Meet Bryant Giles, a multitalented visual artist & Chicago’s best kept secret.
Just a few short months ago, I was scrolling down my timeline on Twitter. Nothing different was going on. Same old memes & thirst traps weaved in between political viewpoints, song lyrics, & what people are up to today. Then in an instance I scrolled past this incredible piece of art somewhat reminiscent of Shel Silverstein. Immediately I felt nostalgic & completely captivated.
In essence, it was simple; just black ink on white paper. Yet when I took a closer look I was able to admire all the fine lines & intricate detail that harmonized together to form a physical piece of paradox.
Paradox in the sense that the art contradicts itself in its’ own right– beautiful yet ugly, vague yet definite. It’s was the perfect balance; black & white, complex in essence.
Immediately I had to know where this came from & if there was more. I clicked on the Twitter profile & that’s when I finally discovered Bryant Giles.
Bryant Giles is not Killa Cam’s remote cousin but rather a remote artist living in Chicago. After a few months of seeing his outstanding work on Twitter, I finally got the courage to ask Bryant for an interview; in which he agreed to, thankfully.
Prior to the interview I was very nervous. I didn’t know much about Bryant and I was unsure how it would be talking to him because Bryant comes off as rather reserved via social media. Yet, to my surprise, Bryant immediately came off as cordial. Right before the interview began we did a little bit of small talk in which he mentioned that he had just got done having drinks yet he denied being tipsy (lol).
Throughout the interview you will see more of that honesty & more of who Bryant is past his artwork. How he appreciates where he came from, how he is inspired by the people around him, & how wants to encourage the youth to strive for independence.
Hi Bryant, it’s nice to finally meet you! Tell me a little bit about yourself, how old are you?
Uh, no one knows.
No one knows? You don’t like to age yourself?
No and we’re going to keep it that way. I don’t think that matters at the end of the day.
So how long have you been in Chicago for?
I’ve been in Chicago for about six years.
Do you like it?
Eh it’s okay. Actually, nah. I actually really love Chicago. Chicago is a great place. It’s like what you make it though.
What did you think about all the madness that happened in Chicago yesterday at the Trump rally?
I fully support it. I got a lot friends that are very engaged when it comes to protesting. It’s really cool to see young people out here actually making a change rather than just sitting on social media & shit. I participated in a peaceful protest for the Black Lives Matter movement but I remember like motherfuckers only came around just to fuck some shit up. And it’s funny because most of the people that went to just fuck some shit up were like white people. They would be in the crowds with masks on and knee pads. They would just be going crazy and throwing shit and you know when you’re in a crowd of black people and you’re the only one non-black person and you throw some shit at a cop, the cop is just gonna grab the nearest black person. It’s fucked up and it made me not want to do this shit again because of that. It’s really sad. I have friends that are very passionate and do shit beyond the Black Lives Matter movement and then you have people like that who are there to just fuck some shit up and make it worse.
How would you describe the art scene in Chicago?
It depends. I feel like artists in Chicago are very territorial. Artists that are more marketed are more territorial about their spaces and they don’t really like fuck with one another honestly. Then again it’s who you perceive yourself to be. It’s not really the most friendly environment but whatever. It’s very competitive out here in Chicago, you really have to prove yourself.
How do you feel about internet art? A lot of people debate whether or not internet art is actually art. Especially compared to the type of art that you do.
To each his own. Honestly if you have that tool, adobe or photoshop, these outlets where you can create digitally then it’s like do your thing. I respect it. I’m not gonna look down on anyone because they don’t make work similar to me or don’t use the same practices as me.
Do you think our generation appreciates art in the way that you want it to be appreciated?
I think people of this generation kind of like to use their imagination with things per se. It doesn’t really matter what my intentions are when I share my work because once I share my work, whatever emotion or occurrence that took place during the creation of the piece is set free per se once it surfaces. And it’s up to the viewer, what it means for them. For instance I never put a description on my pieces because most times people just kind of make their own. Everyone perceives things differently. I guess that’s the best way to work rather than force a message on someone.
