Interview with Briar Rosa

by Briar Rosa

PR: Can you give us some background about how you started your involvement in the art community? What first inspired you to become a visual artist? 

BR: It was pretty much when I was eight years old, in grade school, my friends and I were into comics and we would collect them and go to our cafeteria break during lunch and we would all draw them. That is how I learned the anatomy of the figure and musculature, and that motivated me to be a visual artist. I kind of made that decision at that point. I got really into low rider magazines and marvel comics and we would just draw them. That’s how I learned how to draw. From there I went to San Bernardino Valley College and then transferred to UCR, where I picked things up along the way and found my own style. I chose figurative painting because it has a strong connection with me. When I was young, my dad would take me to the museum, and I would see Vanier paintings and other works of art which inspired me to do the same. I aimed to achieve his technique and mastery of paint and from that point that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that is how I got into art.

PR: What are some major themes and subjects that you are exploring in your current body of work?

BR: That’s a question that I have been thinking about for about five years now. As far as figurative painting, I ask myself what can I contribute to that and for me I pull from nostalgia and from working with Chicano culture like Aztec imagery, low rider culture, 90’s pop culture, video games such as Psycho Genesis, films that came out then, marvel comics, and music around the time of the early 90’s because that is the time that I grew up. All these influences are themes that I think about now.

PR: How would you describe your creative style and mediums in which you work?

BR: I call my artistic style figurative, which means that there will always be a person within one of my paintings. This is also known as portraiture, meaning I like to implement key figures within my works. 

Within the M.A program here at CSUSB, I am challenged to work outside the norm. I create sculptures and paintings that both challenge me conceptually and mentally, which help me find my love for both.

Initially, I like to introduce myself as a figurative painter, but lately I find myself moving into identifying as a visual artist. It’s hard to define my work, because I like to explore. I like to brainstorm concepts, but as an artist the challenge is how I want to construct it. I search and question the impact of my work, and what medium would work best. So I can’t just label myself as a painter, although paintings are what I predominantly do.

PR: As a San Bernardino native, how has this region’s culture and community influenced your art? Are you working on any artistic projects now that pertains to San Bernardino?

BR: Yes, I was born at Saint Bernardine Hospital here in San Bernardino and graduated from San Bernardino High School. When I graduated in the early 2000’s we didn’t have social media. Although I had passion for art, I constantly asked myself if I could make a living as an artist. I never heard about contemporary, successful artists. Magazines were my only source of looking at modern and contemporary art. Those magazines gave me hope that maybe It is possible. The point I am trying to make is that there is an artistic community in San Bernardino.  For example, there is a place called The Little Gallery of San Bernardino, and there is also the Breezeway in downtown San Bernardino. I feel like these establishments help high school students understand that the opportunity is there now. Now, they have social media where they can explore the works of others as well as showcase their own works. I did not have that. I felt like I was the only painter in high school because I kind of was. I went to San Bernardino Valley College after high school,  where I was the only painter, and only figurative painter. I later went to UCR. Again, I found myself as the only figurative painter. I like to show people that they can still make a career as a painter and help them preserve their passion for art.

To answer the second part of your question I would like to say I like to implement some San Bernardino landmarks within my paintings. In my new project I used street signs of the intersection ofBaseline and KSTin San Bernardino, which is where my grandmother lived and where I grew up as a kid. I am slowly implementing San Bernardino landmarks along with certain 90’s nostalgia, Chicano culture, and submersions of them. I don’t typically place them all in one painting, but I do like to draw from them.