Brandon Sines is a Brooklyn based fine artist working on the streets and galleries for the past few years. He began spreading the image of Frank Ape around 2010. Frank Apes can be found painted, wheat pasted, and stickered around. Sines first solo presentation was in 2013 at the Living Gallery in New York.
Frank is a fascinating character. He gets out and about. Tell me about how his character was developed? What feelings does he feel? What does he mean to you? Is it fair to say he is kind of our collective alter ego of sorts?
Totally! Frank is all of us. I mean, he is an ape and we all came from apes so it’s like he’s that part of all of us that existed before we got poisoned by everything. That comes off really dark and Frank doesn’t come off that way which is good but I feel like people will know exactly what I mean. Frank is sensitive but tough at the same time.
I originally painted frank in 2011, he did not have a name and I really didn’t plan on giving him one. But for some reason I kept painting him… first standing in front of a burning house with the caption “Relax this is only a dream” and then him under water, sinking, with the caption “I knew this would happen”… More and more until people asked me his name and I made up Frank on the spot. I soon realized how many people were connecting with this character so I made a decision to never allow Frank do anything that was overly negative or promoting the wrong kind of message. So in that sense he helps me stay in the right headspace as well. Everyone needs someone to remind them to believe in themselves sometimes.
Your studio is in a fairly industrial area (Bushwick). How do you feel this inspires your work?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved art that depicted really gritty, dilapidated cities…like certain comic books from the 90’s would draw New York in the coolest way. So when I saw Bushwick years ago it was like those childhood city fantasies coming to life. I was also obsessed as a kid with getting on the roof of everything. That was also something cool about Bushwick. As far as inspiring my art – it’s almost like I take all the griminess of how Bushwick looks and make this almost over the top, super positive, colorful art with an ape feeding you positive messages. It feels right to me.
It’s really fun and thrilling to watch you work – just painting, cutting, pasting, drawing, and re-purposing found materials. What inspires your process?
Thank you – I usually just have this idea or vision in my mind for whatever project I’m working on and it’s usually a phrase or feeling I center it around. That way I stay focused on what emotion I’m trying to convey – that’s also why I don’t like working on a piece for too long or the emotion gets diluted. I feel like the immediate energy and feelings come through pretty quick the first time. I don’t like sketching first… I just put the paint down and have learned to embrace the mistakes because they usually make it better.
A studio is a bunker for some. Others its kind of temple of sacred space. Your work is all around you. How do you treat your studio?
I remember when I first got my studio…It was after my first solo show and I had sold a large painting which really inspired me to get a big space to make more large works. There’s a video somewhere a friend took on his cell phone of me in the studio the first night… I had hung up 4 huge canvasses and was running around like a mad man with a brush and a bucket of paint to each canvas and basically making a huge mess. It was pretty exhilarating, I felt like a caged animal breaking out.
Now I look at the studio as a place to escape and get stuff done, but also as a place to showcase work to collectors from all over the world.
Are you the type to think about what is street worthy or gallery appropriate or do those lines not exist?
I always think something feels more electric and alive if you see it on the street as apposed to a gallery setting… but I’ve also seen some incredibly innovative gallery shows that blew my mind.
When making my own stuff I have to decide is this for a show in a gallery or something more DIY or some street shit, just to determine what materials to use… I really just like to see when someone fully takes control of their space and creates their own universe.
What are your plans for the future?
Right now I’m getting ready for Art Basel in Miami in December… I’ll be heading down there with a fellow artist (Joseph Meloy) – we will be turning a box truck into a moving pop up gallery…we’ll be releasing more info on that soon.
There’s a Frank mascot costume in the works which has had me drooling in anticipation… the cool thing with Frank is the possibilities are really endless.
One of the designers on Project Runway this season made a dress out of a Frank painting on canvas – I’m working on a kids book with my girlfriend, Samantha Jozic, with Frank going through his day figuring out who he wants to be. It all has a super positive undertone to it.