My name is AJ Brockman and I am a digital artist! I also have SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy), a progressive neuromuscular disease, and have been wheelchair-bound since age 2. My disability definitely influences who I am but does not define me as an artist or individual. I view myself as being "differently abled" rather than "disabled" and I live life to the fullest every day.
Painting with acrylics as a young'in I developed my own impressionistic style. I started to see the world differently from that point on, using my surroundings as inspiration and appreciating the little things in life. I fully realized art was my passion, but I began to lose the strength of my hands and the ability to create. Accepting the hard facts, I transitioned into pursuing a career in television production or radio broadcasting, as my voice was unaffected.
While registering for classes in high school, I came across a brand-new elective course called "Commercial Art Technology." I thought this would be an interesting alternative to study rather than learning French or joining the volleyball team... With the aid of computer software that replicates traditional painting / typesetting / layout, and my unwavering passion, I create. With the use of two fingers on my left hand I am able to manipulate a mouse and have no limitations due to my disability.
I went on to graduate with a BFA from Digital Media Arts College. There I was awarded the Distinguished Artist Award by my professors after graduating at the top of my class. I have also won multiple Addy Awards, and my piece "Nozridr" took home third-place in the very first juried art exhibit I was accepted to. I take all of my accomplishments to heart and truly appreciate all that I have worked so hard to achieve. I also know a thing or two about Web Design, CMS, SEO, UI, and Landing Pages.
I consider myself an old soul and that carries through to my work. Using life experiences, my interests, and many other forms of inspiration, I create. My technique is a hybrid of Impressionism and Realism. I use reference photography to get my proportions correct, but everything I do is a unique composition. It is an extremely time-consuming process and I do hours of research on my subject matter before I ever open the canvas. As a South Florida native, a lot of my work reflects the ocean, landscapes, and a beachside lifestyle. However, my work runs the gamut and I do not limit myself to a specific genre.
So, enough about me, I would like to get to know you!
My artwork takes on a wide range of subject matter including landscapes, influential athletes and musicians, historical events and satire statement pieces. Each piece creates a story with the goal to bring the viewer into the subject matter to experience it firsthand.
When starting a new composition I spend hours doing research before even opening the canvas. I always start with a vision or influential idea and then mentally construct what I believe will work best in the composition. Once I actually begin painting and designing, this vision morphs and changes through trial and error to achieve what I feel is the best fit. Working on digital medium gives me greater flexibility to accomplish that. I look at my work as objectively as possible and then revise where necessary. I believe my best work comes from ideas and subjects I truly enjoy. If I like it and think it looks good or it has that "cool" factor, then that is a great indication of a successful piece. The end result is a fine line of photorealism with traditional impressionistic techniques.
I am perfecting my digital painting techniques by studying vintage typesetting, signage, and ad layout. I am obsessed with retro design including everything from the 1930s to the 1980s. I like to incorporate distressed, aged, Polaroid tones, and noise-filled elements not typically found in digital work. I believe this bridges the gap between traditional craftsmanship and the perfection of computer-aided design.
If nothing else, I would like my work and my personal story to inspire others to create and live life to the fullest. I have overcome great physical challenges to create what I do. Great art and design is often overlooked, and if I can encourage at least one individual to appreciate that or participate in it for him or herself, then I have accomplished what I have been put here to do.