Welcome to Fartwork, a new CREEM column where we explore the visual artwork of musicians. (Like Artforum, for dummies.) In our second installment, we take a look at the art of Brandon Boyd, the singer of Incubus. (And if you like it, check out our inaugural edition, on Paul Stanley of KISS, here. Then read more about the band KISS in our extensive archive, because death is inevitable. For you. Not them. They’ll live forever.)
I’m not a fan of Incubus. I refer to them as “that band that I get mixed up with Linkin Park” (vice versa with Linkin Park, who I get mixed up with Incubus). I don’t know—I’m dumb. I get east and west mixed up all the time, too. But both bands write songs that sound like three or four different songs played at the same time. They can’t seem to settle on whether it’s funky metal, hip-hop, impassioned emo, or just a whole bunch o’ cuttin’ n scratchin’. On paper, that looks like something I’d be attracted to—a musical portmanteau—but, for whatever reason, I don’t enjoy either band’s execution. I’m not on the ’bus.
And that’s perhaps why I don’t really take any interest in Brandon Boyd’s artwork: I’m not a fan of Incubus. Brandon’s art isn’t bad, there are some interesting pieces in his collection, but without the Incubus connection—which I don’t have—it’s unremarkable. And that’s a crucial ingredient in the musician-cum-artist trajectory, that includes two significant advantages that the average artist does not enjoy:
2. A built-in fanbase.
There’s a sense that the celebrity musician-artist “cheated” to get where they are. They didn’t pay their dues because their artwork, much like a Kardashian, was born in celebrity-dom and thus has immediate value. And they have the money to not only support their hobby, but also market it. We shouldn’t begrudge them their privilege as long as they return the favor by recognizing their advantage.
There’s nothing to be jealous of because celebrity art will always be cursed. It will be admired and adored by their fans, but it will never be worthy of consideration by the REAL Art World (whatever that means). Blue Chip galleries like Gagosian, Zwirner, H&W, etc. simply don’t traffic this kind of contraband. This is the kind of work that hangs at the Hard Rock Café (as some of Boyd’s work did at one time) and is shown in “lowbrow” art publications like Juxtapoz and Hi Fructose (you know, art’s punk rock/underground culture that regards the established, mainstream Art World with disdainful envy).
I’d be curious if Brandon Boyd’s work would be accepted by the lowbrow magazines if he submitted his portfolio anonymously? My guess is, no, it would be rejected, but I appreciate that Boyd is aware of his advantage. When asked in a Forbes if he thinks other artists resent his rockstar status he said, “I have no qualms about it, and it feels like an authentic expression for me, but I’m perhaps being judged a little bit more steeply than another artist because I am coming from a different world. And the notion is that I’m just sort of taking the wind from a successful career somewhere else and trying to parlay it into something else, which I’m not not doing. But I am truly interested in being the best I know how to be at my craft and being as authentic as I know how to be.”
We are judging steeply here.