Strongly influenced by the cartoonish world and music, Brandi Milne has experienced a constant artistic evolution throughout her entire career, developing an accurate and unmistakable signature style. Disney, Gumby and Pokey, vintage decorations, the music of Elton John and the writings from Jack Kerouac are only a few of her sources of inspiration. Her colour palette is recognisable by the bold choice of pink, red, green, and intense blue, and her perfectly balanced brushes sometimes seem to deconstruct the otherwise well defined contours of the characters, both physically and spiritually. We have recently had the opportunity to speak with Brandi about her art and the inspirations.
Your works seem to come out from the canvas and immerge the viewer in the charm of your art. Where does your poetic narrative come from, emotionally speaking? What roots and feelings are hidden in your painted fairy tales?
I base each illustration or painting on my own emotions at any given moment while I'm creating the concept. I need to be emotionally connected to it, as it is part of me. So you can find many themes of pain and loss and heartache, as well as pure joy and glee abandon in my characters and subjects. The emotion sets the stage!
I speak of painted fairy tales not to define your art, but because I find that every painting tells a story where the surreal trait opens up to the fairy tale dimension in our existence. It seems that you have indeed explored this in your first book, So good for Little Bunnies edited by Baby Tattoo Books in 2008. Is it correct to talk about your art in this way? And how much does this vision affect your art?
Yes, I quite like my work to be considered fairytale. I grew up inspired directly and mostly by fairytales I read in American children's books. Those stories were peculiar, and set my mind and imagination free. They helped me dream of lands so far and different from my plain old existence in Orange County, California where there were no Kings and Queens and giant eggs that spoke and wooden boys coming to life. Fairytales were extremely impactful to my young mind, and for that I am very grateful.
In 2013, you published Frohlich (interventions of Jan Helford e Camille Rosa Garcia) also published by Baby Tattoo Books. What are the common points with your first book and what’s new in terms of the editorial style?
My first book So Good For Little Bunnies is a narrated children's book with a story that is based on leaving home for the first time and going out into the world in search of your happiness. The main character Be Be Bunny is based on me - my own story of leaving home to find happiness in marrying my best friend (my husband). And Frohlich is a cataloging of most of my painted and illustrated works that came out in 2013. Now that I mention it, I think it's about time for a new book of artworks over the last 7 years.
How much of Kerouac’s words are present in your paintings and how much of Elton John’s poetry?
It's hard to say which is which anymore. They are seamlessly forever seeping out without distinction of who's me and who's them! I'd like to think they are in every piece in one way or another. As well as Elvis and Santa Claus and American Halloween and Disney and Billie Eilish and the tooth fairy and so on and so forth.
Your works have a lot of references to some of the most famous Disney cartoons. However, all the fairy tale elements are reframed, creating in this way, a parallel world where the fairy tale classic subjects and objects are reinterpreted and relocated, obtaining as result a new meaning. It is like entering in Alice’s world, where a new light is shed over the every day objects. Is it like that with your paintings?
Yes, it is like that for me. I have all my influences swimming around in my spirit and my mind and I can pull from them to make my own story and expressions, unique to how I'm feeling, what I want to say or what I'm experiencing. I think art creating is just that - recontextualizing one's own unique influence and experience!
What is the creative process that determines the success of each of your paintings? Is there a common way of work or is each canvas a new experience?
My process is nearly the same approaching each piece I create - although I can still feel lost and as though I'm making it up as I go. I find the thought of emotion of the subject and then I sketch out some ideas to get the subject, composition of placement and color. And from there, I transfer that sketch to the final panel or paper where I like to keep the process open as much as I possibly can - to truly experience and discover something new as I create it - where the piece teaches me, and I can listen and learn and find things I never knew needed to exist. There's really nothing that can promise the success of an illustration or painting. Always a blind searching with no promises. At the end, I'm either satisfied or not satisfied - sometimes I'm overjoyed and sometimes I'm horrified.