WA artist HANDBRAKE has sold his work to a Hollywood actor, done album art for world-famous band, and is about to embark on his solo exhibition in Perth.
On his “junkyard” style…
Hans Bruechle, perhaps better known as HANDBRAKE, has a unique approach to art that melds elements of graffiti and pop art for an accessible urban style. The multi-talented West Australian artist, illustrator, writer and graphic designer describes his work is “part cartoon, part pinup, part graffiti and part surf and skate aesthetic”.
The sought after artist’s style is so eclectic – and indeed chaotic – that viewers will discover something new in his work every time they look at the same piece. “I once had my style described to me as ‘junkyard art’ because it’s frequently a crazy jumble of characters and objects all piled onto of each other,” Hans says. “Maybe ‘value for money art’ is how to describe it, though, because you’re getting a hell of a lot of art in a single piece.”
On starting out…
Hans’ style has seen him cross from the street to gallery walls and back again. But it hasn’t happened overnight, with his passion for art born many moons ago – back when he was 6 and first picked up a MAD Magazine. “I realised that there were people out there, artists, who were creating grotesque characters and not taking themselves too seriously,” he says. “Up till then I think I figured ‘art’ was all oil paints and outrageous price tags, I wanted to have a bit more fun with it.”
From then on he was always pen-in-hand, whether doodling on school books or creating his own Christmas cards. As an artist who didn’t fit the mould in the traditional sense, Hans eventually found his niche with graffiti. “I didn’t really launch into it as a career until I was 26,” he says. “Looking back, those moments in my life when I had nothing to do were almost always filled with creation – I think I have a genuine love of making things in any form.”
These days Hans hones his craft watching other artists at work, picking up inspiration and techniques that keep his own style ever-evolving. “I note their approach to things, and I have the courage (or ignorance) to try new things out – a happy accident is still happy after all!” he says.
On making it a career…
HANDBRAKE has managed to parlay his career into a commercially viable exercise, with collaborations with corporate global brands like McDonalds, headphones for Skullcandy, hockey sticks for Lycan Hockey, surfboard fins for World Surf Professional Josh Kerr, a dynamic and colourful line of bespoke skateboards and even album artwork for international rock band the Stone Temple Pilots. “My favourite projects are the ones that really take it out of me – the ones that almost get me to give up about 80% of the way through – but that I’m then most proud of finishing,” he says. “The most recent one of those for me is a massive 60 metre long wall mural I finished in January for Woolworths.”
HANDBRAKE has even caught the eye of a Hollywood heavyweight. “In one of my very first group exhibitions I sold a piece to actor Dan Aykroyd – Ghostbusters, Blues Brothers, Coneheads…yep that guy,” Hans says. “He picked my piece out of the crowd and said ‘that’s the one I want’, which was awesome at the time (and still is).”
On his first solo exhibition…
HANDBRAKE’s first solo exhibition, Chaos Controlled, showcases his incredibly versatile body of work over two nights in a refurbished warehouse space on Cheriton Street, East Perth. It features over 50 of his works, including a unique, custom designed and hand painted, café racer motorbike as the showstopper.
“Anyone who has ever put an event together knows about the craziness that seems to ramp up the closer you get to the date, but apart from that I’m really excited for people to see what I’ve been trading sleep for over the last year,” Hans says. “I’m hoping my work gets out to a lot of people who haven’t been exposed to it before and I still have a few unfinished pieces that I’m really keen to unveil.”
In partnership with Gage Roads Brewing Co and reSPOKE, attendees will sample HANDBRAKE’s art paired with the sounds of local DJ Mike de Wet and fare from Perth’s food trucks. Hans will be chatting to guests, offering personal insights into the inspiration behind individual works.
“The show is going to be a whole lot of fun and hopefully there’s something for everyone because my work is spread across so many different media – skateboard decks, canvases, sculptures and clothing,” he says. “I’m hoping people see my style, the way I go about things, and understand that I’m here to enjoy being creative and to celebrate the act of making something, whatever that may be.”
On his next move…
With 2018 already squaring up to be a busy year, HANDBRAKE has back-to-back projects until August, including a custom line of denim jackets and a few big wall pieces. “I’m excited to start on these but I’ve been going flat out for the last 2 to 3 years,” he says. “It might be time to take a holiday, recharge, and just maybe I’ll grab some sleep.”
Chaos Controlled is on March 10, 2018, at reSPOKE warehouse, 35 Cheriton Street, East Perth. It kicks of at 7pm and is FREE and open to the public.