Artist Spotlight: Brad â€œSLAGâ€ Sluder
By: Jed Sanders
A long time ago, before the days of digital cameras and photography, it was common for an artistâ€™s role in society to be to illustrate and paint portraits of the historic icons of their day. In Europe, the most skilled artists were chosen to be the â€œroyal paintersâ€ of the kingdoms in which they lived. It was a high honor to be an artist in this position as many of them were often treated like royalty, regardless of their financial and/or birth status. In return, the Royal Painter would be responsible for painting the portraits of the noblemen and noblewomen. In many cases, these paintings would be sent off on horseback to a nearby monarchy, in order to find a potential suitor for the eligible royal figure. Of course, being born a Prince or a Princess does not always guarantee one good looks. It was then the responsibility of the artist to bring out the better qualities in the subjectâ€™s portrait. In some cases, artists would risk their lives over an â€œuglyâ€ portrait of an unruly tyrant.
Thank goodness those days are behind us! In this new dawn and era, we all have digital cameras and email addresses. Celebrity icons seem to be looked upon as the modern-day kings and queens of our time. Today you are more likely to see an artist paint a Hollywood actor, musician, or famous celebrity rather than any type of royal figure. The days of the traditional royal painter are long gone, but perhaps not the spirit…
It would be safe to say that Brad Sluder paints the royalty of our time. His portraits capture the iconic characters of the human spirit in some of their most rudimentary and raw forms. Born and raised in San Diego, amongst a family of artists and creative types, Brad â€œSLAGâ€ Sluder is quite the prolific artist. His paintings are bold in contrast and full of extreme emotion. They donâ€™t just talk to their audience. They freakinâ€™ jump off the wall and scream at you.
We had the chance to catch up to Brad and ask him a few questions after discovering his paintings on display at Hopperâ€™s Green Door Collective. (Something we wish we would see more dispensaries do!)
So… why the name SLAG?
As far as the nickname, it came about in high school.Â My best friendâ€™s older brother tried to be funny and mix my last name with my first name. So from that day on, I was known as SLAG in that ring of friends, and it just stuck.
How long have you been making your art?
I was exposed to art from the get-go. My father Keith Sluder is a very talented man. As a kid I always loved watching him paintâ€¦He is a master. He showed me what it was to be a man trying to make a living doing what he loved: art. It often times is very hard. I myself have been doing art professionally for about 8 years.
How would you describe your art for the public if they have never seen it before?
I would describe my work as a hybrid of Cult art and Pop art. I tend to do a lot of portraits because I love the face. The energy of an expression can be a powerful thing. I do, however, like to paint abstracts and landscapes as well.
Do you find cannabis to be helpful or does it work against you when making art?
It really depends on my mood. Sometimes I feel cannabis helps me let go of my inhibition, and focus on the magic of just creating without thinking like a child would.
What is your favorite strain?
Well, just about any of the wonderful strains my good friend Hopper has at the Green Door Collective. He knows what he is doing, and I can always count on him to steer me in the right direction. He has a green thumb, literally.
Are you available for commission work?
Commission work seems to be what I do the most. I am always willing to bring to life a clientâ€™s request. I let the client decide how much they want to spend, and I create the best piece of work that I can. It can be a fun and exciting collaboration; I love getting people involved in the creative process. I also have a website, SLAGART.com, where you can buy and see more of my work.
How do you like to spend time when youâ€™re not working on your paintings?
I go to school, and I also cut hair at Ralphâ€™s Hair Place. I have always found it to be very creative. If Iâ€™m not working, I am probably hanging out with my wife Ashley and our dog. We spend a lot of time at the beach. I have always had a deep relationship with the ocean. You can learn a lot from water.
What does your family think of your art? Are they supportive of it?
My family has never been anything other than extremely supportive of my work, especially my wife Ashley. Sheâ€™s my muse. They have always told me they liked what I was doing, and how I was trying to bring my vision to life. I always value their opinions because they are all artists as well, and every artist sees it all a little differently, and that is what drives art in the first place. I am very lucky to have them in my corner. Without them I would be less.
Does anyone else in your family carry similar artistic or creative interests? How have they influenced you?
God, where do I begin, I come from a long line of creative people. My grandfather Charles Strackbine was an amazing trumpet and sax player who made his living playing in a big band. His daughter Charlis, my mom, is a very talented painter in her own right. Her brother, my uncle Brad who I was named after, was a fantastic singer and songwriter. He is responsible for my love of the guitar and singing. My mom married my dad, Keith Sluder, who has always been an artist. They had three kids: me, my big brother Troy who is a kick-ass drummer. He plays from the heart. Pure rhythm runs in his veins. Then, there is my younger brother Glen, who is an amazing tattoo artist. He just opened his own tattoo parlor called Adora Tattoo. Look him up. Heâ€™s as cool as they come, and just as talented.
How would you define success?
Well, I have always felt that if you have your health, love, and support of friends and family, then youâ€™re rich in life. If on top of all that I can somehow make a living doing what makes me happy, well then Iâ€™m doing all right.
If you could show with another artist, either dead or alive, who would you choose?
Wow, thatâ€™s a tough one! I love so many artists for different reasons. Everyone brings something different to the table, and collectively we call it art. Everyone plays a role in the big picture you know. If I had to choose, I think it would be awesome to show with someone like Andy Warhol or Stan Lee.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the San Diego art scene, what would it be?
I would like to see more opportunities for up-and-coming artists to show their work. But really, San Diego is becoming a pretty good place to be seen. There are lots of businesses willing to show local art, and that is always welcomed. The Internet has changed everything as far as getting your name out there. So in all, I think the San Diego art scene keeps getting better and better.
What are your thoughts on how to get the public to support the arts and to attend art events?
We need to stop cutting the funding to the arts programs. I think if we kept the art programs in school, it would help a great deal. As children, we have the ideal open mind to create art. I remember doing all the little art projects as a child, and it sort of got my juices flowing so to speak. I loved it! Without it, who knows how things may have worked out? Remember, little artists grow up to be big artists.
What is your worst fear?
You mean, besides having my nuts smashed with a sledgehammer by a short, sweaty man dressed like a clown… it would have to be regret, hands down. I do not want to squander opportunities I have been given in this life. I have a saying: â€œPotential is the birth of regret.â€ If you know you want something, and you also know you are doing nothing to reach that goal, you will surely have regret. So I try to be proactive in my own success.
Where would you like to see yourself within the next five to ten years as an artist?
I hope to become better known for my work, which in turn would bring more opportunities to me and my family. I look forward to growing as an artist, and getting better at my craft. I hope to do art for many years to come, and have fun doing it.
Thank you so much for spending the time with us for the interview. We wish you the best of success, and hope to see more of your artwork around!
To see more of SLAGâ€™s artwork, check out www.SLAGART.com.