I aspire to create things that make people smile or experience some other emotion.


Today’s #inspirations4aspirations interview guest is @briteso_art

I have met many wonderful people through AIGA Tallahassee and one such awesome person is the artist known as briteso. For the record, he isn’t exactly hiding his identity, but for branding purposes and to avoid confusion I will call him: briteso (all lowercase).

briteso is a former full time graphic designer who recently decided to go back to school and get a BFA in fine art at FSU. He creates digital and traditional portraits of pop culture and sports related figures. He often uses vibrant colors and sometimes plays with unique visual techniques like anaglyph 3d effects.

Since he creates vibrant colored portraits and often changes his hair color and style, I chose to pay homage to a portrait of an artist also known by a single name: Dylan. Namely, legendary designer, Milton Glaser’s 1967 poster of Bob Dylan (which itself is an homage to Marcel Duchamp).

As he often experiments and likes lowercase, I looked to the very experimental Bauhaus Art School and type designer Herbert Bayer to inspire my hand-lettering.

briteso: in his own words

I was born in Tallahassee, Florida and lived here all my life with the exception of 4th-8th grade in Wellington, FL (near West Palm Beach). I consider Miami my home away from home because I have family there and try to get down there to see all the great art as much as possible.

I always enjoyed drawing and aesthetics in general, but never thought about making it my career until later in life. My family really wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer. 

After high school, I messed around with school for a few semesters before dropping out and going to work full time. After about 10 years in restaurants and HVAC, I went back to school at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) and earned an AA and an AS in graphic design. At TCC, I learned from a Tallahassee graphic design legend, Rick Rice.

I’ve done a variety of work as a graphic designer, and I still do a little here and there, but I prefer to have the final say as to what something I make should look like, and you just don’t get that opportunity very much as a designer. Most of the work I did was production or had to follow very strict brand guidelines and there was very little creative freedom. 

Why did you decide to go back to school?

Basically, I felt like I wanted to learn more about the world of fine art and focus on my own ideas and inspirations. Plus, if I do decide to go back into commercial graphic design, I think having a BFA will help me get more of the types of jobs I would be interested in. 

What excites you about the fine arts?

The freedom. It’s raw and real and it’s me. Take it or leave it.

How did you meet your wife?

She was roommates with the girlfriend of my coworker/friend. One night at a party, we started talking about Pearl Jam and the rest is history.

What is the origin of “briteso”?

I wanted to have a catchy name for my branding/design business that would make it sound like something fancier than just a guy working out of his home office. I also needed something unique that would be easy to find if you googled it. 

There was a Twitter account that used the handle Upso, and I liked the way it sounded, so I thought about words to put before “so.” I wanted something cheery and fun, so I went with Britesō. My original tag line was “Britesō: Shine Like the Sun” which was a reference to Pink Floyd. 

I always liked the name and felt like it translated well to an artist’s pseudonym, so I kept the name when I transitioned to being more of a fine artist. Plus I’m still pretty much the only relevant result if you google me. 

I decided to drop the capital letters and the macron and now I just spell it like “briteso” because I want the word to represent a feeling or state of mind rather than just my name.

What is one of your favorite reaction/response to your art?

“You made that?”

Did you always love sports? And FSU?

I don’t know about always, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I think I was about five years old when I went to my first FSU football game. Football is really the only sport I follow closely, but I like playing most sports and watch a little of everything from time to time. 

What made you decide to start drawing sports figures?

I think sports are really a great metaphor for life—the struggles, ups and downs, competition, teamwork—it really has it all. 

Another reason I love sports is because it is an escape from the mundane and even sad parts of our modern existence. The Romans had a term “panem et circenses” which translates to bread and circus. It’s generally used in the negative to denote a society that is distracted from what is wrong with it’s culture, and some people certainly fall prey to that sort of manipulation, but I think that as long as you know that it’s a temporary distraction from the ills of the world, sports can be a healthy break from all of the doom and gloom of the 24 hour news cycle. 

In addition to those factors, sports put the human body into all kinds of unique positions and shapes and make for really interesting figures. 

I aspire to create things that make people smile or experience some other emotion.

1 Why do you create?

I find that making things is the easiest way for me to achieve a flow state, which is an incredible place to be. I also really love the sense of validation that I feel when I create something that people can connect with.

2 When life gets you down what inspires you to get back up?

This is something I do struggle with from time to time, and there are a few hacks I try to use to overcome these lulls: meditation, yoga, a good movie, album, or book. I really like watching documentaries or interviews with other artists as well. Of course I’m also inspired by my wife, dogs and daughter who will be born in September. 

3 Traditionally, there is a distance (perceived or otherwise) between sports and the arts. How do you bridge that gap?

I think there’s an inherent link between pop art and sports in the sense that sports are a part of popular culture and many athletes are celebrities in their own right. 

I’d also argue that dancing is a bridge over that gap and when you see a great athlete move, there are many similarities to dance. Ultimately the human body is one of the most popular subjects in art. I just happen to be using what some might consider “low brow” version of the figure as a subject. Degas used ballerinas, I use Line Backers. 

Really, both sports and art can create a visceral reaction in the viewer I try to capture the emotion and energy created by that experience. 

3.2) Speaking of your future daughter, in your opinion, can one be taught creativity or are people born with it?

I think humans are more like creativity receptors and some are naturally better than others at channeling the creative energies of the universe, but through practice and dedication, that ability can be enhanced.

4 You’ve done some innovative projects such as animations or pieces which require a pair of anaglyph 3D glasses. Can you talk a little about these sorts of multimedia pieces? What drives you to make these sorts of pieces?

I try to give my work a certain energy or vibe and much of that comes from my experiences with psychedelics. The psychedelic journey is one that parallels our journey through life and death.

It is believed by some to have been an integral part of the formation of many of the worlds religions. New research is showing more and more therapeutic applications for psychedelics. I use anaglyphs as both a metaphor for the psychedelic experience and a nod to pop-culture kitsch. 

4.2) Although you have done abstract and still lifes, a majority of your work has been portraits. Do you think it’s possible to fully capture a person’s essence?

Hmmm. I don’t know. Probably not, but you can get in the ballpark. Humans are so complex and layered, it would be next to impossible to get all of that in one portrait. If I ever did though, it would be in Portrait of Papa as a Young Man

Many thanks to my inspiration and aspiration, @briteso_art.
I’m John Lhotka, wishing you a nice day, and all that jazz.