Artist and UFC Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer talks about her upcoming solo show at LA’s Artists Corner Gallery and where she likes to hang out around town.
Brittney Palmer's path to painting came, quite literally, through an accident. Beloved in the UFC world as an Octagon Girl, Palmer was just 21 when a car accident left her bedridden for a couple months. In need of a creative outlet during that period, she picked up a paintbrush and never put it back down. Now, Palmer is gearing up for her first solo exhibit at Artists Corner Gallery, entitled “I Remember Faces” and sponsored by Gamma Labs, and has a waitlist for those seeking commissioned work.
Here, Palmer tells us what art-goers can expect to see at her show, where she finds inspiration in LA, and the dish she always orders at Chateau Marmont.
How did you get into art? BRITTNEY PALMER: I’ve always been into art in every aspect. I was a professional dancer in Vegas for about four years—I danced in the big Vegas shows. When I was 21, I was in a car accident and I couldn’t express myself in dance. I was bedridden and wasn’t really walking for a couple of months, so I just picked up the brush and started painting horrible portraits of Jimmy Hendrix (laughs). From there, I would post photos of my paintings on Twitter—that’s when Twitter had just come out. I’ve always been a model and I was in the UFC, and the people that followed because of UFC said that they loved it. Then they started saying, “Where can I buy it? Are you selling these?” I lived in Las Vegas at the time and there’s not really an art culture there, so you don’t think that this is something you could do. So, they started fueling my ego, I guess. I wanted to get out of Vegas and move somewhere I could go to art school, and LA was the closest to home. I moved here about seven years ago and went to UCLA and then Brentwood Art Center.
Where do you go in LA to get inspired? BP: The Broad. I was actually just there to get inspired for this show. I have 20 or so faces that I’m doing, so I had to go and get a little inspiration. They had Basquiat and Warhol, and both of those artists I am fascinated by.
John Lennon painting by Brittney Palmer. Acrylic on canvas.
Now you are having your first solo exhibit, “I Remember Faces.” What can visitors expect to see? BP: I use a lot of color and try to really make every piece different. There’s definitely a process to try to hone in on each talent. It’s been amazing, but each piece I do, I find myself getting better and loving it more, which makes me kind of almost resent the early pieces. It kind of goes hand-in-hand I guess—if you work that hard and you practice this much, you naturally find your own voice. I wanted this show to have portraits that mean something to me. I have a Billie Holiday piece and I think she had such a fascinating life. I’m going to have a portrait of my grandmother in the show and of my mother. They are beautiful. It’s not necessarily choosing different celebrities—these are all faces that I personally remember.
Where do you like to eat and drink around LA? BP: I’m a newly found vegan/vegetarian. I try to do the vegan thing, so Crossroads is pretty much the go-to spot right now. It’s so close, I live right on Melrose. I love the bellinis. They have a great kale Caesar salad that I usually crave. I always get the avocado toast at Chateau Marmont. If I’m painting in the studio really late and I just crave a glass of wine, I’ll walk over to Mozza.
What’s next for you? BP: I actually have nine commissions after my LA show that I have to finish, so I’m going to go and finish them in Hawaii. Then I come back for a couple of days and I’ll be in Art Basel. I’m in the works of opening my own gallery in Las Vegas, because it’s right from my roots, but that’s pretty much all I can say about it at the moment. I’m still with the UFC and the next event is in New York at Madison Square Garden. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am, and to juggle the modeling and to be an artist—and being taken seriously as an artist. Now to see everything kind of panning out, it makes everything feel worth it.
Brittney Palmer, “I Remember Faces.” November 5-30. Artists Corner Gallery, 1546 Highland Ave., Los Angeles, 323-464-3900