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The Ink & Brayer Journal: Print Pattern Passion

Art, Vulnerability and Authenticity: Take Inspiration From Lukas Graham

Art, Vulnerability and Authenticity: Take Inspiration From Lukas Graham
Bren Sutton Artist | Director of Ink & Brayer

Yesterday I was gifted tickets to the documentary 7 Years of Lukas Graham. It was a surprising and inspiring film that I am so grateful to have seen. I now have enormous respect for Lukas, and I admire his absolute unwavering authenticity and raw talent. I thought I was going to see a ‘fame and the music industry destroyed me’ film, but instead what I saw was someone who refused to be moulded and didn’t succumb to the superficial elements of fame.

It was an observational documentary made over seven years, beginning before he and his band hit the charts in the US.  It was an incredibly open and honest account of his journey to fame, revealing sides of himself he says he wasn't aware of and doesn’t like. He was simply Lukas Graham being unapologetically himself through all his highs and lows. He did not attempt to shape the documentary in any way, and in a hosted zoom chat with Lukas and director René Sascha Johannsen after the screening, Lukas revealed there were around 50 cringe moments for him in the film and he hadn’t realised he was such an ‘asshole under pressure’. It is easy to admire Lukas’ strong drive to be a good father and improve himself as a person, while balancing his demanding career and bringing his exceptional talent to the world.

His authenticity, and willingness to show his mistakes and flaws is an inspiration in an era of ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, when so many of us - artists or not - feel the vulnerability of putting ourselves out there where brutal critics abound. I found it so refreshing to see such incredible talent and passion, such raw honest storytelling, without the usual contrivances that can come with money and fame.

It makes me so happy to see artists just being passionate and doing their thing. And it reminded me that there’s nothing to be gained by trying to please people. As artists we just need to know our values and what integrity is to us, keep it close - that’s our guide - then just be us, unashamedly 100% us. Just sharing our passion, making our mistakes and most importantly bringing our art to the world in the way that we want to - not how others want us to.

Lukas, you are an absolute inspiration. 

Thank you!


Trailer: '7 Years of Lukas Graham' - Feature documentary from Sonntag Pictures on Vimeo.



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Welcome from Bren; The Story of Ink & Brayer

Welcome from Bren; The Story of Ink & Brayer

Kia ora and welcome to Ink & Brayer! 


Bren Sutton, NZ artist and designer; owner and director of Ink & BrayerHi I'm Bren - a designer based in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s been a month since I launched Ink & Brayer, so this welcome is well overdue! But here I am finally, to introduce myself, and to share the story of how Ink & Brayer came to be. Thanks so much for joining me here.

Like so many people, my life turned upside down last year with COVID, but I had a double-whammy to contend with. Just weeks before the first COVID lockdown in New Zealand, my husband Mike was diagnosed with cancer and required major surgery. His odds were not good and he became extremely unwell, very quickly. At that time I was working as a product designer and illustrator for a large NZ souvenir company. The demand for souvenirs plummeted due to the borders closing, so although I was saddened about my job being under threat, the timing wasn’t all bad because I had to focus on my family and to help Mike get through the battle of his life.

Couple Bren and Mike together during Covid lockdown, just after Mike's cancer diagnosis
Image: Me and Mike early in lockdown, just before Mike's health took a downhill plunge. (Notice the dog soft-toy in the window -remember the cute ‘teddy bear in the window phase? How cool on those walks with the kids!)

Mike pulled through his most critical challenge – a liver resection. But his health was still uncertain , appointments were daily, and souvenirs were still not a thing. And Mike could no longer drive. So I needed to create a business that I could work on in flexible hours, sometimes from Mike’s bedside in hospital, and often in waiting rooms. Ink & Brayer was my solution. I set about building a website, but not having a clear vision of what it should be. It wasn’t until I attempted to summarise my creative personality in just a few words that it became clear to me. Print, Pattern, Passion!

I’ve always dreamed of having my own creative business. It was in my thoughts, but not in my plans. COVID made it a necessity, and I am grateful that something so exciting for me has come out of such a difficult time. 

Bren Sutton and Pippa Fay's illustartions mocked up on an apartment wall, along with the sun and plants the room looks like a very happy place

Ink & Brayer is not your average design store. It’s a reflection of everything I love and all the passions and interests in my life. I genuinely love everything I choose for the store. The aesthetic is print and pattern based, with strong illustrative content. It all makes sense when you know my background and who I am as a person.

I was trained in traditional hand-drawn animation and worked for years with Walt Disney Australia. There I discovered a passion for the organic shapes and textures in nature through drawing special effects, and also learnt to see and appreciate strong geometric shapes in drawing. I fell in love at Disney too - with Mike - a fellow kiwi, and we came home together to NZ.

Mike and I started a family, and I worked in several different roles while our children were small, my favourite being surface pattern design. My passion for pattern and colour was ignited!

NZ artist Bren Sutton in her Auckland studio holding some of her illustrations and art prints

Pattern is now a part of who I am. Textiles are becoming so too. Art and illustration always was. Printmaking is a new love but has always appealed - I’m particularly drawn to a Japanese aesthetic and I adore wood block and linocut art. Photography has become my almost daily mindfulness practice, mostly just with my iPhone. And so there you have Ink & Brayer - a curation of all my creative passions; but not just my art, because when I fall in love with something, when I get hit with that magical excitement and energy that comes from uplifting design and colour, I have to share it! I want you to feel joy too – to be energised and uplifted by beautiful pattern and colour. There is so much to share. I hope that I can create a space here that you will enjoy visiting – not just to shop, but to feel excited and inspired, a place that makes you want to create too.
I’m just getting started, there is so much to come; please join me on this journey and share your thoughts, your passions, your suggestions. Tell me who your favourite artists are, what makes you happy. I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day,
Bren X

Oh, and btw, we received great news about Mike’s health last week. Things are looking up!

(AND, because I know you are wondering, a brayer is the roller a printmaker uses to roll out ink.) 

Image below: Me working on an illustration in my home studio, early in my surface pattern design career

Artist Bren Sutton working on an illustration

Image: My vibrant pinboard in the years when I first fell in love with pattern and colour

The vibrant pinboard in Bren's studio when she first fell in love with pattern and colour

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