Richie Brasil believes that there is truth in art. He is the artist responsible for some of the Rosemary District’s most distinct visual expressions of the creativity that resides here. Richie took a break to talk with us about what’s inspired his evolving style, and where you can spot his murals in the Rosemary District.
How’d you get your start with graffiti?
I think graffiti drew me to it gradually, growing up. I realized that I could be whoever I wanted with it- nobody knew who I was or what I looked like when they looked at my work. They just appreciated it for what it was.
What were some of your major creative influences?
At first, I got into it watching my friends. I learned from them how to respect the art for what it was. As for learning style and how to paint, I struggled with that for a long time. I was out in different parts doing it on my own. And it’s still something I struggle with today, but at the same time I approach it from a different perspective that most people don’t, y’know?
What perspective do you approach it from?
I see the paint as more than just a tool to make a mark with. I can flare a can in a [certain] way, and watch the world unravel from it in ways that many people wouldn’t ever see. I see the daytime parts of the cities— those early-morning risers out for a day’s work— and those who walk the streets at night. The combination of what I see at night versus what I see during the day, I think, makes me and my work more human.
How does that perspective help/change your style from piece to piece?
I always try to do something different. I get bored really easily. I get inspired by different elements- life, television shows, or something as small as like two colors wedged together at Home Depot, a candy wrapper, anything at all really. It’s funny, because people say they get Artists’ Block. I laugh, because if you get blocked that easily, then you’re not looking hard enough at the world around you.
A lot of the people forget the history of these places. It totally affects everything. It affects how I paint. It affects when I paint and what I paint.
Comparing where you started to now, how have you evolved as an artist?
My skills have gotten way more refined. I had skills as a youth, but now I can do things that other artists have told me they wish they could. When you drop the attitude and that city schtick, it’s humbling. It’s opened me up to learning more. I could be hitting trains with buddies on the weekend, or figure drawing with old ladies.
You’ve got classical training?
Oh yeah! Once upon a time I would meet up with my old professors at their studios. I felt like I was painting with the masters because they were
all better than me. They loved it because I applied things in different ways they’d not seen, with graffiti in it. Though I can hang with the best of them, I just like to dance in my own element.
What do your murals offer to the community that “traditional” murals/styles do not?
A lot of the people forget the history of these places. I’m willing to talk with the local people and ask for their input, take their advice and hear what they have to say. It totally affects everything. It affects how I paint. It affects when I paint and what I paint. So sometimes you have to be direct with your messaging. Sometimes you have to reflect the neighborhood regardless of what people think would look better.
What about the Rosemary District drew you to it?
I was introduced to the owner of a building in the Rosemary District through a friend of mine. Over the course of 7-8 months, we bounced around a million ideas. This is project actually one of my favorite pieces. The subject of the project was actually the building owner’s idea. I thought it was really thoughtful of him to consider that history for the final piece. Something magical happens when the lines between client/customer and friend blur. Like I go into a mural just thinking I’ll paint something dope and get paid. But then you meet someone sincere, and it becomes less about the money, and more about just painting something that’s right.
What are your future goals/aspirations for your work/style?
It’s not what people often think. I come from a place where the norm wasn’t norm, so I think ultimate greatness for me would be able to live a very comfortable life, being able to walk across the street to my studio, and support a family off of my painting. As far as painting things, I’ve got a list of projects that I want to complete. It’ll keep me busy for the rest of my life.
What do you hope happens for the future of the Rosemary District and its creativity?
It’d be nice if it became a little melting pot, where people of all ages, races, genders could meet. It’d be nice for it to be a place for creatives to create. It’d be nice to be an affordable place where you could walk to work. There’s plenty of opportunity for that to happen. If the Rosemary District became this neighborhood that’s easily accessible to everyone, it’d make everyone happy.