Your work is incredible & you get compliments all the time. How does it feel to have so much support from people?
It’s really tight because I remember a time where I was like trying super hard to get my work out there. I was really hustling in that perspective rather than just like hustling for myself. I was like hitting hella scenes and trying to do this and that and people are like, very harsh. A couple of years ago people were just like ‘Whatever, it’s just another dude.’ To see those people come back it’s kind of like, I see you but do I really respect you?
I want to know when you first started. Is this something that you started as a kid or a little bit later?
Yeah I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. It was kind of an outlet because I didn’t really speak much so this is kind of my way of speaking — if that doesn’t sound corny.
Since we’re on the subject, I also noticed that on Twitter you’ll often say things like “I avoid everyone. I don’t want to talk.” & that you hint at matters of depression; even in reference to your art. Is your art still how you cope with things like this?
I hate commissions or making art for other people. I’m an independent artist and being an independent artist and working for yourself can be hard. It has its’ triumphs but most times it can be very stressful because you’re selling yourself per se. So every time I sell a piece it’s like I’m a selling a moment I went through. Just now I sold two pieces and like these pieces were very, very personal because that was shit I had to go through. So yeah, if I make that the statement, then it is what it is.
Where can people buy your art at? Should they DM you or is there a certain place you want people to go to purchase your art?
I do it via email – firstname.lastname@example.org
What kind of medium do you usually use? I swear I’ve seen you use crayon one time?
(laughs) Shoutout Crayons. These days I’ve been using oil pastel, paint, and ink. It’s kinda funny because I did a show & I used such cheap materials. It was like some $5 oil pastels or whatever and motherfuckers were coming up to me like ‘Man where’d you get that! What is that!’ I feel like people think that if they buy the most expensive materials that they can create the most crazy shit but nah, it’s not like that. There have been times where I’ve used like crayola marker in old pieces. The whole idea of ‘I gotta have the most expensive tools’ is trash honestly. It’s literally like whatever you make with whatever you’re given. So that’s just made me like more appreciative. Like working with cheap ass materials and still being able to put some crazy shit together.
How long does it take you to do a piece on average?
I’m gonna be honest, at one point I was cranking out like one a day. I’m kind of like more slowed down now because I’m working on multiple projects but yeah, I can make a piece in a day.
When you start a piece do you know right away if it’s going to be color or not? Or is that something you figure out as you’re creating the piece?
Honestly it’s kind of like a mood thing. A lot of my work is based on people around me, people walking past me. Most times I’ll just sit on the bus or the train or just any situation actually. I spectate and if I feel like the atmosphere or the mood is grey then that’s how it’s gonna come out.
Also, what’s up with the french in your art?
My mom spoke a lot of French so I grew up around it. It’s a second language I’ve been using for years.
What would you say are some of your biggest inspirations or muses?
People. Just watching people or shit I’m going through. Just the everyday motions that people are going through. I try to put that into some type of form of art. Whether it’s like photography or clothing. I try to put it out there.
I did see some of your fashion and your music, what’s going on with that?
Lowkey I’ve been designing for runway for a really long time and it’s hard because I have to maintain art and clothing at the same time. And I like to make music too. Even though it’s not like what I want to do professionally but it’s just shit I like to do. So yeah it’s hard. But if I could, that would be the only thing I’m doing right now. It’s just tough.
What do you see as your end goal?
As long as I have something to say, I’ll keep creating. But once I’m done getting out whatever I gotta get out, then I’m done. I don’t when that’ll be but when that happens — it’s done.
Is there anything else you want to say to anyone that’s reading right now or to any of your followers?
I just want to emphasize that people should really strive for independence and not depend on other people to get shit done. Get shit done yourself. That’s really important.
FEATURED PHOTO COURTESY OF JAKE OSMUN.
DENNIS BELL UNDER PHOTO AS WELL.
ALL FEATURED ART COURTESY OF BRYANT GILES.