I have seen Braden Duncan’s booth every year at Emerald City Comic Con. Her work is beautiful and full of emotion, I own one of her part pieces myself, and I love it! After the show I got to do a short email interview. I hope you enjoy it!
GWW: So, I saw your booth at Emerald City Comic Con, how many years have you been attending ECCC?
Braden Duncan: It was a pleasure to meet you at ECCC, Patricia! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve been attending ECCC for the past decade, and I was invited to be a vendor in the Artist Alley in 2015. This was my 3rd year exhibiting there.
GWW: Have you been to other Comic Cons or art expos?
BD: I grew up in the Comic Con & Renaissance Fair circuit, and, in addition to ECCC, I’ve attended and/or exhibited at Norwescon, Oddmall, Gearcon, PAX, Rose City Comic Con, Steamposium, GeekGirlCon, New York Comic Con, Orycon, and a handful of smaller events local to Seattle. I tried out Wizard World and the SLC FanX for the first time this year as well.
GWW: What has been your favorite so far?
BD: It’s hard to pick! ECCC, RCCC & GeekGirlCon have excellent organization & promotion, the production crews are great to work with, and the crowds & costumes are pretty spectacular. I curate the Artist Alley & Art Show for Steamposium, so I might be a bit biased. We’re a small, relatively new convention, but we have incredibly passionate and dedicated organizers, exhibitors and attendees.
GWW: Did you go to school for art?
BD: I graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a BFA in oil painting & photography in 2007.
GWW: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
BD: I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. Most of my family is a creative of one flavor or another, and they’ve always been supportive of my artistic pursuits.
GWW: Do you create art full time?
BD: I have a part-time day job at a classic car shop, and I devote essentially every other waking moment to art creating, curating, and coordinating art events around the Northwest. Whatever else is going on in my life, I always make time for art. It’s how I relax and stay sane. It also pays my rent. I love being able to tell my friends I’ve turned ‘crazy cat lady’ into a viable profession.
GWW: What is your favorite medium to work on? I noticed you mainly use watercolour, do you use any other forms of art? Have you always worked with watercolour?
BD: Graphite was my main medium from elementary through high school; I focused primarily on photo-realistic portraits of friends, family, and my favorite musicians. I experimented with a variety of media in university, and fell in love with oil painting while I was there. Sadly, I lost my studio space post-graduation, and my kitties get into everything. Watercolours dry quickly, they’re easy to clean, and they’re non-toxic, so the kitties can still ‘help’ without being distractingly invasive. I’ve never taken a watercolour class, so my process is self-taught based on my experience with graphite & oil. Watercolour has been my main medium since 2009, and I still dabble in graphite, oil, and photography whenever I can.
GWW: What is your typical process for creating a piece?
BD: Whether I’m working on a piece for an exhibit, a new addition to one of my existing series, or a commission; my watercolour process is essentially the same.
1. Choose a paper size that fits one of the frames from my existing stockpile
2. Sketch the composition lightly in pencil
3. Use artist tape to affix the piece to a rigid support (typically my portable art desk) to minimize water war page
4. Wet the background with clear water, drop in watercolours & salt, and wait for it all to dry
5. Once the background is set, fill in the details of the subject with fine detail brushes, working in layers
6. Scan the finished piece for posterity & reproduction purposes
7. Mat & frame for future (or imminent) exhibition
GWW: I know on you draw some inspiration from your cat, can you tell us a little bit more about that? I also saw on your Facebook that you recently added to your cat inspiration, Ghost and Earl Gray? How did introducing them to Diesel go?
BD: I’ve had cats my entire life, and I love them. Some of my first watercolour subjects were mine, my friends’, and family’s cats. I’ve discovered they make really entertaining muses. My little black kitty Diesel is my main model and she’s been with me for 7 years. She’s my favorite art buddy. I recently adopted 2 new kitties: Ghost & Earl Grey. They’re integrating quite nicely, and I’m hoping that Diesel passes on her modelling skills to them. They’re adorable, but not the best at sitting still for pictures yet…
GWW: What else do you draw inspiration from? I see a lot of your artwork has a soft steam-punk influence.
