Bryce Wong is the kind of artist who goes too hard skating, breaks his ankle and makes mobility scooters insta-famous. His ink can be best appreciated while its being hand poked into your skin cells; but, if you’re not in Portland, or you don’t want to make your parents cry, a Bryce Wong print is sufficiently punk-rock. Bryce’s prerogative is fun. His work offers a warped amalgamation of cartoon and classics; pop-culture and high-culture. Clean black ink, stippling and fluid lines depicting Mickey Mouse and Post Malone epitomise Bryce’s taste for functionality, and for fun. Studying mechanical engineering seems to bring an element of the mathematical into his exacting works, while a sense of the artist bubbles below the clean white surface and erupts a sense of humour. Bryce explains his work as something to be enjoyed, and not something antiqued to be lost to the world. “My main message is to have fun and do what you want. I initially started to draw because I wanted to have fun and do something different than what I do for work. It became a channel in which I could create things that I think are interesting or funny. I don’t draw to make money, I draw because it makes me happy and I hope that others can see my work and pick up a pencil or pen and just go after it!”
“My main message is to have fun and do what you want.”
Bryce operates in the fast-paced digital space of Instagram. Behind him are the hours spent ruminating over the armless statues of deities which he satirises, and ahead of us is a world where art is accessible and easy to digest. “My work if definitely more on the visual side. My main outlet is through instagram and I often look at a sketch and think, “will this catch someone’s eye as they scroll”. Basically, I have half a second to get the viewer’s attention so how can I create a piece that will grab them and then bring them in.” Bryce successfully uses his wavy characters to cast aside the art of the past, the art of a tomorrow audiences can’t grasp. This is art for today. There are no heirs and graces. The nature of how we consume art has led to the creation of fast-paced, funny and self-assured work from this comic artist.
“I have half a second to get the viewer’s attention”
Images and ideas surround and bombard the post-truth generation, and Bryce incorporated this sense of business effortlessly into his well-structured designs. He has no qualms about creating in a space where influence is everywhere, in fact, Bryce takes creation to a new level in using the influence of artists around him. “The work of other artists definitely influences what I do. I think specifically, pop culture and media influence my work. To me, comparing the works of Walt Disney and other cartoonists to classical figures of Greece and Rome creates a comical perspective that looking at either one solely does not create.” Bryce even uses memories which take a life-time to build to instil his sense of pleasure in your mind: his half-a-second technique for influencing the sensations in an online audience that a gallery piece might instil. “In most cases, I reference images that either relate to what I’m seeing happening in pop culture currently or something that I can connect to my childhood. I like to use nostalgia to be the main focus on many of my pieces because it is something that evokes immediate reaction.”
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Bryce’s is work is digitally based, but like his tattooing, his designs are machine-free. Though his work exists in such a modern frame, his main platform being digital, his use of hand-drawing techniques injects a sense of artistic validity into our fast-paced lives. Bryce provides a voice that argues artisan work doesn’t need to be separated from it’s audience: from ordinary people. Without the use of Photoshop, a symbiosis of the digital and the physical is installed. “Many of my concepts circle around the same type of idea. It’s the idea of distortion through ink. I take and iconic image or character and try to cut it up or melt it or mirror it. Small changes that are intriguing without altering the image too much. I look at it as an analogue approach to effects that might be seen in Photoshop which creates a strange parallel.”
Bryce’s work is so current that it allows the viewer and the audience to be caught in a moment of transient freedom. “In culture today, everything is about expression and being different. By taking a classical piece and adding a spin on it, you can both reference the past while also creating something that is new and exciting. I hope that such outward and obvious expression continues for a while before the pendulum swings back because I think that this era of art is just fun! People seem to be enjoying the crazy things that myself and others are creating.” The classical works referenced evoke a sense of the past, and the sense of candid pleasure in the moment of pleasure they bring evokes a sense of protectiveness over Bryce’s art form. You sense that as the moment passes, you will have to return to a job you hate, a lover who isn’t a bikini babe with a Mickey-Mouse head, a patch of skin that doesn’t have a distorted furby pressed into it; to artwork that takes itself seriously. For now, you enjoy the embrace.
Words By Meg Ellis