This past Friday was the official beginning of the “Cold Strolls,” where only those truly interested in art will be hitting the streets for the next four months. I say this because it's very easy for anyone who has heard of Gallery Stroll in passing to decide “hey, let's head out tonight and get some free wine and cheese” during the warm months. It's an entirely different beat when everything outside of the galleries is cold and snowy, with the majority of your travel between places consisting of walking. This month we went slightly beyond the downtown area to Concept
on 900 South, where we checked out the latest works from airbrushing artists Brian Lindley. We chat with Lindley about his career and art style, along with pics from the evening for you to check out.
Gavin: Hey Brian! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello Gavin, thank you and City Weekly
for your interest in my work. I am a local artist here in Salt Lake City and have been airbrushing for about 10 years. I have experimented with all mediums of paint and naturally ended up with the airbrush. I began my professional career as a custom airbrush artist at Coonyz Custom Choppers back in 2004. It was there I really learned how to paint and perfect my work on metal. Over the last couple of years, I have shifted a lot of my time and focus to the fine art community and have been welcomed by many galleries here in the valley and in Southern Utah.
Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some early influences on you?
Art has been deeply rooted in my family, so as soon as my talents were discovered at an early age my family really got behind me and helped me along. One of my big influences was Jim Jones a relative and renowned southern Utah oil painter. He was known for his paintings of Zion and the Grand Canyon. I always looked up to him and growing up with a famous painter in the family always made me want to reach my fullest potential as an artist. I guess I would say that I was destined for it.
Gavin: What specifically drew your attention to airbrushing and what was it that appealed to you most?
It was mainly just the diversity of it. With a single airbrush, you can paint from a hairline all the way up to a couple of inches with one pass. Once I picked it up I couldn’t put it down. I started painting everything I had around the house, my Xbox, furniture, the walls, everything. I was addicted. I have tried to pick up a paint brush since and it’s just not the same.
Gavin: Did you seek out any education or training in art, or were you mainly self-taught?
I took a few watercolor lessons as a child but really no training. Really the best way to learn anything is to just do it. Just months after discovering the airbrush, I got hired on at Coonyz Customs so it was really a baptism by fire. After a decade of it, I don’t think there is any subject matter or surface I haven’t painted.
Gavin: What was the process like for you in learning the craft and figuring out how to manipulate the paint as you needed?
All of my work is done with automotive paint which can be very fickle. If you do it right it will last forever and if you do it wrong it can be a complete disaster. If the temperature, mix ratio, PSI or cleanliness of the surface is not just right you can lose the whole piece. You do your best and if it doesn’t work out you move on. There is definitely a learning curve that takes many years to perfect.
Gavin: I read you originally started out working on cars and motorcycles. How was it for you working on those kinds of projects and what were some of your favorite designs you created?
It was exciting to work in that setting and I loved every second of it. You never know what is going to come through that door and what crazy concepts you have to pull off. It really helped me become the artist that I am because I had to constantly push myself and figure out new ways to paint things I was not normally comfortable doing. It was an interesting relationship because you have to fulfill the customers creative needs as well as your own. I have painted countless motorcycles over the years, but some of the memorable ones were not on any bike or car. For example, I did a painting for the hit show “Sons of Anarchy” that can be seen on the set of the show. That was a very different experience for me because I did it before the show even started filming. Now it is one of the biggest shows on television. I really enjoyed the challenges of the odd jobs that came through the door. I have painted Kitchen Aid mixers, tool boxes, bomb replicas, golf clubs, and really anything paint will stick to.
Gavin: What turned your attention to using airbrushing on canvas (aluminum panels) and creating works for galleries and display?
As much I have loved painting for custom automotive shops, I still have been left with a strong need to create. I love making others visions come to life, but I felt it was time to work on my own. Also, there has always been a stigma that airbrushing is not fine art and I am hoping to change that. When people think of airbrushing they think of a motorcycle or a custom t-shirt you get at the fair. When I try to explain my work to people they don’t quite understand it. You really have to see it in person to get the feel for it and see how truly different it is from any other type of art.
Gavin: What's the process like for you when creating a new piece, from concept to final design?
My true inspiration is the red rock landscapes of Southern Utah. I spend as much time hiking as I can and photograph every step of the way. As you can see most of my work is of slot canyons. There’s something about slot canyons that speaks to me in an eerie spiritual way. They translate very well with an airbrush in a photo-realistic but contemporary manner. After photographing, I return home to recreate it on metal. When my painting is complete it is then clear coated with an automotive finish and buffed and polished to create a durable and perfectly smooth finish.
