Interview: Warren Brand, Branded Arts 2014
Whether you’re an Angeleno native or a wanderlust import now residing in this bustling city, we’re pretty confident that you’ve fixated your wandering eyes on loads of decadent murals produced by Branded Arts. On the daily, we get our dose of buzz-fed whispers pertaining to the next big artist collaboration, international artist series, and what unveiling, exhibit or group show may be popping off in any given area on any given date at the plentiful galleries we frequent. On our drives to our LA destinations, we stop and absorb free art, pulling out that shiny white wingman to snap a photo of the works that inspire us and upload it to our masses, touting ourselves as true witnesses. Exceeding some of the more down-played expectations some of art’s biggest right-coast forefathers may have predicted or would never think would happen, art has exploded.
Among many other art enthusiasts in the industry orchestrating good deeds, the devotee behind Branded Arts, Warren Brand, configures his growing hub of international art curations to benefit several charities. He’s done a few great events in the past, but this year, Branded Arts TCL Chinese Theatre sets off in a one night only October 25th pop-up art exhibit to benefit Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services. The exhibition promises to be the biggest one yet—from curating the best art from world-renowned artists and photographers, a decadent DJ set by Talib Kewli, appearances from a variety of participating artists including Saber, Cryptik, Yoskay Yamamoto and an extra large list of gallery supporters—to bringing forth some of the best works in the art world on display.
With enough gusto to put a multi-tasking entrepreneur to shame, Brand drove us around Venice to talk about positive imagery, mural goals and youngster inspiration while photographer Max Barsness captured moments:
LA CANVAS: Tell us a bit about how Branded Arts was founded?
WARREN BRAND: I’ve been interested in collectables all my life. From comic books to sports cards to sneakers to contemporary art, I guess you could say that curating was a natural progression for me. Art had a big effect on me as kid, and it kept me out of trouble as well. I wanted to share that love with everyone else, so in 2010, I started a multi-platform art company called Branded Arts. Over the last 5 years, we have produced and curated several large-scale art exhibitions along with over 90 public mural projects around Los Angeles. This year we are expanding and have organized projects in New York, San Francisco, and Hawaii.
LAC: What is it that you do for the LA and art community?
WB: We believe in the transformative power of art and the importance of arts education. Going forward, we will be commissioning celebrated artists to paint public murals at local properties, developments, youth centers, and schools. Our aim is to express an inspirational message with these art projects, to provide the community with a creative outlet, and to always promote positive imagery. With public school budget cutbacks significantly impacting art programs around the country, we feel that it is up to independent organizations like Branded Arts to help facilitate and introduce art to young people.
LAC: How did you get your start?
WB: About 5 years ago, a friend of mine from high school had a modified warehouse space in Downtown LA that he was renting out for photo shoots and events. He asked me if I would be interested in curating an art show there and the rest is history. We had over 70 artists on display, and over 1000 people showed up! That is when I realized how much I enjoyed working with artists. We donated a portion of all proceeds from the exhibition to charity, which is something we have always done to this day. Shortly thereafter, we took over a vacant car dealership in Culver City and transformed it into the “Branded Arts Building”. We organized over 30 murals on site before it got demolished in 2013 to make way for a new shopping development. Now, our goal is to organize permanent public art murals throughout the city.
LAC: What charity are you backing this year and what’s the crux behind your community outreach?
WB: We support several charities including the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles and The Boys & Girls Clubs of America. This year we will be donating to Vista Del Mar Child And Family Services. Their mission is to provide comprehensive, family-centered social, educational, and behavioral health services that encourage children and their families to lead self-reliant, stable, and productive lives. I know that being involved in the arts helped me become much more stable and productive as a youngster, so I hope to do the same for others and inspire positive social change through the arts in our city and beyond. It all starts right here in LA!
LAC: Give us some juicy details about the event!
WB: The next Branded Arts Exhibition will be at the world famous TCL Chinese Theatre on October 25th. It is open to the public. This is our most ambitious project yet! We are transforming the entire space into an art gallery and live music event space. This is a massive celebration featuring the most prominent artists of our time. Our goal is to help some of our favorite young artists establish themselves as well. This has never been done at the Chinese Theatre, so look out!
LAC: Are there any special findings we can look forward to at the event? Any new cool artists?
WB: This one night only exhibition brings together art from world-renowned artists and photographers with a special guest performance by TALIB KWELI. We will have a lot of special surprises in store! In terms of artists, we are getting ready to showcase over 80 different artists!
LAC: What’s a day in your life like?
WB: I wake up every day and am always thinking about the big picture. Great projects and opportunities materialize quickly and unexpectedly, but I’m always ready for them. I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to make a positive impact in the world every day through the arts. I’m always hanging out in different parts of LA with my friends. You can find us in Venice, Santa Monica, Culver City, Downtown, and Silverlake. There are always cool events happening around town, so I try to attend as many as I can. There’s nothing better than LA—the diversity, the people, the food—I really miss Damiano’s Mr. Pizza on Fairfax! Lastly, I’m often at different art galleries checking out my favorites artists and discovering new ones every day!
LAC: How many murals has Branded Arts helped to produce this year?
WB: So far this year, we have organized 32 murals, our goal is 50, we’ll see if we can reach it!
LAC: This may be hard to answer, but who are some of your current favorite artists?
WB: That’s a very difficult question, because there are so many incredible artists in the scene right now, both local and international! Some LA based artists that we’ve worked with and have been just crushing it this year include Greg “Craola” Simkins, Zeser, Cryptik, Bumblebeelovesyou, Clinton Bopp, and Charlie Edmiston.
LAC: What about past-time artists?
WB: That’s not an easy question either! I’ll go with MC Escher, Barbara Kruger, and Keith Haring.
Branded Arts TCL Chinese Theatre 2014 will feature:
Works By —
Saber, Cryptik, Yoskay Yamamoto, Mear One, Dabs Myla, Hebru Brantley, Axis, Andrew Hem, Cleon Peterson, Zeser, Tristan Eaton, David Flores, Cyrcle, Mark Dean Veca, DevNGosha, John Park, Dan Quintana, Curiot, Clinton Bopp, Buff Monster, Hans Walor, Billy Morrison, Joey Feldman, Mad Steez, Nosego, Adam Builds, Shark Toof, Angelina Christina, Annie Preece, Woes Martin, Luke Chueh, Steven Daily, Birdman, Bridget Weiser, Brittany Segal, Canlove, Chor Boogie, Conway Bongo, Craft, Danny Minnick, Gregory Siff, David Gardner, Drew Merrit, Ekundayo, Eric O’neill, Golgo, Skyler Grey, Jaime Becker, Jennifer Korsen, Joshua Keen Valencia, Joshua Petker, Lisa Reider, Mathew Curran, Matt Dimon, Maximillian Xavier, NDSLA, Norm Maxwell, Paige Smith, Quam Odunsi, Rooney Hardwick, Ross Morrison, Sean McCarthy, Surgio “Surge” Hernandez, Urbyn Michaels, Wyatt Mills, Nori Pesina, Shanna Yates, Rony Alwin, Shanna Yates, Charlie Edmiston
Private Collection Works By —
Banksy, Shepard Fairey, D*Face, Kenny Scharf, Kaws, Herakut, Jeremy Geddes, Miss Van, Audrey Kawasaki, Swoon, Mark Ryden
Special Performances By —
REBEL, SLIM JEFF, PHYSICAL POETS
Participants Include —
Vista Del Mar Child + Family Services, TCL Chinese Theatres, Boulevard Nightlife Group, Thinkspace Gallery, Known Gallery, Superchief Gallery, LA Street Art Gallery, The Seventh Letter.