Brady Legler is an artist who is based in New York and Kansas City.  His abstract works are loaded with color and the passion and expressiveness of his work is undeniable.  I wanted to find out what inspired him and we had a cool chat…

“…I judge a work of art by three criteria:  its originality, its creativity and whether it evokes an emotional response in the viewer. The only thing that changes is the creativity of the execution …”

MICHAEL: Hello Brady, One look at your website says you've got a lot going on.  Let's start with your abstract paintings.  They're very introspective yet somehow accessible and warm.  Is this something you're going for as you're painting or do you just paint what you feel?

BRADY: Painting simply makes me happy.  Color sparks emotion, whether it’s in an abstract painting or the color of your stapler and I truly believe that.  Pain and suffering is a part of life, but not something that I feel people need to be reminded of.  When I paint, I don't hold anything back or necessarily have anything in mind as it is pure expression for me.  I do hope that people get a positive or optimistic feeling from my work because that’s what color does for me and that’s what I hope to represent.  

MICHAEL: While you're actually painting, are you always in a good mood? Does your mood impact the painting or the painting your mood?  What inspires you to create?

BRADY: Ha, I wish! My work is definitely affected by my mood. I can start out angry, sad or upset, but once I really get into the piece, my mood absolutely impacts my paintings. The first colors and brush strokes I put down on the canvas might start out dark sometimes, but as I progress, the painting impacts my mood and most always in an optimistic way. Like I said, earlier paintings make me happy.

MICHAEL: As you know Brady, some people in the art world might not take art that's connected to optimism and happiness very seriously.  They may think it lacks depth and profundity.  What do you think about this?

BRADY: I think that is complete bullshit.

MICHAEL: Hahaha!

BRADY: I judge a work of art by three criteria:  its originality, its creativity and whether it evokes an emotional response in the viewer. The only thing that changes is the creativity of the execution. Whether the art evokes a feeling of optimism or despair doesn't matter so much, just as long as it evokes some kind of emotion and the viewer is moved in some way.

MICHAEL:  Nice.  When you're actually painting, what's going through your mind?  Is the process mainly intellectual, emotional or spiritual?  Do you paint in silence or with music or the television on?  What's the process like?

BRADY: I approach each canvas differently.  There’s nothing formulaic about my work. I apply paint by listening to my intuitions and emotions and I often have music in the background.  Early on, I said painting makes me happy, but it also does more than that; it calms me, frustrates me, confuses me, grounds me, makes me more aware, surprises me, overwhelms me, takes me out of the present, brings me back to the present. There is a “RUSH” that is addictive once I start.  I can't really explain the process; I just know I like the feeling I get when I am creating. I get totally lost in the process and time takes a backseat. Sometimes I work for hours on end and at other times, just one stroke suffices and I walk away for awhile.

MICHAEL: I understand.  It’s the same way with writing.  As a younger artist today, do you feel the drive to do anything “new”?  History tends to demand that younger generations do so-called, “new things” to keep the world moving forward.  Thoughts?

BRADY: There's probably some truth to the saying, "It has all been done before," but that doesn't mean I can't bring about something new in my art or designs. Sometimes the “newness” is reconfiguring something “old” in an original way.  On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I noticed how some of the older works of art still seem so fresh, even more so than some of the newer works that I'd seen. I hope what I create is “new,” but I know like everyone else, what I see and experience in my life is going to influence my art. So I think I am more of a believer in another saying, “Everything old is new again.”

MICHAEL: The entire art world is huge yet tiny in comparison to the world at large.  What do you think needs to be done to expand the audience for contemporary art so that more people feel they have access to art?

BRADY: We live in an online world. I think social media is the key to exposure and awareness for contemporary art.  I live in New York, so I have access to art every day, but the reality is that almost everything that I go see can probably be viewed online.  Art is such a part of our history and our future and I think people are more exposed to art today than ever before because of the internet, bloggers and online galleries. This interview would have never taken place without the internet. 

MICHAEL: That's true.  Despite the Internet, many artists still believe that New York is the place to be for artists. How are you doing there?  Do you feel like you're making inroads as an artist or are the city and art world overwhelming? Could you do well elsewhere as an artist?

BRADY: For me, being in New York is more about the energy and inspiration I get from the city. New York humbles you as an artist because of the talent that surrounds you everywhere you look.  Some of the street art here is so incredible.  I do great in New York because I have a great agent who gets my work online. I could paint anywhere and I do. I have a studio in New York and one in my hometown of Kansas City.  As long as I have a canvas, paint and ideas in my head, then I am good to go. The painting process doesn't change due to location. I paint, I photograph, then the file is sent to my agent and then onto 1stdibs, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I have work hanging in New York at Lobel Modern, that is my bricks and mortar spot in the city.  New York has never overwhelmed me.  Once you get settled here, this big city becomes a welcoming cluster of little neighborhoods.  It’s great for artists because your expression is never stifled. 

MICHAEL: Finally Brady, what's the point of this?  I mean, most people walking the earth won't ever buy art.  Why should people care about contemporary art?  Art isn't ending homelessness or curing cancer.

BRADY: Art won't cure cancer or feed the world, but it might make someone smile, dream, escape for a few moments.  It might stimulate conversation or provoke ideas.  Graffiti is art, flowers are art, tattoos are art, what's on a cereal box is art.  You can't look at a book or magazine and not see art.  Art is everywhere.

Watching the clouds move is art, watching a lake ripple is art, rain is art, snow is art.  We are surrounded by art.  It is not always in a frame or in a gallery. I cannot buy a Maurice de Viaminck or a Henri Matisse or an Andy Warhol (all favorites because of their intense use of color) but I can look at them and enjoy them and get lost in them.

Most people on earth may not ever buy art, but I bet a lot of them have been inspired by art and influenced by art. If they have bought a stamp they have bought art.  If they have looked up in the sky, they have seen art. The point of all of this is that art is all around us and we cannot escape it. You don't have to buy art to appreciate it, feel it or experience it.  Art is the ONE thing this world cannot live without. That is the real point.

MICHAEL: Nicely said.  Thanks Brady.

BRADY: Michael, thank you so much for the opportunity.  Loved it! 

Check out Brady Legler at