Bryan Barnes is an up and coming artist from San Diego, California who specializes in photography and illustration. His morbid, gritty and gruesome works of eye-catching art are interesting and stimulating, especially for people of the more macabre persuasion. His works depict stapled throats, bloodshot eyes, skin crisscrossed with dark veins and stitches and lots of blood splatter. Barnes photographs are eerily reminiscent of crime scene or autopsy photos in their starkness.
His artwork has been shown at galleries across the nation, including Drk Room Gallery, Hive Gallery, Artist Bound Gallery, Our Lady of the Angeles Cathedral, IVAR and the Monte Christo in Los Angeles, ICANDY in West Hollywood, the Night Gallery in Santa Ana, Planet Rooth, Front Porch Gallery, Gallery 680, Art of Framing and the Plastic Museum in San Diego and the Dirty Detroit in Michigan.
Fatally Yours recently got to chat with Bryan about horror movies, how dead girls can be sexy, his grandma and his artwork.
Fatally Yours: Bryan, how long have you been working in art?
Bryan Barnes: For as long as I can remember. I started drawing around age 4. It seems I’ve always been surrounded and attracted to the art realm.
FY: How did you first get started making art?
BB: When I was kid, I would stay at my grandmother’s house in Pasadena, California. She is a painter. When I would stay at her house I would see all of her paintings on the wall and want to emulate her and what I saw. I remember she would be cooking and I would be in the kitchen with her drawing. Although, my style is vastly different from hers, she was a huge influence on me in my early development. So, I guess art is in my blood. Also growing up skateboarding, I loved all the skull graphics I saw. Not only would I try to practice to be like the pros with tricks and launching off ramps, I would draw in the style of the skateboard decks and stickers I had.
FY: What is your favorite medium to use?
BB: My favorite mediums are graphite and photography. Both are challenging and rewarding in their own unique ways. I was originally brought up in illustration and painting, but over time I developed an appreciation for work behind the lens. My head is always spinning with one thousand ideas and concepts. Hopefully I’m able to capture as many of them as I can through one medium or another.
FY: Is there any specific message you wish to convey with your artwork?
BB: My artwork is a dark sexy traumatic rollercoaster ride through visions of vanity, insecurity, obsession, eternity and lust. Constant themes held within the artworks are symbolisms of hope, spirituality, optimism, power of self and the beauty of the divine. It’s my goal to make the viewer of the artwork take a step back and sincerely think what is presented in from of them.
FY: Where do you get your inspiration for your artwork?
BB: Inspiration is drawn together by what I’ve witnessed, experienced and felt through my years. It’s almost like real life thrown up on a canvas, so to speak.
FY: Who are some of your favorite artists and influences?
BB: I tend to only surround myself in a dark shotgun shell of my own work. I feel by viewing other artists and their work; it could taint my own work. I rather not be influenced by outside influences. There are probably only a handful of artists that I truly have an admiration for. I really dig the vibes of both Paul Booth and Michael Hussar though. They have some macabre visions that I dig.
FY: What is a memorable experience that has shaped your work?
BB: Probably one of the most memorable experiences came in college. As my style developed and began to take form, I realized that following what is safe and mainstream will never be for me. I create imagery for me. Hopefully people can pick up on the vibe I’m going for and appreciate it. Hopefully become a fan of it.
FY: Where did you receive formal training?
BB: Originally, I received a basketball scholarship to the University of Cal State San Bernardino. Only after a year or so I focused solely on art and studies and left sports for good. While in college I took up a greater appreciation for photography. This was also the time when I began to develop my style of artwork. I was attracted to a more realistic approach with darker and deeper concepts. I absolutely loved studying about Goya and Hieronymus Bosch. I finished and received my BA in Art (Graphic Design).
FY: What made you want to pursue a career in art?
BB: Artwork has always highly interested me. It is a true gift to have the beauty of creation. I would not change what I do for anything.
FY: So far, what is your favorite piece of artwork that you’ve created?
BB: One of my favorite pieces recently is the photography piece “The Devil of Ed Gein Wears Prada.” It deals with how the fashion industry, and media in general, creates pieces of meat that kill you with their outward faux appearance of beauty while consisting of rather no depth at all. It is one of the more graphic and gruesome pieces.
FY: Do any horror films/literature/comics influence your work?
BB: Yes, of course! When I watch films, especially horror, I study the cinematography, make-up and things that stick out in my mind that are new and innovative. The only problem is, it can be very difficult for me to just “watch” a film without constantly art directed it to how I believe the film could work better. That goes back to my design background where my eye is watching every inch of detail on the screen. Some of my most recent work can be seen to have influences from Dawn of the Dead and even 30 Days of Night. I loved the characters in 13 Ghosts, especially the Suicide Girl character. Sexy and dead, love it! Of course how can I not love The Shining, The Grudge, the remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amityville Horror? Gritty, dark, ominous films always keep my full attention.
FY: If you could design the artwork for any horror film what would it be and why?
BB: I’m a huge fan of Rob Zombie, especially for this work on Devil’s Rejects. I thought the film worked so well on so many levels. It had a cool retro vibe while mixing violence, sarcastic humor, an interesting story and the oh so lovely Sherri Moon Zombie. What was not to love! But yes, I would love to have the opportunity to work with Zombie on his some of his future projects. He is truly a legend. I also dig Eli Roth’s work from Hostel as well; he seems like a pretty cool cat.
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