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Bradd Addison Young's surreal summer


Tomorrow is the last opportunity to catch "Faux Été" ("Fake Summer"), the solo show of Rochester-based artist Bradd Addison Young currently hosted at The Yards. Young's mixed-media illustrations are fresh and strange, each pastel-toned picture a peek into a cartoonish, nostalgic narrative with a slightly ominous underbelly. His background is in studio art and graphic design, and he has also created a line of apparel that sports his playful, irreverent imagery.

Young answered some of our burning questions about his enigmatic work and his process via email. Check it out below.

"Faux Été" wraps up Saturday, June 17; catch it during market hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can follow his work on Instagram at @young_salut.

CITY: What inspires you to create?

Bradd Addison Young: All throughout my young life, I was fortunate enough to be taken on several vacations and excursions with my family during breaks from school to tropical countries. The summers that I was in town, I spent hanging out with my friends watching cartoons, playing video games, listening to music, and exploring nature. When I try to recall my childhood and those summers, it's like a hazy, sunburnt dream. I try to embody that sense of nostalgia and "summer magic" we envision as kids. At the end of the day, I just wanna make drawings that the 15-year-old version of me would like.

Your work involves food, figures, pieces of wood, balloons, and a lot of pastel. Can you discuss the specific themes you favor and choices you make?

In terms of subject matter, I can only tap into the feelings and times I had growing up. As a result, what I tend to draw is the free-association of tropical vacations, nature, and festivities with friends; and ultimately, an extension of me.

To maintain the youthful aesthetic, I try to keep a simple sense of beauty and surrealness, with a soft color palette full of baby blues, mint greens, and pinks. The goal of much of my work is to be light-hearted, inviting, and youthful, but a little weird.

Though my work is meant to be summery, dreamy, and light, there is a somber underlying tone to the work. The feeling comes from the longing for that past time in my life. I try to convey this sense of nostalgia with this idea of a fake, never-ending summer. I work with things like lawn flamingos, woodblocks, and scenery painted on cardboard because those are inanimate representations of the real things I associate with childhood "fun in the sun."

The balloons I often draw represent summer parties and a fake sense of happiness, hence the big dumb smile. The blocks of wood I draw are meant to be simplifications of the feelings of being in nature when I was younger. I wanted to take something, like nature-walking, and objectify it into one thing that I could incorporate into multiple pieces.

I have been a die-hard fan of cartoons and animation ever since I could remember. I would watch whatever was on Cartoon Network, so I can attribute my love of vibrant colors, subtle humor, and an "anything goes" type of mindset to my fandom of kid shows (shouts out to "The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack" and "Adventure Time").

Where does the name "Salut" come from?

Salut is a French word, which is an informal way of saying "hey." In my watercolor illustrations, I like to imagine all the figures I include are in one "universe" where everything is very soft, pastel-colored, and the people wear this one style of clothing. I made up this brand for them to wear called, Salut. The translation, "hey," is meant to be a representation of the inviting colors and content in the drawings; but I also wanted the name to be something foreign to the average person.

What are you listening to in the studio these days?

I always work with music playing in the background. Most of the time, my work is very still and sterile, almost as if they were organized snapshots of random scenes. I like to listen to music that I can envision playing in the background of whatever setting I'm drawing. I'll either listen to music that has a repeated melody or rhythm like electronic music and some Krautrock (like Boards of Canada or Stereolab) or something really dreamy like Cocteau Twins or My Bloody Valentine.