Show us your space: Brittany Bergamo Whalen
From light-filled private painting studios to collaborative offices with cityscape views, the varied workspaces of CCAD students and alumni represent the multitude of career paths an art and design school can help forge. Here’s a peek into where several of our students and grads make the magic happen M–F (or, sometimes, 24/7).
Brittany Bergamo Whalen
Fine Arts, 2014
Artist Brittany Bergamo Whalen (@brittanybergamowhalen) makes work that seeks a balance between what’s visible and what’s less so. And balance is key for Bergamo Whalen, who balances her artistic practice with work connecting with her fellow Columbus College of Art & Design grads as CCAD’s Development Events & Alumni Engagement Coordinator, a position she began in February 2020.
CCAD is where she started developing the work she creates today, says Bergamo Whalen. “I owe a lot to my professors in Fine Arts for allowing me to freely explore my ideas. They gave me the space and time to figure out where I wanted my work to go. I always felt supported and that I could talk with them about my work, or anything really, in an unfiltered way. I think that might be what influenced my work and my time at CCAD the most—the conversations. I was able to openly talk with my professors when I had a new idea, or was struggling to get to where I wanted to be, and that really made an impact. I definitely still think about a lot of those conversations today.”
And in her new role as Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Bergamo Whalen has the opportunity to interact and assist people—fellow CCAD alumni—with whom she shares a connection and a common experience. “I think they deserve a lot, and what I enjoy most about the work so far is that I’m able to help support them,” she says.
We recently spoke to Bergamo Whalen about her approach to art-making in her sunny home studio, located in the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville.
Can you describe your workspace?
I have a small room in my house that serves as my studio space. It’s very open, bright, organized, lined with paintings and blank canvases, and the walls are filled with color samples, digital prints, photos, and artwork by a few artists that really inspire me. Most of the furniture in the space hugs the walls, except for a table that I keep near the center of the room. I’ve always preferred to paint with a canvas laying flat so having my studio set up with a central table allows me to easily move around to paint different sections and edges of the canvas. I also have the table on a small rug that I can literally drag around to adjust for the specific piece I’m working on, which doesn’t always sound great but makes painting easier!
What kind of work do you do in this space?
Paintings and digital illustrations! I focus on explorations of form, space, and feeling to create abstract-meets-minimalist designs for my work. I’m really inspired by interior design, architecture, shapes, and color, and I ultimately set out to make work that creates its own forms by finding balance between what's visible and what's not as visible.
Most of my work calls for straight lines and large blocks of color so I try to always have masking tape, matte medium, flow improver, acrylic paint, and Taklon paint brushes stocked in my studio. I use masking tape and matte medium to section off each color in a painting and that really helps with creating straight lines and avoiding paint bleeds. And flow improver is something I just recently started using, but wish I’d been using forever! It really helps me keep acrylic smooth when painting large sections of color.
How do you prefer to work?
It sort of depends on what I’m working on! If it’s a painting, I like to work on it as much as I can when there’s natural light in my studio, but with digital illustrations I definitely prefer to work on those at night. I don’t really know why I prefer that, but I always feel more motivated to work on a digital illustration once it’s dark.
I also like to work on pieces simultaneously so that I don’t get stuck in one spot or lose motivation. I like to switch it up so that I’m moving back and forth between pieces, especially when painting. If I’m waiting for a section of one painting to dry, I’ll start working on another, and then switch back until I’m at a stopping point.
What do you love about your space?
I love that it’s filled with things that I really like, especially color. I used to steer clear of using a lot of color in my work, but over the past couple of years, I’ve really grown to love using more. I always like to have a variety of palettes on the walls to help me think about my work and what I might want to do next.
Are you a Columbus College of Art & Design alum making work in an eye-catching, unusual, or otherwise compelling space? We’d love to see it! Fill out the form here for an opportunity to be featured.