Interview: So Young Artist Series #3: B.D. Graft

In the third instalment of our Artist Series we’ve collaborated with Amsterdam-based artist, B.D. Graft. One of our favourite artists discovered through Instagram. We’ve been sharing his work for a few years now and it seemed about time we collaborated. Using two pieces of his work we’ve put together a two-sided t-shirt depicting plants in his two most distinctive work styles; oil pastel drawing and painting yellow onto found imagery. We caught up with B.D. Graft about his work and the collaborative t-shirt.

How did you get into making Art?

As a child I drew a lot, but as a teenager I stopped because skateboarding, music and writing became my creative outlets. It wasn’t until I was studying film and literature at university that I rediscovered my love for making art. My friend Geoff J. Kim had started making beautiful collages and inspired me to give it a try. I did and became hooked. This eventually led to what I’m doing now.

How do you go about starting a piece of work?

Usually I have an idea in my head and just go about translating it straight onto paper or canvas. Sometimes I use my iPad Pro to make a quick sketch beforehand, but I generally like to just make a start and see where it goes.

Tell us about a typical working day…

I usually start the day answering emails at home with a cup of coffee, then I take my dog Homer to the studio where we spend the rest of the day. If I need inspiration I’ll cycle to a museum or take Homer for a long walk. My girlfriend has a 9 to 5 so I try to stick to the same rhythm, so we can spend the evenings together.

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

Uplifted, hopeful, inspired. It’s also nice if my art makes people smile or laugh.

Whose work do you admire and why?

Too many to mention all of them, but I love mid-twentieth century abstract artists like Willem de Kooning and Helen Frankenthaler for their unrestrained expression and beautiful use of colour and composition. And David Shrigley’s art for how simple and witty it is.

Does music influence your work at all?

Definitely. I always listen to music whilst making art, and I’m sure it seeps into what I’m creating. I also reference music a lot in my art. For example, my current exhibition in New York is called “Planted Thoughts”, which is named after Arthur Russell’s song “Planted a Thought”.

Who’s your favourite new band?

Lately I’ve been enjoying (Sandy) Alex G, IDLES, Dilly Dally, Shy Boys, Crumb, King Krule, and Chromatics.

Tell us a little about the t-shirt pieces…

The front image is from my “is it mine if I add some yellow?” project, which I use to explore questions of art and ownership. The back image is an oil pastel drawing of a bouquet, in a style that I recently discovered and really enjoy utilising. Both artworks feature plants because, well, I love plants. The older I get and the longer I’ve been living in big, hectic cities, the stronger I feel the pull towards nature. I see myself living on a farm in the middle of nowhere in a few years, haha.

What can we expect to see from you in the near future?

I’ve started trying my hand at three-dimensional works (sculptures and ceramics), which I’ll be sharing with the world soon. I also have a few cool collaborations coming up. Apart from that I just want to improve my craft and have fun doing so.

Buy the T-Shirt here!