Freestyle: The Art of Brandon Spiegel

Freestyle: The Art of Brandon Spiegel

When I first came across Brandon Spiegel‘s art, it reminded me of the stones outside of the ancient burial site of Newgrange, Ireland, densely carved with interlocking spirals. What Spiegel’s work captures, that one can feel in that ancient work, is that essential urge and joyfulness in creation. Spiegel’s mesmerizing work is especially influenced by the patterns and shapes found within Native American cultural designs. Yet, there is also something decidedly modern about the work, as its psychedelic patterns harken a sense of nostalgia for 1960s and 70s design.

Spiegel, a multidisciplinary artist who has created everything from large scale murals to “zines,” has created a new series of 300 drawings which he calls “freestyle” drawings. This new series, a portion of which are on display at As Issued until August 11th, was directly inspired by the feeling of surfing: “When you drop in on a wave, you have that one experience, that one time to make that one line down the whole wave. There’s no erasing it- it’s real, it’s live.” Spiegel has called these drawing “freestyle” drawings since they maintain that “live painting” aspect, which is comparable to surfing, where there’s one chance to create the line.

Spiegel, who is a California native, has worked as a commercial graphic designer and illustrator for Quicksilver, Polaroid, Hurley, and Skullcandy, among others. His inclination towards textile design pattern work, is apparent in this personal work, yet this work feels personally liberating. There is a sense of the mystical, some sort of awe-inspiring spiritualism, in the work which Spiegel credits to his childhood spent in the Californian natural landscape: “My family wasn’t religious and nature was our spiritual thing.”

Ultimately, Spiegel’s mesmerizing work finds a way to bridge the artistic gap between the ancient and the modern and the commercial and the personal.



How long have you been working on this series?
I’ve been making these drawings for close to a year now and there’s about 300 of them. I’m calling them freestyle drawings. When you drop in on a wave, you have that one experience, that one time to make that one line down the whole wave. There’s no erasing it, it’s real, it’s live and that’s what it is. And so I started to do live painting and it translated into this… that real creative process. It’s not me sitting in a studio, where you get these larger finished paintings. That can get kind of contrived in a way. I thought with this work, it’d be more interesting to show the process.

What inspired this series?
I grew up in Southern California. Surfed since I was 8 or 9 and skateboarded even earlier than that. It’s always been a part of my life. It was something that I made a real comparison to in the work, after may be 9 months making these drawings.

What has influenced your work?
I’m very influenced by Native American culture, so I think that’s where a lot of the repetitive line work and simplicity of patterns come from. Before I started doing commercial marketing design, I did tons of illustration, so I did hundreds of textile designs. Patterns are very much something that are in my head all the time. Even with figurative work, there’s an overwhelming sense of a patten.

How has nature influenced your work?
My family wasn’t religious and nature was our spiritual thing. So, I’ve gone camping since I was a little kid, to Yosemite and Big Sur and all over California. That’s a big piece of who I am. I’ve seen a lot of the US and a lot the rest of the world, but I’ve seen a LOT of California. Me and my girlfriend try to constantly get out every weekend and just camp in the back of the car and see something new. So I think that’s something that’s very relevant in my work as well. It’s that connection with nature and living in California where you have this urban environment and the natural mountains, oceans, desert.

What has this series personally meant to you?
This work in particular was very freeing. Really being someone who’s artistic or trying to push that, if you get comfortable you’re really not doing it anymore. That’s something that’s been interesting to me. I’m lucky that I get to do the work and people want to see it. But I would do it anyway. It’s what allows me to not go crazy everyday.


Joy Shannon
Joy Shannon

Joy Shannon is a the recording, performing and visual artist and author front-woman of the dark Celtic folk-rock band “Joy Shannon and the Beauty Marks”. Joy plays Celtic harp, cello, accordion and harmonium and sings. She has a bachelors degree in Visual Arts and Theatre Arts (with a focus in printmaking and theatrical makeup and wig design) and a masters degree in American Studies with a focus in cultural art history and the history of countercultures, both from Cal State Fullerton. Combining her focus on the arts and countercultures, Joy’s first full-length book The First Counterculture Celebrity: Oscar Wilde’s 1882 North American Tour (Plain and Simple Books, 2011) showed how Wilde’s tour influenced trends in art, fashion and music in 1882. Music:

  • Edwin
    Posted at 15:39h, 04 August

    Thank you for turning me onto this person’s very unique art. Having a bent towards Celtic art, I truly enjoyed this post.

  • Osanga
    Posted at 11:14h, 21 August

    It reminds me of a book I read about Zantangle. I love it.

  • DUDE
    Posted at 02:30h, 20 April

    I’m surprise no one said Keith Haring. I see a lot of his influence.