From creating his own comic books as a kid to designing skateboard graphics as a teen, Todd Alan Breland has always been an artist in heart and soul. However, he didn’t know art was going to become his career. “I figured I’d just be a professional skateboarder my whole life. I began to take art more seriously when I got accepted into the Old Donation Center for the Gifted and Talented. My eyes were opened up to a broad range of mixed media : from painting and fresco to illustration. I attended advanced college level art courses in high school, but it wasn’t until I moved to college that I heard the term ‘graphic design’.”
After graduating from college with a BFA in Communication Arts, Todd Alan Breland worked for a handful of firms as a designer, eventually moving up to art director. Those years provided a lot of great experiences, while he learned the ins and outs of the business, working with a team and handling client interaction.
In 2004 Breland started to work as a creative consultant / art director under the moniker IMNY: “I’ve done it all – independent to corporate identities, branding, advertising, editorial (from newspapers to magazines to books), cd’s, posters, apparel and accessories, packaging, gallery shows, art for the web, to even greeting cards.” Breland seeks to bridge the gap between ‘art’ and the wide world of corporate design. “I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some of the most amazing and talented people in the industry; artists, agencies and clients alike. But it all boils down to this…simply put…I love what I do.”
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AS A DESIGNER?
I graduated from college in 2000 and immediately started working for a local newspaper. Right after, I jumped from that to a small design house and then to a larger corporate firm before going out on my own in 2004. I’ve been going strong solo since (knock on wood 😉
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
My environment as a whole really shapes my work. My friends and family, nature, our environment, everyday people, the news, the food I eat, stress, misery, happiness, … are all factors I believe. Other than that, i just have a strong sense of motivation; that amazing feeling of accomplishment when a project is finished and I’m proud of the outcome.
As far as other art/artists, I’ve always been a huge fan of Alphonse Mucha and Roy Lichtenstein. My love for Mucha’s intricate floral illustrations and Lichtensteins bold imagery and vivid color are really the largest influences in my work.
DID IT TAKE LONG TO FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
Not particularly. I’ve always had my own style but early on being a designer working corporate I couldn’t really express it in my work. Now that I’m on my own it’s a great feeling to be contacted for work solely because of ‘my’ style. I guess if I had to define my style I would call it ‘pop nouveau.’
The gestural and flowing line movement of art nouveau and the silkscreen stencil work of pop mesh well in my head. I love using bright and vivid color, heavy patterns and layering. I’m fascinated with women too, as they are the subject of most of my work. I love how such a slight change in movement and curves or an expression can manipulate the entire feel of a piece.
ANY INSIGHTS IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
I think I can speak for most artists by saying, when you’re feeling creative you have to go with it. Its hard to put a time on creativity. Some days I wake up and its like I’ve stumbled into a whole new universe. I feel innovative and I’m all over the place. Other days I can stare at a blank canvas or mess around for hours and not feel the least bit motivated. Once I do get into my work, there is no method. I usually just play and play until I feel the piece is done. I hate people seeing my work during the interim stages before it’s complete. What they see then, may look completely different 10 minutes later.
DO YOU START SKETCHING ON PAPER OR DO YOU WORK DIRECTLY ON THE COMPUTER?
I keep paper and ink pens handy on my desk because I’ll go back and forth. If I don’t go into a project with a concept already planned out, I’ll sketch around ideas on paper until I come up with a solid direction. Most of my final artwork though is done digitally. It’s still so new to me. I’m 30 now and I didn’t have a computer at home or even in school until college, so I grew up using sketchpads, newsprint, etc for art projects.
MUSIC SEEMS TO HAVE A PROMINENT ROLE IN YOUR WORK. HOW DID YOU GET INTO THAT SCENE?
I believe it’s natural for any artist to reach out into other creative outlets. For me that was being involved in writing music and being in bands. Art, music, fashion and entertainment all go hand in hand. It’s natural for those things to intermix. I think my ‘being in a band’ days are over but I still love creating artwork for others.
WHAT INTERESTS YOU MOST IN ‘THE COKE SIDE OF LIFE’ REMIX PROJECT?
I think what interested me most was the global aspect, having artists with such a variety of styles from all different parts of the world working together. I was really curious to see the interpretations of each artist or agency.
HOW DID THE ‘COCA-COLA’ HISTORY AND THEMES INFLUENCE YOUR REMIX WORK?
Well there’s a constant fun, loving feeling in ‘Coca-Cola’’s advertising. It was very easy for me to reproduce that feeling because it comes so natural to me in my work. The way ‘Coke’ has been pushing art and design into mainstream marketing is incredible. I think they are one of the few large corporations that realizes how much of an impact art has in the world. Being represented by artists like Rauschenberg and Warhol is also a huge influence. Those artists were able to find that perfect balance in their work of enhancing the iconic imagery of ‘Coke’ as well as being a complete reflection of the artists personal style. I like to believe I achieved the same.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEAS BEHIND YOUR POSTERS?
I wanted to avoid any thought process and just evoke feeling. A simple idea with a colorful palette that anyone can understand.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE IN YOUR REMIX ARTWORK?
Enjoy what you’re doing, always!
IS IT DIFFICULT TO COME UP WITH ARTWORKS THAT FIT A THEME?
It can be very difficult if it’s not a theme that naturally flows with the artists’ style. However I think having a graphic design background allows me to be more flexible because I’m accustomed to catering to a clients needs.
WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM PROJECT AS AN ARTIST?
I’m always looking to go ‘bigger.’ I think it’s a lot of artists’ dreams to see their work at a large scale. I’m talking beyond billboards 😉
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACCOMPLISH AS A DESIGNER?
I’d like to use my artwork as a tool to help humanity. I recently did a pro-bono collaboration with the music industry to raise money to fight HIV/aids. I’d love to start a foundation that collaborates with all kinds of artists and creatives to do something on a more global level.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU WHEN YOU’RE NOT WORKING?
I wish you could find me laying in a hammock on an island. That’s where I need to be 😉