Jeff Bertrand is an artist who has really come in to his own in recent history. A Scholastic American Vision Award winner at age 17, Bertrand has long been showcasing an unusual talent for his age. A mostly ‘self-taught’ artist, Bertrand was born and raised in Nashville, TN and immersed himself in the music culture of the city as well as the outsider art, graffiti, and tattoo culture that also abounds. The art that won him the American Vision Award was displayed in the Cochoran Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. and purchased by Scholastic for their permanent collection. You would be hard pressed to find a gallery or other space in which Bertrand has not shown his artwork. From galleries in Los Angeles, D.C., Louisville, KY to Charlotte to any and every space that will let him hang something on the wall in Nashville, TN he is a recognized figure in the outsider or lowbrow art world. He has also participated in different art festivals around the country, including Big Crafty in Asheville, NC and MuddyRoots Music Festival in Cookeville, TN.
He also auditioned for the second season of Bravo’s Work of Art which is a reality-based competition show for artists of all backgrounds and mediums.
Though art shows and festivals are a big part of his career, Bertrand is also known as a readily available commission artist. Any crazy idea you have in your head, he can translate it into an amazing one of a kind piece of art. Hayley Williams of the band Paramore can be called a collector of his work. She purchased a piece of his that was hanging in a hair salon he worked at and this quickly evolved in to a commission by her record label for a Paramore tshirt design. She has also commissioned him personally to do a painting for her boyfriend, Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. But Williams isn’t the only celebrity that can count an original Bertrand in their collection. Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz of the History Channel show Amerian Pickers, comedian Tom Green, Brendan Benson of The Raconteurs, filmmaker Harmony Korine and Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson have all gotten their hands on Bertrand’s work.
Using his talent to benefit others is something that is also important to Bertrand. He has worked with organizations such as Hands on Nashville by organizing “Art Flood”, a show that benefitted victims of the Nashville flood of 2010. He also worked with The SamFund, which supports young cancer survivors to be successful in their lives and become more than their disease.
If you asked Bertrand to describe his work he would say that he creates by thinking ‘outside of the box’, incorporating colorful auras behind his characters and incorporating spray paint and splashes of varying colors. Vintage books, papers (such as newspapers and magazines), photography and keys are all major components to the success of his art style. His art is raw, often to the point of being eerie and surely evokes thoughts of both life and death. Viewing his work, you’re sure to be kept on edge and wanting to dive in and find out everything you can about his work and what inspires him.