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Meet Brittany Ciauri

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brittany Ciauri.

Brittany, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up watching the black and white horror films like Frankenstein and The Wolf Man with my mom, I reread Dracula more times than I care to admit, and I couldn’t get enough of Edgar Allen Poe. I always liked drawing, but I remember being so inspired by the classics and Halloween in general, that something just clicked.

Usually sometime around mid-July, my family and I would start preparing elaborate Halloween decorations for our house. My Dad would build literally anything I could draw up for him, which is how we ended up with a guillotine, a coffin, a mausoleum, and a crypt with cellophane flames blazing behind fake windows. My childhood and adolescence were such crucial periods where I got to explore my creativity, and I was blessed to be given the tools to do anything I could imagine. As I got older, I began to identify with being an artist when I realized that using art as an outlet was the easiest way for me to establish a sense of individuality while giving me an outlet for stress.

I took an art class in high school, and that was the best hour of my day (Mr. Harrison, you were the single best teacher I’ve ever had, you rock). I’d rush home from school to spend another few hours in my family’s garage drawing or painting. I kept pursuing art as a hobby though college. I went to school at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (go Mustangs) and was featured in a few art shows around town. San Luis Obispo has a unique culture that is exceptional at fostering creativity, and I think it was pivotal that I ended up there. Now I live in a tiny beach shack in North County San Diego, where there is a thriving artistic community and I’m loving every second of it.

Has it been a smooth road?
The main obstacle I faced growing up, which I think almost everyone can relate to when it comes to honing a talent or passion, was learning to accept failure and subsequently gaining the patience to try again. It sounds cliché, but I swear it’s true. I remember so desperately wanting my drawings to be an exact copy of whatever reference I used and being so frustrated when it was a far cry from similar. I think that’s one of the reasons I now gravitate towards drawing and painting more organic subjects like flowers, birds, and other animals. Nature isn’t always perfect and I sure as hell am not, so we have a pretty forgiving relationship.

When I got to college, my challenges started to take many different shapes, and most came with the territory of my degree. I studied Civil Engineering, so there wasn’t an abundance of downtime for me to do art, but let me tell ya, I did learn a thing or two about time management. It took me a while to feel at peace with how different my passion was from what I was studying, it felt like I was splitting myself in half.

It was only after I graduated that I realized how imperative that portion of my life was to me finding a style of painting and drawing that I started to really identify with. When I was younger, I tended to bounce around from method to method as I was learning what I liked and what I didn’t, ranging wildly from bold and abstract, to loose attempts at realism. But in college, and now as I work full time as a civil engineer, I’ve settled into a more detail-oriented style of art that I attribute largely to my studies and the rigidity of my profession.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
In the past few years, I’ve really started to enjoy pointillism and the level of accuracy I can accomplish using it. I just finished my largest (16” x 20”) mostly pointillism piece titled “The Doctor”, shown below. If I had to guess, I would say it took roughly 60-70 hours to complete, and a mild case of Carpal Tunnel (worth it). Generally, it’s a very therapeutic art form for me, something where I can engage autopilot and resurface an hour later with an image.

I also love working with Prismacolor colored pencils (shameless plug). I’ve been trying to invoke more complex lighting and color scenarios in some of my more recent pieces, and I find that I can achieve that effect much easier with these pencils as opposed to painting. I started using them when I was about nine or ten and have had a collection on hand since then. It’s remarkable how easy they are to blend and layer, and I’ve always connected with them as a medium. The pieces “Owl” and “It’s Alive” below are done using Prismacolor.

On a completely different side of the art spectrum, I fell in love with tattoo-inspired art at an early age and I love bringing a more graphic/linear style to my pieces. I used to watch LA Ink for hours, and that’s where I learned the importance of a clean line. I’ve designed tattoos for friends and myself, but I’d like to try and get into label creation for local Craft Breweries and continue to explore the graphic side of my art.

These styles are obviously wildly different, but I think what unifies them is the presence of that Halloween/Classic Horror influence, the little tinge of dark that makes them unique. This October, I’ll have a collection of work up in Culture Brewing Co. in Solana Beach, which has been a dream for me to work on. I’ve worked extremely hard to put together a solid Halloween show, so if you’re in the area, come check it out! I’ll also be auctioning off a piece and the proceeds will go to the San Diego Arts Foundation. The show’s opening night is Friday October 4th, from 5pm-9pm.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I grew up east of Pasadena in La Verne, just far enough from LA to get a small-town feel, but close enough to understand the gravitational pull it has. Los Angeles, despite its idiosyncrasies, is so incredibly diverse that the optimist in me thinks anyone willing to push hard enough can find their artistic niche. I’ve always found LA to be an inspiring place, it’s a hotspot for creatives, and I think for someone who is starting out and trying to get a sense of who they are, it holds plenty of opportunity. When I was younger, I was enamored by its murals and graffiti, with the museums, and with the complete shift in energy and culture every couple of blocks. I honestly still am. However, I think it could be exceptionally easy to feel lost, which depending on the person, may or may not be conducive to personal and creative growth. For me, it didn’t feel quite right. I went south when I graduated college and landed in Solana Beach, California.

North County San Diego is a beautiful hub of creative energy, and its thriving sprawl of small businesses and breweries are nurturing to local artists like myself. But, it’s not exactly the same level of diversity of LA. Right now, the serenity and laid-back restfulness is exactly what I need, but if you’re looking to be stimulated by the buzz of a fast-paced lifestyle and sink into a melting pot of different cultures, Los Angeles could be for you.

From what I’ve experienced, the most important thing a city or community can do is provide a platform or space for artists to be showcased and appreciated, which I think LA does very well, but there can always be more. I think that the presence of social media and online publications like Voyage make the expansive jungle that is LA seem less foreboding. It’s now easier than ever to feel connected, to put your name out into the world, and feel apart of something. So yes, I’d recommend it. Go and get lost for a little while, especially in LA, you’ll probably be surprised by what you find.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Personal photo by Shane Sullivan Instagram:(@_shanes), (“Surreal Oddities” – 8.75″ Skate Deck)- the horizontal board that says surreal oddities, (“It’s Alive” – 22″x30″ Prismacolor pencil on pressboard) – Frankenstein, (“October” – 24″x24″ acrylic paint and gold foil on wood panel) – the crow, (“Herald”) – 9″ x12″ -005 Pigma Micron pen on paper) – the motorcycle,(“Owl” – 18″ x24″ Prismacolor pencil on pressboard) – the owl, (“The Doctor” – 16″x 20″-01 and 05 Pigma Micron pen on paper) – creepy mask with a stick, its a plague doctor, (“Danse Macabre” – 8.25″ Skate Deck and paint pen) – skeletons kissing, (“For Kylle and Juniper” – 9″x12″-01 and 03 Pigma Micron pen on paper) – octopus

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