Who are you and what do you do?
I am Brandon Marshall. I’m a painter specializing in Mural making and public art. I have a background in graffiti art. I have a bachelors degree in graphic design from the University of Memphis.
How does art help you?
Well for me, it’s really become a way of therapy for myself. At least that’s how I look at it. It’s my therapy in my time of meditation. I think creating has such strong pull on me. Like, it’s just something that has to be done, for me. So, whether that’s a Mural or drawing, or a piece of graffiti or a fine art canvas, or something digital or does screenprinting, just anything creative. I love creating. It’s something I have to do to stay sane, in a way. It’s how I process things. That’s what it is for me.
So, you’re also a breakdancer. How does breakdancing fit in with what you do?
I started breakdancing when I was young. Around 14 to 15. And from that point, that was the beginning of me building my own identity. Like, everybody goes through that awkward stage when they’re a teenager and think about “who am I?” and “what do I like?”. So, for me, that was kinda like an outlet that I found through breakdancing and movement. And then that led to an interest in the broader hip-hop culture. I was a big fan of the original elements (b-boying, graffiti writing, emceeing, and DJing). I later learned that each one of those elements transcended any kind of umbrella. Each one was its own monster. So, from breakdancing, I got interested in graffiti art. And then that led to an interest in Mural making. But something that I think is really interesting that kind of brings things full circle, especially when I make a murals, you know, when I’m drawing on a piece of paper I’m drawing with my wrist. But, when you’re making murals, you’re using your shoulder and your whole arm. You’re making long diagonal movements. So, in the same way breakdancing contains a lot of improv and organic reactions, when I’m painting murals it starts with a loose structure and then I start doing the dance with the painting. The painting starts to dictate what it needs on it’s own in the same way as when you’re dancing. You just kinda let it come through.
Are you originally from Memphis? If so, what part of Memphis do you call home?
I am originally from Memphis. Born and raised here. I have the FedEx sweatshirt to prove it! (Laughs) I was raised in the Willow Oaks neighborhood near Overton High School. Overton was the “art school”. There were a lot of people experimenting with graffiti art in the neighborhood. Even though it was primitive, those things really inspired me. It was an unique neighborhood and I’m glad to have grown up over there. I got older and purchased a house in Orange Mound. A lot of people have many negative stereotypes about the neighborhood that just aren’t true. There are definitely obstacles here that you don’t see in other parts of town, for various reasons. But, moving here with my wife, being able to be in a neighborhood with so much history, resilience and everything that it represents, with the people who have also welcome me as a white guy, is an honor and quite humbling.
“There are no handouts. There’s no elevator to the top here, but you can be a part of building something real.” Tweet thisBrandon Marshall
So, what does it mean for you to embrace your inner Memphis?
It means to really embrace the hustle, man. It means to sometimes embrace being the underdog. It means having to embrace not having everything in perfect condition. It means embracing the rough edges. Nothing is gonna come easy here. I think once you get past the fact that there are no handouts, there’s no elevator to the top here, but you can be a part of building something real and that’s really touching peoples lives…when you get there, then you’ll see.
Photos taken by Averell Mondie.