Photographer Brandon Wilder on Collectives, Community, and Cats

self-portrait of the artist. Brandon Wilder, 2021.

I started working as a bartender shortly after school; it allowed me to meet a great deal of people with all kinds of different personalities/morals/viewpoints on life. It allowed me to see thing from others’ eyes. Not that I’ll ever truly walk in their shoes, but I know what size they wear. I actually only started creating Art and Photography fairly recently, about five-ish years now, although I have collected Art my entire life. It started with Comic Books as a kid, Ansel Adams prints in my teens, and progressed from there. My wife & I actually had to thin our collection to move down to Fayetteville. 

Taking a photo is me freezing a second in time, telling a story that deserves to be told. Past achievements include, but are not limited to: three exhibitions at The Delaware Contemporary Museum (Wilmington, DE); one showing at the Center For the Creative Arts (DE); shot various bands and DJ’s (EDM) throughout northern Delaware & Philadelphia PA. I created album covers for musicians I’ve had a strong creative relationship with and been published in various music trade magazines. My work can be found on Instagram where I have separate pages for Art and Photography.

3 Things making your life richer & why
1- My Wife is absolutely amazing, and in so many ways: she is insanely creative, one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, as well as supportive of all my craziness. 
2- Our Cats: Armond, who is a savvy 17 year old Russian Blue that’s always at my side. Lazlow, who is just the cutest thing you ever did see: a very vocal 2 year old Ocicat weighing in at about 15 pounds at his last vet visit. 
3- My camera, and by extension the equipment I have collected over the past couple of years. I have tendency to buy the equipment that most photographers think “why would I ever use that”. I have so much love for these smaller companies that make really original offerings in a market where everyone tries to copy the same things their competitors are doing. A personal favorite is Lensbaby out of Portland OR.

Local artist you admire: I moved to Fayetteville a little under five months ago from Wilmington DE and I’m still getting woven into the local art scene. I hope to be more in touch with the community and meet many of the artists that reside & create locally, but that just hasn’t happened yet. It’s been tough finding ways to reach out given the pandemic and hurdles created because of it.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently collaborating with my wife on a multi-media experiment involving her amazing x-acto(tm) knife skills and silk screening experience with my portrait photography.

Also for the past few years I have been working with an organization called Tri-State Underground. We are a music/arts collective that puts together events with various rock/hiphop artists and then use those gatherings as an opportunity for locals to feed the less fortunate within their communities. Currently, we are working on expanding our outreach that began in the Philadelphia market to encompass the area from Raleigh to Fayetteville.

What changed about your practice in 2020? Will you keep this change? 2020 was tough and 2021 hasn’t been a picnic. It definitely led me to broaden my horizons as far as subject matter for photography. When you’re a live music/event Photographer and all that comes to a screeching halt, you either give up or move on. I moved on to creating photography where loneliness and fear of being alone was a central theme. I had to do that for myself more then others, to remind myself that it wasn’t just carefully planned courses that stopped without much of a warning. Art is definitely a form of therapy, for the Artist & the audience. 

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. I practice in the streets, music venues, just about anything or anywhere that catches my eye. I never leave home without a camera bag. I pretty much work out of a Jeep Wrangler/a well organized Pelican case/a smaller grab & go sling bag set up for street shooting. 

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? In Delaware I was pretty setup with contacts that would call me about various projects, but here has been a bit more difficult. Social media definitely helps. I have had some amazing shoots down here with some of the local Hip Hop collectives. 

I have also worked in tattoo shops as a Body Piercer for the better part of fifteen years, and that has taught me more about art, in a real day-to-day sense. The thing is most tattooers create much more than just the tattoos they sell. Be it visual/physical/writing/etc. it’s very much like a pseudo-Art school for the thick-skinned. If you put ten people with strong personalities from all walks of life in a room everyday for years that only have one real bond (Art), guess what they are going to talk or argue about.  

Advice to newer artists in your genre: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” -Andy Warhol. That quote in particular has definitely stuck with me over the years.

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