American Death Inspired Art: Pajamasquid by Brittany Hanks
For this #ThrowbackThursday (#TBT) we look backward and forward: to kick off a new series of articles about American death inspired art, we throw back to one of our Our Favorite Etsy Shops for Dia de los Muertos, from October.
Everlasting Footprint staff writer Liz Grear met up with Pajamasquid’s visual artist, Brittany Hanks, at her home studio in Chicago, to learn more about her artistic inspiration.
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As soon as I walked into Brittany Hanks’ house, I was immediately distracted by the beauty on the walls. Refurbished clocks, her own paintings, and a Louisiana voodoo mask – it was hard not to ask for the items’ stories. Impressed with the décor in her living room, I was blown away by the masterpieces of death inspired art that clung to the studio walls. Like coloring a blank canvas, our interview unraveled as if our conversation was a painting I would hang on my wall.
Brittany keeps her workspace surrounded with inspirational material.
Brittany Hanks is a visual artist of some renown. After graduating with a BFA from Florida Atlantic University, Brittany relocated to Chicago, where she now creates art inspired by Dia de los Muertos, sugar skulls, death, and other “dark” imagery. She has been featured in gallery shows at Flat Iron and Gallery Povocateur, in addition to her many commissioned paintings, tattoos, and commercial shirt designs. Her latest commission is a “Beauty and the Beast” painting, styled like a Victorian couple.
A member of the Bad Apples Artist Collective, an international group of about 25 artists, Brittany frequently participates in their auctions. In addition, Brittany promotes her clothing and purse brand, Pajama Squid, available in her Etsy shop, and on inkedshop.com and rebelcircus.com. Brittany currently devotes efforts to expanding her line of death inspired art handbags into more brick-and-mortar stores around the world.
The story of the inspiration behind her unique style unfolds in her cozy studio upstairs, at a marked wooden table stained with paint and years of use. She explains about her style:
Two of Brittany’s intricate and colorful paintings.
When Brittany says that her biggest influences are from tradition, folklore, and superstition, I have to ask her to explain more. She laughs and replies,
She laughs with deep honesty.
A true artist, Brittany keeps in mind the symbolism in her work, “Eyes in my paintings symbolize spirits and entities; flowers represent growing relationships.” Her most intricate pieces of death inspired art can take up to one week to complete. The painting Brittany completed for her Kickstarter campaign, “The Time Rose,” has individually hand-set crystals around the exterior and interior, and took over 50 hours. While she works, she always listens to music.
Brittany lists her musical inspirations as “all over the place – from metal to Reggaeton to punk and ska.” Her art inspirations include classic masterpieces as well as contemporary clothing illustrators. And her personal inspirations?: “My husband and my mom. My family. They’ve been my supporters through everything. I couldn’t have done any of this without them.”
Brittany Hanks keeps the dead in mind at all times. It is essential to keeping herself in the right mindset for her art. She points to one of her numerous masterpieces and says,
Brittany Hanks, artist, and Liz Grear, writer, at Hanks’ studio.
With contribution from Cortni Merritt