Artist Interviews 2022
By Laura Siebold
Brayden Bugazzi is a multi-talented artist. We spotted his art at the LA Art Show 2022 and were taken with his Spacemen and mix media collages. Brayden’s first NFT collection dropped in February of 2022, and one of his digital spacemen has even made it to actual space. In his interview, the artist tells us about his art education, his turn towards NFTs, and his various styles and artwork, covering photography and collages of celebrities and pop icons. Brayden also reveals what the reflections in the collage portraits are all about, about madness in art, and how he landed representations in galleries in Los Angeles.
Brayden Bugazzi is based in Los Angeles, California.
Your artwork is very diverse and portrays many different subjects. Which is the project you have created you are most proud of to this day and why?
I am excited about the Giant Spaceman I built, that I have woven into my first NFT collection Give Me My Spaceman on Opensea. I utilized a bunch of cool technologies like LED lighting, 3D computer animations, infinity mirrors, etc. What was really cool for me is a company chose it to go up into space on a Blue Origin launch, so the series was made official.
We are curious about your background. Did art play a role in your upbringing?
Some of my earliest memories were going up to the community college where my mom was teaching calligraphy. I even remember one of the students teaching me some origami, and it is funny how things influence you, being that most of my work is with paper and collage. I remember in 3rd grade I was the new student being we moved from California, and a lot of the kids were really cruel to me, I remember learning how to weave cool little trinkets, and make bracelets. I would make friends that way, and had kids thinking what I was doing was cool, giving me a temporary feeling of acceptance. Later on my mom studied Music, and Art at the University of Colorado, carved stamps with her calligraphy projects for people for some side income, as she tried to work through school, and that also played a role in my childhood. From an early age I always wanted to be an artist, I just think it was really drilled into me with how society was at that time that it was an invalid career path, so I defiantly veered off course throughout my later years.
Your “Give Me My Spaceman” project marks the transition to NFT art. Can you describe the process of creating this digital art? What made you turn to NFT’s? Are you thinking about creating some NFT Spacewomen, as well?
I first heard about them a few years back, and honestly the second I heard, my regular art started taking off like a rocket ship, so I was neglecting my desires to pursue that. Last December it was weird; it was like the climax in a movie, making art nonstop, lots of calls, nights with no sleep trying to get commissions done, while at the same time working my butt off to be ready for the big event during Art Basel in Miami. Then silence, no calls, all commissions complete, time floating back into the void, I got a huge amount of people walking by talking to me and seeming to love what I did, but it also was kind of a low point for me too, because I didn’t get any sales and I worked my body to the breaking point, lifting, and moving around all these massive complex artworks, only to realize if I put a couple of pixels together in a jpeg online I would be the darling of the art world. When I got back I just started researching how to use After Effects, then I wanted to add some 3d stuff into my vids, so I started researching how to do some computer animation. Got a nice little bit of sales from my first drop, and I was able to invest that little bit I made into keeping the NFTs going. Then bam, here we are, and it has been a lot of fun to be honest! Learning new skills is actually a bit of an addiction for me, it has also been a bit of an Achilles heel, being that I was that annoying curious kid who wants to know about everything, and asks too many questions. Honestly, though from my life experience, I don’t need to be rich, or be the big dog on the top of the hill, just being on this amazing journey exploring different mediums in Art and figuring out ways of mashing them together is good enough for me.
To answer your question about Space Women, that is Yes! Women to come for sure, I was going to get photos of a lady space girl from this famous photographer to infuse, but I wasn’t sure if maybe he was having cold feet on doing a collaboration work. That won’t stop me though, I will for sure be researching where I can find my ideal Space Woman to make it a well-rounded series that inspires the next generation of space explorers.
You sent a copy of a spaceman artwork to actual space; how did this project come to life? What fascinates you about spacemen and space?
I had been doing celebrities, and pop icons for a while, and I was talking to a gallery director in West Hollywood about doing something different for a possible big exciting show. I showed her an idea in a batch of different ideas, and she was drawn to my spaceman concept for this possible show, and I would do a big one, build matching small ones, then build an area to do selfies, and make an entire space-themed art show. I actually took a break from it after building a space Barrel, and doing a little showcase in the Magic Castle in Hollywood, but a year or so ago someone asked me to make a spin off Spaceman. I thought maybe I am on to something, so when asked to come to Art Miami Context Artfair, I wanted to pull out the big guns, and do something memorable.
As far as getting it into space, I had a long-time friend who started working for a company in Austin that does computer components that the Blue Origin utilizes called Other World Computing or OWC for short. They did a little contest, and I was one of the people selected. I have always been fascinated about the prospects of space, and really feel like in my heart, that man’s potential to colonize the universe is our strength as a life form on the planet.
