Discover One of Brevard’s Best-Kept Artistic Secrets

There’s a good chance you’ve seen his art around Florida’s Space Coast and just didn’t know whose work you were admiring. That’s because the artist, in this case, has his various forms of work displayed in a number of locations, such as Hula Moon in Indian Harbor Beach and Pizza Gallery Grill in Viera’s The Avenues. The pieces are imaginative and distinctive, but they belie the many hidden secrets lying just beneath the surface of Hassan Patterson’s career in fine art, illustrations and photography.

For starters, Hassan surprisingly had no formal training in art. He is quite simply a creative talent by nature. When asked, he was able to specifically identify two points in his life that he recognizes now as early influences on the direction his path would ultimately take.

The first was at the age of 5 when he saw a Mighty Mouse cartoon that enthralled him, and he did his best to draw it accurately. It had such an impact on him that afterward, he kept a sketch pad near the television set so he’d be prepared the next time something captured his imagination so vividly.

The other significant moment was when he was 10 and his mother picked up a three-pack of comic books on her way home from work. It contained Spiderman, The Hulk and Ironman, and Hassan was blown away by the lines, color and action displayed within their pages. So, when he says his early influences were cartoons and comics, he’s not kidding around.

Born in Massachusetts, Hassan grew up in one of Boston’s rougher neighborhoods without a father figure and a mom who worked two jobs. Before long, he was hanging out with the wrong crowd and ended up dropping out of school. It was a close shave with the law as a teen that opened his eyes to the road he was headed down, prompting him to return to class and eventually graduate from ITT, where he studied CAD. Afterward, in 1990, he moved to Florida for warmer weather and a fresh start.

“Art is more than a career to me. It saved my life,” Hassan says. “I always had it within me. It was something I could turn to and immerse myself in.”

Upon arriving in Brevard, he went to BCC and studied engineering and drafting. After graduation, he got a job at NASA, applying all of his newly acquired academic skills. It was there that his boss, Russ Fortson, got a look at some of his artwork. Russ’ first reaction was that Hassan needed to be at Disney. His second reaction was to give Hassan an ultimatum saying that he could either fire him then and there or Hassan could put in his two-week notice and go and apply at the Magic Kingdom—that’s how sure he was of his young employee’s talents.

So, he did. He applied at Disney, and they hired him. His real breakthrough, however, came directly on the heels of the Mouse House, and it was one of those complete and utter flukes. A fan of ’70s and ’80s music, Hassan was rummaging through CDs one day looking for something to buy. He finally found seven great collections with a mix of artists he was excited about, but he felt far less enthusiastic about the cover art. 

Still feeling the sting of disappointment over the lackluster depictions portrayed on the covers and believing that they didn’t do the music or the artists justice, Hassan decided to write the art director at Rhino Records and voice his displeasure. Long story short, not only did the AR agree with him, but also he offered Hassan a job and his own renderings ended up replacing the CDs’ original cover art. How’s that for cheek? This whirlwind of events took place between 1996 and 1997.

By the late ’90s, his work was becoming recognizable, and Sony and Universal came calling looking for the same services along with help on posters and promotional artwork. He was making a name for himself. He even ended up working with Tiki Magazine out of San Diego contributing photographs, where they asked him to do a caricature of Steve Jobs after the Apple mogul’s passing. Not bad for a guy with no formal training. 

When you view his work, you can totally see why Disney wanted him. Many of his pieces have a Disney-esque or Pixar feel to them. Some even remind you of Flintstone backdrops with an updated edge. Think The Croods, the 2013 3D computer-animated comedy adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation jam-packed with bright colors and epic scenery.

The mediums Hassan uses besides pencils and inks include acrylics and oils on canvas and wood. While some of his work almost appears to incorporate watercolors, they’re actually washes which create the softer muted tones that can at times be seen in his art. On the other hand, he also creates large, vibrant murals. One example can be seen at Hoover Middle School in Indialantic, and, in collaboration with the Brevard Cultural Alliance Arts program for At-Risk Boys, a few more can be seen at the Brevard Group Treatment Home facility in Cocoa.

One of the main things Hassan attributes his talent to is a nearly eidetic memory. Eidetic imagery is the ability to remember an image in so much detail, clarity and accuracy that it is as though the image were still being perceived. It is in the mind’s eye. Pretty handy for an artist and seldom seen in the public at large. 

“My ability to observe stuff and then store it for reference later, that retention is one of my biggest strengths when it comes to drawing and has served me well,” he says.

When it comes to his photography, he is every bit as skilled. Besides being the main photographer for Cocoa Beach Lifestyle, he has spent years building an amazing portfolio of images that cover a multitude of subjects. He has contributed to publications such as Maxim Magazine and even shot set design for NBC for an upcoming sci-fi show called Dream Machines about four or five years ago. It was part of the Syfy Channel’s viewership offerings, which NBC owns.

If you’re intrigued by what you see on these pages, you can review Hassan Patterson’s body of work online through his two websites and on his Instagram account, where he posts regularly. Or head on over to his studio in the Eau Gallie Arts District. It’s by appointment only, so you’ll have to contact him through his website first. The alternative would be to make a trip to Hula Moon or the Pizza Gallery Grill, as mentioned earlier. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.