Taylor Bringhurst is a California Native whose experience in design has led her to create a fun and groovy art style. Initially, Taylor was a fashion student in Los Angeles but often found herself discouraged by all the minuscule details that had to go into her work. After learning to surf when she was 18, Taylor found herself discovering her passion for digital design, taking inspiration from her newfound surf community and artists such as Matisse and Georgia O’Keefe. Taylor’s focus on fashion and detailed work has transformed itself into fun and free-flowing shapes and colors. She finds great strength and inspiration within the community she has created through her art. ~Lena Damico
The process of Taylor’s work is unrestricted, much like the art she creates. What starts as a doodled inspiration on a piece of paper soon makes its way to Illustrator (Taylor’s favorite) until it becomes its own, final piece. These often become totally new forms of her initial idea. While mostly using adobe platforms, Taylor likes to dabble in drawing and more recently, painting. After discussing what it means to be in the art world, especially in the age of social media when the comparison is constant, what both Taylor and I realized is that sometimes, it’s ok to just simply take a break. The best art is often returned to with a fresh set of eyes.
Lena: Tell me a bit about yourself, where you grew up, what were your interests and passions as a child? Maybe you want to start talking about if any of those things led to an artistic interest?
Taylor: Well, I grew up in Southern California. I was born here. I grew up kind of like all over. A little bit in Orange County, mostly Ventura County. And I lived in L.A. for two years or so. I went to school there and studied fashion. I live in Ventura now.
As a child, I'd say I was always drawing or sketching or doing anything of that nature. I just enjoyed it. It was never anything super Incredible, but it was a fun hobby. And up until high school, I started to paint and draw more seriously. I always thought I had to be so intense and super realistic, detailed, insane, portraits and I do a lot of charcoal and portraiture a lot. But, I just realized I didn't love putting so much focus in extreme detail into my artwork. I wanted eventually to get somewhere where I could be really free and kind of have something in front of me and then mold it instead of having to spend hours on one tiny piece. I got super discouraged in art around that time when I just started feeling like I didn’t really know if this is what I liked to do. And I was studying fashion as I said, so I kind of didn't create anything for a while. But I feel like having a break, really helped me reflect and understand, OK, this isn't what I want to do, but I'm going to try some new things.
And I fell in love with this graphic aesthetic after I learned how to surf, when I was like 18 or 19 years old, I got involved in that community. And there's a lot of art and design and all types of really fun stuff and being in the atmosphere, really inspired me. I saw a whole bunch of stuff that I'd never seen before. All of the super cool, colorful work and a lot of graphics done on the computer and stuff. So I was like, I'm going to try this. And I didn't know if anything would come out of it, but I just so enjoyed a really simple graphic work and a lot of that 70s aesthetic. And I just thought I'm going to give this a shot. I feel passionate about it. That's kind of how I’m in the place I am today. But more recently, I dove into other things and just kind of leaned more into an art thing instead of graphic design and I've been really into flowers lately. My work kind of changes as I grow up, I guess your interests and experience more of the world around me.
Lena: I know you kind of talked about when you started in the surf community, the artists and inspirations that spoke to you then. My next question delves into that. What is your biggest inspiration for your art? Who are those artists that inspired you? Is the design and aesthetic something you've always used or could you walk us through a timeline of how your art has changed or inspired throughout your life?
Taylor: My aesthetic in my eyes goes through slightly different paths, but through my life, it's definitely changed. I kind of said how I had a really realistic self and I was more simple. When I first started getting into graphic design, or more just graphic art, I was constantly looking at art and there are hundreds of examples I could bring up right now. There are so many amazing people out there who have lived in the past as well, who have had a huge influence on me. And a lot of it was like looking through books. Tumblr was really big for me because people kind of bring everything together.
For favorite artists I’d obviously say Matisse, I love how flat, at least with these cutouts, how flat it is, and the stark contrasting colors, I found that really soothing. And also it was just so simple. I felt like I could pull something together like that makes me have the same type of emotion. Another really big one for me has been Georgia O'Keeffe because I’m really into flowers. And John Tovan. It's all kind of more like abstract shapes and colors. So I feel like that's really what led me from being in the surfing community and researching graphic design were big inspirations for me. I feel like all that kind of came together and I came up with something, you know, and I'm going with it. It's like being based on all my inspiration, kind of what I came up with. So it kind of worked for me. And it's not every day that I love everything that I create. But like most days I'm pretty happy with that.
Lena: What steps do you take to get to your final product? Within those steps, what editing platforms or materials are you using? Is there a mix of hands-on work and then also media and online work? What does that look like for you when you're creating a piece?
Taylor: So that's really the question. And this is when I'm looking at other people's work, I'm always like, how do you do that? Your question is, is this digital, is this real life? But like 90 percent of what I make is digital and I usually use illustrator. If I have something come to me I’ll sketch it out. I just write it down really fast in case I forget. So I kind of keep those around. And then when I get to sit down on my laptop I look through them and try to sketch them out. But usually, they turn out completely different. I use Illustrator, I'm slightly self-taught, not really, but I did take classes after I learned everything, and I kind of just got stuck in my ways of how I learned. So I don't know if my process is very efficient. I love the pencil tool, if there’s anyone else reading this who feels the same. I just love the free form of the pencil tool.
