Bryan Christie Design

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So far Bryan Christie Design has created 55 blog entries.

The blink of an eye

By |June 5th, 2015|Syndicated Content|

The blink of an eye

“One thing is clear; there is no progress in art.”
Willem DeKooning

Something washes over me when I pick up a piece of charcoal and draw. It’s primal; I feel the distant call of thousands and thousands of years of ancestry. Maybe it’s because charcoal comes from one of our first technologies: the harnessing of fire.

We make paintings and drawings to claim our existence in the world. This is most evident in cave paintings. They are a primeval psychological expression: of grappling with existence in a world vast, mysterious, and inexplicable. This work is not about taming the natural world, as is most later European art; these animals are not “tamed” for our use. This work is about survival; this is why they are so powerful.

For 35,000 years the aesthetics in these paintings were handed down from generation to generation; there is too much consistency in the work to prove otherwise. Think about that for a moment. These artists seemed not to care about “progress.” (Was progress even a notion they had?) I’ve heard people whine that nothing new has been done in the art world for decades. Decades? Compare that with 35,000 years!

We know about geological change taking place over eons. And yet, on the human scale, we think of 35,000 years as an eternity. We think of the paintings as ancient; yet the cave that has been painted upon is virtually unchanged. So when looking at cave paintings one is presented with the paradox of time: thousands of generations passing in the blink of an eye of Mother Earth.

Caves have no right angles. Did Paleolithic man know what a rectangle was? How often would he see a straight line? Perhaps the only time he witnessed a straight line was when looking out onto the ocean’s horizon. Or maybe he noticed the path of a falling object described a straight line. I look up from the rectangular screen of my laptop. I see the rectangle of the doorway into my kitchen; the rectangular windows letting light in. I inhabit a world of rectangles. Yet they are so ubiquitous I am unaware of them. At times I’ve wondered what an alien would see if they were to visit one of our museums. I think they would wonder why there are so many rectangles on the walls.

I was going to write that we’re prisoners of the rectangle. But something is giving me pause. When I look at a Mondrian a calm comes over me. I’m witnessing the sacredness of the horizontal and vertical line. These straight lines hint at the perfection of physics, or at least how we experience physics: the up and down force of gravity; the horizontal line of stasis and rest. The right angle is a symbol of the sacred union of the activity of gravity and the stasis of rest.

In cave painting we’re witnessing the mystery and wonder of the physical world. In Mondrian we’re witnessing the mystery of the laws that govern the physical world. The subject is irrelevant. What is relevant is the mystery. The awe. The incomprehension and the inexplicable.

The finite mind tries to grasp the infinite and is left peering into the paradox of existence.

Laughing at the word two

By |June 1st, 2015|Syndicated Content|

“Let the poet dream his dreams. Yet, the poet must look at the world; must enter into other men’s lives; must look at the earth and the sky; must examine the dust in the street; must walk through the world and his mirror.”
–William Baziotes

I have a tendency to get lost in the clouds and deny the reality of my corporeal existence. I have an inner committee that has been trying to convince me for years that if I just paint and meditate enough I will float away on a blissful spiritual ether. This committee informs me what I should and shouldn’t feel; that I shouldn’t be sad, angry, or jealous. Rather, I should always be happy, joyous, and free. By labeling one thing as “bad” and another as “good,” I’m codifying and separating. I don’t like to think of myself as a dualist. But this is clearly the case. I’m labeling the emotional world, physical world, and spiritual world as separate entities. I’m not thrilled with this unconscious tendency. 

As much as I would like to think I am, I’m not just a spirit-body composed of particles of love. Rather than ignore and separate myself from the more uncomfortable feeling states I have within, what would happen if I tried to acknowledge and witness them? I’m listening to the anger I have within. What does it have to tell me? What does this pervasive sadness I have been desperately running from have to tell me? What about fear? God forbid I look at envy or jealousy! And I’m not just limiting myself to “negative” emotions. What about joy and love?

Clearly, these feeling states are diverse and multifaceted. Yet I think of my psyche as one thing. There’s a unity here, and contained within it are my variegated feeling states. This isn’t just true of my psyche. Billions of cells arrange themselves to create my physical body (not bodies). And the physical body and emotional body are contained within the energetic makeup of the universe.

I don’t look at it as the many composing the whole. Rather, the one gives birth to the many. I came across this Rumi poem the other day:

When grapes turn 
to wine, they long for our ability to change.

When stars wheel
around the North Pole,
they are longing for our growing consciousness.

Wine got drunk with us,
not the other way.
The body developed out of us, not we from it.

