Dive headfirst into this Miami-born, Hamburg-based artist’s whimsical world of color camouflaging chaos.
Brigette Hoffman is a half Nicaraguan, half German American artist born and raised in Miami, Florida. She flitted halfway around the globe to perfect her craft at the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg while making waves in the Hamburg art scene as a queen of lucid color, day-dreamy form and deep, camouflaged chaos. Her raw and honest expression is evident in each and every piece she pours herself into.
We spoke to Brigette about her art inspirations, making her Mama proud and her past and present obsessions with monsters, penises and nips.
Where are you from? Tell us a lil about your background and upbringing.
I was born and raised in Miami, FL. My father is German and my mother was from Nicaragua. They had met in Miami at a time when shoulder pads and Anita Baker were THE thing. I would say my upbringing was not the easiest and we didn’t come from much. But as kids, my younger sister and I spent a lot of time outside and in the water. Either catching lizards, playing man-hunt or flag-football with the other neighborhood kids, fishing, jumping into the bay, beaching and swimming in pools almost daily. I think for the majority of our childhood my sister and I basically always smelled like chlorine or saltwater and were two tan as hell little babies. We were always outside.
So you were outside a bunch. There are so many interesting shapes and colors in your art. Did you grow up in a colorful household?
I wouldn’t say I grew up in the most colorful household, although I do remember these very big tacky turquoise leather sofas we had in the living room. But Miami is definitely filled with color. South Beach oozes pastels and pinks, Calle Ocho reeks of Latin Culture with every poppy color of the rainbow, and the rest of Miami is just all palm trees, old Art Deco and ocean water, I feel.
What lead you to pursue a career in the arts? Have you always gravitated towards artistic outlets?
Pursuing my art is all I’ve ever wanted to do. It’s all I know how to do. Nothing makes me happier. I think I was always artistically inclined in a way. I mean, when I was younger I spent way too much time playing with Play-Doh and now it has seemed to come back to me 20 years later! I am now 26 and still rolling Play-Doh snakes.
Throughout middle school and high school I always chose art as an extra class and nothing else. But it wasn’t until my Freshman year of high school where I really found my niche for painting and drawing in Mr. Dellonois’ art class. He was an art teacher for high schoolers and still, of course, pursued his own art on the side. That guy was so inspiring, such a happy-go-lucky person and a great teacher. I’d see him work on his own paintings in the class with us while blasting Zero 7 on his computer speakers… and I remember thinking “I wanna be like that fucking guy”. He was also one of my greatest supporters in helping me realize my talent.
What would you say is your main area of focus in your art?
As of lately, I would say my main area of focus in my art has been painting but I am always alternating back to sculpture or stop motion.
You seem to mix in general inspiration from animals, whether it be little birdies here and there or the human body. What does this mean to you?
I draw my inspiration from whatever I am obsessing over at the time. At one point I was really into monsters and decided I wanted to make monster sculptures for a year. Another time I was very into wearable sculptures and wanted to make an army of obnoxious football-looking uniforms and helmets with my own aesthetic (a project I still would like to realize).
Then at some point, I only wanted to create tiny furniture and room sets just because I was obsessed with tiny things… like a tiny toilet with tiny toilet paper!? After the tiny phase, I felt like making insane little disturbing stop motion gifs of penises and nipples just because I love penises and nipples so why not? To a more recent time I discovered many other artists I look up to went through some kind of “bird phase”. Like Tracey Emin with her collection of bird drawings and paintings, or Nathalie Djurberg and her breath-taking bird installation titled “The Parade”. I wanted to make a collection of my own birds from the figment of my own imagination and see how far I could run with that. Hence my current exhibition: Chicken Scandal.
What is your relationship to color?
Color and I are best friends.
What are your favorite materials to work with?
I love all materials. But I’d say my most favorite to work with is clay or Plastelin.
Your art can be loud and funny but also subtle and overall feels very emotional to me. Are there any personal influences or events in your life that you channel into your work?
I think I channel myself into my work all the time. The things I make are like me. A reflection of myself or my thoughts. My art may feel emotional sometimes because I am literally a ball of emotions. What I channel into my work comes from a very private place and sometimes a place I can’t even put into words myself. The work I make may not always give you a specific message other than itself. Which in turn should be able to move you like it moves me into some sort of truth and insight and something beyond art. Initially it’s pleasure that grows, but it isn’t just the shock of a message which you can have and dismiss. I think my work always comes from a genuine place.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days are never really the same so its hard to say what a typical day is like for me but my favorite days are when I can wake up at whatever time I please, have a good breakfast and head straight to the studio where I can spend hours on end without any other obligations.
Does working in the studio always give you life or are there days when you’re just tired AF? How do you love on yourself on those days?
There are days where I do get to the studio however, and I just lounge for the first hour or so because I don’t know where to start or what to work on next. Or I can also just feel completely drained, and if thats the case then I just pack up my shit and go buy myself some good food and pretty earrings and come back to the studio another day to try again.
Are there any artists that you draw inspiration from? Where do you go to get your juices flowin’?
I think there are too many people I draw inspiration from. For starters, Nathalie Djurberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Isa Genzken, Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Helen Marten, Agnes Martin, Ugo Rondinone, the Memphis Design group, and so many more.
Who are some women that have influenced you throughout your life? Fellow artists, creatives or whoever?
My Mama was also my biggest inspiration and influence. Everything I’ve done to this day has been in part for myself and for her. Who doesn’t wanna make their mama proud?
Since I have moved to Germany (about 4 years ago), I have met and befriended so many great artists and talented friends. Many of the people I have had the pleasure of studying with have also been my biggest influences. I’ve learned so much from my peers in such little time. I can only be grateful. If any of you guys are reading this… you know who you are and I’ll see you at the top.
What’s your advice to little girlies or women in the same profession as you?
My advice for girls or women around the world who are in the same profession as me would be: Don’t take yourself too seriously but take yourself seriously.