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Interview - Paul Branton

Interview - Paul Branton-occi-park

Artist  - Paul Branton 

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OCCI – Who can you attribute to starting your artistic Journey?  

PAUL - I can honestly say my first initial spark into art was my father, who was a record collector. When I was young, and this is in the seventies, we had these albums in the living room and there was a particular album cover that I used to look at all the time. It was a Marvin Gaye album, and the painting was by Ernie Barnes called "The Sugar Shack". I remember being a little kid, staring at this album cover for hours trying to figure out how somebody created this entire world on a flat surface 

OCCI - Speaking of music, one of my favorite series of your work is the “16 Bars”. How does music inspire your art?  

PAUL - It really depends on my mood. I'm in love with all types of music but of course I was born in 73, which is the same year hip hop was born. I grew up with it, that's why I did that that 16 bar series. But while I'm working on painting I'm always listening to something. I have a continued jazz series that I work on where I listen to most of the jazz artists that I really dig. My parents would listen to a lot of music growing up so it was always in the house. We’d spend our Saturday's cleaning up with Soul Train playing in the background.

OCCI - What do you find most inspiring about your current city of Chicago?

PAUL - As an artist I've always looked at things differently, so many times when I was young our play area would be vacant lots. I grew up around concrete and steel and I found beauty in that. I remember doing a series of abstract paintings where I was making old abandoned buildings. I've always looked at the city itself and the people as one organism. 

OCCI - There’s a so many incredible artists to have come out of Chicago. Do you feel like the Chicago art community is close knit? 

PAUL - South side of Chicago is pretty close, we’ll encourage and be around each other a lot. Tonight for instance it's a Friday, there's a lot of openings and we’ll bounce from opening to opening to communicate with and support these people.
I used to be in Hebrew Brantley’s studio all the time. I’ve watched a lot of people grow as many have watched me grow. 

OCCI - Your progression to new background materials and paper works with the "BLK HND SDE" series has been interesting to watch. Do you have plans to further that style into the next year?  

PAUL - I want to make sure with that I‘m not afraid to try new things. I think a lot of artists are because they get known for selling a certain type of art they become afraid of change.
I’ll still express whatever I want to express, but I love the challenge of taking on a new concept. I grew up not just drawing and painting, I grew up writing and making films, so I'm used to using different mediums.
This next year I want to take a step forward with my visual art, doing more collage work and using a lot of found objects. It seemed like another progression for me.
I want everything that I put out to be to a certain standard of quality. I just don't do things just to do them. I do things because, number one because I love it, and number two because I think that is deserving of the public to have.


OCCI - Where do you feel the most creative? 
PAUL - In my basement

OCCI - What's one studio accessory that you can't start a session without?
PAUL - Music


1. Most memorable lesson a mentor has taught you?

2. If you could go back 10 years in time and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?


1. When you give a part time effort you only get a part time result.

2. Because I am naturally an introvert, I would have thought myself a long time ago to learn to communicate and navigate important rooms with important people.

OCCI - Because you are a movie buff: What are your top 3 movie’s you’d recommend someone to sit down and analyze?


1. Rashomon

2. Pulp Fiction - I remember the first time I watched Pulp Fiction, and the reason why I dove into that film was because of the contradictory nature of dialogue and action. Pay close attention. 

3. 5 Heartbeats - Because it’s made by a Chicago filmmaker and it has so much soul. Written and directed by Robert Townsend. 

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