Thanks to our friends at Where Wear In The City, a fascinating local artist recently registered on our radar. Brad Jensen is his name, and pop art is his genre of choice. That is, “pop art with an edge,” as he says – and a wearable twist.
Born in Los Angeles, raised in Dallas, and currently residing in the rural town of Boyd, Brad Jensen’s persona is part West Coast, part Texan. The long hair, shades, and laid-back attitude are pure L.A., but any given day might find Jensen in boots, working his family farm. A recent conversation with the artist revealed that these aren’t the only curious contradictions that make him tick.
“For me, art is an emotional language,” Jensen explains. “Pretty is fine, but does ‘pretty’ grab your heart?”
From his desire to create works that challenge and inspire emotion, this painter’s signature was born. Each work begins with his unique take on pop art, that category which highlights icons and imagery of popular culture, advertising, and consumerism. Specifically, rock legends and Hollywood stars are common subjects for Jensen’s canvases. First he paints, and then, in his words, he “messes it up.”
Whether distressed or splattered or marked with text, Jensen’s works display more layers, and therefore seek to convey more meaning, than is typically characteristic of the clean-lined pop movement. For example, streaks and shadows transform Jensen’s Elvis into a haunting, monolith-like structure. Pasted newsprint draws the eye – and the mind – deeper into his study of Kurt Cobain. Coupled with his extensive research on his subjects, Jensen’s unique approach has gained the attention of patrons, as well as brands including Absolut Vodka.
Speaking of layers, another paradox is key to our interest in Jensen’s work. Hardly content to embody the ‘struggling artist’ cliché, he employs a business manager to advise on matters of monetization. The result? Where once a lone canvas could find a single home, Jensen translates his work into t-shirts, pillows, and more.
And, why not? If pop art co-opts consumer culture, it seems reasonable to make the art itself as consumable as possible. Besides, in Jensen’s own words, “I want my art to live, and get out on the streets!”
As fashion lovers, first and foremost, we can report that the aforementioned shirts are easy to wear, fun to style, and collectible. They make great gifts, appealing to a wide range of demographics. We also love that they’re produced in limited edition runs, right here in Dallas.
But tees may be just the beginning. Jensen’s keen on venturing into bags and bowling shirts in the future. And, as for a modern-day icon who might soon grace his wearable art? Think Dave Grohl, and never, ever Justin Bieber.
On a parting note, lest we paint this talented Texan into a consumable corner, we’ll share one of his well-kept secrets. You see, many of Jensen’s works never reach the light of day, much less the front of a t-shirt. Some of his most personal creations, in fact, are covered over with a fresh coat and transformed into new works of art as soon as they’re completed. Still others are locked away forever, like personal treasures, inside his farmhouse studio.
Visit BradJensenArt.com for more information.