Brill Adium is making faces. In his art, the face says it all. In himself, the name says it all: Brill-iant. I like to pick apart names and see how they relate to people. I often think about the words that make up a name. His last name, Adium—not to be confused with odium—says something about who he is. The prefix ad- means to, or toward, and -ium is a suffix meaning “derivative of.” Adium is made of forward movement, always headed toward his goals.
His art is crudely calculated. Its value comes from his preparation and his intention. There is a lot of life, emotion, experience, and especially pain fueling his work. The rather large-scale painting style means that the face he paints is sometimes the size of an average human torso. For the viewer, I believe he demonstrates a sense of introspection. When we look at ourselves in a mirror, almost always, we make eye contact with our reflection. Adium translates that moment with his paintings.
His politics is people. Of course, as an artist, his message is pure, so his art is not inherently political. You might say his political party is humanity, because it doesn’t seem like he’s one to take sides. He feels misunderstood, and he’s on the side of the misunderstood. If you ask me, everyone is misunderstood. We can all relate to Adium’s work in some way. That’s part of why it’s so valuable. It’s not just a piece of art, it’s a piece of himself.
Adium is known by many as the owner of a company called Defined Enterprises. It is a gallery space in Altamonte Springs, and their goal is to provide a space for artists and creatives to pursue their imaginations. A recording studio and white room allow artists to record music and take videos and pictures, and the front gallery room has high ceilings and yellow walls with plenty of space for showing work. Defined Enterprises also has a video production team to assist their clients. According to their website, “Brill Adium hopes to influence every artist with a bit of inspiration upon working on their project.”
I met Adium in his backyard garage-turned-studio, where he was working like a bee with two other local Orlando artists, Halsi and Diego Inkusual. It was a microcosm of eye candy, and I could feel the productive energy emanating from the garage door like a big steel oven. I can’t say the smell was too bad, either. My favorite piece in the room was probably a TV mounted inside a garbage can lid atop a garbage can painted all over with eyeballs. After Adium closed the squeakiest garage door in the world and turned off the industrial-strength fans, I whipped out my recording device and we got going.
Rob Goldman: What is your first memory?
Brill Adium: [Laughing] First memory…in regards to what?
Just think as far back as you can. What comes to mind? It is a random question, not all these questions are directly art related. (Or are they?)
First memory…I think my first memory is when I officially dropped out of high school.
Is Orlando your hometown?
No. I was born in Alabama, but I moved here around 10th grade, so Orlando is practically my hometown.
What is special about Orlando to you?
When I was living in Alabama, it was either black or white [people.] No Spanish people, Jamaican people, Mexicans—only either black or white. But when I came to Florida, there were all these people, and all these languages they could speak. There are people from everywhere! One of the craziest things that I have noticed about Orlando is that a lot of people who are really trying to push for it are not the people originally from Orlando.
Who are you portraying in your art?
I use six faces in total. It is basically the six different emotions that we go through in life. We have all of these emotions, but for some people, one resonates more than all the others. You have wisdom, confusion, pain, ego, contentment, and the cover-up.
Do you want to go into any of those? Which one stands out the most to you?
Everybody relates to one more than the other. The cover-up is smiling, but at the same time, the smile is crossed out, which indicates the smile of an adult. All of us, when we’re smiling, often we’re actually covering something up. Then you have the wise one. Not wise on just an earth level, but a spiritual level. Then there is the content one. He has no goals. He is not worried about tomorrow, he is not worried about yesterday, he is only worried about now. He wants everybody to understand the importance of living in the now.
Then there’s pain. This guy is full of pain—it is a reflection of failed relationships—nothing has been perfect for this guy. He does not really understand love, because it was never given to him; failed relationships, failed friendships, not the perfect relationship with family. Then there is the confused one. When I say he is confused, I do not mean in the sense that he doesn’t know who he is. Basically, you read five hundred books, only to understand you have to read a thousand more. Your work is never done.
