A visit with the “North Ave. Artist”

18 Sep

Brandon Schafer is not your typical artist.

Sure, like most artists, he’s passionate about his craft, and he’s quite talented. Plus, like any serious artist, he’d REALLY like to make some money from his artwork.

But what is unusual about Brandon is HOW he’s going about that “making money” part. 

Several afternoons a week, you’ll see Brandon sitting outside his North Ave. home, surrounded by a dozen or so of his original works of art. It’s his own personal art gallery, an invitation to passers-by to stop and browse, and perhaps make a purchase. 

Brandon, a 2016 Webster Schroeder grad, has been setting up his art gallery three or four days a week (weather permitting) for a year, usually by 5 p.m. to catch the after-work traffic. The idea came to him last summer, during one of his regular Saturday stints at the Public Market.

“I was originally going to the Market,” he said. “I figured, why not try in my hometown?”

His unusual marketing effort has been somewhat successful, especially in the first few weeks when it was unusual to see an art gallery set up along busy North Ave.

“I think people first started seeing it, I had, like, seven, eight, nine people stop by,” he said. Business has slowed since, but he still gets customers regularly pulling over or stopping by on their walks to check out his work. 

Brandon has been dabbling in art most of his life, but only really started painting seriously a few years ago. His chosen medium is spray paint. That might immediately make you picture the big, bold and colorful strokes of graffiti artists. But while Brandon’s art is certainly as bold and bright as graffiti, his work on much smaller canvases — anywhere from 11″ x 14″ to 36″ x 36″ — takes some special skills to perfect detail and nuance.

Those details, and the fantastical, out-of-this world subjects and landscapes that Brandon creates are what’s stopping people in their tracks.

“A lot of people ask me if I do drugs when they see my paintings,” he said. “I just have a creative imagination. I like to paint things that are different that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. Something that makes you say, ‘wow.’ … Paintings that aren’t just paintings. Something that speaks to you when you look at it.”

My art is a way to escape, per se. If I was having a bad day I would go make an art piece. It would be my way of getting my stress out. I like to also think of it as an outlet for my creativity to expand. I started with little pieces … I was originally scared to do (bigger pieces) but you have to dive into it. If you let fear get in the way that’s where you’ll fall short. 

If you’d like to learn more about Brandon Schafer and his art, or ask him about his custom work, check him out on Instagram at instagram.com/@b___soul/ or email him at elevatedarts8@gmail.com. He also sets up shop at the Public Market almost every Saturday.

And of course you can keep an eye out for him at his home, 86 North Ave. He expects to be out there at least through the end of October.

“I’ll sit there in a Carhartt jacket and sell if I have to,” he said. 

* * *

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