When the pandemic hit, and her museum job as an artist with Madame Tussaud's in Downtown DC evaporated, Brie Hayden needed not only a new employer but another way to channel her creativity. Brie had always been an artist but really leaned into her now-signature hyperrealistic technique soon after losing her day job. She toyed with her newfound style, drawn to how the tiniest of details can truly bring a work to life.
To truly visually capture the smallest of nuances, all of Brie's works are drawn completely in graphite. "Working in graphite allows for a unique focus on the interplay of light and shadow. By stripping away color, the spotlight is put on the grayscale values, allowing me to share my admiration of sharing with my audience." Her use of fine-tipped pencils allow her the utmost control and precision to render pieces that you could easily mistake for a photograph.
She was rather surprised when her very first bottle drawing sold. Clearly there was a market, or at least a market of one! And then the big break came with her second piece, which launched her to the next level artistically. In 2020, her piece caught the eye of a partner with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Teremana Tequila, who commissioned her to draw the celeb's tequila bottle to be given as a gift for his birthday. To her surprise and delight, the former WWE champ shared this unique gift on his nearly 400 million follower-strong Instagram account and commissioned her to draw more for him. Needless to say, this was an incredible boon for Brie's business.
Brie has come a long way from her first few bottles. She now exhibits her art across the burgeoning art scene in her current home of Richmond, VA, at multiple festivals (such as the upcoming Boardwalk Art Show in Virginia Beach), and is a member of The Art League Gallery at the renowned Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. Beyond her shows and gallery features, she still works mostly on commission through her website, spreading desire for her work via word of mouth from happy customers. I, myself, recently commissioned her to memorialize my family's former whiskey brand in graphite. And it goes without saying that her one-of-a-kind custom pieces make exceptional gifts and are perfect for distilleries to memorialize their brands through artwork.
Brie has found a real niche in depicting everyday objects even beyond liquor bottles, such as bottlecaps and silverware. Her intensely realistic style highlights and conveys the beauty in even the most seemingly mundane of objects. But she has found unique joy in depicting liquor bottles, especially those steeped in history. She has recreated numerous pre-Prohibition bottles, using a large collection she recently photographed for inspiration. The way she masters the depth and light of the peeling edges of a label, the long-earned patina of foggy glass, and the delicate tendrils of early 20th-century fonts is masterful; you will no doubt mistake some of her work for a stylized photograph. And Brie loves the history behind them, too, eager to dig in and find any mention of long-extinct brands in the historical record.
She also does a fair amount of pet portraiture, though she doesn't want to be pigeonholed as a pet artist, which can be a rather easy specialty to fall into. What can I say? As an obsessive dog mom, my ears perked up and my eyes twinkled when she said she drew pups. People love to buy pictures of their furry friends. (And I still may try to commission her to sketch my dog.)
Brie's pieces - which are all free hand drawn, not traced from a photograph - take about 20-30 hours to create, which she spreads across 4-8 weeks. Each depiction comes matted and framed, ready to be placed on display. And no: they are not cheap, but they are painstakingly crafted one-of-a-kind pieces of art perfect for any bourbon lover. Each piece runs $400 for a 9 x 12 up to $2,000 for a 22 x 30. The good news for her fans, though, is that she recently launched a line of bourbon bottle prints that cost $40 for an 8 x 10 or $60 for an 11 x 14. And they are available just in time for the holidays!
Brie is a true talent and I cannot wait to see what she does next. I love supporting women in the arts, especially those who select subjects so near and dear to my heart. Be sure to check out Brie's work as the perfect gift for any booze lover in your life.