Brad Eastman is an artist based in Sydney. Influenced by the beauty and symbolism behind nature’s repetitive geometric patterns and organic lines, Beastman's tightly detailed, often symmetrical paintings depict a parallel world of new life, hope and survival.
One of the most distinctive and prolific emerging artists in Australia, one third of creative group The Hours and co-founder of East Editions, Beastman has exhibited extensively throughout Australia, as well as in the UK, USA, Germany, Hong Kong and New Zealand. His latest exhibition ‘Future Origins’ launched at Backwoods Gallery in Victoria earlier this month. revealing a new collection of bold paintings and mixed media work ‘exploring the origins of lifeforms and nature’.
We caught up with him in-between projects to find out more about his latest body of work, future plans and family life in Sydney.
So, your Future Origins exhibition has just finished up in Melbourne. Can you tell us about the artwork you’ve made for the exhibition and what inspired the title of the show?
The exhibition was a further exploration into my current body of work and featured my work presented in a range of mediums including acrylic paintings, vector illustration, animation, aerosol painting and a sculptural installation. The title ‘Future Origins’ refers to the core theme behind most of my latest work, which is exploring the potential origins of new lifeforms and their landscapes, growth patterns and links to nature. The works are all generated from the same measured geometry, and the colours suggest these lifeforms are created through the combination of many different elements.
Can you share the story of where you grew up, what your early interests were and how you became an artist?
I grew up in the Hills District of Sydney, I was a kid completely obsessed with and immersed in skateboarding. Most of the art i was exposed to at a young age was the art affiliated with skate culture, and the graffiti I would see whilst out skating the streets. I grew up experimenting with drawing, painting, film making, photography and design, then after high school I studied graphic design. It wasn’t until I was about 25 that I began to create some artwork I thought was different and at that point began to get involved in exhibiting my work locally in Sydney. Then it all just went from there really, i’m now 34 and never thought I would be supporting my own family from my art.
I was a kid completely obsessed with and immersed in skateboarding. Most of the art Iwas exposed to at a young age was the art affiliated with skate culture, and the graffiti I would see whilst out skating the streets.
What’s the origin of Beastman?
The name itself is simply derived from my real name Brad Eastman, I was made aware of the nickname as a kid and thought it suited my artwork style so chose to run with it.
What drives you as an artist? Can you tell us about your inspirations and ideas?
I research into certain subjects I want my work to be about, and simply think a lot about the direction and potential imagery in my head. I used to draw a lot of these ideas out, but i have been doing it so long now I feel its all in my head and I can enable it to flow freely most of the time, so i don’t spend much time drawing anymore, I just get stuck into making the final works. What drives me as an artist is my wife and son, I am on a mission to create an awesome life for my family through my art… it’s a hard road but I wake up and take it on everyday.
Do you have any creative heroes? Writers, artists, musicians, family members or friends who influenced you as you were growing up?
So many people have influenced me creatively throughout my life, here are some that come to mind right now as the biggest influences – Dave Rocks, Phibs, Ed Templeton, Mike Omeally, Evan Hecox, Don Pendleton, Numskull, Roach, Mark Whalen, Trent Whitehead, Yok, Vans The Omega, Kyle Hughes-Odgers, Barry McGee, Jim Houser, Richard Colman and many more.
How does the Sydney lifestyle influence your work? Do you enjoy being there?
Yeah of course I enjoy living in Sydney, I grew up here and therefore have lots of friends here. My lifestyle doesn’t really influence my work, I think my work would be the same regardless of my physical location and circumstances.
When you’re not working, whats your favourite way to spend the day? Where do you like to hang out in Sydney or farther afield? Where do you go to escape and get some thinking time?
I tend to be working almost all the time, but when I’m not I would usually just be hanging out with my wife and son, going to get a good lunch or coffee somewhere, or visiting friends. I do still like to go skating with my friends, but it doesn’t happen very often these days, I just get so caught up with either making artwork or getting deep in the dad zone.
Its very challenging, but I just wake up everyday and get shit done. I often struggle in life simply because I have too many different projects happening in my head, but you just have to get on with it, don’t stop.
How do you create work? Can you tell us about your working process – what materials do you like to use?
I just jump straight into what I’m doing, whether its making works for exhibitions or a huge mural. I have got to a point where Im quite confident in the work I’m making and have a direction I want to take it, so I just get to work. The materials change depending on the project I’m working on, whether its acrylic paintings, murals with aerosol paint or digital illustration.
As an artist, do you find it challenging to find the balance between personal work, client projects and family life? How do you manage it?
Its very challenging, but I just wake up everyday and get shit done. I often struggle in life simply because I have too many different projects happening in my head, but you just have to get on with it, don’t stop. I have trouble letting people in my world to help me, based on many experiences in the industry over many years, if you want something done right you just have to do it yourself. I also had trouble just having time off, I can’t just switch it off, its always running my mind.
Your background is in street art, but now you mostly work commercially – how did this transition happen?
I have no street art background, my background is in graphic design and illustration. I was exhibiting my work and doing commercial works long before I started making mural works. I was interested in exploring new mediums and presenting my characters and style on a large scale, so began to experiment with painting my work big with aerosol paint. These days painting murals is a big part of my art practice, but I don’t ever consider myself a street artist, I am more than that.
We interviewed Kelly earlier this year about your side project East Editions – how are things going now?
East Editions is going really good, we have a bunch of cool projects in the pipeline, and are still enjoying the process of finding out exactly what it is East Editions is all about. East Editions is taking us on a journey to bring creative people together and make really unique things, we love it!
You’re also part of creative group The Hours which encompasses a blog, pictorial journal and social media — can you tell us how the idea came about and what your aspirations are collectively?
The Hours is made up of myself, Numskull and Marty Routledge, we are close friends who have always shared a similar passion for contributing to and growing the Australian contemporary art scene. We pooled together our networks and experience from many previous art based projects to do things together under one name, and really focus on developing a strong online following so we can present a range of different events, exhibitions and projects.
Can you tell us anything about the projects you’re currently working on?
Currently I’m working on a Hong Kong solo exhibition in September, a number of mural projects all over the country, East Editions collaborations, and some art events with The Hours happening later this year.
Where do you see your work taking you in the next decade? What kind of projects, collaborations, experiences do you hope to cultivate for yourself?
I have visions of my future artwork, so I just want to focus on realising these, this will take years of exhibitions, just moving through the ideas, styles and techniques. I want to try and scale back on the amount of work Im creating so I can spend more time and concentrate on each individual piece. Would love to do some more sculptural works and more animation too. Also looking forward to making some more large scale mural works, I also love working with other artists, so I look forward to continuing to making more collaboration pieces.