We are bees,
and our body is a honeycomb.
We made
the body, cell by cell we made it.

My work has always been about transcendence and our energetic makeup. The symmetry in many of my pieces speaks to unity and oneness. But I am moving away from this with the new body of work I am currently making. I’m interested in putting the chaos, the hustle and bustle, the sights, sounds, and smells of the entire world in the panel. In other words, diversity has become my subject. And how the diverse in its entirety is a unity.

Laughing at the word two
Laughing At The Word Two (after Hafiz)
22"x28", silk and encaustic on panel, 2015

Understanding The World: The Atlas Of Infographics

By |January 5th, 2015|Syndicated Content|

I'm honored to announce that six of our pieces are in the just published book, Understanding The World: The Atlas Of Infographics. Sandra Rendgen did a wonderful job writing and editing the book. The artists on my team, Joe Lertola and Jeong Suh, did b...

Archival, limited-edition prints

By |June 19th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

I'm offering signed, limited-edition giclée prints of the following pieces. I print on archival Canson Photographique rag 310/m2 paper. The sheets measure 22"x17". Editions of 20 with one artist proof. Please email me at for inquiries.

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Portraits"  2012

Archival, limited-edition prints
"In the center of the world"  2013

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Reclining man"  2013

Archival, limited-edition prints
"For Rumi"  2014

Archival, limited-edition prints
"The pushing away pulls you in"  2013

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Willem"  2013

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Every angel is terror"  2014

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Divine separation"  2013

Archival, limited-edition prints
"Permanence lost"  2014

A little less

By |June 18th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

I believe we've been seduced by the digital medium. It is easy in digital 3D to make things glow, be reflective and shiny. We use every color imaginable in our work. I would like to see more restraint in what we do. Here's an anatomical illustration of...

The usefulness of uselessness

By |June 18th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

The usefulness of uselessness

"All art is quite useless." 
Oscar Wilde 

In the late eighties and early nineties I was a student at La Guardia High School of the Arts. My life was devoted to music. Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins and Lester Young were my idols. At eighteen I began gigging with my quintet in small venues in New York City. I wrote music and played tenor saxophone with a passion; I would end a gig or practice session in physical pain and emotional exhaustion. 

Jazz clubs were dropping like flies. Swing and bebop had been a vital aspect of American culture. Yet the glory years of the thirties, forties and fifties, with places like NYC's 52nd street, didn't exist anymore. The music I was playing was disconnected from the times I was living in; I was rehashing a music that had died decades before. I was tired of pouring my heart into something that felt useless. I stopped playing. 

At twenty I began working at my father's illustration and animation studio, Slim Films. There I learned that illustration and information graphics serve a specific purpose and have a defined goal. It was a revelation to be doing something concretely useful. After a couple of years working as a freelance illustrator I took a job as an assistant art director at Scientific American magazine. The editors worked with a passion that was eye-opening—even as they were writing about the most obscure subjects, like a particle physics theory that had no perceived relevance in our daily lives. It was as if I were surrounded by artists and musicians. 

This reignited my desire to make music. I decided to leave Scientific American and go back to Manhattan School of Music, the conservatory I had dropped out of a few years earlier. I quickly learned that I didn't have what it would take to make it as a professional musician. It seemed as if the pinnacle of success was getting into the pit band of a Broadway show. The prospect of playing the same music day in and day out was a nightmare. At the time I was earning, and enjoying, a decent living as a freelance illustrator. Once again I stopped playing. 

Over the years I became relatively successful as an illustrator. Five years ago I began to hire people and transition from a freelance illustrator to the creative director of my own studio. Two and a half years ago we moved the studio from Maplewood, N.J., to New York City. 

I reentered the world of the useless; I decided to devote a significant part of my time and energy to creating fine art. Creating something that is of no use is an exercise in frustration. The other day I was complaining to an artist friend about this. Shaking his head he said, "People have no idea how hard this is. It's awful. Just awful." 

And then, a couple of weeks ago I downloaded an album from iTunes of Barry Harris and Charles Davis, two of the teachers I studied with years ago. At the first notes my knees buckled. Time stopped and joy welled in my heart. It didn't matter what year it was. It didn't matter that what I defined as jazz had died years ago. What mattered was that for this brief time it was alive and well in my studio as I listened and danced.

Sculpture, photography, and information graphics

By |June 18th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

As I was taking pictures over the weekend it occurred to me that the act of taking a photograph is reductive. The same is true for sculpting with marble.Look at these two images:Michelangelo used chisels and hammers to chip into the block of marble in ...

