Distorted creatures, vivid colours and the handwriting of a graffiti artist are the trademark of Sean Anderson, a third year graphic design student with the ambition to become a graphic illustrator and production designer. Anderson is working as an intern at Hired Guns Creative studio, which he calls “the fastest moving design agency around here,” and gearing up for a solo exhibition at The Electric Umbrella gallery in August.
Navigator: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
Bromunkey: I realized I had to be an artist after I drew my way through every math class and didn’t know how to make a parabola.
N: Who is Bromunkey?
B: When I was 18 and thought I was cool, I came up with the term Bromunkey. I wanted to bring out the brother monkey in me—everybody has that monkey inside them that makes them appreciate simple things. It was a concept with this almost-childish name, but I’m kind of stuck with it because it shows off where I came from. It doesn’t say a lot about me right now, but once you’re given a name you can’t just change it up. It’s a symbol of where I’ve been—a nice little reminder.
N: How did you get to where you are now?
B: I started [graffiti and painting] at the age of 18 when I was in Australia. I wanted to focus on art and become a professional artist. I decided to better myself every year. It keeps me challenged and improving my skill level all the time. It’s not that my art is changing through my mindset or anything like that. I just want to be able to convey what I see inside my head. I try and talk to new people, find out what they think art is and how art works for them. Then I take that home and work with it in my head and see where I get.
N: Did any of the answers on what art is stick in your mind?
B: That’s a tough question because the answers are always so broad. Some people see art as a way of communicating what’s going on inside your soul. For other people, it’s a way of expressing their opinion. I never thought of it much—for me, art is art.
N: Is it more of an intuitive approach you take to art?
B: Yeah. All my paintings start from a stroke. I don’t sketch anything. But then I see that stroke and I start sketching things around it. It’s mostly organic; it forms as I go, especially in drawing. It will just form into something I was not expecting, which is half the fun of it. I also feel like stepping out of my comfort zone. It can be talking to somebody about art or trying a new style I know I’m not going to be good at, but I have to get through it. I have an ego, and if I feel unsure about something I’ve done, I won’t show it to anybody because I’m too self-conscious about it. I have that thing in my head that makes me want everybody to appreciate what I do. I’m trying to get over that, I guess. I really crave attention. I like when people notice me or something I’ve done, and I don’t really want to show the dark things yet. I don’t think I’m crazy enough yet. Maybe I’ll break that sphere, get really crazy, paint with my blood, and do scary dark things eventually.
N: On one of your art show posters, you call your art “weird stuff.” Where do you think people’s fascination with weirdness comes from?
B: When I tried to explain my older stuff to people, I had to explain it as weird, because that’s how it comes across, so I played it up accordingly. But I don’t know if I want to describe my art as weird. I feel like I want people to interpret it for themselves.
N: You seem to have already developed a particular style. What inspires it?
B: When I was a kid, I used to be really interested in dinosaurs and marine life. I was fascinated by the diversity among animals. I used to draw pictures of animals and give them extra legs and features. When I draw some creatures, I try not to use much reference from animals and just see what will come out. And I watch BBC all the time; I love David Attenborough’s voice. He’s a saint. I watch his show and let it sit in the back of my mind. When I go down to paint, I subconsciously take different elements from different creatures as I get to different parts of the body.
N: Your paintings carry an interesting contrast of horror-like creatures and bright, optimistic colours. What inspired you to do that?
B: A lot of the artists I’ve been looking up to recently do that, like Charlie Imner. When I was into graffiti and spray painting, I really loved that guy’s style. The way he uses vibrant colours stimulates the mind. When you look at it, it almost says magic—the colours bounce off each other and create this magical experience of things that may exist. I like how graffiti art is bold and impactful. I’d love to say there’s always a huge thought process that goes with my art, but maybe that’s all going on in the back of my head. I like the word magic a lot. I want to create that experience where you look at the creature and maybe imagine what other things it might be doing. They are distorted to add a bit of interest, create a different story, different species, a different world. That’s what I’m working toward—being able to convey that world on canvas with paints.
N: Has VIU influenced you in what you do as an artist? What is your experience as a student?
B: It’s alright. I almost dropped out this year to work fulltime at Hired Guns, but I still want the paperwork. The learning environment is good, but the classes still feel like high school, and I don’t really respond to those types of classes. I’m not the best person at sitting with a bunch of people listening to a teacher. I’ll draw by myself; I can’t help it. I liked that there are events where I get to do live painting, like the Earth Day. One thing I wish VIU was more open to are murals. I’d love to do stuff like that on campus. The art scene here is growing, and there are more artists coming to Nanaimo, but maybe VIU doesn’t have that for me.
N: How do you think Nanaimo could improve its involvement in arts?
B: City council is essentially run by people who are not fully open to everything. So I don’t see an art scene like Montreal emerging here, because there’s just not that kind of people in the council that want to make that happen.
N: So the new, young art stays underground?
B: Yeah, and I kind of like it that way actually. I mean, it would be cool if I could apply at the Nanaimo Art Gallery and get an exhibition, but I wouldn’t be able to put dicks in it or other weird stuff. I don’t feel like there’s enough support in Nanaimo for emerging artists, but again, I’m not trying to talk to people and break through right now, so I don’t have that experience here. I haven’t dug around yet because I’ve been busy with school and stuff. I feel there’s enough people that care about art and can make it happen independently on council, like the Crace Mountain people or Russ [Morland from The Electric Umbrella studio]. If that keeps happening, the art scene will grow.
N: You will be exhibiting at The Electric Umbrella this summer. What are we to expect?
B: It’s called “After Fukushima.” I’m doing it based on what I’ve seen on Facebook and news. I thought it would be really cool if radiation actually affected us to the extent that we spread it around the internet and fear monger it, but it also radiates in the water and forests, and the animals start to change and distort.
N: You also make your own frames.
B: Funny you should say that, because I’m focusing on them a lot this year. I am going to paint over them and make them part of the piece. I don’t feel framing pictures is necessary. You can frame it to make it look better and stand out, but you may as well tie it to the painting and make it connect. I want to create a show where nothing will break you out of that mindset of things being connected. When you walk into the gallery, you won’t be visiting an art show, but a world where everything functions together like a living thing. I did a bit of theatre when I was younger, and I feel like I want to bring that into the show as well—create a whole stage presence, mix my own music, and play that in the background. Everything will interact.