An Interview With Writer and Illustrator Kevin King
January 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Can you give me a short background of yourself?
I don’t want to make myself out to be a special of any sort, but as far as I know, I am the only baby to have been delivered by a Pekin duck at the OB/GYN. It’s a rather remarkable story, considering hospital policies preventing animals from being in hospitals. But this duck was very career minded and a real go-getter.
I distinctly remember my first thought when I was born- “I’m not getting a job.” And I decided at that moment to become an illustrator. But becoming an illustrator right off the bat is not without obstacles; mainly the drooling and the diaper thing for the first few years. I have since overcome the drooling- it’s a problem that can easily be licked.
My childhood was quite unremarkable- I invented the color “Sleem”, which is mostly beige with cat hair. I wore plaid pants and shirts throughout the entire 5thGrade, (and was not beat up). In art class I spilled paint down the back of the pants of a fat girl with a yellow tooth, (and got beat up). And as that I am on the subject of art classes, I was quite fortunate to have a mother that was an extraordinarily talented artist. What she could not teach me, she provided private tutors, Art professors, to school me in the classical arts. Some music virtuosos are sitting at the piano bench at five tinkling out Chopin on the ivories, I was sketching still lifes of bowls of fruit. And by Providence and the talent I honed, I became an editorial cartoonist for a local newspaper when I was fourteen. This opportunity defined and shaped my future.
The next many, many years I did nothing but dedicate myself to dutifully cartooning and illustrating for panoplies of newspapers and advertising agencies. (Of course, I had bathroom breaks during that time.) One of the most important skills you learn in the newspaper and ad agency business is- meeting deadlines! Another, and if not more important skill you learn as a cartoonist is to be able to tell a joke, impart a political comment or tell a story in a single panel that can be understood by the 100,000 or more people a day who will see it.
Eventually, I became rather worn out from the industry and went on a long sabbatical. Somehow, through an odd chance meeting, I found myself in a very niche field of creating art to be sandblasted on glass that was installed in mega-yachts. After some time I grew tired, or bored of that, and decided to begin illustrating- for me; which is where I am at nowadays.
How would you describe your artwork?
I see myself as an illustrator. And as an illustrator, I tell stories. To describe what I produce is probably best defined as a perfectionist exercise in line and negative space with bits of watercolour.
Your work is so fantastical and full of narrative, every single piece I look at makes me want to know the story behind it. Where do your ideas and inspirations come from?
Hypnagogia is certainly the wellspring of many of the images and characters, I am overwhelmed, deluged I reckon, with imageries and creatures that seek to be birthed by my pen the next morning. Many of the ideas are born through doodling. And as they emerge onto the parchment I begin to know their disposition and story and I am deeply compelled to tell their history. No doubt I too was deeply influenced from rich the illustrations and engravings from the scores of old children’s books I profusely read as a youth.
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators or artists?
My advice is very simple- stay away from puerile social commentary. I see so many young artists, (and too many older artists), that want to give an opinion on the “World Condition”. The only condition you should have any concern about is hair conditioner. Avoid drawing celebrities…there is only so many ways you can illustrate Marilyn Monroe or P-Diddy. And somebody has already drawn them better than you. But first, you must really know what it is you want to do with your art…your purpose behind the pen or paintbrush.
Are you working on any upcoming projects?
I am working on a manuscript, a children’s fairy tale of sorts, which I am in long process of writing and illustrating. It has taken me a while to remember…but my “purpose behind the pen and paintbrush” is to write and illustrate my own works.