Dusk Music Festival returns to Tucson Nov. 13-14, featuring artists like Diplo, Jimmy Eat World and Porter Robinson. Other than live music and food, students can also look forward to art installations from local Tucson artists. One such person is Brittany Hodson, a self-taught artist who has lived in Tucson since 2016. The Daily Wildcat recently spoke with her over Zoom to discuss her journey as an artist and her mural which will be featured at the festival.
Daily Wildcat: Can you briefly describe your art journey?
Brittany Hodson: “I started art when I was really young; it transferred into photography for a little bit. But in high school, I was having a hard time, so I used art to focus in class and to calm myself afterwards. And really through everything, it was my main form of expression. I did that through college too, and really the entire time. I started with mandalas, those detailed line drawings. It slowly progressed from there. Now, I really specialize in space-themed artwork and optical illusions.”
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DW: So what drew you to optical illusions and space-themed artwork?
BH: “Optical illusions always intrigued me because I always thought I didn’t know how to do those. But as soon as I started teaching myself — I’ve never gone to school for art — that was really intriguing for me to want to learn how to do that. Once I got the hang of it, it was quite a rewarding experience. And so, I kept doing that, and it was really enjoyable … . That’s why I kept doing the illusions. For space art, my grandpa works with aerospace [too]. My art a lot of times reflects him and that commonality between the two of us and a way to make me feel like he’s there with me when I’m painting.”
DW: Your art TikTok blew up — I’m interested to hear about that. How did that happen, and can you tell me about your TikTok journey?
BH: “It was really slow actually. I was still sharing my art while I was a nanny, and at that point, I was getting maybe like 200 views on a video if I was lucky. I remember at one point, I got 36 views on a video, and I was so bummed because I put a lot of work into it. But slowly but surely … I started to build a following basis that is really kind and really supportive, and it’s made this whole thing so much better. I’ve really loved it. Now it’s slowly picked up — I’ve had maybe over 10 videos get over a million views, I’ve had about three or four get over 2 million, and I’m at I think 63,000 followers or something like that. It’s really fun and I’m really proud of it.”
DW: So let’s get into Dusk. You were chosen to provide art installations at the Music Festival, which is super exciting. How did you get to become one of the artists for this?
BH: “My friend sent me a post that Dusk had made saying that they had posted their application for artists that wanted to make art installations. So I read through the application, I sent them in what I needed to, and thankfully I was chosen.
That was a really exciting day for me because I’ve always wanted to paint an installation for a music festival. I’ve been going to these since the exact day that I could get into a music festival. Every time I went, I always wanted to be the person that made those big art installations, but I never knew how to get there. This has been a dream, so I’m really excited.”
DW: Can you describe the mural you’re making for the festival and how the process has been so far?
BH: “It’s a checkerboard built to be an optical illusion while you walk through but as you go closer, you can see the detail of it. On the back is the same technique that I used to make the front side an optical illusion, but it’s like circles. From a distance, it kind of tricks your eye.
Someone on TikTok said that they reminded them of caterpillars on the back. I kind of think it looks like street lights if you don’t have glasses on, when it’s kind of like blurring out like that. That’s what I see, but I’m excited to hear what other people say.”
DW: Were there any challenges you encountered while creating this mural?
BH: “I made it in my one bedroom apartment, so I took up my entire living room doing it. I had to build it piece by piece rather than in its entirety because I could only fit two pieces in my apartment at a time, so that was definitely a challenge. But it ended up working out thankfully.”
DW: Dusk is coming up only in a few days. How do you feel now that thousands of people will get to view your mural?
BH: “I haven’t really fully let it in. All I keep picturing is three or four [people] at a time passing by it. I haven’t really pictured the entirety of how many people will be there and how many people see it.
But one thing that does cross my mind is — I don’t know if I should admit this, but I’m going to — I’ve cried at three separate Porter Robinson sets, and Porter Robinson is playing at this festival, and so there’s a slight chance that he could pass by my artwork. It’s not that he would really know that it’s mine … but just the thought that his eyes will grace my artwork is crazy because his form of artwork made me cry many times.
So I don’t know, all of it in its entirety, I haven’t really processed yet.”
DW: Are there any lessons you’ve learned from working for Dusk?
BH: “I’ve never built anything on this scale before, so just the process of learning how to do that is obviously different. If you can picture painting like a canvas the size of your hand versus one that’s like the size of a school desk, you know something like that, it’s still a very different process than that normal paint size that I do that’s like about the size of a school desk. It’s like 16 by 20 somewhere in there versus these four by eight feet. There’s four of them next to each other so in total; it’s a lot more. Learning that process was a lot, but really good and really rewarding.”
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DW: Are there any upcoming projects you are working on? What can we look forward to from you in the future?
BH: “I have my optical illusion series still coming out week by week [on Etsy]. I’ve been making those as fast as I can, and people have been leaving requests for what I should be doing next so far. We have an open cow print, kind of. It’s like random kinds of ovals and things like that, and then we have smiley faces and ghosts and pumpkins and then the city building.
If people wanted to buy a print of what the mural [for Dusk] was inspired by, those are still up and all the other ones. And I’ll be making many more of those optical illusions coming soon. As soon as [my mural] has gotten to DUSK, I’ll be back to painting those.”
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