Distorting Portraits with Brandon Lillibridge

Brandon Lillibridge is a self-taught painter who has always identified as an “artist,” but says that he didn’t truly find his role in the art world until he picked up a paintbrush. Figurative / portrait painting is the strong suit of this Ohio-based artist. Lillibridge paints using photographic references that he often distorts to make a “more interesting painting reference.” His works may range in style, but a lot of it has been experimental. He inspires himself through this experimentation, further evolving and innovating from it.  Lillibridge states that he is a firm believer in breaking the rules. That’s for the best, as his “breaking of the rules” makes for quite interesting works, which you can view in the gallery below. I talked to Lillibridge about his growth, creative process, current state of being an artist, and where he hopes to take things next. The interview can be read below.

All artwork shown above is by Brandon Lillibridge. Click any image to enlarge.

 

Looking through your Instagram feed from top to bottom shows your growth as an artist. How would you say you’ve evolved artistically over the past year?

I’d say I’ve evolved pretty rapidly over the past year or two, both fundamentally and stylistically. A year ago I was doing a lot of watercolor commissions and didn’t really have time to get as experimental and crazy as I wanted to, so when my commissions slowed down, I really had that creative energy to do whatever I wanted to, which is currently larger oil paintings.

You can definitely see the more experimental and abstract elements coming through in your newer work. What would you say this adds to your creative process that might have been absent before when doing commissions? In terms of the work itself, or in terms of how you go about making it.

Well, when I do commissions, I like to stay within certain guidelines to please the client, unless they give me full creative freedom. I just like to stay safe and not go really crazy with colors or style that might not appeal to that particular customer. It generally comes down to the difference of creating for myself or creating for someone else. There’s less pressure to please other people when I have the freedom to create for myself. I enjoy it either way though, it’s just a different state of mind.

That’s understandable; creating for oneself with no limitations is the most rewarding. And those pieces seem to get the most attention on social media as well. Does the love your work gets on these platforms translate into the amount of work you’re able to sell? Are you at the point where you’re close to making a living off of your art?

It really depends. I’ve had paintings sell right away that get no love on social media and some paintings that get the most attention that still haven’t sold. So I guess the “likes” really don’t mean as much as people would think as far as pieces selling. I have sold most of my work, but at very fair prices. So the amount of money I’m actually making isn’t close to the work that I put in. Hopefully I’m able to make a living purely from art in the near future.

Can you walk me through your process of creating a piece for yourself? How do you go into starting a new work?

Well I have a whole library of thousands of photos I find on the internet, from photographers and models. For a lot of paintings, I’ll create a digital reference, deliberately layering images and/or messing with the colors and what-not to find something I’m happy with. Then, when I start painting, I lay in an acrylic underpainting/drawing and lay oil paint over that until I’m happy with it. There’s a lot of decision making during the process, depending on how it gradually builds. For more abstract paintings, it’s kind of a surprise to me where it ends up going. The process is really intuitive, but also requires deep thought.

What do you feel the abstraction of a person’s face adds to the work? Would you say it provokes more emotion?

Yeah, it brings something unnatural and artificial to the work and can definitely be more expressive. There are so many ways you can go about it, so it’s an endless exploration for the artist.

What is your ultimate goal as an artist?

Probably to be financially stable while loving what I’m doing. Getting more recognition and exposure would be great, too.

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