October 15, 2007

Portland Made - John Ryan Brubaker of Pixelgrain


John Ryan Brubaker

Sometimes I've never met the Portland Made artist, sometimes I don't even have some silly random story about how I came to find out about their wonderful universe, but in every single instance I do see something that says, "look at me, I'm amazing!" and that was definitely the case when I tripped upon John Ryan Brubaker of Pixelgrain.

I must say I felt a little nervous asking this time around but after talking with Ryan that was all set aside and I got to know an amazing photographer, yay!

1) When did you know you had a knack for photography? Do you remember the first picture you ever took?

Well, my father has been a photographer since he was in college, so I grew up around cameras and weird photo equipment of all kinds. But it wasn't until my mother bought me a Minolta X-700 for my 16th birthday that I really had much interest in taking pictures myself. I don't remember my first picture, but I do still have some prints of my friends around that time that must have been from one of my first rolls of film. But it wasn't until I took a photo class in college that I really found that taking pictures was therapeutic for me - I used to drive out into tiny Southern Georgia towns and get lost with a few rolls of Tri-X. I think that's what got me hooked.

2) Your shots in themselves are amazing and extremely vivid but when I see them placed on the wood blocks they really jump out at me and grow this completely different life. Was this a planned effect or was it more of an unexpected result? What made you want to go the extra mile and how did you come to the decision to use other mediums in your work?

Well thanks! The glazed prints on plywood that I've been making lately were a direct result of my poverty. I had an opportunity to hang a show but couldn't afford to frame 20 prints at the time, so I started trying out other options for presenting photos. In the end the best deal and the most fun was to cut plywood down to size and add some acrylic and a bit of paint-on glaze. I've come to really appreciate the process now because I get to make a huge mess and play with wood and paint and power-saws. Photography can be a very sterile process, but I'm just not a sterile person. As for the result, I like that each piece is a bit different and that you can see the imperfections and a bit of a human touch.

3) Has being a designer helped your photography? How do you think they effect each other if at all?

Being a designer is has definitely influenced my photography, sometimes even more than I think it should. My recent stuff has been as much about shape, line and color as it is about the content of photographs. I find myself shooting a great composition on the side of a building, where the telephone cables, window frames and power meter just fit together in an accidentally stunning way to me. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't spend so much time with lines, shapes and colors in my work they wouldn't be so prevalent in my photography.

4) Where can Portlander's find your work around town? How about people outside of Portland?

At the moment there's a smattering of my stuff up at Mash Tun Brew Pub at 22nd and Alberta in NE Portland. The place makes great beer and both the juke box and the pool table are free... so I highly suggest it. I don't have much lined up for the coming months, unfortunately, but I should be out at Last Thursday this month and will hopefully be up around town again soon.The best way to see my photos is probably on my website http://www.pixelgrain.org/. I've been collecting work there for some time and you can subscribe to see my recent stuff as I post it. I've also got a few things up on Etsy right now pixelgrain.etsy.com, and I hope to add more in the near future. Short of a visit to North Portland, Etsy is the best place to see what the glazed wood prints really look like. Also, you might happen to see me wandering about town pointing an old 70's Polaroid or a weird looking Pentax at an empty wall somewhere. If you do please be sure to say hello...

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