Brooklyn native Brian Comber arrived in Denver in the ’80s; his budding skill as a printmaker in art school led him to Mark Lunning’s Open Press Ltd. studio facility. There, Comber continued to perfect his printmaking technique under Lunning’s wing, while also continuing to draw and paint — and even cartoon for a short while. An artist’s artist who is consumed by the mysteries of process and sometimes Redon-esque otherworldly imagery, Comber took a break from his quiet labor to consider the 100CC questionnaire.
Brian Comber: Not so much an individual, but like-minded groups intrigue me. My favorite periods in history, from an artistic perspective, were when great change was happening, like the French Impressionists in the mid-1800s, the Vienna Secessionists at the turn of the century or the Bauhaus movement. I’d have loved to be part of a group of people who were unsatisfied with the status quo, or could envision something more daring than what they were seeing.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
Banksy is the most influential artist working worldwide, without question. The immediacy and mystery of his work — the fact that we never know where or when his next piece will emerge — is inspiring. It’s incredible that he’s stayed almost completely anonymous for over two decades. He uses his anonymity as part of his art. Our attention is drawn to the work, because we don’t see the person. He’s endlessly inventive and always maintains a level of great craftsmanship. The work is beautiful, fun and inspiring.
I think I not only avoid trends, but I try to stay unaware of them, for fear of being unintentionally influenced. We’re all products of our time and are influenced by what’s around us, but I try to maintain my own personal vision and avoid corrupting it by what I’m seeing in culture. That said, I don’t want to see anything die; if it inspires you in a creative way, then following a trend isn’t a bad thing.
What's your day job?
I do house painting, both interior and exterior, and color consulting. It uses the same tools and skills as my fine-arts work. I’m proud that I put the same effort toward beauty, whether I’m facing a canvas or a living room wall.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
First of all, I’d quit my day job! Setting up a great studio, where I could work in all the mediums I enjoy (oil painting, watercolor and intaglio), would be wonderful. I’d use the time and resources to travel the world, both to see the great works of art and find new venues and inspiration for my own work.
I was born and raised in New York City and chose Denver specifically, because I felt it’s a place where I can clear my mind and pursue my own vision. Over the last few years, Denver’s the fastest-growing city in the country, and I think that growth can help foster a greater appreciation for the fine arts — or not. I want to help it head in the better direction.
What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?
First and foremost, Denver needs to value the artists who live in the community and support them as well as it does big-name artists from elsewhere. I think the city is very insecure in its identity, and as a result tends to value outside artists disproportionately to its own.
If I had to pick one, Mark Lunning has done great work, both as an artist and in support of other printmakers working by establishing and running Open Press. He’s been a personal mentor and inspiration to me for years.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I want to keep producing new work that is inspiring, innovative and self-challenging. I’ve been doing watercolor for only two years, and want to continue to push that medium and have a significant show of that work this year.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
I’ve seen so much talent and so many exciting movements locally that I want to avoid singling out any one person. Abstract painting seems to get the lion’s share of attention, and it’d be nice if other styles got their fair due.
How about Brian Comber? I hear he’s got some talent.
Learn more about Brian Comber online.