By Ali Booth
When Taylor Brennan was a kid, he would go to the Los Angeles International Airport with his dad and watch the planes take off. With binoculars in hand, he was fascinated. Looking around, he noticed everybody taking photos from the ground, but he knew there were better vantage points. So he walked into a helicopter company near the airport and paid them to take him up in the air. That same binocular-equipped little boy is now training and accumulating hours for his helicopter pilot’s license.
A sophomore now, Taylor’s aviation photographs have been featured in magazines and sold to numerous airlines including American Airlines and United Airlines. “Art has always been a really big part of my life, whether that’s photography or painting or drawing. It’s like a muscle. It’s always a part of me no matter where or how I wind up in life,” he says thoughtfully.
Since his first commissioned piece of art in middle school, he has completed between five and ten works each year. He makes “good money” off of it, but has never advertised his work. He says, “I think if you do good work, people will come.”
Despite his early success as an artist, Taylor has always deemed it difficult to share his work with others. “Art is something very personal,” he explains, “and the only people who can truly understand it are other artists. It’s something you produce with your effort, with your heart and soul and it’s not always easy to show that off to people and get feedback. They might say it’s nice, but they can’t appreciate it in the same way; they can’t reciprocate that same connection.”
The business finance major plans on taking his first studio art class at Marist and hopes to add it as a minor. “One of the challenges - it’s a blessing and a curse is that there are a lot of things I’m interested in and that I’m good at. It’s difficult to find a route. Sometimes even when I’m here I think am I really doing the right thing, going for the right thing,” Taylor discusses of his love affair with both business and art.
He can never bring himself to favor one passion over another. “I don’t feel right about that,” he says, “I haven’t done a painting in two weeks, but I’ve been reading about stocks aggressively every night. It’s never proportional.”
There have been times, however, where he has found himself completely committed to one interest over the other. In high school, he founded the Portraits of Courage Club, an organization dedicated to creating hand painted portraits of fallen, injured and deployed troops and veterans for their friends and families as a way of honoring their service.
The first portrait he did was of soldier who had died in 2006. “We were working on it during Christmas time and I couldn’t stop thinking about how he wouldn’t be there to spend Christmas with his family. I put all my effort into those portraits because I knew there was a greater good behind them. Those families are the most deserving families in this country,” he says, thinking back to the important experience the Portraits of Courage Club gave him.
“That’s when I realized the power of my talent,” Taylor recalls, “I used it to provide a way for these families to remember their loved ones.” He plans on resuming his work with the club here at Marist in an effort to give back to those who have sacrificed for our country. He says surely, “No matter where I am or what I’m doing I want to give back. My talent is a blessing I think you should always put them to good use.”
Whether it is in the form of taking pictures from the sky, or drawing pictures on the ground, Taylor is always thinking through an artistic lens. There’s a photo Taylor describes that his parents took of him when he was five, saying that it perfectly captures who he is. In the picture, he’s lying in the grass, completely absorbed in his sketchbook, experiencing everything through his art. “Artists experience the world differently than most people,” he says. “I see things differently, with more creativity and depth.”