Brian Reinker: Between Cities and Nature
Updated: Dec 19, 2019
How did you become an artist?
I was always interested in art. My first degree at the University of Cincinnati (DDA) was Fine Art: Painting. But two thirds through I changed to an Architectural Design course. After graduation, I worked in Boston and NYC for a while.
When I decided to do a master’s degree I applied to different schools in the US and Europe, and the AA (Architecture Association) in London took me. I always wanted to live in Europe, so I accepted the offer and I never moved back to the States.
Unfortunately, I didn’t finish the course, because I run out of money. So, I started working with fit-out companies. Eventually, I became the lead designer. I had a great career; it was very interesting! But at the back of my mind, I always wanted to go back to art.
Were you practicing art while working in architecture?
A little bit, but not much. It was a big job, I worked 60 hours a week. So, unfortunately, I never had enough time.
When did you start art full time?
At first, I was working from home, in a spare room. Which didn’t go down very well, because my stuff was everywhere. Also, there was too much distraction working from home.
So, I started looking for studios, and I came across Make Space Studios and met Benedict, as he was looking for someone to share the studio with. It worked out very well for the both of us.
Since I have been in the studio, I had an opportunity to meet all these great artists and make some good friends. Because I have been here (in the studio) I was able to find out more about art shows, make connections and get people’s opinions and even some guidance. I started applying for art fairs and it worked out well!
You always have to listen to what people say. I like listening to opinions. I like people to say what they do like and what they don’t like. It helps me focus; it helps to tell my story and focus on the narrative.
What was your first series of work?
It was maps. I started doing aerial maps of all the places I have been to and had lived. It was all ink on paper. I wanted to start with drawings, to get the basics again. I practically had to re-teach my self how to draw. And from there I morphed into doing landscapes.
Where did the inspiration for landscapes come from?
At some point, I got tired of working with aerials, and around the same time, I got very interested in rocks. I wanted to do something bigger. I started to experiment with landscapes and rocks, bringing the two together. I also started painting rocks.
And then I started bringing rocks into ink landscapes. Some landscapes were places I went to, some of them are completely imaginary. A lot of the landscapes are inspired by Spanish nature and landscapes, as I go to Spain a lot. So mostly from my travels.
I rocked with the rocks as much as I could!
Why are you drawn to nature so much?
Maybe because I always been an urban person. I grew up in suburbs in States. I lived in NYC and Boston. I live in London. It is appealing to get out of it and get inspiration.
Do you ever make any of your art pieces while you are away?
I take a lot of pictures and I sketch. Then I use my experience to create art. I lay it out all colours and composition first and go from there. I kind of know what colours I want to use from the beginning, but then I go with the flow.
Your current work is a lot more structured, where your early works are freer and more abstract…
Yes, I went through a period where my work was more organic. But then I went back to more structured work. I work in series. Once I want to explore a certain narrative, I produce a series of studies. And then I move to something else.
Why did you start working with urban landscape? Do you think it is because you have lived in London for so long?
Yes, I think it rubbed off on me. I think it is important not to be stuck with one thing. If I have an idea, I want to explore.
Do you ever do prints from the original collages?
No never. They are one-offs. I don’t want to do prints. I enjoy making each piece and I want it to be a one-off.
I don’t want to do anything digital. The most gratifying thing about doing this is making it. I want everything to be handmade.
It is interesting that you purposefully don’t do it. I think print is a good way to start your art collection because art is so expensive. But I like the fact that you only want to have originals.
I don’t make my pieces expensive. I try to keep them at a fair price.
Is it important for you to use colour in your work?
Yes – I like the colour and I like the pattern. I always use pattern in my work.
Do you limit yourself to a number of paintings or studies in a series?
No, there is no pre-set number. In my mind, I decided to do 6 pieces, for example, but then I might end up doing 12. I go with the flow.
In January of last year, I started to use paper in almost all of my works. It became my main medium.
Let’s talk about your daily routine in the studio. What is your typical day like?
I come in at 8:30-9 am. I listen to the news or music and I just start. And have this stand-up desk, which is good! I just focus on my work.
I usually meet someone for lunch and come back to the studio. I also go to the gym in the afternoon. Otherwise, I just work till around 5:30 or 6 pm – 5 days a week, and often weekends.
My current work requires a lot of preparations. I spend a lot of time working on colour combination and composition. Cutting straight lines and glue doesn’t take long. Another thing is that it has to be framed quickly, as it is paper it can get ruined very easily.
Do you find it therapeutic?
Yes absolutely. I just get in the zone.
Your studio is tidy and organised…
Yes, so is my house.
Is that the architect talking in you?
So, you wouldn’t be able to work in a messy environment?
No, definitely not!
I was fortunate to have a good career and now being able to do what I love full time!
How important is it to have this community?
Very, very! They are great people here and it is a big mix here: this are photographers, fashion designs, illustrators, paints, mask makers.
It is amazing to have this community! And the lease has been extended by 3 years, so we are all very happy!
You can see more of Brian's work here