Doug Bonderud

Mar 12th 2018

Art Innovates Life: The Brandon Balasbas Story


Brandon Balasbas wanted to be a tattoo artist. But in an interview with Adam Ugolink, Balasbas noted his hands were “too shaky” for that line of work — so he spent most of his childhood sketching, developing his skills as a graffiti artist and trying to give his lettering a tattoo-inspired edge. Now he’s found new passions: designing corporate street art and shooting professional aerospace photography for Northrop Grumman. “The Brandon Film” traces his evolution from Los Angeles street artist to corporate innovator. It also showcases the growing drive of cutting-edge companies to empower new creative mediums.

Paying His Dues

Balasbas grew up in LA, and low-riders, motorcycles, surfing and tattoos were cultural touchstones. Graffiti was a way to express his artistic side and stay true to his roots; artists like the 1913 Crew, RIS and Rawtoons helped Balasbas develop his own style. Photography was a natural extension, and, inspired by the work of Estevan Oriol, Balasbas began capturing shots of his family surfing. But the need for steady income pushed Balasbas out of the graffiti artist lifestyle and into Northrop Grumman’s corporate mail room.

Building Bridges

His plan was to stay for six months, but when the mail room got slow, Balasbas started helping out in the print shop and taught himself Photoshop and Illustrator. Combined with his photography experience, his new skills opened doors into photo shoots for product tests and build documentation. His aerospace photography is now used to record project development and identify potential cases of oversight or error.

But Northrop Grumman also recognized the potential in his street-art roots. The company gave Balasbas complete freedom to create a graffiti-inspired mural that spoke to the company’s mandate for innovation and technological evolution. For Balasbas, it’s confirmation that “there’s room for creative stuff in any company.” Reaction to his first piece was overwhelmingly positive; he’s already been asked to create another.

Simply put? Art innovates life. Discover how in this short film.