I had the pleasure of meeting today’s guest at a fun event in san francisco. As a bunch of ladies were learning to mix cocktails in the midst of a floral studio, this lovely lady was off in the corner painting beautiful portraits of each guest that evening. I was so impressed with my painting (and that she made me so much more glam than I really am!) that I knew I’d continue following her work. She’s a sweet soul and an incredible talent and I couldn’t be more delighted to introduce you to oakland-based illustrator and painter, briana kranz corcoran.
Where are you originally from and how did you find yourself in the Bay Area?
After being born and raised in Southern California, I came to the Bay as an art student. First in San Francisco for six and half years, then Oakland for four.
Describe your creative path.
As many will tell you, the creative road is difficult — full of obstacles, ups and downs — but quite fulfilling. Throughout school, I found myself on and off of a steady path, but with the luck of finding an incredible mentor and finally a sense of my own creativity, I was able to find my way out of graphic design and illustration, and into fashion drawing. It was a field that emphasized making mistakes, trying new tools and approaches, and accepting and loving the results. Those simple concepts have resonated throughout my life and I try my best to apply them to my work every single day. As a creative, I challenge myself with different types of media as well as different approaches to the drawing and painting process. My process is thoughtful, in the moment, and full of complexities.
What were some early influences in drawing and painting?
I always loved coloring in the lines; coloring books are my earliest memory of loving art. As I grew up, I was fortunate enough to have the support and influence of my Japanese grandmother, who was a major component in introducing me to arts of all kinds. She is a big reason I was able to move to the Bay, and while she has passed on, my grandmother, Hiroko, is a huge reason I do what I do everyday.
Much of your work involves live drawing. What does that entail?
Live drawing is hard and stressful — but one of my absolute favorite types of freelance work. It’s a rush and I get lost in my work, but it’s basically comprised of myself drawing portraits of guests at an event, or even subject matter such as shoes, perfume, jewelry or something fashion-related. What I love most about live drawing is the reaction of guests – so many people do not get to see a piece of work unfold in front of them. It’s also a great chance for someone to get to sit as a model – something that requires much more patience and stillness than one would think. With all of that put together, I am lucky enough to get to know these people as I draw them and I find that much of my media reacts to our conversations and the overall mood of the event.
Your studio is also your home. What elements were crucial in creating your workspace?
With the variety of work that I do, I find it so important to make sure my workspace feels natural and like a blank slate. My white tabletop is one of my favorite parts of my workspace, as well as the natural elements that surround it — bits and pieces of nature from past camping trips and travels as well as sentimental pieces from loved ones. Natural light is a big part of my mood and productivity, as well; I am so grateful for the natural light in my workspace throughout the day.
Besides your work, what’s on your walls?
Photos with friends, textiles and postcards I pick up from art exhibits.
What keeps you company in the studio?
Stella, my little tuxedo cat is the best to share a space with. In terms of sound, I am so emotionally driven by music. My ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist via Spotify constantly introduces me to new music, as well as my many compilations of playlists. I grew up in a family that loved Soundtracks, and I played the piano for years, so besides my basic Alternative Indie, I find myself drawn to anything instrumental; jazz and classical also summarize a lot of the music I play.
You live in Oakland’s Lake Merritt. What’s the vibe and and why did you chose this neighborhood?
First — the sense of community is something that has blown me away since the beginning; neighbors say good morning and their dogs greet you, the neighborhood coffee shop knows just about everyone and the actual lake is so gorgeous and accessible. I often take the bus or walk to the train early in the AM as the sunrises to teach in San Francisco, and I find that even to be so peaceful. But the summer — the summer! What a fun time to be a part of this community. Picnics, BBQs, families, friends, and overall — a really diverse and connected neighborhood.
Cool spots you like to frequent outside of your studio?
Haddon Hill Cafe is a staple when I need a coffee and a more focused place to work. When I need a great drink, it’s either Bar Three-Fifty-Five, Grand Lake Kitchen, or Boot and Shoe, and the latter two for a bite as well.
What are some recent projects you’re particularly proud of?
I just did some of my largest work for windows at Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco – definitely fun, challenging, and eye-opening!
What about some dream projects you’d like to work on?
Dream job?! Seeing my drawings in Vogue, whether it’d be editorial or covering a fashion show at fashion week, anywhere in the globe. I would love to get my work published in the fashion industry.
Are you available for commissions?
Commissions are some of my favorite work; from portraits to collaborations to connecting with other artists, I am so open to ideas!
Where can we find more of your work?
My blog tends to be where I put some of my favorite work, but not always the most refined; it’s looser and a bit more of my own visual diary of my illustrations. My instagram tends to follow the same format, but a bit more edited and a bit more of my life included (I love the outdoors!).
• all photography by leslie santarina.