LA-based artist Bryden Lando is a man for all seasons. Disciplined in graphic design, fine art and high fashion, he has a long reach across these diverse mediums as broad as his brush strokes. Reappropriating imagery from Andy Warhol, Walt Disney, Star Wars and Chanel, his sociopolitically charged work is a satirical indictment of popular culture packaged in an anarchic cut and paste style evoking Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid. Contrarily, his bright pieces and bold slogans also flaunt a impish affection for today’s consumerist preoccupations. Not content to simply revel in nostalgia, Lando’s punk-tinged world celebrates a glamorous decay and invites us all to indulge. His recent “Happiness is Too Expensive” solo exhibition bore such slogans as “We're going down in flames... but we're sitting first class”--he seems to be perpetuating the rebellious ‘live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse’ mantra--rather than confront doomsday head on, he invokes a gleeful sort of escapism.
With commissioned pieces for Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekend, Kanye West and Beach House, a prominence on the Los Angeles DJ circuit, and his own fashion label, provocatively named Future Heretics, Lando successfully distributes his energies evenly as a jack-of-all-trades.
Being a multi-genre artist, what drew you into the world of illustration & painting?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where creativity was very much encouraged. My folks have a great appreciation for classical art, so I was exposed to a lot of that at a very young age, and then comic books became a massive influence on me through my childhood as well. I think a large portion of my fashion illustration and 2d portrait style has to do with my comic obsession as a kid.
Let’s talk about your latest series “Happiness is Too Expensive”. What was the impetus for this collection? Seems you’ve drawn from your personal views, tell me about what influences trickled into the art?
For me, this collection was about having fun, being expressive, and pouring all of my experiences of living in LA for the past 13 years out on to the canvas. I still maintain a lot of my social satire themes running throughout the collection, but the process and the application was a bit more spontaneous than I’m used to. My move from Hollywood to Venice Beach about a year and a half ago definitely had an effect, with my use of much brighter and neon colors. I wanted to capture a bit of this romantic notion I had growing up with the 1980s Venice Beach surf/skate culture.
There’s clearly components of satire in your work, is this a reaction to the current sociopolitical landscape & state of American culture?
I think so, but in a broad sense… more general social satire themes, and less political. There’s a lot of disenchantment with the state of American Culture and politics but I try and frame it in more of a comedic way. At this point, it’s really all very comedic to me anyway.
What are your thoughts on the current political climate, with the whole Clinton/Trump soap opera?
I think that’s a perfect way to describe it, a soap opera. I tend to have a bit of an old school Constitutionalist mentality when it comes to government, so the recent crops of corporate Politicians from both the left and right are very far from representing any of my views. It’s pretty hard for me to engage in the whole puppet show, so I tend to sit back and appreciate the whole thing for entertainment value.
Tell us about your process when creating mixed media artworks, where does it begin, where does it end?
It usually starts with a certain phrase or very specific theme before I create the story and imagery surrounding it. Sometimes the image will come first, but that’s usually not the case. Then I build layers of paint, sometimes incorporating layers of wheat paste prints until I’m happy with the base, after that I paint the main image or images that are the central focus of the piece.
Does your background in fashion design & graphic design also inform your artwork and in what ways?
Very much so. I still design and manufacture clothing regularly. I’m doing private label for a wide range of clients as well as my capsule collection, Drones Clothing. I’ll work on everything from illustration and patterns, to graphic design, logos, and branding. Sometimes the ideas I’m working on for clients spawn an idea I’d never have come up with for my own art and I end up incorporating certain elements. It all bleeds into each other.
Was it a natural progression going from fashion to painting or did you have to work hard to get good at other forms of design?
I’ve had to learn a lot, more so on the fashion side when I was beginning, but I’ve been going back and forth for a long time. Illustrating and painting was always very natural, but up until about 6 years ago I hadn’t looked at painting as a potential full time career. It was always there, sometimes more than others and I would show in group formats or random installations, often incorporated with one of my clothing projects. Now I feel much more confident in my ability to tell a story with my art and I’ve found that all the years of graphic design and other elements of my fashion background have merged in a cohesive way with my painting process.
Your inter-mingling of iconic culture references, is that your way of commenting on society?
Sometimes. Certain characters or references will have to do with society or social issues and sometimes it’s very obvious and bold. Other times I pick a certain person or symbol that means something more personal to me and less about anything else.
With your inter-mingling of iconic culture references, your art seems to carry an awareness about pop culture and in general-- consumerism and consumption-- has living in LA (being a capital for consumption) factored into how you approach and create art?
Yeah, a ton, especially with this last solo show as that was one of the biggest themes running throughout the collection. It was really a culmination of my Los Angeles experience to date. Also, the rapidly escalating ridiculousness of fame, materialism, social media, and the depressing state of corporate music and film all factored in.
What sort of artists inspire you?
So many. Often times my painting will be inspired more by music, film, designers or photographers than it will other painters. Some of my favorites in all genres would be William Blake, Tadanori Yokoo, Egon Schiele, John Galliano, Hemingway, Tim Walker, Stanley Kubrick… those are some of the first that come to mind.
It’s important not to get too comfortable as an artist—there has to be something at stake that keeps one from getting too comfortable, to keep one growing. What for you is at stake?
I wish I was at the level where I could be comfortable as an artist, but that’s not the case. For me the stakes are investing the large amount of time and money into something I love to do and hope people find it appealing. As far as growing as an artist, I love experimenting with new materials, techniques, and applications. I was lucky enough to partner with this awesome neon light company, Neon MFG, for my last solo show and they made custom components that I installed into some of my pieces. I’d always wanted to create mixed media pieces incorporating neon lights and had no idea of the outcome but turned out to be some of my favorite pieces to date.
What motivates you the most as an artist?
The inherent need to express an idea in my particular form of art.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a fine artist in this day & age?
Just be as prolific as humanly possible. Identify your own personal strengths and try and interpret ideas in your own unique voice. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or try to hop on trends.
Story by Jamie Cartwright
Photography by Sean Flynn