And the Winner is… “Sketch”
By Jeff Roslow
Pen & Ink Artist “Sketch” Wins 1st Place at the 863’s Art Fest.
You may understand why artist Brad “Sketch” Grirus recently won first place in the Fifth Annual 863 Local FiArt Fest in Winter Haven considering the pen and ink drawing of Peter Rabbit he made and sold at the show to a woman who watched him draw it.
However, learning that Sketch, a 30-plus year tattoo artist has won the only two sketch displays and contests he has entered, may be a surprise. Sketch has a tattoo shop called MGA Misguided Artist; it’s located on 10th Avenue in Arcadia. Since moving back to Florida from California he has won first place in the FiArt held in April and previously won first place in the 32nd Annual Lake Placid Art League show in January.
“I’ve done artwork for as long as I can remember, but you can’t make a living off it,” the pen and ink artist says.
Bruce Tynte, a metal artist from Arcadia, came across Sketch’s art and told him he’d win shows.
Sketch was skeptical, “I didn’t think I’d win anything (at FiArt),” he says. “I didn’t know the people and they didn’t know me.”
His wife, Donna, didn’t agree with him. “Dad and I said he was going to win. He didn’t think so.”
“His art is amazing,” says Sharon Creedon, the judge at this year’s FiArt. She says his work was mesmerizing. It was sharp in the chosen art, which she says is difficult.
“Lewis Carroll is really great and there was so much to his each story. I really enjoyed it,” Creedon says.
As well as liking the Alice in Wonderland art, she was captured by art inspired by the novel/film Bird Box. “One man was wearing a mask and a beak for a nose. I found that to be a wonderful capture of a character.”
Because of the recent victories and more people seeing his work, he has a monthlong show at Outer Space Gallery in downtown Winter Haven that runs from May 10 through June 10.
A reception called Urban Fantasy was held on May 10. This August, Sketch’s work will be on display at the Magnolia Show in Lakeland.
“He donated his time and services to kids at the PEP (Public Education Partnership) center,” says Curtis Flanders from Outer Space. “He did such an awesome job, I wanted him to do a show at Outer Space. This guy has to have a solo show.”
Flanders was also impressed with how fast he was. The project he helped with was painting a door, teaching students how to enhance themselves.
“He thought it sounded like a great cause… did an entire door in four hours,” Flanders says.
The amount of time it takes Sketch to compose a piece, though, he doesn’t really know.
“I can’t give you a timeline. I get in a mode,” Sketch says. “I can go six to eight hours and it could feel like 20 minutes.”
He also says he doesn’t know what’s coming when he starts. The pieces related to Bird Box were not what he had in mind when he started. “When I started, it had nothing to do with Bird Box. It just came out. When I draw I think of everything else going on in my life and I’m just drawing. What comes could be something from the subconscious,” Sketch says.
In his studio, Sketch has all kinds of art from pen and ink framed drawings on the walls, to painted desktop skulls and, of course, tattoos. In fact, he is a walking tattoo display which includes a tattoo that covers his shaven skull and into his neck. It has taken three different artists so far and it’s not done yet.
“The guy who did my head told me he was going to retire,” Sketch says. “I said ‘really?’ After that I found someone else but I fired him.”
Then he waited about eight or nine years before someone filled in more.
“I’m still not finished, but I can’t find the artwork… everything’s changed so much,” he says.
With the attention his work has gotten in the last few months, Sketch says he may expand his work. But he says being a tattooist is the main thing.
“I can focus more on my artwork, but art is a hobby and tattoo is a living… it’s a steady paycheck,” he says.
In Creedon’s eyes, though, with Sketch’s mind and talent he can go further with his artwork. “He draws to a theme,” she says. There is a narrative with his work.
“It’s wonderful to see that. It’s not just one of, this and then that, but he’s able to continue to tell a story using the same character.”