Bradu's mega MMA artwork thread, 2001-present

see all of my artwork at http://www.bradutterstrom.com

and like my facebook art page as well if you'd like to see more: https://www.facebook.com/bradutterstrom

I've been posting my MMA artwork here since 2001. Nowadays, there is TONS of amazing MMA related artwork out there...you guys are familiar with Shomanart and Disciple Dojo, but there are tons more. Back then, there really weren't too many people doing it, and I'm proud to say I am one of the first and longest running artists focusing on MMA as a subject of my artwork.

I have to give credit here as well, MMA fans and the UG/OG brethren are a loyal bunch. While my passion for the sport drives me to produce the artwork, without the praise and customers I've gained here, I may not have continued down this same path for so long.

Now, nearly 15 years later, I'm still doing and posting MMA artwork. I think (and hope) my work has changed and evolved since then, but I also hope some of  my older work still holds up. When I do new artwork I usually post a new thread for it, but it's getting to where that feels redundant. So I was thinking it might be a good idea to start one giant thread, and when I do new work, to post it to that thread. I'm not going to promise I won't post any new artwork threads, but I'll save those for something unique in some way (the video of me drawing a Ronda Rousey sketch card a couple days ago being a good example, since people have asked for a video from me for years)...when I just do my day to day sketch cards and drawings, I'll post them to this thread instead of starting a new one.

I'll try to post them more or less in chronological order, but grouped in a way that makes sense to show my progression.

Thanks for all the support, guys! It's been a long journey, that's for sure. But I'm still going strong.

To start, my first ever MMA artwork, a 9x12" acrylic painting of my all-time favorite fighter, Randy "the Natural" Couture:

When I first painted this one in 2001 while still in art school, I never could have guessed it would be the first of literally hundreds of MMA related paintings and drawings. However, even then I had a vision in mind: MMA artwork trading cards. I specifically did this painting at 9x12", a size I knew would reduce more or less to the proportions of a standard trading card, and with the goal in mind to do more artwork that size and create my own trading card set. This painting, simple as it is, still may be my personal favorite of my own body of work. Does that mean I haven't improved in 14 years? I sure hope not. I think it has more to do with the sentimental value, it being my first MMA painting and a painting of my favorite all-time fighter. However, there's something special about the simplicity of this one, using just the 3 primary colors, that symbolizes me as an artist.

When I painted that Couture, I was midway through my final year in college, and I posted a thread here to show my work. I received such an overwhelming response that it influenced me to continue in that direction...for my final term in my painting class, we were to design our own project. I chose to do a series of 9x12" paintings, many of which turned out to be of MMA stars at the time. I can't say exactly which of my paintings were a part of that series, but I will post a few below that either were from that series or right around that time. The goal of this series was to experiment...the size was 9x12", but aside from that, each painting was an experiment. I tried fingerprint painting with stamp pad ink, painting on sandpaper, painting with a sponge, drawing, melting crayons, and just about anything else I could think of. Here are a few of the paintings from that series:

Elvis Sinosic, acrylic with sponge:

(Elvis was awesome and signed prints for me...he now owns the original)

Chocolate Al, fingerprints with stamp pad ink:

(this was an idea I got from famous artist Chuck Close, painting with my fingerprint using just the 3 primary colors. I did a handful of these, but ultimately decided it was just a stepping stone in my learning process and not something I wanted to continue).

Bas Rutten, melted crayon:

Bas signed some prints...sad story, BLS Shannon Knapp (now most well known for Invincta) bought the original and it was to be given to Bas as a gift, but the original was destroyed during shipping.

Hayato Sakurai, watercolor:

I did maybe 5 watercolor paintings ever. This was the only one that was salvageable, and now I realize it is terrible...but I still like some things about it so haven't ditched it.

Carlos Newton, grayscale acrylic:

my painting professor dogged this one pretty hard, saying I should never paint grays by mixing black and white. Apparently it's some weird art rule. I don't care about art rules much. Now that I think about it, it's probably not an art rule, but more just that she was trying to get me to experiment with mixing complementary colors, which was how she wanted me to mix my grays. I did have a blue underpainting which is just BARELY visible between his thumbs.

great stuff!

From 2001 to 2005 I continued to paint, draw, and post my work here. It was quite a rollercoaster ride. It seemed everything I posted would get 50 comments or more! I sold some work to fans, managers, even fighters. I had paintings in Team Quest's gym. I did trades with pro fighters where I would do a painting for them, they would sign a limited number of prints that I could then sell. I was getting lots of love from the MMA world, but also lots of hate. I had plenty of trolls, impersonators even.

During that time I continued to experiment and I posted virtually every experiment I tried if it had an MMA subject in it. I was working in acrylics, ball point pen, pastel, and some other mediums as well. I really hadn't found a focal point in terms of medium, but I did continue to work in sizes that fit the proportions of a trading card pretty well (9x12", 12x16", 18x24", a few smaller).

Like I said I can't say for sure what order these were done in, but here are some of my favorites from that time period:

Melted crayon (and candle) wax, 9x12": This was one of my more unique ideas in that I've never seen any other artist do something quite like this. I still think I will return to this at some point, but I only did 5 or 10 of these total.

Minotauro:

 

Kevin Randleman:

 

Caol Uno:

Acrylic. In general I don't consider my acrylic work my strongest, but I did try a number of different color combinations, and ended up with some paintings that I liked. Here are some of them:

Tony "the Freak" Fryklund 12x16"

 

Enson Inoue 18x24" (about the largest I ever worked, at least on an MMA subject)

 

Douglas Dedge (RIP), 9x12"

 

Matt Lindland 12x16": I loved this color and used it more than once, also in the Freak above. This particular painting always made me feel like it was underwater or something, though that was unintentional.

Ball point pen: Everybody did their drawings in pencil. I wanted to do something different. I did a lot of drawings in ball point pen for this reason, and I did like it better than working with graphite. But it's been years since I've used ball-point pen to draw, and I may not go back to it. I liked it more for it's uniqueness and novelty than for the actual results, but a few of my ball-point drawings I was happy with.

 

Rickson Gracie 9x12": Signifies a key moment for me as an artist. Not only was it maybe my best work up to that point, but one of my trolls tried to 'prove' that I was tracing my drawings by overlaying this drawing over the photo in photoshop...and it lined up *almost perfectly! It wasn't quite perfect, in particular the hand was too small, but obviously I myself knew that I drew it freehand, so it was a big confidence boost for me. I was like "man, I'm getting accurate enough that people are actually convinced I'm tracing! AND they have a pretty strong argument!"

 

Genki Sudo 9x12": I initially planned on doing a lot more detail in the drapery, but ultimately I decided I liked the simplicity of it, and didn't want that to take away from the focal point of Genki himself.

 

Nate Marquardt 9x12"

 

Dennis "the Piranha" Davis 9x12"

 

Frank Mir 4.5x6": This was one of the first times I drew smaller than 9x12", though I was still careful to keep the similar proportion to trading cards.Kind of a precursor to my current sketch card work.

pencil and charcoal, the more 'traditional' drawing mediums. I didn't use these too often. But I do have a few earlier drawings that stand out.

 

Tank Abott, pencil, appx 5x7": this was actually just a pencil sketch I tore out of my sketch book, because when I posted it someone actually offered to buy it. Until I get to sketch cards some 5 years later, it's really the only pencil work I have.

 

Gina Carano (work in progress) charcoal, 9x12": I often say I'm not one of those artists whose work looks nice through the entire process. I usually feel like I struggle through each piece and it looks terrible as I'm working, and suddenly it all comes together and works out in the end. This piece is an exception, midway through I thought "hey! This actually looks decent!" so I snapped a photo partway through.

 

Gina Carano (final) charcoal, 9x12": I actually like the in progress shot better, should have quit then.

 

 

early pastel: I always LOVED pastel. It's my favorite medium. Not necessarily to work WITH, but to look at, in terms of other artists' work. So I certainly don't feel I've mastered pastel, but I've continued to work with it throughout my artistic career. I go back and forth between full color work and more limited colors (usually toned paper with white and one darker tone). Here are some of the earlier ones that were ok:

Uno vs Sato 9x12": This is certainly nothing special, but it's got a striking simplicity that has always struck me. I drew it in 15 or 20 minutes, compared to the 2 hours plus that just about all of the other work I've posted took me.

 

Takayama 5x7"?: This was my best friend's drawing of mine. Courtesy of Don Frye's hockey punches.

 

The Mighty Sea Bass in the Stanley Cup 12x18": bonus points if you remember this little guy's story.

 

Evan Tanner RIP 12x16": I started to develop this new background style that I kinda liked. I did a few more or less like this.

 

Relson Gracie (simply white pastel on black paper) 9x12"

 

Chris "The Catsmasher" Leben 12x16":

 

"Lil' Evil" Jens Pulver 12x16":

 

Those last two were two of my last drawings, probably in 2005, before I took a nearly 5 year hiatus from doing any artwork whatsoever. I'm getting sleepy now so this is a good time for a break for me, too, so I'll try to pick up my story tomorrow where I'm leaving off.

Oh, actually there's one key thing I alluded to that I should mention first...trading cards. ALL of the above were done with the idea in mind that at some point, I wanted my artwork to be featured on trading cards. I did produce my own trading card set...an early version was literally perforated business cards printed up on my own printer with the different artwork images on the front, and my business info on the back.

That eventually led to this set which I think I did in 2004 or 05, a 45 card trading card set featuring my MMA artwork. These were my business cards still, but this time, they were printed on a much nicer card stock at standard trading card size (2.5x3.5"). I got a handful of fighters to autograph 5 or 10 each, and I collated them into random 'packs' of 3 cards where 1 out of 5 packs included an autographed card! Any time a customer purchased artwork from me, they would get a pack of these:

5

Great stuff, man! Thanks for sharing Phone Post 3.0

ttt Phone Post 3.0

Ttt. This is talent right here. Nice to see some positive stuff around here for a change. Phone Post 3.0

Wow! Probably my favorite mma-art I've seen. Phone Post 3.0

Awesome. Very cool. Phone Post

I bought Brad's latest card set and his art is truly awesome.

Your card of bearded Evan Tanner is a masterpiece Phone Post 3.0

VU & thanks for posting this thread, Bradu! I've always been a fan of your work. The pieces you've done in all sorts of different mediums are absolutely awesome.

TTT. Phone Post 3.0

nice

As mentioned, I took nearly 5 years off from any kind of artwork, but at some point in 2009 I started back up. I was mostly doing 5x7" pastel (using pastel pencils) drawings. Most (if not all) of these were done between 2009 and 2011:

Marloes Coenen 9x12"

 

Stephan Bonnar 5x7"

 

Oleg Taktarov 5x7"

 

Lyoto Machida:

 

Ronda Rousey 9x12"

 

Kimbo Slice 5x7"

 

Bones Jones 9x12"

 

Rampage Jackson 5x7"

 

Alexander Gustafsson 5x7"

 

Jose Aldo 5x7"

 

Muhammad Ali 5x7"

 

Gilbert Yvel 5x7"

 

Killa B Ben Saunders 5x7"

 

Jake Shields 5x7"

 

Dominick Cruz 5x7"

 

Sakuraba 5x7"

 

On all of these ones from the last few posts, I was trying out a style...using toned paper, and then usually just 2 colors of pastel, one lighter than the tone of the paper, and one darker. (I think the Bonnar might have 1 more color in there). I was pleasantly surprised by the few above with the sanguine pastel on ice blue paper.