Brian Butler on Live-Drawing Concerts: "There's a Hundred Photographers, But Here's a Weird Guy Actually Drawing"
A Brian Butler original of Porter Robinson in concert.
Though artist Brian Butler began live-drawing concerts in the Northeast, he has perfected his style in Miami's smoky bars and DIY spaces.
Since moving to the area, he's developed into a hotshot illustrator, been featured in a profile by Vice Magazine's online video channel Noisey, and steadfastly documented our city's singular brand of weirdness.
Now after five years of ducking stage-divers while scratching in a sketchpad, Butler is preparing to finally give some of these illustrations a proper exhibition with Double Vision, a collaborative show with photographer Jaime Salazar, which will also mark the release of a limited-edition book of selected concert drawings.
We here at Crossfade spoke with the artist about how he got into live-drawing, the reception his work has received, and dispelling the myth that Miami is a just a stagnant breeding ground for face-eating zombies.
Drawing by Brian Butler The Casualties at Churchill's Pub, Miami, on October 25, 2013.
Crossfade: It's great that you're doing this Double Vision exhibition with your concert drawings. Can you tell us a bit about the show?
Brian Butler: The whole idea of the show is that it's supposed to showcase the concerts that are happening down in South Florida, in a region that people say, "There is no scene." There's this myth that it's stagnant down here because touring bands don't want to drive all the way down to the tip of Florida. So we're trying to dispel that myth that the area is stagnant, proving through photography and illustrations that there's rad stuff happening down here. Between local bands and the weird bands that somehow manage to come down here, there's a lot of activity.
How did you get into live drawing concerts? Do you recall which show was the first one you did it at?
I actually am putting together a book of all my concert drawings right now, and according to the book, I think the earliest concert drawings I have were done in Massachusetts at my art school, specifically at the Baltimore Round Robins, which had like Dan Deacon and Double Dagger and all these Baltimore bands. So officially, that one is the first one that I have archived in the sketch book. I feel like that one was just testing the waters a little bit. The first one that I was really stoked on was actually Gwar!
It definitely seems Gwar would make an awesome concert drawing!
Dude! It was! I had seen them a few times at that point. It was maybe my third time seeing Gwar. So I ripped a poster down and started drawing on the back of it, and then christened the drawing with the blood of Oderus and whomever he was decapitating on stage!
Where did the concept for live-drawing concerts come from?
To my knowledge, I don't think anyone else does it religiously. I know people have done it, like, I've seen concert drawings. But I've never seen anyone do it so proactively. I'm trying to own it a little bit. I'm looking forward to pursuing it a little more seriously this year. I'm making plans to go to South By Southwest this year and tackle it.
That first show, the Dan Deacon show, was held at the art school where I had just graduated. So there was part of me that wanted to kind of assign myself something, like, "Oh, I don't have teachers telling me to do stuff, I need to impose my own projects" and here we are five years later and I'm still doing it.