Born in Turks and Caicos, now a New York City resident, Bradley Theodore is not yet completely a household name like some of his more famous counterparts. But, with more than 45,000 followers on Instagram, and thousands more off social media, he is quickly rising through the ranks, gaining notability and recognition right here in the Big Apple and even around the world.
Aside from his undeniably cool hair and warm personality, Bradley is most recognized for his colorful skeleton depictions on canvas in gold frames, on the walls of funky New York City establishments and of course on the facades of buildings around the city, and of course, the globe.
Bradley Theodore is a story teller. These illustrated accounts are told through lively, yet abstract, paintings of people, mostly famous. And while these illustrations aren’t as straightforward as one might expect, even if you know just a little bit about pop culture, all you really need is a few identifying features to understand whose likeliness is reflected in any one particular colorful muse.
In 2014, on a street corner in Soho, Bradley painted one of his most iconic works – two images looking at each other, a man and a woman. Though in skeletal form, it didn’t take long, after identifying the long white ponytail on the man and the perfectly coiffed bob on the woman, to see Bradley was channeling the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Wintour on the side of this Soho store.
Regarding the inspiration for this piece, Bradley says, “I was inspired. Everything just came together. I thought about Karl and Anna, and how these two are the last standing of those who have been there from the beginning. I knew I had to pain them together.” All of this after he had a chance encounter with both.
Very similarly, on a piece of canvas, he brushed into life an image of Coco Chanel and Frida Kahlo facing one another. Said to be one of his favorites, like a true artist he expressed, “There’s no way you can paint it twice…it wouldn’t feel the same”. And I can see why. It’s because everything he creates comes from the soul. You can tell. So, creating a second piece would come at a different point in time, both mentally and physically.
Often blending fashion, art and pop culture, Theodore is inspired to create vivid images of some of the world’s most notable figures including Kate Moss, Frida Kahlo, Coco Chanel and yes, even Kim Kardashian. And what do each of these figures have in common? Well, fashion, of course! Or at least some influence on fashion. In a recent, Huffington Post interview, he alluded to fashion allowing “people to become art”. With that in mind, Bradley creates a sort of “fashionable graffiti” for all to admire.
And if you’re wondering where the idea for a colorful skeletal sketch came from, for Bradley, it’s simple, “There is no deeper delving into your psyche that the very structure of your body”, he says. “Skeletons are neutral, you can let the ego go with them.” And as for the colors, he thinks about the mindset of the person, the lifestyle and the people’s perception of the person being painted, “I try to dive into that world”.
Bradley is often spotted around town spreading his love for all things creative. If you’re lucky enough, you might even catch him painting live on the street like I did yesterday. This time, he was commissioned by Juice Generation on the corner of 18th Street and Broadway, near Union Square, to paint a mural on their storefront façade – two pineapple figures, male and female.
I watched, observed and admired. I even called a few friends to witness what my fuss is always all about when I come across one of his masterpieces. They were each equally impressed.
But, it’s not just street art he graces us with, “Most people think I just paint on the street, but by next month I’ll have 80 [canvas] paintings”, he said in a recent interview. And when asked why he likes to paint on the street versus painting on canvas in his studio, he simply said this – “People tell you whether they’re good or not…you get full on ‘it sucks’ or ‘I like it’.”
I can tell you from experience, none of it sucks. It’s all good. It’s thought provoking. It speaks to you. It takes you to another dimension. And that is Bradley. He is his art. His art is him.
For more information on Bradley Theodore, or to catch one of his live installations, follow him on Instagram @BradleyTheodore, or visit his website http://www.bradleytheodore.com/.