fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

To Infinity and Beyond

Creativity Knows No Bounds

Interview by Addie Strickland | Photography by Sean Murphy

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, artist Bradley Copeland does not remember a time when she was not prone to creative exploration. She describes art as a way to make sense of the world. As a woman with a seemingly endless curiosity for subjects ranging from science to sociology, her work is a means of contemplation. Through painting in her studio in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, she feels she can settle on a fresh and more beautiful perspective. It’s a practice she claims is her native language, and she believes that sharing it with others is more beautiful than anything she creates. Although her work is stunning, the messages she translates remarkably surpass the physical appeal, and that’s the magic of art. Copeland describes her native language to us in the interview below.

VIE: Where do you find inspiration?

BC: Everything can be translated into infinite artistic representations. I carry journals everywhere I go and jot down ideas and sketches of things I see or think. I am constantly researching history, science, psychology, and other subjects, attempting to make sense of our nonsensical world. Art is how I process and understand myself and my place in the world. My art practice allows me to alchemize everything I consume into something else. I also have built such a strong foundation of trust with my painting practice that I don’t necessarily need to be inspired or have an idea to get started. Most of my paintings begin with no plan or direction and reveal themselves to me throughout the process.

VIE: What is your favorite medium?

BC: I love combining and experimenting with all mediums more than any single one, but if I had to pick, I would crown oil paint as the winner. I love all types of paint because of the vibrancy, fluidity, and trust I have built with it over the years. I get lost in painting more easily than in drawing or using any other material because I trust the paint and myself with it enough to be completely free and loose in the process. As much as I love exploring all types of mediums, paint has always seemed to be the most natural to me—acrylic, oil, and watercolor—but there is something extra magical about oil paints. The richness, fullness, and buttery texture of oil paints are impossible to achieve with any other material.

VIE: What elements of your personal life influence your art?

BC: I laughed when I read this question because no element of my personal life does not influence my art. As I described before, painting is how I process everything. Even when actively avoiding healing or dealing with something about my personal life, it inevitably leaks out of me onto the canvas. But truthfully, nothing heals me as much as painting does. When I feel stuck, anxious, or uninspired, I can throw paint on the canvas and find pictures, symbols, and stories in the splashes, scribbles, and strokes. Then I work with it, repeating this process of surrendering control, observing, and refining over and over again. I eventually end up with a finished painting and more clarity and peace than I had within me before starting.

VIE: Who are your favorite artists, and how has their work inspired you?

BC: Hilma af Klint is by far my favorite artist. She was a Swedish painter in the late 1800s and early 1900s who created thousands of beautiful, whimsical abstract works, only for them to be hidden away until twenty years after her passing. Her paintings explored the physical and nonphysical worlds, spirituality, and science, and she illustrated these vast concepts in abstract ways that had never been seen in art before. She painted abstracts before her male counterparts like Kandinsky and Mondrian, who are crowned the Fathers of Abstraction. Leonardo da Vinci is another one of my all-time favorite artists because, like Hilma af Klint, he was much more than an artist. His fascination with philosophy, science, mechanics, and human nature fueled his artistic practice. Both of these artists had a deep desire to understand the world around them. Their stories make me feel less alone in my curiosity.

VIE: Your work often features lips. What’s the meaning behind this? Are there other themes you enjoy pursuing in your art?

BC: The lips were a big creative feat for me, and they will always be special for that reason, but they are only the tip of the iceberg regarding what I want to say with my art. Before the lips, my work was very detailed, realistic, and meticulously planned. This drained all the fun and fulfillment from my passion. I then realized how hard a time I had loosening up, so I started to paint, draw, and collage as many different subjects in as many different ways as possible with only the goal of trying something new in mind instead of making something “good.”

One of the assignments I gave myself to draw was drag queens, and that resulted in scribbly femme faces with big juicy lips, and the lips took off on their own after that. The lips signify my understanding of femininity and the rejection of societal connotations of the feminine. Our world associates femininity with adjectives like pretty, soft, gentle, docile, sweet, quiet, small—blah, blah, blah. My lips are a blatant symbol of femininity presented in a bold, rough, loud, and raw way—an attempt to illustrate femininity with all the grit and power that comes at no cost of beauty. But, on the contrary, I believe this grit serves as the real source of that power. This theme around femininity and our perceptions of it also flows into a lot of my other work. All my other pieces are about my personal life and my interpretation of the world as I am experiencing it. So really, nothing is off limits, and it is all connected.

VIE: When did you move to Santa Rosa Beach, and how has the community impacted your business?

BC: I moved here at the beginning of 2020, and this community has been supportive and encouraging. We have a great network of artists and a massive community of art lovers. Both have helped me immensely in a myriad of ways. I just showed up, and people showed up for me. I am an extreme introvert, so a lot of the outreach I have accomplished is a combination of luck and opportunity. I feel fortunate to be surrounded by the people I have in my life.

VIE: What has been your favorite project to work on so far?

BC: I helped start a brand-new art program under the Cultural Arts Alliance at the Walton Correctional Institution, which quickly became the most important and rewarding part of anything I do. Sharing my passion, methods, and theories on life and creativity with these men has fulfilled me like nothing else. Art has ultimately saved my life, and passing on the torch to others who need a new perspective means more than I can say in words. It all comes full circle that way. I have found so much grace and healing in art, and helping others find the same is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever made.

VIE: Do you have any upcoming exhibitions?

BC: Yes! I am having a solo show at Easy Going Gallery in Pensacola now through November 15. The reception for the show is on Thursday, October 6, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

VIE: Is there anything else you would like to share?

BC: I believe love, life, and art are synonymous. Suppose you hold on too tightly or try to control any of the three. You’re often met with disappointment, dissatisfaction, and frustration in that case. You become blind to all the beautiful, magical miracles happening on the sidelines, out of view of your tunnel vision. To allow love, life, and art to flourish, you must do precisely that: allow. Allow, observe, adjust, repeat.

— V —

Visit BradleyCopelandStudio.com to learn more or shop artwork, or head to Instagram @bradleycopelandstudio to follow her journey!

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail