Sheffield Artist Bryan John
It’s time for our latest “Fellow Sheffield Creatives” feature, and for the start of Summer, it’s Sheffield Artist Bryan John and his vibrant take on his surroundings.
We came across Bryan’s work on social media and instantly took rather a liking to the bold use of colour.
Volta: What did you do before you did what you do now?
Bryan: I was a postman for years before I gave it up to work in museums and libraries after studying – I only stumbled upon art two years ago and everything has moved so fast really.
Volta: Who or what inspired you to do what you do?
Bryan: I am inspired by the German Expressionists and their bold use of colour. I wouldn’t have started painting if it wasn’t for reading a book on August Macke and being in awe of his painting Lady in the Green Jacket.
Volta: How did your current style develop and how do you see it developing in the future?
Bryan: I knew from the off that my work had to be based around bold uses of colour. I love complementary colours and particularly using them in a more challenging way – places you wouldn’t expect. My style has loosened recently – something that I was aware I needed to do. The challenge for me is whether I build on this or incorporate it into my style of painting. I’ve always been conscious that my work is accessible rather than arty – and I don’t want to lose that aspect but I do want to improve and try new things and techniques.
Volta: You’re not originally from Sheffield, why did you decide to settle here?
Bryan: I’m from London originally. I moved to Sheffield in 2010 after I married a Sheffielder. Moving here was a no-brainer really. Not only was it financially sensible to live here, but I always liked coming up to Sheffield – it had the feel of a city but the countryside is only minutes away.
Volta: What influence has living in Sheffield had on your creativity and how you approach your work?
Bryan: Huge. I love the buildings in Sheffield – they are unassuming at first but there’s a certain quality to them. Sheffielders are a proud bunch too and I love the conversations people have around my work at exhibitions and online. Every time I talk to someone about my art I learn something new about the place I painted.
Volta: If you could choose a famous person to own one of your pieces of work, who would it be?
Bryan: That’s a really tough one! I would have said Morrissey in the past but I really don’t agree with his current political views. In fact, I could tell you loads of people I wouldn’t want owning my work! But if I had to choose – then maybe one of the Sheffield royalty like Jarvis Cocker or Sean Bean!
Volta: Can you remember the first piece of work you ever sold?
Bryan: Yes it was a painting of a dock in Tunisia, and I sold it to my cousin (actually my first cousin once removed) and she would not take a family discount! I’m forever grateful for that!
Volta: What piece of your own work gives you the most satisfaction and why?
Bryan: Probably my Psalter Lane painting. I love houses on top of houses and it’s a really subtle colour scheme and the view is very unassuming. I like my latest self-portrait too. It shows how far I’ve progressed since my first self-portrait which was only my 3rd attempt at painting. It also shows that I can paint other things and not just landscapes.
Volta: If you could lay claim to one piece of creative work in any area what would it be and why?
Bryan: I’m gonna stick with art and say Sonia Delaunay’s Bal Bullier. I just love it and can look at it for ages and see new things every time. It is such a great use of colour and it has great movement.
Volta: What advice would you give an aspiring fellow artist who was wanting to break through to the next level (whatever that may be)?
Bryan: I think the best piece of advice I could give is to take it seriously as a full time job – even if it currently isn’t. If you tell yourself it’s just a hobby it’ll likely stay that way.
You quickly learn all the sides to running a business and elements such as promotion and social media quickly become a full time job in itself – let alone creating artworks. If you do this however, don’t forget to enjoy what you do – don’t let it become a chore!
In terms of art – try something different – it’s best to find a niche that no one else is trying so your work can stand out in a really crowded and talented branch of the arts.
Sheffield Artist Bryan John
Want to find out a little more about Sheffield Artist Bryan John and his work?
Here are links to his website and social media channels – enjoy!
View our previous Fellow Sheffield Creatives