This Art Is Bananas... Literally

Stephan Brusche uses a few simple tools to make bananas far more than just pieces of fruit.

Jun 7 2017, 2:00pm

Foto cortesía de Stephan Brusche.

Stephan Brusche is an artist, and, as his website states, his metier can be summed up in four simple words: "I draw on bananas."

The Rotterdam-based artist may well be the world's first full-time banana artist, and he is doing the genre proud. Brusche uses a ballpoint pen, a knife, and toothpicks to create painstakingly detailed and surprisingly appealing works of art—all from bananas.

Brusche's Instagram account now has 52,000 followers and he has been featured on Chiquita's blog (yup, they have one). Hey, it may not be Art Forum, but it's a start. In fact, Brusche recently decided to give up his job doing graphic design to devote his full attention to bananas.

Before you decide that Brausche is bananas in the Gwen Stefani, b-a-n-a-n-a-s sense of the word, we thought you should learn more about this 39-year-old artist's raison d'etre, so we reached out and asked him a few questions about what it takes to become the world's—we're taking a leap here, but we think it's justified—greatest banana artist.

MUNCHIES: Hi, Stephan. For someone who's never seen your work, how would you describe it?
Stephan Brusche: Imagine a banana, a real banana bought at the supermarket. But something happened to it. Someone has drawn on it—could be anything: an animal, a famous painting, a scene from the Bible, or something from a movie. And that someone also cut away pieces of the peel, made certain pieces stand out. And all this is making you wonder if it's still a real banana. But it is, really, a real banana.

When did you first decide to incorporate bananas into your art, and why?
A combination of things made me tumble into the world of banana art. It happened about six years ago. My wife had been pushing me to use Instagram for while, saying it would be great for promoting my illustrations and comics I've been doing in my spare time [outside of] my work as a graphic designer. And just after lunchtime, I wanted to experiment a bit with the app, try out the filters and such. But since I was at the office, I didn't really had anything fun or interesting to photograph. I then noticed I still had a banana left from lunch and figured it would make a fun picture if I just drew a little happy face on it. Having discovered how pleasant it actually is to draw on a banana—there is just something about how smooth the ballpoint pen flows on the structure of the banana peel—I made another 'fruitdoodle', as I like to call them, the next day. After that, I just kinda challenged myself to see what else I could come up with, and I never stopped since. I noticed that I was getting more likes and attention for my drawings on bananas than my other stuff. So I gradually started to focus more and more on banana art.

Were you surprised with the popularity your banana art has received?
Yes. I've tried to make a career doing lots of other things: comics, webcomics, illustrations, customized tableware. That doodling on bananas would be the one thing that would make me confident enough to quit my day job is pretty amazing.

Why do you think it is that your 'fruitdoodles' are so popular with people?
It's something unusual. People don't expect someone to put so much time and energy into something that's gonna rot away a few hours after creation. Another thing could be that working with a banana forces you to be really creative, so that makes it stand out as well. And the bright cheerful yellow color of the banana itself also helps, I guess.

Do you have a favorite banana creation you've made?
It changes from day to day. Today it's 'The Fishbone'. It was the first piece that got a feature on a big art account on Instagram, and it made me realize that my fruitdoodles had a lot of potential. From then on, I started putting even more time and effort into them, even though ['The Fishbone'] was a failed drawing at first. With this piece, I discovered how effective it is when you also use the banana peel itself in the design—like cutting away pieces of it.

What other types of food do you work with?
I've experimented with apples, pears, oranges, grapes, kiwis, eggplant, strawberries, berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots—maybe more. I like to show that I can bring the same creativity to other fruits and food. That's why I've called them 'fruitdoodles' and not 'bananadoodles.' I want to keep my options open.

Roughly how many bananas do you buy in a month now?
Since I try to make a new one every day, at least 30.

Do you like to eat bananas, or are you starting to get a bit sick of them by now?
I luckily still like them and eat one a day.

Thanks for speaking with us, Stephan.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.