When New Amsterdam Spirits came to town in search of a representative for the Austin leg of the "It's Your Town" tour, one talented street artist immediately caught their attention. His name is Bradford Maxfield, and he was hired to create several masterpieces inspired by our great city.
The finished pieces won’t be revealed until August 20 at the SprATX headquarters, but CultureMap caught up with Maxfield to get an exclusive sneak peek at the work-in-progress and the man behind the beautiful madness.
CultureMap: How did you become a street artist?
Bradford Maxfield: I started out studying Computer Science at UT and decided coding behind a cubicle was not for me, so I headed back home to El Paso and studied graphic design at [University of Texas at El Paso]. Ironically, once I graduated, I ended up spending the next eight years of my life designing behind a cubicle. My first job was with an incredible multicultural ad agency based in El Paso called Sanders\Wingo. After two years and a little begging and pleading, they transferred me to their downtown Austin office, where I worked on national brands like AT&T, State Farm, and Chevy. That lasted for about six years until I decided to step away from the desk and become a professional artist.
CM: What led to that decision?
BM: Although it was great for my bank account and my career growth, I knew that advertising didn't fit my dream or my passion. I hated pouring so much of my soul into designs that would be spayed and neutered by the client. An opportunity arose to be Consuela's senior designer, and I jumped on it. Consuela allowed me to not only design and illustrate, but also to travel and use my photography and web skills as well. I still had a vision that was stronger than working a 9-to-5, so it proved to be the perfect step toward branching off and becoming my own dog.
CM: Are you your own dog now?
BM: Yes, for about a year-and-a-half now. Fortunately, the work has been nonstop — enough that I've been able to hire assistants. It's pretty incredible, considering it's all been through word of mouth. I've been too busy to set up a proper website. I'm super grateful that everyone has been as responsive to my work as they have been. People are really seeing me for me and are enjoying it. It's the best.
CM: Tell us a little more about the "It's Your Town" campaign.
BM: I am one of seven nationally featured artists creating seven one-of-a-kind, brand-inspired, city-inspired pieces and a 15-by-22-foot mural. I am using lots of bright colors, hand and lasercut wood, and have really gotten the chance to stretch my concept creation while playing around with different ideas. I am really looking forward to showcasing all of my hard work. After this, I plan on taking a nice long vacation with my girlfriend to somewhere tropical — I'm still learning that work-life balance.
CM: Aside from the New Amsterdam project, what other Bradford Maxfield artwork can people look forward to?
BM: Lately I have been working on a number of murals and largescale wood cutouts. I was commissioned by Archer Malmo to create two complex murals for their office. Even with help, it was two pretty intense months of work, but it was a lot of fun to make. Neon Desert [Music Festival] was f***ing dope, and it felt good to be painting in my hometown again. But three days of painting, partying, and catching up with artist friends was actually pretty exhausting. My biggest project to date is the New Amsterdam Vodka campaign. I am super thankful for my homies at SprATX for opening the door to a number of opportunities, including that one.
CM: How has living in Austin made you a better artist?
BM: Austin attracts a ton of badassery — artistic people creating a lot to look at and be inspired by. You can walk down any street and spark your creativity. The eclectic people, the sounds, the art, the nature, even the watering holes invigorate me to go home and make something fresh. I thank my lucky stars that I can make things that inspire people and am glad to be alive doing what I do.
CM: What's the future of Austin's art scene? Will you be a part of it, or is it a drying well?
BM: The Austin art scene is definitely not a drying well. In fact, it's going to continue to blow up as Austin gets larger and larger. It's good to feel like I'm part of a huge wave. I think with a lot of our festivals and the fact that we have the Hope Outdoor Gallery, Austin is moving on up in the international street art scene. I feel like Austin is starting a cultural explosion, and fortunately for artists, that helps to create a market for their work. The art scene will only be limited by the rate at which the city is able to grow. As hungry artists move here, I can only hope they realize the value of art, their time, energy, talent, and passion so that we can continue to keep the Austin art scene alive and thriving and not just part of a bursting bubble. As for me, I'm in for the long haul.
Celebrate with Bradford Maxfield at SprATX's Spirit of Austin party Saturday, August 20, at 7 pm. The event features complimentary cocktails from New Amsterdam, appetizers from Wahoo's, music by DJ Chino Casino, limited-edition signed prints, and an opportunity to create and take home your own street art. For more from Maxfield, follow him on Instagram.