I’m Bort. When I came out as trans [art] acted as something to focus on instead of actively killing myself. Once I started hormones and had the process going, I realized that beyond identifying as female, LGBTQ culture is not something I particularly seek out. I am trans, but don’t quite think much of it, it’s an aspect of me, but not my personality. At that time [when I came out], I was trying to learn to spray paint. I’ve drawn on and off since being a youngling, but only copying others work. Painting was hard. I just could not come up with anything. I’ve written in a blackbook since middle school, but never painted letters, it never crossed my mind. otherwise i would be doing very different work right now. I tried painting something loosely based on an image I think I saw in middle school in December 2014, I don’t really know what it was, but it was a loose basis to make something from. That piece set the frame work for Bort. I didn’t do much art until March 2015 when I started drawing stickers, which is where the character developed. It grew from there and I got more into [creating street art]. In June or July [of 2015], I decided to start trying to create my own imagery and kinda kept at it till I figured out a style I like to work with. A style can be the language of imagery, so once one is developed it opens so many doors. It also removes a lot of frustration too. As far as the name Bort, it’s a reference to a joke made by [an episode of] “The Simpsons”. I couldn’t come up with anything original and I figured “el Barto” was copyrighted.
The themes present aren’t really much. There’s Bort, who I wanted to do a new form of repetition of imagery. There are only a few forms used, that being propaganda, stylistically (to an intense degree), and stagnantly. Propaganda creates an emotional reaction, where if you see the Obey Giant a lot, it means something; its powerful. Stylistic repetition of imagery is not just repeating a style, but figures as well. its hard to describe. Osgemos are twin street artists; their work is exactly the same, the characters are amazing and look a lot alike, but there is no reason to see the character in one piece and think it is the same character in the next piece. Stagnant repetition is just an image, unchanging. They become popular if they’re up a lot, but typically from novelty. I wanted to use repetition of imagery because of its recognizability. But, I figured if I make the character dynamic, the more seen, the more of a personality for the audience it builds. The changing phrases, positions, and stylistic differences influence it to become its own entity. And the phrases are often vague, so people can develop their own meaning from the sentence that coincides with the personality they have built for Bort.
In studio work, with the repetition of imagery, I focus on something unnerving, depressing, and dark in general. I have had a fair amount of self destructive habits. And my mental “health” isn’t great comparatively. But, I do like my brain and the way I think, and how I experience our world. It becomes overwhelming when it becomes ambiguous, and that’s what triggered a lot of the addictions and anorexia. But, if I view or create something vaguely relating the abstract emotional state I’m in, it makes my experience tangible. It doesn’t cheer me up, but makes me content. I would rather be content and depressed than discontent and happy.
who are your biggest influences?
I have different influences for different aspects of this whole art thing. Shepard Fairey was the first street artist I knew of, and his work spurred my obsession. Anarchy Cat’s showed me that I can hand draw stickers, which started everything. Back when Fun was wheat pasting, I wanted to do it too, so he inspired me [to explore that]. Give Up inspired me to learn to screen print. My vandal buddies keep me wanting to get up. And graffiti artists make me want to push my work bigger, higher, and in harder spots. They do intense work, it takes time, has heavier charges, and a general societal dislike. Wheat paste is fast, not as big charges, and most people like it. Graffiti artists are fucking badass. I’m just wallpapering a city.
Future art plans are secret, they’ll be good though 😉
I met Jonny through the Instagrams. I [had been a] huge fan for years when I saw he did some photos of my work, and I got really excited. A friend found his Instagram for me. I also had a homeless man tell me what he looks like and what his car looks like as well! So if my friend didn’t find the Instagram, I probably could have hunted him down 🙂
I don’t know if i love Austin as a city. It does a lot of things I’m not okay with, but I’ve met a ton of wonderful people and I don’t think I would have started doing street art if I wasn’t here. So, I love Austin for what it gave me, I guess.
I have some stuff hanging at Epoch on Northloop, but no shows or exhibitions. I don’t actually know how to be in the art world, so I’ll just start my own shows and events, but that plan’s a little bit down the way. Contact wise I have bortart.com which has photos, and my blog, and my web store. I’m also on the Instagrams, (@bortart). I made a twitter, but I don’t think I know how to use it well yet, it’s @bortart too. [You can follow me on] tumblr too, artbybort.
why we love austin
po box 40001
austin, tx 78704