Just Make Art: a Studio Visit with Andrew Brischler

At first glance, Andrew Brischler’s work appears formulaic. Several of his pieces carry over motifs from one to the next. Some of his series appear to be the same pattern, repeated from piece to piece, but in different colors. On the surface, Brischler’s work looks like it could have been mass-produced, screen printed, or even computer-generated, that conception couldn’t be further from the truth.

Brischler draws from pop culture and mass-production, yes, but he’s intentionally making his work human— weathered, damaged, almost “humiliated,” as he calls it. He works on paper, weighted down with super-matte medium (“not at all the way you’re supposed to use it,” he explained with a chuckle). His tools of choice are about as far from printing and stenciling as one can get– he uses colored pencils, graphite, and acrylic paint for the most part. And it’s never just so simple as the tightly-factured flat surface of the page would allow you to think on first glance.

Brischler’s work is all about layers. Not just contextual ones, though those matter too– his work is wrapped up in identity, in social context, in his experience as a queer artist, as a New Yorker, as someone who loves and consumes massive quantities of pop culture– but also the literal layers of the work. The medium, allowing colors to float onto the page with a heavy, “almost buttery” full range of pigmentation. The Prismacolor pencils he prefers. Acrylic paint, graphite. Another layer at the end, scratching up and scribbling over the clean lines and sharp edges. All of the individual layers coming together to create an intense, process-driven, piece that’s easy to dismiss if you don’t look close enough. But something about the work– its humanity, perhaps– pushes you to look closer, so you see it after all.


When asked if he had any parting remarks for our group, Brischler paused for a minute, suggested that we learn how taxes and businesses work, and then stopped again before putting down his iced coffee and looking as directly at all of us as he could through a Zoom conference video call. “Forget about selling it,” he told us. “Forget about what’s ‘good.’ Forget about what will sell. Just Make Art.” The way he said the last three words, it seemed like each one was capitalized. And he’s right—art that means something to its creator is art that is important.

I walked away from that Zoom class genuinely excited to make art for the first time in months. I’d been in a creative rut pretty much since March, but something about the genuineness, quiet intensity, and clear love for art that Andrew Brischler exhibited so clearly brought the inspiration back. It was magical, and it was a good reminder: the process, in so many ways, is what matters. Art is so frequently about the journey, even right now— perhaps especially right now. When the world has more or less gone to hell, creativity, individuality, and humanity matter more than ever.


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