Brian Pollett is a visual artist that is blending the powerful magic of narcotic substances with the digital wizardry made possible by computer software. With an affinity for these tools (most notably Methoxethamine), Brian has incorporated them into his artistic schema to create the Binge series.
The series acts as a diary of sorts with Brian creating images while under the influence of a variety of different materials over a set period of time. It's extremely interesting to see the differences in the finished products and how they change according to the drug that was used during a particular piece's conception. While the topography of these substances (especially psychedelics) is personal and traditionally abstract, this catalogue does manage to depict some of the subtleties one might come to find once they consume these materials.
For this interview, I wanted to focus on this year's Binge that saw him partaking in a multitude of Psychedelics and other intoxicants over the course of 20 days.
I needed to know more about the precautions he took to ensure that he would be able to endure this experiment, the benefits associated with it, and some of the takeaways he had after the project wrapped.
Prox: What do you think these daily exercises show the artist about his or herself? Is this a kind of meditation for you?
Brian: I’ll start my answer with a disclaimer; Yes this project was a meditative practice for me. Though this exercise greatly helped me get over traumatic heartbreak and self doubts, it is unlikely that my positive experiences with drugs will be the same for everyone. I took these drugs because I was unhappy with my life and I wanted to reach higher inspiration (no pun intended). I’m not saying you have to be depressed to take drugs, I’m just saying that without context or intention, you’re just getting high. I mean even just wanting to get weird and have fun is a valid reason. The point I’m trying to make is that making art while you’re high is not going to yield the same algorithm.
Whether you are getting high or not, the point of a daily project like this is to experiment, learn, and see where you stand as an artist. I recommend all artists create a daily project. You learn so much and if you decide to throw psychedelics in the mix, there's a good chance you’re going to learn more than you bargained for.
Prox: You’ve actually done something similar to the new series while under the influence of MXE (Methoxetamine). Why did you choose to repeat this concept but with more substances? Was it a kind of natural progression?
Brian: I had been wanting to create a series of drug related art for years. Pretty much since I started using Photoshop. I just never had the confidence or skill set to execute such a project the way I wanted. I was afraid that the public would view me as a junkie. So taking only MXE during the 2015 binge felt like a safe middle ground. MXE is relatively unknown to the mainstream, it doesn't have a street name, and at the time it was federally unscheduled. Fast forward to 2016 and I felt way safer with the support and understanding of my friends and followers.
It might be good to note that for the 2016 Binge, I was fairly depressed and had zero fucks to give. I felt that an art project like the Binge would be something to focus my energy on over all my first world problems.
Prox: How did you determine which drugs would be used during the duration of the series? What were some precautions that you took to ensure that you’d be safe?
Brian: Beyond my years of research into each individual substance, I’ve had previous experience with all of the substances listed (aside from amphetamine). I knew what to expect emotionally and chemically. Whether or not you are a veteran psychonaut or a baby tripper, set and setting is one of the most important aspects of tripping. Every piece I created was in the comfort of my clean studio, while my favorite music was always playing. I made sure to get good sleep every night and eat a nutritious meal every day. I even based my diet around replenishing the neurotransmitters I was using.
As for determining which substances to take, well I felt the classic substances like LSD, ketamine, DMT, etc were necessary. I tried to spread out similar substances so that I wouldn’t become too tolerant of a certain type of drug. (I.e I didn’t want to take LSD shortly after another tryptamine like 4-HO-MIPT). Then some of the substances were completely impulsive. For Day 17, I had planned on taking Kratom (opioid) but when I realized a neighbor had San Pedro Cactus as a porch decoration, I decided to jack their cactus and make mescaline in the pursuit of art.
Prox: Which of the substances did you find to be the most compatible with your creative process? How did this particular substance improve or expand your work over the others?
Brian: MXE, MXE, MXE! Though people often compare MXE to Ketamine because they are both dissociative anesthetics, I feel they are completely different experiences. MXE is far more potent than Ketamine so you don’t need much to get high. MXE takes about 45 minutes to kick in (even if you snort it) and the come on is slow and gradual. So imagine you’re just going about your daily routine and very slowly, everything just seems more interesting than it was a few minutes ago. When I take small bumps over the course of a few hours, the high eventually builds intensity and time begins to disappear. At some point, my body feels no discomfort and I am only left with my imagination and the creative software I base my expression upon. It is at this point, I feel unbound by creative limitations. MXE is a truly sacred substance to me.
Prox: What are some of the challenges associated with creating while under the influence? Did you notice any decrease in the speed or fluidity of your output?
Brian: That all depends on the substance. Something like Cocaine or Butylone will greatly increase my productivity, whereas I find Tryptamines like LSD, Mescaline, and DMT slow my process and I often become confused. I mean, it really can be overwhelming trying to figure out which rainbow pattern is my brush stroke and which melting pattern is just in my projected imagination. Dissociatives are hit or miss.
Prox: The final piece is the series is simply “Love”. Why did you choose this as the final piece and how did you go about creating this one? How did you “consume” this particular drug?
Brian: I had planned for LSD to be the last day, though I had not anticipated to undergo such a serious mental rewiring. By the 18th day, (under the influence of Ketamine) I felt strongly reconnected with humanity and my strengths as a human being. The feeling just hit me and I realized that I was about to complete a project I had wanted to achieve for several years. I felt I never needed drugs, art, money, fame or youthful looks when I’ve got such an amazing group of friends, family, and lovers. All of whom helped uplift me to achieve my greatest aspirations to inspire.
It only felt right to pay tribute to the people who lead me to experience such love.
You may disagree with my interpretation of any drug as they are so one dimensional. True love is universal and unbreakable.
Prox: Ultimately, what was this series trying to say? How has it changed your outlook on Narcotics, Art, and life?
Brian: My outlook on Narcotics has not changed at all. Prohibition of these substances simply causes more corruption and kills creative potential. From the beginning, this series was for my community to be apart of, my followers to watch, and for me to relive my naive excitement as a youthful artist traveling from party to party. I guess this project was one of those personal exercises that I never expected to go so far and ended up striking a chord with many people. I’m just happy I’ve inspired so many people and challenged the perspectives of others.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Brian: That answer often Changes. The artists who’s work has stuck with me throughout the years have been the creativity of;
Marilyn Manson, Amanda Palmer (musician, singer, professional busker), Joel Peter Witkin (photographer who inspired Nine Inch Nails music video, “closer”), Jenny Saville (The Painter of Flesh), James Jean (some dude), Walt Disney.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Brian: Besides drugs? Uhh....I actually don’t have hobbies. I work about 80 hours a week on art and in my spare time I get addicted to other forms of creativity. I won't just have a hobby, I will obsess and find ways to commodify whatever I’m doing. I used to be a gogo Dancer, a reptile breeder, a musician, I did porn, and I work part time as an art model for an academy. Currently, I’m spending a lot of time designing Women’s clothing and taking up photography as a second trade skill.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Brian: Firstly, get over yourself. You will never achieve originality. There are new ideas and applications, but realize that everything is taken from something else. Learn from others, collaborate, share your knowledge and watch your art soar.
Once you understand that the point of art is to place value in people’s lives, you can start building a niche community who will support you. After that, it's up to you when you decide to become a master. I don’t even consider myself a master, just a professional.
Prox: Information on upcoming projects and endeavors?
Brian: Beyond achieving financial security in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S? I’m highly intrigued in Virtual reality, model making, 3D printing, and eventually, Augmented reality. I’m not sure where this world is going, but for better or for worse, I want to be apart of it and virtual reality seems to be the next creative frontier.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Brian: Good people do drugs, bad people take all the credit.