Rockstar Brandon Boyd Follows His Muse Beyond the Music

Artsy Editorial
Feb 2, 2015 12:00AM

With just a flip through one of his sketchbooks, it immediately becomes clear that Brandon Boyd (whom you may know as the lead singer of alt band Incubus, which came to fame in the 1990s), is the complete artistic package. Working across media—music, creative writing, photography, painting, and drawing—Boyd employs technical proficiency as a draftsman with an intuitive attention to the lyrical qualities of the human and natural world around him, creating artworks that radiate with vision and exuberance.

Never formally trained, Boyd began drawing as a child, and he credits his prolific output with having learned then to be comfortable with the idea of boredom, taking it as a meditative space of inspiration rather than as a lack thereof. “Growing up I didn’t have traditional television access… it left a window of opportunity for my brothers and I to get properly bored. To me, in my observation, that’s where music and art rushed in, to fill that void,” Boyd has said

His experiments with more tactile media first came in the form of designing concert fliers for his shows, but has since evolved into complex figurative watercolors and ink drawings that have been exhibited internationally as far as Zurich, Rome, and Cologne. The works pull in a mix of influences from his California upbringing; shades of street art and surf culture are evident, as well as the calculated symmetries and repeated shapes of Eastern art forms such as mandalas or Islamic patterning.

Newer works, such as Into the Ether and Two Muses (both 2014) verge on the metaphysical and echo concerns of Art Nouveau, exaggerating the bodies of their subjects in a style similar to that of Egon Schiele. An interest in the transcendent qualities of beauty, inspiration and human interaction defines the work, which layers styles and techniques in a manner that almost seems to suggest the complex inner states of his subjects. 

Boyd’s work in one media informs that of another, and he considers his process to form instinctually:  “There are quite a few stages in the process of making something, whether it’s a song, or a painting or a drawing or something. And the first part of it looks a little bit like, sort of wandering around. It’s almost like you’re digesting…and it comes out in bursts....of sketches, bursts of words, poetry, pieces of songs…It’s sort of like this sort of flood that comes through; that’s really that moment of inspiration.”

This intuitive spirit is especially obvious in White Fluffy Clouds (2003), From the Murks of the Sultry Abyss (2007), and So The Echo (2013), a series of books that oscillate easily between writing, artwork and photography, to create a portrait of the inner workings of an artist dedicated to following his muse.

—K. Sundberg

Discover more artists at Project Gallery.

Artsy Editorial