May 20, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Some 20 or 25 years ago, Brian Tait would probably have been dismissed as a graffiti vandal and skateboard punk. Today, the established artist and family man is much harder to classify. “I’ve been called a ‘Renaissance man,’” he says.

At 40, Tait is a working multimedia artist/artist/craftsman who has mastered numerous complex mediums demanding refined techniques and the use of specialized tools. His works—from traditional wall-mounted and tabletop pieces to furniture and sculpture—can be found in galleries, restaurants, salons, businesses, and private homes locally and beyond. He’s created multimedia installations for various exhibitions. He’s also a performance artist and musician, blending his talents in unexpected ways.

“I have a lot of skill sets, so I typically try to push,” he says. “At the end of the day, the art of it comes down when you touch pencil to paper and initialize a concept. Everything else after that is technique.”

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His work often integrates an echo of his tagger origins, and it was his mastery of lettering that opened the door to his initial paid work, which was in the sign craft. A stint working for a custom furniture and cabinetry business expanded his repertoire of skills even further. And for the last 14 years, he’s been on his own with Tait Studios.

It’s challenging to make a living as an artist, Tait says, so he’s generous with his time and talent in an effort to formally and informally incubate up-and-comers and help them become working artists. He’s just picked up a new studio, a north Omaha house he intends to use for a residency exchange with artists from Omaha’s sister cities around the globe.

The Florida-born Tait came to Nebraska via the Air Force. He stayed on after the birth of his oldest child (he has a teenage daughter, a toddler daughter, and now a son on the way), but he says he enjoys his adopted city.

“I like this town,” he says. “I’m appreciative for what Omaha’s done for me and the
people here.”

His work can be seen at places like Halo Studios in midtown, Billy Frogg’s in the Old Market, and Over Easy in west Omaha. Although his art supports him, Tait says he’s not about heavy salesmanship.

“It’s very taxing to do it that way,” he says. “You feel uninspired.”

So the business side of Tait’s studio is as broad as his artistic repertoire. When he tours as a musician, he takes some of his art with him for sale. He has a page on Saatchi Art, a leading online art gallery. Other works are sold through word-of-mouth or by connecting with buyers who see work like his February First Friday installation, a provocative—even disturbing—video piece he produced on gun violence. Some of his creations are displayed in galleries, but he’s also had work turned away from galleries for being challenging. That’s okay, Tait says, because the point is to spark an emotional response.

“To inspire people is one of the things I like to do the most,” he says. “And to get a perspective shift.”

Visit briantait.us/tag/tait-studios to learn more

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