David Bruce Interview
David Bruce (1977) is a French artist who works from his studio in Liege. His works have an iconic flat and colorful style that people can quickly recognize as David Bruce. In 2022, Vroom & Varossieau will represent David Bruce at Art Miami and Art The Hague.
We visited David while he was working on his mural at the All Caps Headquarters in Rotterdam. We asked him some questions about his starting days, his collaboration with Nike, and his works for Art Miami and Art The Hague. If you are interested in any of the works by David, send us an email at email@example.com.
We're standing here in front of your mural at the All Caps headquarters. Can you tell us something about the mural?
This painting represents a melting pot. Smileys in different colors, representing different cultures and countries. Everything is mixed together, and this is also emphasized by the different sports that are portrayed. Different countries have different sports that are more prominent than others. There is no political message behind it. It's colorful and should make people happy.
Sports are always a recurring theme in your work. How did this start?
Before I started spraying graffiti, I was playing a lot of sports, especially basketball. I would travel to different basketball courts around the city by train, which was when I saw the first graffiti pieces. These were mostly silver graffiti pieces. Shortly after I started spraying graffiti myself. And spraying graffiti on trains is just like a sport. It's a sprint. You have to know what you are going to paint and you need to have everything ready. There is little time and you want it to be good.
Your first pieces of graffiti were done on train tracks. Do you remember your first pieces?
I still remember all my graffiti pieces. My first pieces were done with guys from my high school. We would go to the tracks together and the guys would draw the pieces out for me, and I would fill them in. Later, I started to go by myself and do all the pieces alone. My first piece was done on the way to Gare du Nord Pontaise, where I did silver pieces. But I wanted to see my pieces moving. So I started to do graffiti on the trains. It was something very special to see my pieces of graffiti moving throughout the city. Instead of you walking past art, the art passes you. I still do pieces on trains whenever I get the chance. It's always good to keep the practice up and to do it with friends. Those people are like family to me.
When you return to graffiti, do you see any influences of your studio work and the other way around?
Yes, I always try to mix the two. I take elements from my studio art to the trains, but also the other way around. The first studio work I made was purely spray paint on canvas. I was used to spraying fast and I only used one character. Then I realized that in the studio you have more time than in the streets. Now, I use spray in combination with acrylics and other techniques. It reminds me of where I come from.
Your style is one that contains flat colors and a certain simplicity that is pleasing to the eye. How did this signature style evolve?
I have always gravitated towards the simple pieces without too much dimension and few colors.This is what you see in my work as well. The evolution of my style was a natural process. If you would take my latest works and my earliest works, they might seem vastly different. But, if you put in all the canvases I made in between, the evolution is clear. I was always using a few colors and you could already see the sports balls, which I still use now.
You mentioned that your early life still functions as a reference for you. What is the meaning behind the pieces of fruit?
As a kid, when you go out and play sports, what do you have with you? Basketball, a bottle of water, and a banana or another piece of fruit. A banana fuels your whole day, it's all you need and an essential part of childhood. And it looks great in art as well.
Recently, you became an artist in residence at Nike with whom you did three t-shirts, how did this start?
I always used the Nike Swoosh in all my works, even before the collaboration. One day I woke up to an email from Nike and was expecting the worst, but it turned out to be a request to work together. That was a beautiful surprise. After some time the t-shirts were released. It's amazing to see that the shirts are sold out in most places and to see them on the streets. The first time I saw it I took a picture with the person and told them the story. Then I kept seeing pictures from all over the world. Asia, United States, Europe, everywhere. Now you see famous athletes wear them as well. They also wanted to keep my version of the swoosh, which is this big fat swoosh. It is amazing to see, really something you dream of as a kid.
Your works often show vases (including some of the works for Art The Hague and Art Miami). What was the inspiration behind this?
I have worked on a few ceramics in the past. And the idea behind the paintings is that they can function as inspiration for future ceramics I make. And the vases just work as a beautiful vessel for art as well. And I needed the canvases to be big. This way it looks the best.