Brock Gratz is a fourth-year BFA student and artist. He also acts as an instructor for various organizations and is the current president of the UBC Okanagan’s Anime Club. His experience is far-reaching in both depth and breadth. He is currently based in Kelowna: “I’ve lived in the Kelowna area for about 10 years, and I’m in the fourth year of my BFA in Visual Arts! Outside of that, I have been an instructor for various local organizations, am the current president of UBCO’s Anime Club and one of the organizers working on Kelowna Fan Experience. On the side, I’ve had some success getting works published in Japan and have done some designs for video games. For me family, friends and community are very important, and I am always trying to balance that social aspect with my tendency to isolate and work on projects. Being a student here has really provided some amazing opportunities to socialize and share ideas with like-minded individuals as well as those with very different outlooks, all of which has been a welcome challenge in developing artwork.”
Gratz’s main medium of expression is illustration and animation. But he does dip his toes in a wide range of forms: “I work predominantly in illustration and animation, but I also do stagecraft, sculpture and performance. I enjoy multimedia projects that can incorporate more than one of those elements, so it’s always fun to make things that use some variations on those core ideas! I think my favourite project thus far has to be the arcade machine I built in my third year!”
The work that Gratz makes right now is diverse, but rooted in his passions: “My artwork is very much in line with my professions and interests, it’s imagery and tropes from pop culture(comics, movies, books, animation, video games, etc.) mashed up with painting and sculpture, sometimes some theatrical elements. I like to use those familiar images as a starting point to tell stories or explore ideas, the art usually has some elements of character to it that make it fairly easy to see and access. I’m not big on abstraction or being vague — I want my art to be as high quality as I can make it, but at the end of the day I want the most people possible to "get it" and enjoy it. After all, everything is better when you can experience it with others; I don’t see any point in gatekeeping or being too protective of the experience that comes with art in an age where we are all able to connect to others around the world with the push of a button.”
Gratz started making work from a very young age: “I started making art very early on, as for the very first things I made? Probably very scribbly and drawn with crayons or something, I’m sure my parents still have some of it around somewhere! Practice makes perfect, and all of us are slowly working towards perfect in whatever we do in life. The more work you put into the process, the more you get out of it!”
His main inspirations include his family as well as other icons in animation/illustration: “My family really helped me get into art, so a good deal of credit is due there. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles... They all really helped foster the love of making and I’m very appreciative of that. I really enjoy classical watercolour works and illustrations, as well as the modern-day comics and manga from around the world! Livio Ramondelli, Yukito Kishiro, Sarah Stone, Jack Kirby, et al... There’s an abundance of really talented artists who have made their mark through that medium.”
After graduation, Gratz plans to stay in Kelowna to further pursue his practice: “I’m hoping to stay in Kelowna! Plenty of amazing outlets for artists working in the local industry here, once I finish the last of my program at the start of 2021 I’m aiming to work in animation, marketing/graphic design or art education in the local area. I hope to have enough free time besides to keep working on some neat not-as-profitable stuff on the side though! Crazy, best-case scenario? Be able to publish my own comics and do that as a fulltime job! That's a long-term thing though, and I have no illusions about needing to work my way up to it.”
You can find more of Brock Gratz’s work on his Twitter. He will also be a part of the BFA Year End Show (which is now moving to an online, virtual format).