In the Studio with Brian Gassaway

In the studio with Brian Gassaway, whose practice is influenced by abstraction and surrealism. We met with Brian to tell us more about growing up in a small village in Baltimore, what inspired him to first pursue their artistic journey and Brian's unexpected sources of inspiration.

When did you first begin to see yourself as an artist?

I imagine I have always seen myself as a bit of an artist growing up. I think most kids do. As I see it, as Children we all share this kind of dream. That is until life makes other plans with our time. Also having an older brother who was quite skilled from an early age, I desperately wanted to be as good as him. Though I was hungry for it, I really hadn’t found my artistic ambition till quite late, mid to late 20’s.

Where are you from and what was your upbringing like?

I was born and raised in Baltimore MD USA in 1978. My mother, a single parent for most of the eighties, raised two boys with very limited means. Though we had very little, and our family unit was a small one, we rarely wanted for much. She was good like that, and I know this life experience has shaped my work tremendously.

Paint us a picture of your artistic journey. What inspired you to first pursue, and then continue to practice artistic work? 

I don’t feel that I had a singular pivotal moment that decided my artistic path. To me as I see it, there were many moments in my life that happened along the way that would lead me to a sharper understanding of self and purpose in my work and for works to come.

What’s the message of your work? Where do they come from? 

I imagine like many other artists past and present, I feel that most of my themes are relative to the viewer. I know how the work makes me feel, but once released into the world, my feelings of the work become obsolete. This is how it should be. If it has any merit beyond my feelings, it will fly.

Who & what are your greatest influences?  

When I was a kid, it was my mother and older brother who influenced and inspired me. For most of my twenties, dealing with depression and drug addiction, the threat of potential death was another major influence. And now so many years later, a major influence and inspiration for my work is my wife and two boys. It’s having a family, something I never imagined for myself. It’s surviving all the trauma that life throws at you and still knowing you have goodness within. That’s pretty damn inspiring to me.

What do you want people to take from your work when they view it?

I used to be more bothered with the idea of what the audience might want or expect, but I’ve learned to let that go. If a painting is good, someone will have an experience and hopefully make an emotional connection. That’s all I could really ever hope for.

What are your ideal conditions or catalyst for creating a “good” piece of work?

Time and coffee. 

Something in the future you hope to explore?

Airbrush, it may never happen, but I am very curious about it, and hope to explore it one day.