Brit Hammer (1969) is a celebrated artist, bestselling author, and international award-winning photographer whose art has aptly been called "fresh and optimistic". Brit's work has been featured in dozens of international lifestyle magazines & design blogs and is in private collections in Europe and the US.
Brit has designed monumental glass sculptures and stained glass windows for public spaces as well as custom glass furniture for private clients. In addition, she has worked on several projects including the re-creation of a large glass mosaic monument for the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands and as a consultant for a mosaic restoration in Amsterdam Central Station (Netherlands).
Born in the US, Brit Hammer lives in Rotterdam, Netherlands with her husband, Armand Dijcks.
Brit's interest in form, structure, and color began in early childhood and can be credited in large part to her father’s influence. When Brit was two years old her father, a naval architect and marine engineer, began building a wooden boat for the family. Brit enjoyed watching the progress and later found building with wooden blocks and playing with Lego an enjoyable way to spend her time. Another favorite pass-time in her formative years was the hours spent with her father doing large art puzzles, which piqued her strong interest in colors and abstract art.
While traveling with her family throughout her teens, Brit was exposed to a large number of European stained glass windows and fell in love with how they threw the light. An interest in Gothic architecture and colored glass followed.
At age 16 Brit apprenticed herself to her Norwegian mother, a talented designer & seamstress, to learn pattern-making and couture sewing techniques. This was the start of Brit’s formal exploration of form and structure, as she learned how to manipulate fabric and to change its appearance by embellishing it or by adding an under-structure. What also became evident during this period was Brit’s distinct design aesthetic using color, texture, light reflection, and transparency. These qualities, along with her interest in structure and form, continued to play a role in Brit's dress designs well into her 20s. What interested Brit most was the architectural element of designing a garment, and when asked about her process of creating a dress Brit would explain, "I don't sew a dress; I build it."
Brit began her fashion career in 1991 after graduating cum laude and in the top 10% of her graduating class with a BSc in fashion design and a minor in textile design from Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science).
While in school she won awards for her work, including the annual student fashion show’s coveted Best Collection award for her sculptural & theatrical eveningwear collection, titled Oceanic Fantasy. Over the ensuing years Brit returned several times to her alma mater to jury the student fashion show and as a guest lecturer while working as a designer, and later in production and sourcing, for top fashion brands.
“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.”
In 2000 Brit left the fashion industry and moved from New York City to Rotterdam shortly after meeting her Dutch husband, and two years later she felt an overwhelming desire to create a glass mosaic. What started with one artwork grew into a body of work, and a company, as Brit developed her complex style "painting" with glass that drew upon her interests in stained glass, Byzantine glass mosaic, textiles, and abstract art.
Interested in the relationships between people, the earth, and the hereafter, Brit's body of mosaic art is inspired by spiritual moments that occur during one’s lifetime and the emotions that accompany them. In each artwork Brit tells a story using symbolism.
Various combinations of color, texture, light reflectance, and transparency delight the eye and invite the viewer to interact by walking back and forth to catch the sparkles emanating from the artworks. Lighting plays an integral role in the design, as each artwork looks different during mornings, afternoons, and evenings as well as during each season of the year.
Brit’s bold, abstract fine art Byzantine glass mosaics are complex puzzles of color that often incorporate a few dozen shades, and her style of painting with stripes combined colors in such a way that each one can be seen to reflect her philosophy that every person is equally important in the tapestry of life; everyone has a purpose and something to contribute to society.
Brit worked in mosaic from 2002 until 2008.
"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what [s]he has already achieved but at what [s]he aspires to." ― Kahlil Gibran
Brit's first book, Reflections: Textural Glass Art, was published in 2007 and is now archived in the Corning Museum of Glass library along with some of her other books. Also published that year was Meditations: Messages From the Other Side, Brit's first book touching upon the topic of personal development.
