LSU Alumnus Brandon Surtain: the Athlete and the Artist
LSU in NOLA: Brandon Surtain
BATON ROUGE - LSU graduate Brandon Surtain is a man of many talents – both an artist and an athlete. From 2012-2017, Surtain attended LSU, where he studied art and played football.
"In seventh grade, I decided I was going to LSU. And from there the stars kind of aligned, and, I was able to join the football team as well and walked onto the team,” Surtain said.
Growing up in Carrollton Canal area of New Orleans, Surtain moved to Baton Rouge before college.
“Hurricane Katrina happened when I was 11. We were living in mid-city at the time, and we evacuated to Baton Rouge the day before Katrina. It took 12 hours to go 60 miles. So, my family stayed in Baton Rouge after that. There was six feet of water in my house in New Orleans. By the time I became aware of what college was and college football, that was around the time LSU won the National Championship,” Surtain said.
When he first enrolled at LSU, Surtain started to question if he was in the right program.
"And about a semester in, I was not happy with school at all. And I talked with my mom and kind of telling her that it wasn’t going well. I wasn’t enjoying it. She asked me what I was interested in. And, of course, I had been painting for as long as I could remember, and she thought I should pursue it. And I did. That’s all she wrote,” Surtain said. "Honestly, I started like every kid trying to draw ‘Dragon Ball Z’ characters. That led to one of my teachers thinking I was pretty good at that, I guess. Then they put me into some art classes and things grew from there. Now, I’m painting as often as possible and I had the opportunity to show a couple of times.”
Surtain was the first person in his immediate family to go to college.
“The first of my mom’s children to go to college. But I have a cousin who went to Southern Miss, Patrick Surtain. He played football and went to the NFL, and that certainly a big influence on me as well, I don’t think that should go unnoticed. Now his son [Patrick Surtain Jr.] is better than both of us, but I like to think I paved the way for him a little bit,” Surtain said.
He said he found time to paint when he wasn’t in practice or in class.
“Our time was so regimented within the football program. So, our days would be accounted for from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. And so, I would paint during class. Then after practice, often time I would paint. And, a lot of times, guys on the team would come to the studio and do some paintings. It never really felt like a chore actually. I spent a lot of time around the guys, I was always kind of with friends and family. I think people taking interest in me doing the art certainly helped me be a lot more focused and continue doing the art. And so, I would paint in the morning and then paint from 7:30 to 10:00. And that was kind of my life for a couple of years,” Surtain said.
Surtain said he found a family and a community at LSU.
"Everything I know, I learned at LSU. All of my functional knowledge basically. Except I’ve always wanted to tailgate. I haven’t gotten a chance to tailgate yet. But I heard that’s a pretty good experience,” Surtain said. "I loved it. There’s just so much. First and foremost, the environment. It always felt like home. There are people at LSU who claim me as their son. People there always willing to reach their arms out and kind of help me when I needed it."
Now, he paints out of his home studio in New Orleans.
"New Orleans has been very influential in my art. One, telling a story of the experience in those environments. Two, there’s this phrase, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ So, I kind of have this nostalgic memory of my times in pre-Katrina New Orleans. That’s what I focused on during my the first show as an LSU student LSU, about community, sort of the uniqueness of being from New Orleans and growing up in mid-city. And then, being able to attend LSU and live out my dreams all within this community of being a Louisiana kid,” he said.
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Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations