With so much to see at the Olmsted County Fair, it’s easy to bypass Brandon Cole’s ordinary white tent, but the artwork inside this Stewartville native’s stand is anything but ordinary.
Vivid and detailed, Cole’s paintings aren’t created with paintbrushes, they’re made with spray paint.
“I love anything art,” he said. “But this completely frees my mind.”
An artist since his youth, Cole decided to expand his work after one of his sculptures won the Freshwater Society’s Water is Life contest in 2010.
“That was the first time my art was in the community. I got a lot of comments, it pushed me to do more,” Cole said.
Six years ago, Cole saw spray paint artist Cosmo Kid at the Mower County Fair. A 4-H member, Cole would spend every free moment at the fair watching the Cosmo Kid, learning the art by watching him and YouTube videos.
“One day, he threw me up on stage, and I’ve been doing it ever since.” Cole said.
In 2004, Cole started showing his work at Stewartville Summerfest, and this year he expanded to Thursdays on First and Art Blitz. Encouraged by people’s reactions, Cole applied to the fair.
Armed with only paper and spray paint, Cole doesn’t start a piece with any preexisting idea. “I just start with color on paper,” he said.
The paintings take 5 to 15 minutes to create, and on a good day Cole can sell as many as 75 paintings.
His art is dependent on the weather — too cold and he can’t paint, too humid and the paint gets sticky — so Cole only paints in the spring and summertime.
“There are less than 500 people in the world that do this, especially in this way,” Cole said.
But art remains a hobby for Cole, who works at Cardinal of Minnesota. He says he likes to have fun with it, and sells his paintings to buy more paint. If given the opportunity to travel with his art, ‘I’d probably take it’, he said, but he doesn’t see that in his future.
For now, Cole is hoping to expand his work to more fairs and festivals next year. He will be at the Olmsted County Fair all week.