Your pop art mixed media projects include a wide range of materials like wood, scratchers, crystals, and paint. What determines the choice of your materials for each portrait?
When I first started, I had worked a long time as a photographer around LA and the Hollywood area. I was sexually frustrated, ok, ok, like that but artistically frustrated lol, because I found myself unable to really create something that was mine. The thing is the main work around this area is headshots, events, and a few different little gigs you have to do just to keep the lights on. Don’t get me wrong, I was passionate about my work, and was happy to have some creative input in what I was doing. Long story short is I turned my photos into lenticular images, thinking I was going to be a verified artist, but no galleries wanted to show my lenticulars. Then I was at a real low, ended up living in an RV for a min off of Hollywood Blvd, and one night I was angry, and I ripped up an old magazine and let the pieces fall to the floor, and seeing some cool shapes laid out, I remembered a project I did in school where I made a collage out of old magazines. I made a few collages of some of my fashion photographs, and boom, I was in a gallery a few months later selling art, and to be honest it has been going nonstop since.
A prominent feature of your work are the reflections of other people or city life in the eyeglasses of the collaged individual. What do these different layers tell us about your artwork?
On the outer view of my works, it is light and fun, the reflections might coincide with the theme I am building. Like my Pop Icons Dream of NYC work, where it represents dreams of NYC, and has the famous Chrysler building reflected in the glasses. It is not till you get into the details, where [it] might have a deeper message. My collages are teaming with details, and are meant to be seen in person, because you can look into the details of thousands of pieces of scraps from a variety of different sources primarily recycled magazines.
Reflecting on your engagement with art, can you recall a specific experience that reassured you to continue your path as an artist?
I guess as an artist you hope that reassurance transforms into dependence. Now I have to keep creating to keep the lights on, but the biggest moment I was reassured is when I got my first artwork in my first gallery, and not only that, but sold it, and another one I placed with it. I think that defiantly is the biggest step an artist can get in that department is the first big showcase, or even sale. However, I always need to reassure myself every day of how grateful I am, and to not lose sight of my bigger goals of things I hope to accomplish. You can make some cool art, sell a bunch of stuff, and feel good about it, but to do something really epic isn’t an easy task. It is expensive, and very risky, but the reward is unexplainable. I remember once finishing one of my best most complicated works, and feeling so amazing inside, it was like I won the lottery or something, it felt so good.
In your opinion – what defines the madness and beauty of contemporary life and what is the role of the artist in it?
I think life would be really boring, if we just had everything automated to run perfectly, and exact, with no diversity, or creativity. I always think of [how] in the first Matrix Movie Agent Smith was talking about worlds they created before where there was no conflict, and everything was perfect, and how they fell apart. I feel like that in art, sometimes I do something that is a little imperfect and it transforms into a beautiful aspect of the work I am working on. Not to quote Bob Ross, and the happy little mistake, but the madness sometimes transmits into incredibly beautiful art, and can fuel the creative process. Obviously, we don’t want too much madness, there always needs to be a balance, but a little crazy, with some discomfort mixed in, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You just need to look at Wynwood Miami to understand.
What do you want your viewers to gain from your art? What is the ultimate goal you want to achieve as an artist?
I want them to not have to think to hard at first glance or make a big statement by viewing it at a distance like a Shepard Fairey’s work that is all about the statement (love his work though, would totally rock it). Then I want them to gain sense, of oh, whoever did this work is a little dark, and a little more in-depth that what I was thinking it might be, let me look in a little closer and take a little more time with the art. The ultimate goal for me is to be able to have money someday to invest in a colony in space, so when we eventually blow up the planet, or make it uninhabitable, there will be humans outside the planet to repopulate. Maybe they will put my DNA code in a database, and some nerd will look it up and recreate me in a simulation of what [at] this time in space the space time continuum maybe have been like.
What are you currently working on? Can you give us an insight into some future projects?
I have defiantly been blessed landing a few commissions the past few months to keep the income coming in to keep the lights on and pay for $7 gas, so I have been trying to wrap those up. As far as personal projects, I am doing a recreation of a Zues Statue, with a big beard that will lend well to my intense collage work. I was thinking of reaching out to this big artist in Spain, and a few other Pop artists locally about doing a show I would be the curator on in that arena of Popular Culture. Then I am learning 3D modeling, and animation, so I can keep producing digital content. I thought about doing a big Give Me My Spaceman show too, with my giant one, prints, and screens with NFTs playing, but actually maybe exploring the thought of doing it in a different market like Texas, or Colorado.