BD: Steampunk is a fascinating subculture. It combines invention with aesthetics in incredibly unique ways. The Steamposium crew and the folks I’ve met through the Northwest’s Steampunk scene are some of the most innovative, welcoming and encouraging people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. In essence, I draw my inspiration from the peculiar minutiae of the human form, symbolism and mythology; the empty spaces left by missing friends, and the intricate elegance created by the convergence of biological and mechanical elements. I am fascinated by the effects of trans-formative technologies on contemporary society, and I aim to take over the world with the strange and the adorable. Adaptation is inevitable, and I view my creations as new beings for a bio-industrial world.
GWW: I also saw on your website that you do custom pet portraits. That must be so fun! How does that process work and do you have a favorite that you have done so far?
BD: I love painting animals. I grew up with a menagerie. I have always been fascinated by the colors and textures of feathers, fur and the fun little quirks that make each creature unique. The actual painting process for commissioned portraits is similar to my personal watercolours, and I detail the additional steps that I take with each individual client on my Etsy shop. I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed getting to know (however vicariously) every animal I’ve ever painted. Picking a favorite is difficult, but I especially enjoy the pieces where my clients ask me to include a bit of Steampunk or pop culture flair.
GWW: How long does one piece normally take you to complete?
BD: Painting completion time depends mostly on size & level of detail as well as the time I have available to devote to uninterrupted painting. If I’m working on a tight exhibit deadline, I’ve been known to eschew sleep in order to finish multiple paintings in a sitting. For more reasonable deadlines, I prefer to create a piece over the course of a few days so that I can view it with a new perspective a few times before it’s finished.
GWW: What is your favorite part of creating an art piece?
BD: I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t create art. With every finished piece, there’s certainly a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, occasionally apprehension if I’m working with an exceptionally particular client… Mostly, I’m excited to share the brand new image at my next exhibit or convention, and I’m always thinking at least a dozen paintings ahead.
GWW: Do you have any other companies or people that you work with regularly?
BD: I am the co-founder of the Seattle Arts Coalition, a non-profit art organization dedicated to helping local artists find exhibit spaces and acquire the professional art skills we don’t learn in school. Through the SAC, I curate art shows for Otherworlds, Urban Light Studios and the Georgetown Liquor Co, as well as lending curatorial and installation assistance to a number of other art spaces around the Northwest. I also contract with a variety of galleries for exhibits, consignment and wholesale. In WA: Confluence Gallery, Echo Echo Gallery, Gargoyles Statuary, Ghost Gallery, Monster Art & Clothing, Otherworlds, Red Dragonfly Gallery, The Gallery at Town Center & Virago Gallery. In OR: White Rabbit Gifts.
GWW: Do you have any projects that you are working on now?
BD: My current watercolour series are my Mechanical Aviary, Bionic Bunnies and Little Black Cat (soon to include my new grey kittens). I will also be taking on a handful of brand new curating gigs so I can help make even more shows happen for artists in the Seattle area. I can’t share the details quite yet, but stay tuned!
GWW: Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy in your spare time?
BD: Spare time… ha! Art comprises about 90% of my life, but I do make an effort to break from my studio to spend time with my boyfriend, family, and friends at non-art related events on occasion. I love traveling, food adventures, and spending the elusive lazy afternoon with a cup of chai at the local cat cafe. Are cats a hobby? If so, I just might have the corner on that market. 😉
You can find Braden’s work at:
Big Cartel: Clockwork Art
Patreon: Clockwork Art
Society6: Clockwork Art
Here is a list of upcoming events!! If you are in the area please go check them out and say Hi to Braden!
CURRENT & UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS
February-March On Clockwork Wing (solo), Stylus Salon – Seattle, WA
March 99 Bottles, True Love Gallery – Seattle, WA
April Nightmares, Thumbprint Gallery – La Jolla, CA
April Make America Create Again, CoCA – Seattle, WA
April Trump Won’t Stop Us, Muse Gallery – Seattle, WA
April-May On Clockwork Wing (solo), St John’s Bar – Seattle, WA
May Artist Mythos, Fulcrum Gallery – Tacoma, WA
June Adventures in Piracy (solo), Red Dragonfly Gallery – Port Townsend, WA
June Duality, Strange Dreams Surreal Art Collective – Online Auction
July Into The Depths (solo), Gargoyles Statuary – Seattle, WA
April 13-16: Norwescon 40: Over the Hills & Far Away – SeaTac, WA
April 29: Seattle Unique Boutique – Seattle, WA
May 20-21: Oddmall – Tacoma, WA
June 24-25: Oddmall – Everett, WA
June 30-July 2: Gearcon – Portland, OR (pending)
September 9-10: Rose City Comic Con – Portland, OR