I started painting 20 years ago and will paint until my dying day – Phillips
Brian Phillips was born an Ohio Buckeye in Greenville, Ohio. In 1995 he moved to Indianapolis where he lived for 15 years before moving to his current residence in Austin, TX. Phillips was always drawing as a child, and according to his mother, the only thing that kept his attention then was a pack of crayons and a drawing pad. As a 12-year-old kid, Phillips loved going to wrestling matches and drawing portraits of the fighters. One day, the daughter of a promoter discovered his portraits and had them printed in the wrestling programs for matches. This acknowledgment of his work meant a great deal to him. The young Phillips was let in to matches for free and even had his portraits signed by the wrestlers themselves. However, as the years passed on he lost touch with his passion for drawing and only practiced through high school art classes. During his 20’s, Phillips underwent a depression that changed his life. As a form of treatment, therapists advised him to take up a hobby. The choice was simple as he looked to what always inspired in him a sense of happiness and tranquility: Art. The making of his work became therapeutic for Phillips as he felt it was a way for him to lose track of time and let go. Today, twenty years after his re-discovery of art, Phillips has developed his own philosophy; art should bring smiles into one’s life and provoke thought. He sees his art as mood lightening since that is what it is for him. He likes to have fun and wants his viewers to have fun with him.
I hope you enjoy my work as much as I enjoy creating it. Art is my afterlife. Hopefully it will be around to live on for me, long after I’m gone – Phillips
Brian Phillips is unique. He makes his work out of anything and everything salvageable that he can find and works them into his aesthetic. He utilizes everything from old chairs to restaurant chopsticks to salvaged wood pieces from 100 year-old houses; his only condition is that the pieces contain some sort of character, texture, and/or color about them. His favorite salvaged pieces are those from the 100 year-old homes:
…just the thought that, you know, this piece of wood stood in a house for a hundred years and the stories it probably could tell, you know, like some farm, ranch in Texas….For me it’s just a way to show that we live in a very wasteful society and you can create something from something that someone else has discarded, and to think that I have made a living off of that for two years…it makes me proud – Phillips
The act of using reclaimed wood is very important to Phillips and he would like for other people to try and enjoy it with him. Salvaged objects hold a certain history that blank canvasses do not carry, and it brings him joy when persons enjoy his work as he has.
Beg, Steal, Borrow and the Serie Project
Phillips has always been drawn to faces and bodies. At the time of this print, he was going through a period that many artists go through: the wonder of whether enough money can ever be made to stop worrying about money. It is a necessary evil, and the bills still have to get paid. Beg, Steal, Borrow began as a painting on Plexiglas that had been used as a painter’s pallet. True to Phillip’s style, at once he noticed the wonderful textures and colors the pallet displayed and used these organic elements to create the painting, Beg, Steal, Borrow.
Phillips has worked in screen printing for 20 years and was used to printing on textiles using vector and computer art, so the Serie Project process of doing everything by hand was completely new to him. His work already had that folksy, handcrafted feel to it, and learning to make prints in this hands-on way suited his aesthetic well. With the help of master printers, Phillip’s learned more and more through each color about the process of adding textures and layers to screen prints.
Phillips medium is stuff: Stuff that is found, stuff that is given, and stuff that is left behind. He repurposes this stuff to give it a new life and bring himself and others happiness. Art should be enjoyable, and Phillips strives to make it so.Written by: Natalie Villarreal May 15th, 2014
For more information on Brian Phillips, visit artbybrianphillips.com or watch him speak of his life and work through Serie Project Artist in Residence interview:
This project is funded and supported in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and in part by the City of Austin Economic Development Department/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future.