In April we partnered with Pump Project to offer a 6-month residency to two artists in our community: Fabian Rey and Russell Brxwn.

They came together to share a studio and explore their unique non-style styles, which culminates in an exhibition during this month at Cloud Tree Studios & Gallery. Though neither Russell nor Fabian knew each other before this year, they discovered how similar their motives are. Making art is not a choice, it is a necessary part of their existence.

I interviewed both Russell and Fabian for Issue 15: Money Makin’ to get their perspectives on the residency, collaboration, and finances.

Background

Russell comes to Austin by way of San Antonio and Los Angeles. He’s been practicing arts since he was a kid as he recalls, “the first interest I ever had was drawing.” He’s an avid art student though he was turned off by art classes that resembled more of a bootcamp, “I think that’s the worst way to try to do this. There’s no way I can learn that way.” He describes art as something that “has to come to you” which is why he refuses to settle for one style. He dabbles in painting, installation and creative thinking.

Photo credit: Aria Brownell

Artistic Process

“I like strange art.” That pretty much sums it up. Russell’s process is unique and ever-changing. He’s recently been exploring lines due to their versatility.

In learning more about Russell’s background I painted a vivid picture in my head of the person who is always drawing. No matter what situation, or who may be around, Russell’s artistic practice is his constant.

On any given day I can find Russell in the studio listening to music, eager to talk but always thinking of his next step. Music is indeed a large part of his process. “In school I was always that kid with headphones on. It calms me. Inside my head I have a million thoughts every second, so it was hard for me to concentrate. You have to make your mind go to a singular focus just to listen.”

“I know it isn’t easy. But this isn’t work to me. It’s something that I have to do to keep sane.”

Residency & Collaboration

Collaboration with fellow resident Fabian Rey has allowed Russell to explore bounds of arts that he would never have thought of. “We both have a similar vision. We can bounce ideas off of each other.”

Though he doesn’t want to give away all of their plans, Russell informed me that installation is a major part of their show. “There will be a painting here and there but it will be more interactive.”

Money

I firmly believe that Russell would spend every second in the studio if he didn’t have another job. Luckily, it’s one that he’s able to brainstorm at, since much of his time is spent alone on the road. “I try to choose jobs where I can make art at the same time. I’ve never lasted long at desk jobs.”

To subsidize some of his costs, he mainly uses cheaper materials, like house paint, since he requires a lot. “I like cheap materials that are gritty. They have an always-in-process type of look.”

Without a doubt being a full-time artist i the ultimate goal. “I know it isn’t easy. The willingness to sacrifice weeds out a lot of people. But this isn’t work to me. It’s something that I have to do to keep sane.”

My last question was whether the sacrifice of time, money and relationships was worth it. “Yes, now it is. I’m here talking to you. I’m painting and drawing. I never thought I’d be doing this at all, who knows where my life would have been. There was always something clawing to do this, there was always something there that I kept suppressing. It’s not even about making money. You have to do something that’s meaningful to you with the time you have. Just existing is no way to live.”


Written by: Natalie Earhart

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