Artist Interview: 6/15/2009  

The Sculptures of DJ Brelje

On a quiet Sunday afternoon amongst rows of warehouse buildings in Mira Mesa, DJ Brelje is the only person we've bumped into for miles.  Locked away in his live/work space, DJ is hard at work trying to find a cure for his insatiable need to create.

How do your sculptures begin?
I like to start out with an object.  Then I try to keep that object going and see where it takes me.  I usually do not work off a set of plans. Many times I start out by sticking two different objects or materials together.  It’s hard to say where my ideas come from.  My work is all over place.  If I think about ideas too much, Then I won’t make anything.


What goes through your head while working with metal for hours?
Sometimes I ask myself, “Why am I making this shit?”  Other times I feel like I’m Harry Potter.  Art is a battle, but with the aid of tools I have the ability to manipulate metal in ways I would normally think not possible.  If melting puddles of metal isn’t magical then I don’t know what is.   I like to think about how I am going to stick one object to another, like balls or other genitalia to an old Popeye style anchor.  I’m interested in how two different materials transition from one to the other and about all the different ways to do so.

regurgitate the truth
You work and live in an industrial environment.  What's it like spending all of your time in warehouses? 

I dig it.  I can park my car in the kitchen and change the oil if I want to. Sometimes it’s not so cool.  I have no shower, so I take one at a gym.  The other day somebody stole my towel, so I had to put my clothes on while I was all wet.  But I like living how I live.  My environment helps me feed the need to work on art.

Do you ever miss the outside world?
Yeah I get lonely, but I’m learning how to manage my time between my work and the outside world.

Do you show your work often, or would you rather just be creating the whole time?

I showed a piece at the Hyde art Gallery at the beginning of this year. It was a group exhibition called Forms in Metal.  It felt pretty good to be invited to a show my work with the work of other metalworking artists who I admire, some who have taught me a lot.  Right now I have some smaller pieces at Filter, a coffee house in Northpark.  I’m happy with showing my work twice a year. 

Does your approach change for commissioned work?
Commissions are different.  I find them to be a little more stressful.  It’s kind of like having an art project for school.  Sometimes the assignment is more laid out though. A person might want a replica of something I already made, but smaller. I have to think about what they might want as well as what I want.  It changes things a bit when I’m getting paid for my art.  Or after I sell something, I wonder if I should make another one.  If the commission is going to be displayed in a public place, during the process of creating I tend to think about what not to do as not to offend someone.  I don’t know why I think this, but I do.  I guess I picture some little kid asking their mother to tell them the story.

The Seahorse

You have participated in the Port of San Diego’s Urban Trees installations a couple of times now.  How do you think public art in San Diego could improve?
I’m thankful for the opportunity the Port’s given me.  I think there could be more sponsors of public art in San Diego.  There could be some more permanent public artworks too.  It would be nice to be able to see how the environment changes the artwork over the years.  I wish public art could be less restricting.  The public tends to stick with what is safe.  Some galleries do this too.  One thing I dislike about public art is, having to think about what would be appropriate.

Are there artists that have particularly inspired you and your work?
Jose Ambriz, Richard Baker, Dale Barba, Suzanne Benton, Nate Betschart, Jonathan Borofsky, Anita Brynolf, Craig Carlson, Lynn Chadwick, Eduardo Chillida, Francoiz Breut, Michael Cajero, Nick Cave, Jim Cavolt, David Clemons, Gareth Changala, Jess Dominguez, Sheena Dowling, Jess Dominguez, Droopy, Gerry Dumlao, Sheldon Dsouza, Carly Ealey, Andrew Farnsley, Toby Flores, Tom Fox, Alberto Giocometti, Rebecca Goodman, Guff, Tim Hawkinson, Joanne Hayakawa, Richard Keely, Mario Lara, David Maitlin, C. Paul Majors, Mark Marino, Milton, Alessandra Moctezuma, Claes Oldenburg, Chulyeon Park, Nathan Pope, Martin Puryear, Jon Pylypchuk, Aaron Rix, Griselda Rosas, Dina Rubiolo, John Sanders, Gail Schneider, Robert Sanchez, Richard Serra, Barbara Sexton, Kiki Smith, Mellisa Stager, Ross Stockwell, Mark di Suvero, Jimmy Theibalt, Kelly Trojnar, Sonia Villegas, Gustavo Velasquez, Leah, Mitch & Max Younker, Tom Waits, Chris Warr, Zuri Waters, Matthew Webb, Robert Williams, Erich Winzer.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?  A squirrel.

What compelled you to cover your entire body with tattoos?
I met a guy named Droopy (Tattoo Royalle).  Once I visited his studio and saw his paintings on the wall, I knew I wanted to get tattooed by him.  I’ve been a big fan and collector of his work for over ten years.

What music are you currently listening to?
Young E.P., B-52’s, Falco, Flock of Seagulls, Francioz Breut, The Talking Heads, Tom Waits, Queen, Dirty Sweet, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Ottis Redding, The Rascals, Joy Division, The Cramps

What’s next?  Are you working with any new mediums?
I’m working on a steel wig I can wear and I’ve been experimenting with plastics. 


Check out more pictures from our visit with DJ in the Photo Gallery.  You can also find more of DJ's work here.

Tags: Artist Interview, sculpture, DJ Brelje, metal sculptor


Thanks for letting us take a peak at your creations. I can tell you are genuine being. I wish you continued success.
Seth Moore made this post on 6/24/2009 at 10:03 am
good shit man, keep doing what you love
thatguy made this post on 12/28/2010 at 1:26 am

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