Then there is the ego. Out of all the characters he is the strongest one, physically. Mentally, he is the weakest. Out of all these characters, you need the ego to compete, to win, to be up to par. We are all of these characters but I feel like as an artist, what makes me creative is pain. It is the pain and the confusion. I feel like all the great artists, they are pulling it from somewhere. For me, I pull my art from pain. Without it, there would just be white canvas with some stuff that you have seen before.
If you were not an artist, what would you be?
Dead. Life does not make sense without the calling. As an artist, it just does not make sense.
What do you think happens when we die?
Everyday, I think, I give a different answer. I do not know. I feel like it is definitely something greater than this, but who am I to say what is out there? I am sure it is another level, I feel like this is level one, and how well we play level one is what determines what level two is.
What makes a good leader?
Responsibility, understanding mistakes, understanding that there is room for growth, understanding that there is still stuff to learn—no matter how much you know—and really understanding how much you can take on as a leader. You do not want to get overworked because that builds up stress, and then you cannot function and be the leader that you want to be.
What problems are you hoping to solve?
To be honest, my main focus before my demise is: I just want equality. True equality, not the American dream. I am not saying everybody should be rich. I am not saying that everybody should be poor. I want everybody to start off with the same resources as the next person. I want everybody to have a fair shot at life, because that is not what is happening right now.
So if you could pass a bill through Congress right now, what would that be?
First, I would take away tuition and make studying free. Schooling and studying in other countries is free. I feel like the United States is doing everything backwards. Finances are the root of a lot of problems. One of the reasons that schooling has been going down is because everything is based on funds. That is not right. That all goes back to equality, because you have the “A schools” but they are only “A schools” because they are funded. They have an advantage over schools that do not have the same budgets. It definitely has a lot to do with finances. If it were up to me, I would change that. Everybody would have the same budget.
Define Defined Enterprises.
It is simple, I want to define what an enterprise really means. Art is just a platform but eventually that platform is going to turn into an amusement park or a theatre. It will create platforms for artists like Halsi and Diego. It is an enterprise, and an enterprise is being successful at multiple things.
Who is your target audience? Do you have one?
The people who want something more out of life. My audience is: the misunderstood, the true artists, the people who have been suffering and in misery for way too long. I feel like I connect with everybody, but my audience is the misunderstood.
Who do you like to work with?
Anybody who is true and who is trying to do something in life. Anybody who is diligent. I am working with the usual suspects: Diego (a sculptor), Halsi. I am working with these people on a day-to-day basis because I feel like the chemistry is genuine and organic. We did not have to force it. These are the people I am working with the most everyday.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I always wanted to be Goku. If I could have any superpower I would be Super-Saiyan. It is not even that Goku is the strongest, his character makes him the strongest overall. He would risk his whole life just to save the world. That is character.
What was your biggest breakthrough? Was there ever a period of time or a moment where you either knew what kind of path you wanted take or what you wanted to do?
You realize when you work 9 to 5, if you have dreams, you are going to have to ask yourself if you want to do this for the rest of your life. For me, and any other person who is trying to do something in life, that answer is no. So, I have not had a job on paper in maybe six years, but that is because that breakthrough is when you realize that people with a nametag can treat you any type of way. That never made sense to me. With a 9-to-5 job, you cannot accomplish what you really want to accomplish in life.
You either focus on something that is true, or you sacrifice that for a paycheck. It is all about what you want to do in life, and I really want to make something of my life. I do not want to just be living here and not getting to experience life. That is not what I was made for. It is a cycle when you work a job. You wake up, go to work, and go to sleep. I do not want to live life as just a cycle. As an artist, to stay fresh with ideas, I think you always have to change it up, or else life will just become boring and dry.
What pisses you off?
Can I answer this with multiple answers? My number one pet peeve is when people give up on their dreams. No matter what happens in life, it should force you to keep going. It should not force you to give up. If anything, it should make you want it more and want to keep going. When people doubt us as artists, that is a pet peeve. No matter how long it takes, we are going to get it done, so you should never doubt us. If you doubt an artist, that hurts more than anything. We may not accomplish it tomorrow, because it is trial and error, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. I know I am going to get there, you just have to believe in it. That is all I ask of everyone that is around me.
