We spoke with Miami-born, Hamburg-based artist Brigette Hoffman about her latest collection of sculptures, how her art progresses and her biggest inspirations.
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Brigette Hoffman is an innovative Miami-born, Hamburg-based artist making colorful masterpieces to brighten up your life. Her weird and wonderful world is full of surprises; from mini cowboys battling french fries to the local stripper and miscellaneous Miami misfits, Brigette’s masterpieces all add up to a refreshing landscape of well-curated buffoonery. Basically, this girl’s mind is a minefield of curiosity that will inspire you in unexpected and altogether unforeseen ways.
Her latest exhibition is called “Pommes Redemption” and features a spin on a classic Western battle, as miniature cowboys square off with Frenchfry people in a frozen scene. Her original concept was then expanded to include wearable creations modeled after the miniatures that are built from construction paper and feature several of her friends as models. All of these creative decisions add up to the playful absurdity of the world she creates; her ideas are wild and empathic yet perfectly executed.
Take a look at her unique artwork and read our exclusive interview with Brigette Hoffman below.
What’s your personal background and what are you up to in life currently?
My beautiful mother was from Nicaragua, and my father is German. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Five years ago, I made the decision to move to Germany and get my citizenship here so I could apply myself to several art academies. Studying Fine Art in America was unimaginable for me because it is extremely expensive and I came from a poor family. I was then accepted to study at the Hochschule fur Bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany – in my opinion, one of the most profound art academies in all of Germany. I remember screaming ‘YES!’ when I heard… I’ve been studying and working here ever since and it has completely changed and elevated my life in so many ways. Europe has been very good to me.
What’s your current relationship to art, as someone who spends a lot of time studying and creating it?
I try to consume and create as much as possible. The thing is, consuming it really just makes me want to create more. I get the feeling I want or need to catch-up with my idols or other artists who inspire me. Sometimes, I think a lifetime (however long that may be) isn’t enough time to create everything I want to make. I want to be alive forever so I can create… forever. 😀
How would you describe your art to someone who doesn’t know you?
That’s a tricky question. Usually, people who know me very well see my work and think, ‘yeah of course Brig would make that, typical B’. But describing it to a complete stranger to give them a clear visual of what I actually make is hard to put into just a few words. But I guess for starters, my work reeks color. It’s honest, sometimes humorous. And whimsical (such a sweet word). I would say my work is multidisciplinary. I find joy in working with several mediums; I’m not the repetitive type and need constant change to stay excited and interested. Thus far, I’ve worked in illustration, painting, sculpture, scenography and photography.
The ideas I have had for projects or works previously until now have been a sort of ripple effect, one project always leading to new ideas for the next. I bounced from illustration to painting because I wanted to work bigger. And from painting to sculpture because I wanted to make my images three-dimensional. And sculpture to photography because I wanted to make my sculptures move or give them life using stop motion, for example.
What is the inspiration behind your latest collection of goodies?
My latest collection was ‘Pommes Redemption’, a series of Plasticine sculptures made up of Cowboys and Frenchfry people in a frozen battle scene. I was inspired for this series by a video game known as Red Dead Redemption II, as well as some classic American Western films. I also think it had a bit to do with the fact that I’m always subconsciously a little homesick. They are currently on display with the traveling group exhibition ALLES KNETEN at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg, Germany, taking place until November 3rd (no big deal).
You made plenty of these mini sculptures as well as some dope AF wearable art for real people, made of construction paper. Can you walk us through how that came to be?
My current collection is called ‘Memphis Tea Party’. It’s a series of wearable sculptures made of construction paper. I was inspired to start this collection in part because of my last series, ‘Pommes Redemption’, which were made up of these twelve-inch tall cowboys in fancy outfits and Frenchfry people. I really enjoyed getting into detail about what the cowboys would wear and their accessories, etc. So why not make actual human-sized clothes that sort of resembled the clothes I had made for the cowboys. I made my first paper ensemble for myself one late night in my studio and I fell in love. I thought: ‘I WANT TO MAKE MORE! For everyone!’.
The wearable sculptures did not exactly resemble the cowboys’ outfits as I kept working on them, but they took their own turn in shape and form. And sort of became their own thing. In seeing them all progress, the colors and shapes really reminded me of the Memphis Design group of which I am a big fan. Hence the name I chose for the collection. Whenever I would go shopping for supplies (I go to the same art supplies store almost every time) my eyes would wonder off and look over five isles of supplies and I’d just stare at this huge wall filled with all sorts and sizes of colored paper. And I mean stare… for like, minutes. I always had the feeling I wanted to use this paper for something sometime, but I didn’t really know what, exactly. After a lot of daydreaming and contemplation, lo and behold, I had an idea. It was the perfect material to mimic my cowboys in life size. And I went apeshit on buying this colored paper.
When do you feel most inspired?
When seeing other inspirational art. Falling in love with another artists’ work for the first time, whether at an exhibition, an artist’s catalog, reading an article, a film, or music. Also knowing other artists who show drive, work hard and succeed at what they love. Witnessing the passion another person has for their own work can be very inspirational for me. It makes me want to be better at what I love.
What’s the most important thing for you to keep in mind, when you’re creating your art?
To be honest and to evoke something in someone. To make every work with love.
What about your miniature misfit characters? Can you explain how they fit into the mix?
The new sculptures I am working on were inspired by my home. I started building this new little collection of characters when I came back to Hamburg from my visit to Miami this year. I began with my first Stripper named Sugar Sparkle, a little Latina sensation with a lotta booty, working a pole in her stilettos. Then I went on making my second sculpture named Lola, a homeless woman missing half a leg in a wheelchair begging for money. The third sculpture is a man I’ve seen since my childhood who must be in his late 70’s now. He’s roamed the beaches of Miami – mainly South Beach – for decades in very elaborate outfits made up of a g-string with matching fake wings, a fedora and matching mesh gloves. The man is a star and he also has one of the most amazing tans I’ve ever seen. His life is going to the beach everyday to lay out in the sun and read in his g-string and angel wings… amazing.
Since my last few projects were basically made up of a number of works rather than just one, I’ve decided this time to get more into detail on each sculpture for its own and with stronger personas. Giving more focus or emphasis to one body of work rather than a mass.
Not all of my sculptures will be based on real life characters, although they very well could be. They are simply what I’ve seen, what I’ve been exposed to. I am very excited to dig deeper and build more characters as they come to me.
Do you feel like art needs to have some sort of clear or abstract message? Or can it just be art for art’s sake, if that makes sense?
It can be both, but at times I feel having to explain art or an art piece can either make the art work better or completely ruin it. Art can be taken at face value or it can also be subjective. I think a person’s individual experiences can also influence how they perceive or interpret art. Essentially, I don’t think a work needs to have some super deep meaning to appeal to me or to be beautiful.
Finally, what’s next for you, in art and life?
A lot of work and saying yes to every project that comes my way. To simply progress.