Johns Creek artist revels in pop, hip-hop, graffiti styles

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – Lois Brand has a houseful of art in her Johns Creek home that she has produced over the years, but like most artists, she just can’t stop.

“It’s the most fun I have,” Brand said.

Her current theme is graffiti art, a style that mimics street artists who use the urban streets for a canvas. Yet her graffiti uses traditional canvases to convey themes that are meaningful to her.

Brand did not start out to be a painter. She said she had always been a “passionate” singer. She had taken voice lessons at the New England Conservatory of Music and was invited to sing with the Boston Symphony.

But she developed another passion for art that led her to the School for Visual Arts in Manhattan and a career as a commercial illustrator. She did posters for Elizabeth Taylor and the Italian director “Dino” De Laurentiis.

Life has brought her to live in Johns Creek for the last 19 years. Her latest commercial venture is to produce hip hop and graffiti art for a London-based graphics company to reproduce for the European market. She has had shows in Germany, Poland and Italy.

“They want to take the graffiti paintings and reproduce them on pillows, coffee mugs and prints,” Brand said.

She admits that the work is more commercial than fine art, but finds expression in doing it.

“I try to imagine what it was like to be 25 again, then paint what I want. If it interests me, that is what I paint,” she said. “Graffiti is that inner monster in all of us that wants to break free.”

Brand has sold her work to Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen King and OutKast – in which her paintings interpreted the band’s songs – and has had her work in museums in such diverse places as the University of Pittsburgh and in Mexico. One Brand picture hangs in Mayor Mike Bodker’s office.

She has also worked with the family of Jimi Hendrix for the Hendrix Experience Museum in Seattle.

She does portrait series based on themes that interest her. The “Artists” series consists of portraits of artists done the style in which they painted – Chagall, Monet, Picasso – so that their art itself is part of the portrait. She has done another series on authors.

Brand would like to see one project, a series she calls “Women of Peace,” put in schools to inspire young girls.

“I think what these series show is that these are ordinary looking people, but they have done extraordinary things. Maybe that will inspire other ordinary people to do extraordinary things,” Brand said.

Art can be a spark that lights a fire in someone that they didn’t know was there all along. It can give people a voice, she said.

“Ultimately, I would like my art to document the culture of our times,” she said. “My paintings are like the cavemen leaving little notes on the wall of what their lives were like.”

JC 04-24-14