A visual definition of information graphics

By |June 18th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

Eighty-one professionals were asked to create a visual definition of information graphics for a book that was published by the Society of News Designers Español.

When I was asked to do this, I froze. Talk about a blank canvas staring you in the face. An information graphic about an information graphic. How meta! My initial ideas involved illustrating the process of going from complexity to simplicity. I considered taking a photo of downtown NYC and then creating a 3-D rendering of the same area with one building highlighted in blue. Lame. One thing my father taught me is to throw out the first idea you come up with; it's usually too simple or surface oriented.

I continued to agonize over the assignment. I felt more and more that the only way to define an information graphic was through words. What are words anyway but organized collections of letters? And what are letters but symbols composed of abstract lines and geometric shapes?

Here's what I came up with:

A visual definition of information graphics

After the judging at Malofiej20 I'm not sure I would say that an information graphic must have annotations or words though. There was an entry by National Geographic that was a reconstruction of a primitive man's face. The general consensus was that it wasn't an information graphic. I argued that it was— it was a visual that informed the reader of a possible facial structure of our ancestors. I said that there was a science to these reconstructions. Someone then said that they would feel it was an information graphic if it was annotated. At the time I agreed. I've since changed my mind. In hindsight I wish I had stuck to my guns on this one.

To prove my point, this is my favorite information graphic:

A visual definition of information graphics

It's a color wheel developed by Johannes Itten. I use it all the time. Complementary colors are opposite one another. It shows how the primary colors mix to make the secondary and tertiary colors. It's informative and extremely useful.

Opening reception for Transmutation

By |April 29th, 2014|Syndicated Content|

Opening reception for Transmutation

I'm hosting a three-person show at my studio. I'm showing with two other wonderful artists: Linda Serrone Rolon and Alkan Nallbani. The opening is on Thursday, May 8th, from 6 to 10pm. If you're in the NYC area, please come by!

The show will be up through Saturday, May 10th. 11am-6pm.

Press release:


Please Join Us Thursday, May 8, 6-10pm

Christie Studio, 67 Greene Street, 3rd floor

New York City

Please accept this invitation to view the works by Linda Serrone Rolon, Bryan Christie, and Alkan Nallbani and their connection to Transmutation.  
Linda Serrone Rolon's elements of Transmutation are a conversion of life, material, and imagination.  Rolon has been painting Mother and Child as subject long before she even thought about being a mom.  Each interpretation is a reflection of her own personal experience and a deep connection to others’ stories of being a mother and/or a child.  “It is the surface that I need to keep clean and smooth. That feeling to make a terrible situation perfect, like in cinema—its nostalgic effort to turn an image into a life lesson.” From the boroughs of NYC, Rolon continues to work in Brooklyn with family in tow and has retired parts of her life to reconnect with the community in the only way she knows how (through her art).
Bryan Christie’s work explores the spectrum of human experience. "Our lives start with trauma as we are brought into the world from the safety of our mother's womb. We eventually die, experiencing the loss of all that is dear to us. Yet transcendence and the experience of the sublime are rooted in this fleeting material existence. The divine is made evident through tangible and sensual experience; without our physical selves, we would not experience moments of wonder and the mysterious." 
His work is an attempt to transform the lasting effects of his post-traumatic stress disorder from childhood abuse into a message of acceptance, love, and compassion. He ultimately believes that "the human body can express spiritual truths, and my work seeks to inspire a visceral experience of the ultimate love, truth, and beauty that lies in the heart of our world."
Christie’s paintings are created from multiple layers of silk bound together with encaustic, mounted on wooden panels. Many of the figures’ poses are derived from ancient classical sculpture and Renaissance paintings. Christie is inspired by these historical works because of the interplay between our flesh-and-blood existence and something less tangible—our soul.
Alkan Nallbani’s work presents simple images intended to suggest universal themes – humanity, sexuality, environment – raising questions about our existence along the continuum of time.  “My journey from repression to freedom is essential to, and provides the context for, my work but does not constrain it.  Although I cannot remain indifferent to the indelible mark imprinted upon me by such experiences, it is not specifically my identity as an Albanian or immigrant that interests me, but rather the transformative nature of the immigrant experience, inextricably linked with its timeless themes of dislocation, and the continuous challenge of humanity.” 

Inspiration at the Met’s Ancient Egyptian wing

By |December 3rd, 2013|Syndicated Content|

I went to the Met the other day and spent a couple of hours in the Ancient Egyptian wing. I saw a lapis lazuli figurine that blew me away. It was small. But it filled the room with its energy. I keep seeing that vivid blue color in my mind's eye. ...