gallery was very interested after seeing my Trigger II work pin-ups, and we started talking and planning from there. Most of the work is around 6 feet tall!
What era in time are you exploring and drawing inspiration from for Vixen? What draws you to it?
BP: Visually, I was imagining walking into a very large space, and being surrounded by giant drawings of my pin-up type character designs. As I explored deeper, I imagined these characters as almost rival gangs to each other. So, as you walked around the room, you would be surrounded and pulled directly into their worlds, drama and attitudes, so it would venturing more towards a visceral and narrative experience. VIXEN also allows all of my worlds in my universe to culminate… for instance, we have one of The Brides in this show, and that character group is how Stingy Jack’s universe shows up to play in the exhibition. The Brides will also be an important component in our up and coming stop-motion short, Calliope. The Trouble-Boys! World shows up in their counterparts: The Trouble-Girls! (No. 10, No. 23, The Drifter, etc.). Terrorgirls! even show up with additional members never revealed to fans. These characters all come together under the VIXEN exhibition as rival gangs, but it’s also a juxtaposition of my multiple toy universes.
My style of art tends to have a vintage or nostalgic feel, but that more than anything is probably due to my fascination with golden and silver era animators and animation design. Organically, that has just become my voice over decades. VIXEN also explores some of my favorite eras in time to define some of its characters. Many pin-ups will be very familiar from off-shoots of toy projects with my friend and colleague FERG: Trouble-Girls! and Terrorgirls!. In these series, the Trouble-girls! are “hit-girls,” as in “hit-men”, but their numbering system is based on my favorite eras in history. For instance , Trouble-Girl No. 23 is loosely based on fashion and culture from the ’20s and ’30s = 23. Trouble Girl No. 10 represents the turn of the century, etc. You will also find other concepts like the Terrorgirls! which are loosely based on ’70-’80s gore/slasher/exploitation horror films I grew up watching as a kid. You will also see imagery based on our toy series: Big Sal and much more.
I think my attraction and need to connect ‘the past’ into my work, is a natural continuation of my love and need for personality and expression as a romantic and rich visual language.
You are a busy and hardworking man – in the past year alone, you’ve been illustrating comics, designing toys, running an art gallery and retail store – how do you keep it all organized and together?
BP: It’s very hard at times… I come from the “strike when the iron’s hot” and “be prepared for your turn in advance” school of thought… so when the universe hands you moments of opportunity, you take them. Even if you don’t have the time, or it’s not ideal, or it inconveniences you. I really don’t have weekends, and I work a lot of the time. I am also lucky and have gotten to work on projects that I love because I grabbed the opportunity when it arrived, while usually others were complaining or giving up. I also have an amazing support team that has my back and has been there to help keep me organized and on task. And of course, my wife, colleague and partner Kathie is a tremendous force in keeping me aligned and focused.
What work can we expect to discover in Vixen? Will you mostly be drawing and painting, or will we get to see some of your sculptural works as well?
BP: There are 17 pieces in total, with most of the work is in a 24” x 72” format. The work is all on linen. The style is actually more of a “painting style”, but with inks and acrylics over my drawings. I have a surprise up my sleeve for a sculptural component, but if it happens, it will be happening at the last second. I would rather keep it a secret, just in case!
How would you introduce yourself to people unfamiliar with your work?
BP: What is I love about my body of work, is that I have been able to develop so many different lines within my brand: toys, pin-ups, paintings, character design, creature design, sofubi, etc. Any number of these formats allows a collector and fan to jump in and start from anywhere, really.
Probably the first place I would start to find my work would be my online store: www.circusposterus.com who carries a lot of my work, or better still – come to old Route 66 in Albuquerque, NM to STRANGER FACTORY where I carry my original designs and fine art, as well as a constant inventory of my toys and product.
It sounds like 2015 is going to be an incredible year for you – want to give us a peek into what is on the horizon for Brandt Peters?
BP: I will let everyone else figure it out, but I will leave you with the following words: CALLIOPE, stop motion, Cardboard Spaceship, mini figures, more vinyl toys, bigger gallery and bigger toy store, Circus Posterus, Kidrobot, international art shows, published books, more toys, more sofubi, collaborations with amazing artists, apparel, travel, New York, California, SDCC, DesignerCon, 3D Retro, major fine art exhibitions, lectures, giant sculptures, FERG, Shinbone Creative, Stingy Jack, The Brides, The Night King, jointed pin-up dolls, a horror film festival, joining forces with major toy company…that’s all I know for now, but as always, there’s always more.