Surrealism in Savannah: Meet Britton Dockery

Savannah-based artist Britton Dockery illustrates the perfect surrealist alternate to our current reality. Escape to a world of seductive colors and absurd imagination.

Artist Britton Dockery painting the iconic Old Town Trolley

The beauty of the Hostess City has inspired countless artists from around the world. Britton Dockery, born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, reveals something new about his hometown through his Surrealist style.


ritton Dockery illustrates the subconscious of Savannah—personified depictions of backstories and anecdotes, observations and secrets layered under the empirical beauty of the landscape. Dockery’s observations are unique to his contemplative mind; however, there’s an element of relatability that makes his work so enticing. Not only are the color palates beautiful and the natural elements serene, but the intriguing subject matter makes it impossible not to dwell on a Dockery piece. It’s the subconscious, brought to life.

South had an opportunity to take a glimpse into Dockery’s mind, as he detailed his beginnings as an aspiring artist and discussed his evolution and inspirations. Here is South’s Q and A with Britton Dockery:

South: Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Britton Dockery: I definitely always wanted to be an artist. It started when I was younger, like around six, drawing cartoons—popular cartoons at the time like Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Digimon. I’d draw those in class. Throughout the years, it just transcended into fine arts.

S: When did you discover you could do this professionally? When did your art career begin?

BD: I think when I was around 21. That was around the age when I was like, “Okay, this is what I want to do full-time.” If someone asked me, I’d have no problem telling them this is what I wanted to do. That’s when I decided to really take it seriously.

S: How did you establish your unique style?

BD: I think it was an evolution with technique and knowing what I wanted to talk about. Okay, so I could always draw, right? But when you take drawing and think, “Well, I want to do Surrealism”…when I first started Surrealism it didn’t really look like it does now. It was more monsters with an ominous, scary-type feel. Then it started to change from the monsters into the Savannah scenery. That evolved from Savannah scenery to a Coastal Empire. Most of my paintings that I’m working on now still have that surreal aspect, but most of the backgrounds are marshes and trees.

S: Where do you draw your inspiration?Are you mainly inspired by landscapes or concepts?

BD: It’s a combination of both, because when I work on a painting I actually do the landscape first. So, right then, the landscape is a painting in itself, and that arises from one set of inspiration. Then, I add the subject after I’ve done the landscape, so it’s almost like a carbon-copy type thing. Those are inspired by personal stories. Personal, lively convictions.

S: What is your process normally like?

BD: Normally I start off with doing a bunch of rough sketches. With these sketches, I don’t necessarily know what I’m going to draw–I’m more so making lines. Once I have an idea of what I want through these random lines and seeing something subconsciously, then I go to the next phase and start sketching it out. I redraw it about three to four times so I know exactly what it is I want to draw. Once I have the image on a final sheet of paper, I go ahead an get the canvas ready, prime it and do the background and I take that final sketch and rub it with charcoal and rub it against the canvas, so it makes a carbon print. From then on, I fill it in.

S: What do you hope your art achieves? Is there something you want the viewer to take away?

BD: I just want them to be able to have their own opinion–their own objective opinion about it. Not only have their own opinion, but to be proud of it. It’s surreal, so everyone gets something different. It’s not like a portrait where everybody, for the most part, sees the same thing. Everyone looks at it differently and from a new viewpoint.

S: Are you working on anything now?

BD: Yeah, it’s a combination of a grandfather clock and a train. I always loved trains growing up. I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s how powerful they are. With this one, the idea is that it’s an infinite train. The train goes on forever and the grandfather clock acts as a catalyst for the train. I normal start from a small point—I came up with this idea when I was sitting and waiting for the train and it seemed like it was taking forever!

Learn more about Dockery and his art at his website, or check out his work on Instagram and Facebook.