But anyway, I usually just kind of play around with different shapes and I move them around and I change the colors around. I kind of just puzzle it together until I like the way that it looks. One thing I don’t like about drawing in real life, I really love to be able to switch things out really fast and you can kind of experiment a lot more on Illustrator than you can with a drawing. And then when I'm happy with what I did in illustrator, I put it into Photoshop and that's kind of how I get that grainy texture effect. I love how the ripple effect kind of gets these squiggly edges and it takes away that super harsh digital feeling. I also do overlays on Photoshop to add texture and then sometimes I just use the blur tool because it softens the edges as well. I don't really have a set thing I do every time I come to pens and I kind of mess with it until I enjoy the final product. Sometimes I paint. I'm not that good at painting. I found out I'm not very patient. However, I feel like when something's sitting for a couple of days I’m able to get a new idea about it. I think, Oh I don't not like this anymore and I feel like I need to start all over so it's hard for me to get a painting done.
Lena: Is there somewhere you're hoping to move with your work futuristically or directionally? Do you have dreams or aspirations for the future of your art or do you see those artistic abilities and inspiration changing or evolving as you continue to create?
Taylor: Honestly, the only thing I really want is to keep enjoying art. I don't really want to make a career out of it, it just allows me to connect with people. And I enjoy the freedom of being able to do whatever I want with my work and not being like, oh, no, I have to pay my bills! People always ask me, like, “are you going to do a career in art?” and I just tell them that I’m just seeing where life takes me. But, who knows, maybe! In the future, I hope that I can keep creating and learning and expanding and experimenting. The beauty of it is that it’s endless and you can do whatever you come up with in your brain. My only hope is that I never stop learning about art and myself and what I like. I just don't want to give up.
Lena: But yeah. And like there's, there's inspiration like everywhere to which is just kind of relieving and like the more you grow and mature these things that you should probably not be inspiring for, you will have a whole new perspective, which is great.
Taylor: Totally I feel like when you get more involved in art and design and you actually start looking at the world around you from that perspective, you're like, wow, this is crazy. That house has an awesome color scheme!
Lena: I noticed on your Instagram you talked about making art during the pandemic. You talked about your artistic transition during the pandemic of being a private account, posting more personal details to becoming a public account, and getting a much larger support and following? How did that make you feel? Do you feel even with all of the negative aspects of the pandemic, did it positively affect you in any way and the growth of your own work?
Taylor: Yeah, it was all weird. Everyone was on their phones, on their laptops, there's nothing else really going on, we’re in our own little personal bubble in the world, we all have to sit and be staring at stuff. And I realized this is the time where I should just try to start doing stuff. I was literally just having fun. I was not serious at all. I think I honestly had 50 followers because I only let people I know follow me. I’m kind of a private person, It was really weird, honestly. But I actually enjoy the small community. So I thought, this is interesting, let’s see where this goes! It definitely had a positive impact in the sense that I made a lot of friends, especially more like-minded friends, even if it was just over the Internet for a while.
There's a lot of like-minded people on there and also super supportive people. It definitely positively impacted my work because I felt motivated. I felt that I really wanted to dig deeper and try to expand and evolve my style and I began to actually put a lot of effort into my work.
I probably wouldn't have kept up with it as much if I didn't have a lot of people cheering me on. It was really cool. Now, it’S not as weird anymore. I mean, I have a lot of people I don’t know who follow me which is weird to me because I never really did that. But people are so nice and kind and supportive. It really opens your eyes. You're like, this is so cool. These people, I have no idea who they are but they're so nice. For example, I met this couple on Instagram and they have been so nice to me and super supportive. They actually sent me a book in the mail because I was talking about how I was really into flowers. I was blown away.
Lena That's amazing! Having people back up what makes you passionate is such an amazing thing and it definitely opens up your perspectives. I feel like from an artist’s perspective you think, oh I'm going to make this because I like it, But it's so kind when people are just there to support you and what you're creating.
Taylor: Yeah. Yeah. And I guess it opens up a can of worms. It can be negative. It's a very vulnerable place I guess is what I'm trying to say, because you're like “I made this, look at it and hopefully you like it!” It feels vulnerable to me, if I stray a little bit from what's usual, I question if everyone is going to hate this, should I just stick to what I know? But also it's the people who are like “keep going like you're doing so good” that is what keeps you going. And that keeps like “OK, I'm just going to post this. I don't care.” People usually receive it well and then you're like, well OK, now I can make more. I mean, it's not really about the validation but getting you pushed in the right direction. In a way, I get into this thing, just to be honest, I'll create something and think oh my gosh, this sucks. I hate it. I don't want to share this. And then I go talk to a friend in real life and they tell me to just post it and then someone has something really nice to say about it and it can really change your perspective on the piece.
Lena: Is there any advice you would give to other women and girls who are trying to pave their own artistic path or find what inspires them?
Taylor: I wish I had this answer, I don't know if I’m the most amazing person at giving advice. I feel like I'm so in the beginning and just figuring everything out too. But if I had to go back and tell myself something and something I would want other girls and anybody who's interested in starting.
You just need to start, don't be afraid to make ugly stuff. Don't be so hard on yourself and just enjoy it, enjoy your process. Just do it.
That's what I would say, because I needed to hear that, especially at the beginning. Just start, sit down and make something and you will feel better. It's always true. And don't compare yourself to other people, but that is really hard. Easier said than done. But that's a big one.
Lena grew up in New York City and came to the West Coast to study Graphic Design. She enjoys making art (especially collaging), being outdoors, finding new music, and hopes to improve on her surfing skills in the next year.
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