Chad Fandel is clear about this: Art saves us. It inspires us. It gives dimension to our lives.
The Bridgewater-Raritan High School (Class of 2004) graduate drew his entire life and loved art classes in school. When he discovered Photoshop as a teen, he gravitated toward digital art, excited by the graphic possibilities it allowed.
Then, life happened: College, jobs and challenges that brought him, as he says, “to a dark place.” With the support of family and friends, Fandel set his course straight again and in the process rediscovered the guiding light that would define his life going forward: art. “Art just found its way back to me. I fell back in love with it immediately,” he says. “It allowed me to focus on putting lines and strokes onto canvas and let the other stuff just fade away.”
Fandel uses Photoshop or Illustrator to create images that he prints onto canvas or works on the canvas with acrylic paint or collage. “My inspiration is Pop art and posters,” he says. “Growing up, my room was filled with posters and items like magazines and CD and DVD covers that had a strong picture and a few words to grab attention.”
He usually starts in Photoshop or Illustrator to plan a layout before going to work on canvas with acrylic or using mixed media to create a collage. Sometimes he will use the digital images he creates and print them directly onto canvas.
His mixed-media pieces feature iconic imagery such as Monopoly and Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe portraits. “I also like the concept of space, so a lot of my work incorporates space travel imagery, like the historic moment when man landed on the moon,” he says.
Many of Fandel’s pieces are collectors’ items in their own right because of the vintage material he incorporates: Monopoly cards, magazine covers, newspapers and other discoveries found on eBay or in places like flea markets. For example, his homage to the moon landing includes newspapers from 1969 as the background and his portrait of Kobe Bryant features 30 Sports Illustrated covers.
“I don’t think people realize what a piece of art can do on a wall—whether it’s a wall that you pass once a day, sit by for hours or see only a few times a year,” Fandel says. “It can change your mood instantly and set a vibe.”
For years, Fandel’s Raritan home served as his studio. In October 2021, he opened an eponymous gallery on Main Street in Somerville that serves as his working studio outside of gallery hours. “This gave me the space to create larger canvases,” he says.
When you visit, you will also see another aspect of Fandel’s creativity: His Perfected Clothing Company line. “I have always wanted to do clothing, and it was always going to be streetwear,” he says. “I’m just meticulous and needed the knowledge of every aspect of the process before I could finally start putting the line out. This also gives customers a more feasible way to support me if the artwork is out of their price range.”
So, if you pass the gallery after hours, know magic is in the air. Behind those doors, Fandel is creating something cool. “When I work, I am totally in the zone,” he says. “And the hours just fly by.”
View Fandel’s art and clothing at chadfandel.com.