Not everybody in life has a vision but that is what I think separates talent and gift. Gift is having a vision before you act. It is not something where we woke up last week and thought, “Hey, this is cool, we can make a lifestyle out of this.” This is something we have been thinking about since we were little, and that is the vision that I am talking about. A lot of people do not have that vision, they just think of things to do in life.
Another one is when people do not recognize the talent that you possess. Everything that I am doing right now is the same thing that I am doing when I am successful, but when I am successful, people say, “That’s good, that’s impeccable,” but I have had this the whole time. Nothing has changed except the genuine support. When you get to that stage of success, you do not really know what is genuine at that point, and everything is just lost in translation. Success is a double edged sword.
What makes you happiest?
Progress. My family. I mean, my friends as family. They understand what you are trying to do. Hope.
What is your happy place?
My mind, at certain points. My mind is always changing, I feel all of us artists are bipolar. If I am completely happy, something is wrong. The same way as if I am in a lot of pain, something is wrong. It is a balance, an ongoing balance. The happy place is just where I am being creative.
What is your dream project?
To create a platform so that no matter what happens, no matter what type of person you are, you can come into an establishment and you are guaranteed to have that platform. I feel like that is what life is. We are all looking for, “How? Where do I start? Where should I take this idea? What if we could create something?” We have been through so many trials and errors in life that we know.
If you have artwork, we know the perfect gallery. Something definite. No matter who comes in here we know of a place for these people and their art. A lot of people stop because they are left on their own to figure it out. If you are alone—and this may be the hardest truth—you may never figure it out. If you run with a group of people who have been through this trial and error, they can tell you things, they can share ideas and they can share their network with you and that is when you can really start building something.
That is why I feel like a lot of people never accomplish things in life, because nobody is taking the initiative to share with them. I want to welcome people who want to change the world, people with all sorts of different skillsets, and I want to go on to do something bigger. That is my ultimate dream. This art stuff is a platform, getting me to where I really want to go. I am not trying to be a president or anything, I just want to be somebody who has ideas and acts on them. To get things done and change the world. My dream project is to make a project that makes everyone else’s dream projects.
What is important for Orlando to focus on? What is our main priority right now?
Focus on the youth and focus on the art. It is the artist that influences new ideas, and I do not mean just from the standpoint of a painter. Art is anybody who is creating something. Sculptors, fashion, designers, technology engineers, all of these people are artists. These people will change the world. That is what I would focus on. The youth and the art.
What is your mantra?
Be brilliant. I just want everybody to be brilliant. Impossible is impossible. There is always room to figure out something that you say could not be done. I feel like anything is possible in life. It will pay off. Notice what you are doing it for—even if it takes a lifetime, it will pay off.
What do we do about these creepy clowns?
We take them out to eat. Get to know them, become their friends. We are living in the time where it is just going to keep getting more bugged out. As the days go by, it does not seem like things are calming down. Every day is something new, so at this point expect the impossible. It is getting crazy out here. I think it is just more in our faces now. We have social media, and if we did not have social media, we would not know about most of these things. Facebook is how we are seeing this stuff every day. Hillary, Trump—that is the number one thing we talk about every day. That is social media. It is not because people are watching the news or listening to the radio. It is because social media is that platform that the millennials are on. We are fans of things by default, not by choice. The clowns…that’s just social media.
The creepy clowns…you are talking about Trump and Clinton, right?
Oh, yeah. This is a joke, man. How did we get to this point in life? I cannot focus on anything that I am not in control of. I am only in control of my life.
Your vote counts!
When it comes to politics, I can’t. I am not in the election office, I do not know what is going on, so therefore I am not into that. I am in control of my life. I think why so many people vote is just so they can see how many people need them. Everything in life is politics. I hate to say it but everything, art, business, war, it is all politics. Art is painful; politics is painful. Sometimes, we have to indulge in politics.