Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brian Nesline and Faces of Buffalo

About five years ago I was introduced to Brian Nesline, who came up with the idea for Faces of Buffalo and ran with it, despite being turned down for a grant proposal he submitted to Buffalo State College. Before I get to that though, I need to back up a bit! Brian came to Buffalo on a leap of faith in his early 30’s to attend Buffalo State College and earn his BFA in Communication Design. He appreciated the fact that the city of Buffalo truly valued the arts and with a low cost of living, he knew it would be a good fit to let his creative juices flow.

After taking a class at Buffalo State called Introduction to Creative Studies, he came up with the idea for Faces of Buffalo and entered it into their summer grant contest for creative research projects. As I previously stated, his grant proposal was turned down citing, “it was too ambitious for the students’ skills at this time”, but Brian didn’t let that stop him. He thought, “I’m going to do it anyway!” After graduating he made his dream of being an artist reality an unveiled the first set of mosaic prints in 2003.

The project was an instant success, validating all the hard work and risk Brian took continuing with the project after it was initially shot down by the grant team. When I talked to Brian about his drive to make it a reality he said, “They were right to turn me down. The skill I lacked was faith. Their decision put me in the best position to develop this vital skill, and for that I am forever grateful.” Brian’s mosaics have been featured in galleries throughout the area and been showcased at the Buffalo Home & Garden show and inside The Buffalo International Airport.

If you are not familiar with Faces of Buffalo, it is one of the coolest art projects I’ve seen in the city. Brian goes around to various community events with blank portrait forms and gives residents of Buffalo (and the surrounding areas) the chance to draw their self portrait. Once complete, the portraits are put into a pile, and Brian’s creative genius goes to work! In the end, each self portrait is shrunk down and mosaic drawings of Buffalo architecture, flowers, sports, etc…are created. Typically, new mosaics are released once a year, and anyone who submitted a portrait is e-mailed (as long as they put their e-mail on their portrait when it is turned in) which mosaic drawing your portrait is in.

What makes this project even more awesome is that it is the first of its kind, another great project that stemmed from Buffalo. It allows people the freedom to “be a kid again” using crayons and pencils to hand draw their self portrait. Above that it gives the people living in the city a “Face” and the opportunity to all come together to create art!

More recently, Brian has ventured out to different communities to create the mosaics, and is looking to expand the “Faces” brand in other parts of the country and world.

Being someone totally invested in helping out organizations and charities in the Buffalo area, I cannot write about Faces of Buffalo without talking about all of Brian’s charitable efforts. While expanding the “Faces” brand, Brian created “Faces for Fundraising” which is designed to benefit local not-for-profits. Since Faces of Buffalo was unveiled in 2003 Brian has raised more than $50,000 for groups throughout the area.

Brian is always expanding out to different projects and recently added the Buffalo Alphabet Project to his products. On his website, besides the mosaic prints (most run about $29.95 before tax and shipping), Brian sells t-shirts, note cards and magnets. They are truly a great addition to any home in Buffalo and the perfect gift for the “Buffalover” in your life!

If your organization is interested in utilizing “Faces for Fundraising” you can contact Brian at 716-854-5033 or e-mail him at You can also find out more about the Buffalo Photo Alphabet on their Facebook page.

If you have been to my house before, my walls are filled with so many of these mosaic prints and I’m stoked to purchase his newest mosaic of the city skyline. While speaking with Brian about this blog, we decided to partner together to help out one of the organizations in my “12 Missions in ‘12” campaign. During the first week in April, 40% of ANY online purchase made at will go to support Hospice Buffalo! So for every mosaic print about $12 will be going to Hospice! If we can get 100 people to buy a print during the first week of April, that’s around $1200 for a great organization…not to mention YOU get a pretty awesome piece of art. If you own a business in Buffalo, they are a great piece to have hanging in your office, as well!

Check out some of the mosaics below and the first week in April be sure to order your prints online. As an added bonus, everyone who purchases a print will be entered in a drawing for a $25 gift card for Brodo Restaurant in Amherst.

Newest mosaic

Mosaics of City Hall, the 2011 Buffalo mosaic and a football! Just a few of the MANY options!

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