Spotlight: Brett Field – Art As The Heartbeat of Design
Art is the heartbeat of design, infusing it with the power to evoke emotions, ignite imagination, and transcend boundaries. Today we chat with artist Brett Field about his calling into the creative world and some of his favourite things…
“Through art, design breathes life into spaces, objects, and ideas, inviting us to see the world anew, to dream, and to believe in the extraordinary possibilities that lie within our creative vision.”
Brett, please tell us more about how you got involved in the world of art…
I actually embarked on my art career quite unexpectedly in my 30s. Prior to that, I had been working in Commercial Property and Financial Services, and later co-founded a creative agency. The journey began when I wanted to create a special artwork as a gift for friends who had recently gotten engaged. Little did I know that this would mark the beginning of my professional art career. However, the start wasn’t smooth sailing. After completing the artwork, I proudly showed it to Levi, the co-founder and creative director, at the agency, only to be told that it was just average and unsuitable as a gift. Feeling panicked but out of time, I boarded a plane to Johannesburg for the engagement party without a gift in hand. During the flight, I sketched and drew frantically, determined to get better fast. Upon landing, I attempted the piece once again.
This time, I was much happier with the result, but I needed honest feedback. I sought Levi’s opinion once more, and to my relief, I got a thumbs-up. I gave the artwork to my friends, who loved it! Then I made a few more pieces for my mum, who also loved them. On the return flight, I decided to post some of my work online. I was pleasantly surprised by the volume of positive responses I received, so I decided to keep at it. As my audience grew rapidly, I started making sales and getting commissions.
Then one morning I received an email from the CEO of a local fashion brand, expressing interest in visiting my studio. I agreed, and in a rush, I transformed the meeting room at the agency into a makeshift studio, cutting out and displaying the pages from my sketchbooks on the table. During the meeting, I discovered that the gentleman reviewing my sketches was the ex-curator of the Everaad Reed Gallery. He had clearly seen through the illusion I had created, so I was worried but then he said, “You have something truly unique here. You should really pursue a career as an artist.” With that validation from an experienced figure in the art industry, I embarked on my journey as a professional artist.
Can you share a couple of your favorite art pieces?
At the moment, my favourite piece is Mariner’s Beacon: The Grand Sentinel, which is the first installment of a series of lighthouses I’m currently working on. Lighthouses hold a special place in my heart. They represent both a solitary abode and a vigilant guardian of the seas, an embodiment of alarm and reassurance.
Then there is a little piece that I love called Scale Felici. It’s an unassuming piece whose clue lies in the title. Translated from Italian, scale felici means happy stairs. It depicts a building with a staircase that turns a corner beside it. It represents how passing on the familiar in favour of the more treacherous and unknown could lead to happiness.
How has your art influenced your personal growth?
Leaving a successful career in the corporate world to pursue a creative career was a decision I made in the hope of fulfilling my creative cravings. However, I soon discovered that it could be quite soul-destroying. Clients were consistently dismantling creative works with their feedback. The art world, on the other hand, offered a different experience. While it can be terrifying at times, it granted me ultimate creative authority. I could determine what to paint, when a piece was finished, and it provided me with the liberating freedom of artistic expression and the fulfillment that accompanies it. Art has truly unlocked a deep sense of joy in my life.
What inspires your creativity?
Stories fuel my creativity. I love listening to people tell stories. I especially enjoy listening to people tell their own stories, and whenever possible, in person. I love to see the different emotions wash across their faces, their body language, and the ebb and flow of their voice as they recount their tales and experiences.
What is your preferred artistic medium and why?
I’m captivated by the vibrancy of acrylics and the organic fluidity of watercolor. I wanted to harness the best of both these mediums. Once I discovered fluid acrylics, they immediately became my preferred medium.
Your focus seems to be on capturing breathtaking towns, buildings, and landscapes. What draws you to this particular subject matter?
The built environment holds a tremendous allure for me. It is not just the architecture itself that fascinates me, but also the stories embedded within. When I was in Prague and falling in love with its stunning Gothic structures, I learned that their preservation was due to their relative safety during the war. That realisation fundamentally changed how I perceive buildings. I actively seek out the subtle narratives and stories that emanate from these structures, offering glimpses into the lives of the people who inhabit them.
Both locally and abroad, which places stand out as your favourites that you’ve explored?
Cape Town, without a doubt, is the best city in the world. After extensive travels, I consciously chose to live and work in Cape Town. As for international destinations, I have a special affinity for Amsterdam. It exudes an irresistible charm, with its breathtaking beauty, unique architecture, and the genuine happiness of its residents. However, I cannot answer this question without mentioning Istanbul too, a truly spectacular city brimming with unmatched energy, breathtaking buildings, and delicious food.
Are there any collaborations or upcoming exhibitions where we can expect to see your work featured?
I’m currently in discussions for a few exciting projects, although I’m not able to announce them just yet. However, they include a potential exhibition in Los Angeles and the opportunity to host an art tour in Italy. On the local front, I will be exhibiting at Decorex Johannesburg from August 3rd to 6th, 2023.
Where is your studio located, and could you tell us a bit about this space?
I have two studios situated in Tokai, Cape Town. One is a small and intimate space where I retreat when working on certain artworks. The other is a shared studio where I collaborate with fellow creatives whom I really enjoy working alongside. We engage in lively conversations, nonsensical banter, share countless laughs, and I always appreciate their valuable input on my work.
Find out more at Brett Field.
- Artwork, framework, galleries & sculpture