Gavin: Considering the kind of time, patience and skill needed to work with these tools, how much do you improvise and how much is set in stone as you make it?
Like I said about automotive paints, they are not forgiving if you don’t follow the specs. The products themselves are pretty set in stone, but the techniques and possibilities of the airbrush are endless. There is always improvisation and that’s what makes it so beautiful. I am recreating one of my photographs but fill it with my own emotions and insights. Patience really is a key feature in this kind of work. The color layering and masking can leave me blind for days on what I am actually working on. I have to remind myself constantly to follow my instincts and stay calm and steady with my strokes. Sometimes I hate a piece every step of the way until it is finished and the contrasting elements join together to create a masterpiece.
Gavin: Tell us about the artwork on display for this Stroll.
This series of work is a collaboration of my landscapes and slot canyon paintings over the last 18 months. These paintings have been my break through into the fine art community and have been well received. Some from the beginning of my fine art career and some are newer and show how I have evolved as an artist. From the whole collection, you can really see my journey from the beginning to now and they really tell a story.
Gavin: How has it been working with Concept and being displayed in this group exhibition?
This will be my first Gallery Stroll with Concept and I am really excited! My paintings seem to do better in a contemporary setting so what better place than Concept. They have a lot to offer from a fine art gallery to interior home design, furniture, and custom concrete countertops, the list goes on. The edgy variety they offer mixed with contemporary artworks together very well. When you go to Concept you are not just walking into a gallery, you feel like you’ve walked into someone’s modern home. I am also very excited to show with Justin Anderson. His style and techniques with oil are truly unbelievable and he will be a very big name in the fine art community. This gallery stroll will definitely be one I won’t forget and Concept really knows how to put on one great night of music, hors d’oeuvres, and of course art.
Gavin: What are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
I think Utah and Salt Lake have a great art community and really appreciate the value of it. I really have had no bad experiences to date. The only real problem I have had is that people think my paintings are photographs especially because of the smooth finish. In other Gallery Strolls, I have heard people say that’s a nice photograph and they move on. I do my best to be present and educate people to what it is they are actually looking at. Once they know it is airbrushing they are full of questions which I love to answer.
Gavin: Who are some local artists you like checking out or recommend people should look for?
Brian: Like I said before, keep an eye out for Justin Anderson as he will be a very big name in Utah oil painters. But what I would really like to say people should look into is the airbrush community. There are some amazing artists out there that will never be in the galleries but at the local car and motorcycle shows. Next time you see airbrushing on a bike or car, really get up close and look at the detail and skill that these artists have. I really just want people to educate themselves with airbrushing because I believe when people catch on it will be a large part of the art community in the future. I am already seeing a lot of it in other states but not much here in Utah.
Gavin: What's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work they're doing to promote local art?
Brian: This will be my third time showing at a Salt Lake Gallery Stroll and so far I have been blown away by the crowds and excitement that people are showing to local arts. I have been surprised and excited to see the younger generations taking such an interest in local arts and it shows me that Salt Lake is doing something right on the front. You don’t have to be able to afford big expensive art to be a part of it. Gallery Stroll really gives everyone an opportunity to join in the local art community, whether you are an artist, art lover or just passing by a gallery on your way to dinner. Stop by and be a part of it.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the rest of the year and going into next?
Brian: BIGGER! Now that my feet are wet I’m really focusing more on detail as well as the size of my pieces. I am experimenting with new subject matter as well as different techniques with the metal and paints. I have a few more shows coming up here in the valley and in Southern Utah and a big one at Finch Lane Gallery next June that I have been working on. And although I spend most of my time painting landscapes I still love to see what creative and crazy concepts I get to paint for my automotive customers.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Brian: Yes, first a big thanks to Concept for taking me on and having me for the next couple of Gallery Strolls. If you missed this one we are doing it again December 5 so do not miss out! And of course I have to plug my boys down at Coonyz Custom Choppers
. They have a new shop down on 9400 S. 548 W. If it wasn’t for them and all of the experience I have gained over the years of painting motorcycles I wouldn’t be doing this today. And last please visit my website
or like my Facebook page
. Thank you, Gavin and City Weekly