Meet Artwork Archive Artist Peter Bragino. Peter has known he’s an artist ever since he was a little boy. After he finished his time in the Marine Corps, he set to making his passion his profession. Peter’s childhood scribbles have morphed into unique shapes focused on light, coaxed from an amalgamation of organic lines. His distinctive style led him to eschew the traditional gallery website in favor of a branded online store. He sells prints at multiple price points to extend his imagery and brand.
We spoke to Peter about the benefits of this business decision, how he engages people with his philanthropic art projects, and the ultimate importance of honing your craft.
Want to See More of Peter’s Work? Visit his Artwork Archive Public Profile Page.
1. YOU WERE FIRST IN THE MARINE CORPS AND THEN BECAME A COMMERCIAL AIRBRUSH ARTIST. WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL FINE ARTIST?
I’ve known I was an artist since I was a little kid, since the age of seven or eight. The defining moment occurred on train with my father. It was the very first time I was in one and I was excited to finally see where my Father worked. He was showing me all of the interesting things that he knew about the tunnels. My father supported our family as a track walker for the NY City Transit. He made sure I got to look out the front window of the subway car and he took me past abandoned stations where artists had painted murals. Some of the murals were even animated as the train drove by them like pages in a flip book. I was totally amazed, in a world of wonder and I remember my Father looking down at me and saying “These artists don’t get paid to come down here and paint on the walls, they do it because it’s something that’s inside of them.” That was the moment, like a flash of light, at that very instant I felt it and knew without a doubt that I was just like them. I was an artist. That clarity and intuition stuck with me and never left. It was only a matter of time until I was old enough to take the steps and pursue the type of career I wanted. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I finally pursued what I’d wanted to do my entire life. I made the final decision to do art full time the moment I got out.
2. YOU CREATE SHAPES AND TEXTURES FROM AN AMALGAMATION OF DIFFERENT LINES. HOW DID YOU UNCOVER YOUR UNIQUE STYLE AND WHAT INSPIRED IT?
It goes back to my beginnings and learning how to draw in general. When I was first putting pen to paper, I didn’t really think about it. I doodled a lot and scribbled and looked for shapes that were recognizable, that I could bring to life. I’ve drawn a lot throughout my lifetime. I draw in sketchbooks, but I’m not looking to draw pretty pictures or defined subjects. All I do is draw - they are experiments. They’re not to show people, but are mostly inspirational. Through the process of scribbling, I've developed a language that allows me to really pull images - images physically happen as I draw. I pay attention to that, to what the pose is; whether if it’s a bird or if it’s a person. A lot of this comes from my many years of airbrushing, and from street art. I make a doodle and color in the boxes. It’s almost remedial.
To me, drawing a figure isn’t about the person, it’s about capturing the moment. It could be a model leaning back or something that excites me. My artist friends and I call it theatrics, it goes beyond gesture. Gesture is the physical gesture of the body, and it can look stiff and unnatural. I noticed in nature that movement happens in an organic and scattered way - like matches scattered on the ground - which allows for legitimate composition. When drawing figures I leave scribbles as part of the image or basis of the image because it has that natural quality that I couldn’t control. I leave the lines because I think it breathes life into the image. It doesn’t strangle it.
3. YOUR WORK FOCUSES ON NATURE AND SPIRITUALITY. HOW ARE YOUR PASSIONS AND BELIEFS REFLECTED IN YOUR ART?
The idea to make an online statement that my art is based on these types of things has come around in the last year and a half. Everything I’ve done for the most part has a light or idea of light, with one or more objects speaking to the sacred communion of life. It’s a consciousness of our own personal souls and a light that is inextinguishable inside our souls. It’s eternal, it goes on forever. There is no way to turn off the light of creation. I approach most of my work that way and delve into that concept. It doesn’t matter if it’s a landscape, and abstraction, or a figure. The end result is based on that concept of light.
4. IS THERE ANYTHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR STUDIO SPACE OR CREATIVE PROCESS?
There is nothing unique about where I create art. I don’t care where, when, or what mediums I use. I will create in any circumstances. I’ve done a lot of outside art and figure art. My friends and I have a joke that from the second you step into the room, you are ready to go. We don’t believe in warm ups, or inspiration, or being in the mood. Regardless of where you are, you have the knowledge to create the image. You have to engage 100% in your process, you have all the tools to create no matter what the circumstances are.
A section of the West Gilgo Mural Project.
5. HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH CHARITIES SUCH AS THE WEST GILGO MURAL PROJECT AND THE ETERNAL BLESSINGS PROJECT? IN ADDITION TO BEING REWARDING, HAVE YOU FOUND IT BENEFICIAL FOR YOUR ART BUSINESS?
I became involved with the West Gilgo Mural Project through a good friend of mine. I did some designs for his company’s surf clothing line. He had come to me initially because he knew I was fairly capable of creating murals and knew other artists that could make murals too. I did the Eternal Blessings Project for a ceremonial space in Connecticut. They wanted a poster to hang above the donation box in case people missed it. The wall was too big for a poster and they already had lights in place for a larger work. I thought, if I’m doing a poster, why don’t I do something that takes care of the wall. I sent them a concept and they liked the wings because their logo is an osprey hawk. I can’t physically measure the art business benefit because it’s beyond a marker. But my public work has become a point of interest and discussion. Everyone knows that I did the works. They see me as an artist and see what I’ve done. I have conversations with people about the projects all the time, it engages them. It’s good for your career to have public art. Installation pieces in public are phenomenal for people recognizing you as a serious artist.
6. YOUR WEBSITE FEATURES A SHOP INSTEAD OF A PORTFOLIO AND YOU PROVIDE MULTIPLE PRICE POINTS AND PURCHASING INFORMATION. HOW HAS THIS DECISION BENEFITED YOUR BUSINESS?
I never went the traditional gallery route since I’ve never done traditional art. My work is harder to pin down, it’s harder for galleries to pin down. I was looking to find an outlet that matched my work. I have a friend, Noah, who’s a very successful artist who paints for Disney and Star Wars. He gave me the idea of branding and product tiering. I make options that people can afford and blast it out there. The more traction you have, the bigger tribe you build. If you paint an original and it sells for $5,000, why shouldn’t that image continue on? I want imagery that goes out there, that goes out onto different products so people can enjoy the art how they want to enjoy it. Everyone knows what a Picasso looks like because you can buy prints of them. Successful artists are ingrained in our cultural paradigm with continued imagery. Thomas Kinkade has merchandised his work to get residual income. I want to create a foundation of imagery to have residual income for the rest of my life.
Images from Peter Bragino's online store.
7. IS THERE ONE THING YOU WISH SOMEONE HAD TOLD YOU ABOUT BEING A PROFESSIONAL ARTIST WHEN YOU BEGAN?
I would have loved it if my art teachers or anyone at all, had let me know that true ingrained craftsmanship and art making skill is so important. The ability to draw is one of the most freeing aspects of my art today. I can draw from life, and so anything is available to me. I would have loved to have had that encouragement and advice when I was a young artist. I wish someone had told me to draw and draw very well. Drawing from life is the main thing.
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