Brett Hammond has been making art ever since he could remember. Today, Brett’s creative prowess, his love of satire, and his talent for collaborating and working through multiple artistic mediums have earned him much deserved success and respect. His artworks are vibrant and impactful, and also hilarious and witty. I had the opportunity to speak with Brett and discover the story behind his passion for pop art.
—By Riccardo Tucci
When did you first start creating art? As far back as I can remember. I remember being in Kindergarten and watching cartoons on a Super 8 projector at my grandparents’ house and trying to mimic what I saw on the screen.
So, you just put your pen to paper and started drawing? Yes, I’m self-taught.
Did you study art in school? I went to school and got a Bachelor’s degree in San Jose, California, but it was more on the computer end of things. I was working mostly with multimedia.
Growing up, which artists influenced you and why? It started with the detailed line work of Mad Magazine, the old guys. They’re still top shelf; people don’t put in the work like they did. I also refined my satire through Mad Magazine. They ripped into everybody!
How do your ideas develop from a thought to a work of art? Well, it’s really impulsive. It starts with anything from a bar napkin to a scrap of paper. I always have a Sharpie in my pocket, so I write the idea down. These days I can take a snapshot and email it to myself, so it’s in front of me on the computer. That way I can remember to create it. It’s really sporadic. Sometimes, I’ll make myself laugh, and I know that it will stick!
Do you draw inspiration from your surroundings as well? Are you more visually or emotionally stimulated? It’s all of the above! I can get inspired by listening to Alan Watts or Devo. Sometimes, it’s skateboard culture or the jazz music of Dizzy Gillespie, or even having too much coffee and just waking up at 4 in the morning.
What drew you into the world of pop art specifically? I’ve always been involved in pop culture. I grew up doing music projects and creating flyers, and I’ve worked for skateboard companies. I did a few murals with D*Face from London and got re-inspired. We have the same graphic background. To do that solid linework onto canvas and to use bright colours and bring those colours into people’s homes was just really fun.
Have you witnessed any particularly memorable responses to your art? I have an artwork of Batman kissing Superman, and it’s in the window of my gallery on 3rd street. People flip out, and it makes gay guys really happy that we are supportive enough to showcase it in our front window. It makes people who have a fear-based reaction to it cringe. It’s great because it creates a force field from their negativity. I can’t put anything else in the window because that piece just gets the realest reactions!
Is it your favourite piece? I don’t have a favourite. It just has the simplest and boldest impact. People say they have stopped their car, turned around, and come back. It creates connections with other people. I used pink intentionally, too; they say it’s the colour of the heart. I had grown up drawing skulls and flames and everything that goes with skateboarding and punk rock and speed metal, so I wanted to branch out. And, there I was in West Hollywood with a 58-year-old gay neighbour, and I wanted to crack into a new realm and really recreate myself to make passionate and fun artworks.
As an artist, what’s your opinion of the world of fashion design right now? I’ve spent the last five years working and being surrounded by interior designers and fashion designers in LA. I actually worked with Elisabeth Weinstock who opened up a store in West Hollywood. I did the floors and the walls. We even worked on a bag and a box together. It’s amazing to learn about fashion design and dive into it. I started with alternative sports clothing and that was very limited. It was mostly baseball caps and sweatshirts. Now, through working with her, that’s been blended with learning what it means to wear a really fine garment. She was a huge supporter, and it was a great 5-year collaboration.
Some days, I’ll have $800 tennis shoes on and some days I’ll wear Vans that were $25 on-sale! I’m excited about fashion. It’s an art form, and that’s what I love about L.A., New York, and Paris. People just roll in, and they’re totally expressive in what they do!
What’s the next step for you and your art? What goals have you set for the future? I want to travel with it. I want it to advance in technique and be more refined. I want to explore texture and do more collaborations! I’m working with a guy out of New York. His brand is called Rebels to Dons, and he does these great hats. His father was a hat maker, and he’s this young black Brooklyn dude with such great energy and talent! This is why I want to collaborate with people. There’s this collective creativity; we just fire off of each other. It’s like a thunderstorm. I want to work with people who are vibrant and full of creativity.