Huddling over his art and tuning out the noise of the large crowds gathered around him, spray paint artist Bruce Cormier creates a galactic-themed piece in a matter of minutes.
Cormier has been attending the First Friday art walks for around a decade and makes a living creating various images using spray paint. He uses torn pieces of magazines, bottle lids and cardboard pieces to form the shapes in his detailed pieces.
He can create intricate paintings in as little as 10 minutes and says that his inspiration for his popular space paintings comes from life and the universe around him.
“I grew up really into space and astronomy, and I still am,” Cormier said. “The idea of what’s out there … it’s unlimited and it’s infinite.”
Cormier grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and said he never thought he could make a living making art. He saved up money and began traveling the country in 1999.
“I guess I was just trying to find my place in the universe, to find myself,” Cormier said.
Cormier said that seeing others making money by selling jewelry and making music during his travels inspired him to sell his artwork.
Cormier said that he also got the idea of the type of art he does now from a man named Gonzo, who also worked on spray paint art, while on the road. During this time, he said he was doing art just for fun and felt that spray paint was a perfect medium.
Running out of money for food and his car, with $50 left to his name, Cormier took this meeting as a sign.
“I saw somebody using spray paint, kind of like what I do. That’s what inspired me,” Cormier said. “When I saw this guy I was like, that is amazing, you know, I saw all the potential.”
Cormier explored the country for five years, passing through most of the states. He said he enjoyed and spent a lot of time in Arizona before settling down here.
He attended Collins College in Tempe for animation and received his bachelor’s degree in 2005. After a divorce, he decided the corporate route of working in an office wasn’t for him.
Now making a living off of his art, he said he does better now than he ever did in the corporate world, but would like more space to create custom pieces, larger paintings and to be able to start a collection.
“The only thing holding me back from doing better is I need a garage,” Cormier said. “I need studio space. It’s a simple thing, but I need more space.”
Cormier crafts his art using spray paint and materials such as paper and other objects to form the shapes on his canvasses. By spraying over them and using techniques such as swiping his paint with paper, splattering and simple paint strokes, he is able to create surreal pieces.
Cormier’s wife, Paulann Cordova, is also an artist. She said that she, too, has always loved art and has been creating for as long as she could remember.
“I’ve always been a creative person, and I’m happier when I’m creating,” Cordova said.
Cordova said she met Cormier through a church they used to attend. They knew each other for years and have been together ever since.
Cormier has two children of his own as well as two stepchildren, and the family attends First Fridays together. She said she thinks the work her husband does is incredible.
Cordova said she is amazed that he is able to create, uninterrupted, in front of so many people.
“You’d think that I would get used to his processes and how something is continually built,” Cordova said. “You’d think it might even become not quite so fresh. But for me that doesn’t happen because it is a brand new creation every single time that he does something.”
Marie Enos, who attends First Fridays often, said that she has never seen anything like the work that Cormier does and that she would come back just to watch him paint.
“It doesn’t even look like spray paint. It’s crazy how he takes random trash and uses it to turn the art into something really unique and cool,” Enos said.
Cordova said she enjoys watching Cormier’s processes of creating his pieces.
“It’s incredible to watch it from beginning to end and to see that he made that… something that is so lovely and almost photorealistic to the eye, yet he made that in like 10 minutes,” Cordova said. “It’s baffling to me. I have such immense respect for how he does this.”
Cormier said now that he has a family, he sees his art as both a passion and a business, paying more attention to the marketing aspects. He said he plans on making a living off of his art for as long as he can.
“This is what I do, this is me,” Cormier said. “Things always change, but my plan is to be an artist for good.”
Contact the reporter at Hope.Flores@asu.edu