We had the good fortune of connecting with Brinkley Messick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brinkley, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I guess for me the line between work and life has always seamed blurry, I like it that way, it is vindication that I’m doing something right. Neither world exists in a vacuum when we find ourselves in the fortunate position of not just loving what we do but truly believing in it. Ive split my “professional” life simultaneously balancing art and working in the nonprofit sector with conservation, outdoor education, and trail development. I feel that both careers are major elements of my identity so I’m never ever really off the clock, not even at 4:00 am when an idea for a new piece or a solution to a trail design crux creeps in to my REM cycle like an airhorn carrying a bucket of ice water.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The vast majority of my work is pretty simple I think, I play with simple subject matter that is easily recognizable and can be taken at face value. Where I recognize the significance of conceptual art and abstract art and respect its value that some place on it…thats just not me. I tend to embrace our hedonic traits so Im attracted to instant or near instant gratification, cheap thrills, music with power chords, soul food, surly comedy things that are both swiftly and easily digested I feel like these themes often rub off on my work. Art is wonderful, at its core it is a necessity, as far as we can prove it is unique to humans, however there is more than a little ego bullshit in their as well, I try to leave as much of that out as I can.
Was it easy? Shit no it wasn’t easy, its still hard, really fucking hard and I don’t expect that to change. Im not able to make it work financially as an artist because Im selling paintings that took me 4 hours for $4K, Im able to make it work because Im working my ass off. I loath exclusivity so accessibility is very important to me, though I will do large pieces or murals that bring in a decent chunk of change I balance those with small pieces that could fit in the smallest of spaces or even rest on the dashboard of a car that are cheaper than a 6 pack.
My most common medium is acrylic on reclaimed wood salvaged from dumpsters, construction waste, curbside furniture, and what ever folks drop off behind my garage. These days I tend to paint mostly landscapes and focus largely on places where I have worked or places I visit and explore with my family. I’m bald as hell so I started making hats for myself about 15 years ago, today I make hat patches more and more, using salvaged canvas from pants Ive destroyed while building trails to make patches I hand sew on to trucker hats. Each one is a one off, each one is unique which is both distinctive and inefficient, incredibly inefficient, a model of inefficiency in fact.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As they say “It takes a village”, and my village is a big one, at this point a list of significant influences would resemble a phone book. I owe so much to so many, however the name that is at the top will always be Mom. The imagery that influenced my work existed in skateboard catalogs and surf magazines of the late 90’s, album art and punk rock t shirts of my teens and 20’s. The short list of human influences and supporters as it pertains to my art world includes, in chronological order:
Beth Wertz, high school art teacher who supported my work and skill development in an effective yet subtle way that didn’t excessively influence a young and malleable mind.
Scott Ludwig, though ultimately I dropped out of my University art program I still draw from the repository of knowledge and encouragement he shared with students. In Scotts courses I learned to bust my ass
William Boddy, a mentor and friend. William helped me when I first moved to Salida CO when no one else in town would look at my work.
Jimmy Descant a friend, mentor and fellow artist who also supported me early on, nurturing my confidence as an artist and pushed me to incorporate meaning into my work.