Brendan Monroe and Evah Fan open up
The duo of Brendan Monroe and Evah Fan are one of those creative, powerhouse couples. Though two entirely individual artists, the influence they exert upon one another is subtle yet undeniable. Both create the kind of art that that makes you giddy with pleasure, while the lack of pretension puts you completely at ease. You get the undeniable sense that these are two people who simply live and breathe creativity and love every moment of it. Two amazing artists with a wholly individual take on life and the world around them. I had the pleasure to grill them both.
Where did you both go to school?
Brendan: ‘I went to school at Art Center in Pasadena, California’.
Evan: ‘Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, with you Ilana!’
Since school up until now, what’s your journey been like?
Brendan: ‘Oh, so much. Well both of us met right after school. We had a group show together in LA and it was our first after graduating. Then we hung out a bunch and made some magic happen, or whatever. Work wise, we just tried to stay alive and keep working. I figured out that illustration wasn’t really my thing, and then I went more down a “gallery” path with my work’.
Evah: ‘A journey revisiting my teen years. In order to survive, my credentials opened doors to minimum-waged jobs. Once as a clerk at a local copy shop (there’s plenty here in Berkeley) and another as a shipping assistant at a little shipping place right after graduation. Together these two jobs gave me more insights to making zines and miscellaneous shipping details. I guess it is rather helpful. Slowly, I got a chance to do some illustrations and participate in small exhibits showing my paintings. All in all, a little rough ride in the beginning, and now it’s a little better, to be able to work from home fulltime in my late 20s, I am thankful’.
How did you find your style? How would you say it’s evolved since you began?
Brendan: ‘Well, at first when you are a student you kind of take a lot in from your environment and your style or way of doing things is not necessarily your own yet. That’s one thing I felt was really nice to look forward to after school, letting things take their own way with less input from all sides. Then eventually, you find out what you want things to look like and what you want to say. At least it sort of worked that way for me’.
Evah: ‘I think my style came through from my compulsive obsessive from cleaning? Somewhere in the midst of developing my idea, my paintings reduced in size and I am bending forward to paint, which is not healthy for my eyes. I get anal-retentive when it comes to painting, a result of household chores. I didn’t always paint so small, in school days, I think they were normal size. I enjoy painting with flat color; early style draws from cartoon and comic influence’.
How would you say your work has influenced one another?
Brendan: ‘The most in our own ways we kind of push each other to try new things. Evah’s always trying to get me to use some blue’.
Evah: ‘Our work is quite different and I admired how Brendan is process oriented, where as I really have to dig hard to project what I want to paint. There’s spontaneity lack in mine that is apparent in his work. Unconsciously, I dabbled into making three-dimensional sculptures from seeing all these wonderful wood sculptures come alive from him using his band saw’.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Brendan: ‘Hmmm. . . My work, I’m happy when I can make something a little strange and sort of eerie, but not scary, while also making something I think is fairly beautiful, if that makes sense.
Evah: On the economic scale, my artwork is kind of travel-size friendly. It’s compact in a sense, and I’ve been told from gallerist to bring my small originals (save on shipping?) and frame in the final destination. I do however enjoy depicting my scatter-brained fragments into some sort of naïve narratives’.
If and/or when you find yourself in a creative slump, what do you both do to try and get out of it?
Brendan: ‘I just try and work anyway, though it can get tough. Or take a break, but I don’t always have that choice. Drink coffee’.
Evah: ‘Take a coffee break. Sometimes I get really frustrated I boycott working for a few hours, until something good sparks up. The drill goes, I vent my frustration out on Brendan and a good meal goes a long way!’
Plans for future projects?
Brendan: ‘Our next show will be in Paris at Galerie L.J. Beaubourg. We’re not positive what we are going to have in the show, but I think I might like to try experimenting with some microorganisms, though who knows if they will turn into finished pieces or not‘.
Evah: ‘I want to paint bigger, but of smallish things. Also longing for a sojourn abroad’.