Meet The Artist: Bryan Braddy’s Timely Expressions
North Carolina’s Bryan Braddy is what an art critic would refer to as an Outsider Artist. That is, someone who is untrained and who operates outside of the establishment gallery system. This isn’t a bad thing.
Some of the most influential work of the 20th and 21st centuries came from self-taught artists. Picasso and Jean Dubuffet were heavily influenced by folk art. And important outsider artists such as Bill Traylor, Howard Finster and Maud Lewis are now well represented in museum collections.
There is a naïve charm to these works yet they tell a story just as well as any Old Master. This brings us to the drawings of Bryan Braddy. By day The North Carolina artist works in Tech. In his off hours, he paints water colors of his favorite timepieces. A couple of years ago, Braddy began posting these images on Instagram and soon amassed a loyal following of watch and art enthusiasts, all drawn to his unique vision.
Good Good, Not Bad Good
At Watchonista, we’re always fascinated by the creative process. Braddy’s passion for timepieces shines through in his work, so we had to know, which came first: his love of art or his love of watches.
“This is surprisingly a tricky question,” says Braddy. “I’ve been told that when I was two, I stole my mother's Mickey Mouse watch and refused to give it back. There's even a picture of my grandmother and me where I am wearing it. So technically, watches?”
“That being said, I've always had a desire to create,” Bradley continues. “Throughout my life, I've found ways to express my creativity, whether it was through drawing, music, t-shirt design, writing, or photography.”
Braddy chose the moniker badartnicewatch because, he says, “when I started, it was pretty literally bad art of nice watches. Other than art class in elementary school, my only formal art training was in college, when I had the bright idea of taking ‘ART1003 Foundations Drawing’ as an elective. Here I was, a Business major taking a required drawing class for Art majors for kicks and giggles; needless to say, I almost failed. Now, the name makes me laugh; maybe I should change the name to ‘mehartnicewatch?’"
Braddy is also a family man, who also shares his kids’ creations on his Instagram account. We were delighted to learn that @badartnicewatch was born at his kitchen table. “I was doodling with my oldest daughter,” Braddy adds. “She asked me to draw a picture, and I chose to draw a watch naturally. I remembered how much fun it was to draw! I had wanted to try my hand at water colors for the past few months, so I thought I'd combine the two and document it on Instagram.”
Braddy continues: “My style started with my limitations as an artist. As I mentioned before, I am primarily self-taught, and I didn't know any different. I now realize that the concepts of wabi-sabi, the ‘acceptance and contemplation of imperfection, and constant flux and impermanence of all things’ have continued to define my art style.”
An Artist’s Process
This philosophy has also become part of the message. As for the medium, Braddy starts with a single 1 ⅝-inch circle in the center of a page as a rough guide. “Every mark beyond that is my hand. I want you to see my choices, good or bad, with the pen or the brush.”
Depending on the complexity of the piece, Braddy spends about an hour on each artwork. Drawing can take 15 to 30 minutes, and the remainder of the time is spent with water colors.
Braddy’s painting style leans toward the expressionistic, which makes rendering minimalist timepieces more of a challenge. “Anything with a black dial and white printing is challenging due to the nature of water colors, especially at my scale. Water color is an additive process, getting progressively darker as you go; to preserve highlights, you either have to avoid the area or mask it. I've tried both to varying levels of success.”
We encourage you to scroll through @badartnicewatch to see not only the evolution of Braddy’s style but also to enjoy the variety of watches in his virtual collection. The breadth of styles and brands depicted echoes what Braddy calls his “wabi-sabi, jolie laide” style.
He has drawn everything from Mickey Mouse watches to the Cartier Crash. But all seem meaningful to the artist. As for his collection, Braddy says: “My Omega Speedmaster Professional is my favorite. I was turning 30, my wife and I were trying for our first child, and I knew funds would be tight moving forward. I saved every spare penny and sold everything worth anything of mine to afford it. It was on my wrist when our daughter was born, and I hope to pass it down to her when she's old enough.”
Braddy’s practice has been able to flourish thanks to collectors and other artists who share their stories on social media. “There are a lot of artists who have influenced me, both in the watch space and outside of it. I'm in awe of artists like Julie Kraulis, Tamás Fehér, Cecilia Mendoza, and others who spend 40-plus hours and can create photo-realistic pieces. Gabe Lau's work greatly influenced me to start my page; his rejection of perfection resonated with me. Artists like Ashley Urban and Xi Wang continue you impress me with their control over watercolor,” he shares.
“I have to give major thanks to people like Brynn Wallner (a.k.a. DIMEPIECE), who shared my work early on and exposed it to her audience,” Braddy notes.
While Braddy’s work feels deeply personal, he is also collaborative. While you can purchase finished artworks, he also accepts bespoke pieces. “The commissions that mean the most to me are usually the ones where the watch I am painting has a story,” he says. “ I love hearing why the piece is so unique to them, and I feel honored to be included in that watch's history in a small way.”
(Front image © Bryan Braddy)