If you see a guy on Beaver Lake or Bull Shoals casting a Bass X jig with a little added boost of athleticism from the spacious front deck of his Vexus® VX21, it’s probably former Razorbacks and Spokane Indians ace pitcher, turned amazing wildlife artist, Clint Brannon.
Brannon grew up fishing with his dad around their tiny town of Bradford, Arkansas, and while art was always a part of his life, his other gift as a young left-handed pitcher led him on a scholarship nearly four hours west to Fayetteville. He had a stellar career that included throwing strikes for the Hogs in the 2004 College World Series.
Drafted by the Texas Rangers, he then proceeded to set records in the minor leagues with the Spokane Indians where he once managed a mega-stingy 0.59 ERA, before injuries ultimately ended his pro career. The faulty rotator cuff and labrum lead him back home to all the things he loves most in Northwest Arkansas, home to the nationally recognized Bikes, Blues, and BBQ charity-focused motorcycle rally each autumn.
“Becoming the official merchandise artist for Bikes, Blues, and BBQ was really the launchpad of my art career,” says a grateful Brannon, who has now completed more than 40 originals, which along with a very limited number of prints, are highly sought after by collectors.
Brannon’s work includes a wide range of wildlife featuring whitetails, trout, turkeys, mallards, and even a bobcat named “Flippin” displayed in profound fashion on the office wall of Keith Daffron, a proud Flippin, Arkansas native who now helps lead the premium quality Vexus Boat company based in the town of 1,300 people.
“Clint is just a special guy, with a talent that absolutely amazes me,” says Daffron. “He’s quickly become a friend who is easy to relate to. Whether that’s sharing a fly fishing trip on the White River, or spending time with his wonderful family. I really admire the way he throws his soul into the detailed and meaningful story behind each piece of art,” adds Daffron.
Brannon’s an All American guy indeed, with an incredible work ethic to support many amazing talents and that’s what former St. Louis Cardinal and 3-time Gold Glove Award winner, Tom Pagnozzi recognized about Brannon when he helped coach him at the University of Arkansas following his iconic career as a catcher in the big leagues.
So much so, Pagnozzi partnered with Brannon in 2006 to create what’s now a wildly popular clothing company called Southern Trend that employees 35 people who interact like family. Still, the stress of running a business, coupled with a loving commitment to his young family takes a toll that many of us can relate to and that’s where time in his art studio continues to serve such a therapeutic roll in Brannon’s life.
“My art is what helps me wind down at night. Creating the next meaningful piece serves as my therapy. It tires me out and helps me sleep better in a healthy way,” says Brannon.
A therapy not too unlike fishing for most of us, including Brannon, a highly like able small-town guy who most swear must have gone through the line two or three times when they were handing out talent.