After completing her final mosaic in 2008, Brit published what became her first bestselling book, Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice. Jean Ann Dabb, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Mary Washington (USA) and former board member of the Society of American Mosaic Artists wrote: "The book is not a traditional 'how-to' manual, although many practical suggestions regarding materials and techniques are described. Instead, the author guides the reader through a discussion of contemporary fine art mosaics that is meant to inspire fresh perspectives on one's art-making practices."
Chris Blanchett, owner of Buckland Books (UK bookstore specialized in mosaic and tiles), wrote in his review of Mosaic: Finding Your Own Voice: "[This book] seeks to get the reader to contemplate the question 'Who are you?' and to find the answer in their own mosaic art. In the process, it has become a very fine showcase for some of the best new mosaic in recent years."
Brit published several more artist development books in subsequent years, including her second bestselling book, Breakout! Your Pathway to Success. Published at the start of 2010, Breakout! is a business book for visual artists, and artist coach Alyson B. Stanfield wrote in the book's introduction: "Brit has done a great job weaving personal, creative, spiritual, and business interests into Breakout. She celebrates the various components that make a person whole.”
"Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask yourself this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use." ― Carlos Castaneda
In 2005 Brit had begun experiments in sculpting cement, and in 2007 she started painting on textured art glass using pigments and a binder. Both activities led her to embark upon a small series of works she called Deconstructed Mosaic.
It was her experiments in Deconstructed Mosaic that led Brit to embark upon her current direction of painting fresco paintings in a non-traditional way — in cement. Brit documented this new way of working and how it came about in her 2012 book Cement Fresco: The Art of Serendipity. British fine artist Helen Nock wrote about that book, "I can't praise it enough on all levels of visual stimulation, technical advice, and imaginative revelations through the process of development and experiment."
Painting frescos in cement, rather than in plaster, allows Brit to use mosaic materials in a new and different way. It also frees her from the limitation of predetermined colors, as was the case working with tile. Working in cement also enables Brit to form a more intimate connection with each artwork, as she uses her hands to sculpt the cement while spontaneously blending the pigments.
Because Brit wanted to "get back to basics", each cement fresco is made using three things: a substrate, cement, and universal pigments. Brit mixes the cement and almost always only uses the primary colors (red, yellow, and blue) to make each artwork. On rare occasion she will include the addition of black, and from time to time other materials, such as acrylic paint, glass, or fiberglass mesh.
Through this new body of abstract, lyrical fresco paintings Brit wishes to express to viewers to take one’s life into one’s own hands and to create something beautiful with it.
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." ― Khalil Gibran
Since 2006 Brit has expanded upon her role as artist and teacher by writing extensively about the subjects of cultivating creativity, personal empowerment, and life balance. Her journey has included improving old skills (photography) and adding several new skills (graphic design, book design, and film-making).
In January 2007 she began documenting her art in a series of videos, thanks to the rise of YouTube, Vimeo, and other video sharing services. This led to publishing books, made possible by the advent of Print on Demand (POD) companies such as Blurb, and eventually to her next big step: offering online education (eBooks + videos).
In 2010 the introduction of Canon's 5D Mark II DSLR camera with filming capabilities set Brit upon the path of film-making. Her first short film is titled Fly!
During the years 2012-2014 Brit began mentoring artists and created her online artist development program to stimulate artistic creativity and to help other artists create sustainable businesses. The holistic program for new, emerging, and established artists consists of both design and business courses, including the popular online photography course Photographing Fine Art & Craft. At the core of the holistic artist development program is learning how to appreciate and value oneself.
In 2013 Brit expanded her writing in the area of personal development by publishing Living An Artful Life magazine. This inspiring, curated digital magazine reaches a new, wider audience while promoting the art of both Brit and her photography students (all artists).
In early 2014 Brit published Fine Art Mosaic: Toward the Within. This large-format coffee table book is Brit's magnum opus of mosaic art.
In 2015 Brit began teaching how to use photography to celebrate one's life and in 2016, travel photography.
Meanwhile, Brit continues to expand upon her body of cement frescos...