ARTIST IN RESIDENCE #1 – JOHN KAYE
Created around the same premise as our BLA! (Brewing Local Artists) event, the Artist in Residence program is here to help generate exposure for local artists, engage and inspire our community with the depth of creative talent that exists here on the Coast.
We give you John Kaye. Our first ever Artist in Residence.
John Kaye is an internationally recognised artist who was raised on the Gold Coast.
Specialising in large scale murals, paintings and illustrations, John’s work draws from his experiences with love, life, death and freedom.
He looks for beauty in chaos, and wants to communicate, teach, learn, struggle and relax the best way he knows how.
Here’s a little from John (scroll to the bottom for an image gallery too):
Watching some of your clips online, you’ve mentioned that a lot of your work revolves around travel, freedom and movement. Recent work of yours seems to be a new take on still life, did something / someone trigger the idea of bringing still life and the feeling of freedom and movement together?
My life recently finally slowed down a bit, I was travelling for a long time and my lifestyle had been somewhat chaotic. My painting has always been expressive so I think the appearance of the work might reflect the place I’m in either mentally or physically.
From the outside, it seems like you’re constantly documenting with a camera. Is photography a big part of your art?
Yep, I don’t consider myself a photographer at all, but over the years my photos have become a really important part of my work. It’s the best way for me to keep a piece of whatever I have to leave behind.
What moved you towards the creation of your book “Porcelain Paradise” (which perhaps feels like the journal of a period of your life)?
Porcelain Paradise is the fourth book I’ve made so far, I see the books as their own small collectable piece. I discovered art and graffiti through books and magazines when I was younger, I was never really subjected to any art growing up and I couldn’t afford to own anything myself. Books and magazines were the most accessible thing I could get my hands on, they can go anywhere and I like that about them. It’s also nice to be able to showcase my work in something real.
Your colour choices are always super interesting and generally don’t feel like the classic ‘street-art’ palette … do you consider that to be part of your signature or does it happen organically with each piece?
I don’t really consider it that much but guess I’m aware of it. I used to paint with whatever I could get my hands on, literally use anything I could find and just try to make it work somehow. I remember colouring a wall in once with an expired can of house paint from the rubbish tip and I used my sock on my hand as a brush. Now that I usually have a better choice I just choose the colours I like at the time.
You’ve travelled and created pieces around the globe. Do you have a favourite city or location?
Copenhagen and Tahiti are the two that come to mind, I have so much love for both of those places and they are both great for painting in different ways but Cuba was a really memorable place that I spent some time. I travelled around the country and I tried to paint some walls in a few areas, It was fun but difficult, like going back in time. I’d never experienced anything like it.
Are you often commissioned to create pieces, and do you approach them in a different way to personal projects or are they very similar?
I consider every painting I do a personal project and even though sometimes projects are funded by people, they are for people who understand how I work. I talk to them about what I want it to be before-hand, but I do try to avoid setting restrictions – I think good paintings are easily ruined that way and it’s not fun.
Do you have a favourite medium – or do they all come together in the process to make a single piece?
Aerosol has always been my favourite medium to use, although I avoid it as much as I can these days due to the health risks.
So, what is the process generally?
Mmmm … I can’t really describe my process simply with my own words but there is a quote by Charles Bukowski about stuff coming bursting out of you – that’s probably the best thing I can offer.
Do some of the recurring themes in your art tell a bit of your travels – like the geisha girl, other Eastern style imagery, trains, hearts, flowers etc. or is there something else behind the elements?
Yeah everything I do is something I’ve spent time thinking about and it means something to me, I try not to explain much though, that way people can own it themselves somehow. It might mean something entirely different to them and I don’t want to f*ck that up.
What do you do when you’re not creating art?
I love skating but I haven’t made much time for it lately, hopefully that changes soon but otherwise it’s books, music and running.
What’ve you got coming up in 2018?
I’ve just moved into a new studio so I’m planning on spending most of my energy this summer painting on canvas. I’m also working on a new book, but that’s going to take a while I think…
See more of John’s work, or get in touch:
Each month we’ll feature a new artist, with their work showing at our Taphouse in Burleigh and here online. You’ll be able to interact with them via social media, purchase their work or just stare in admiration at what they’ve created.
If you are interested in purchasing some artwork, you can email John Kaye, or if you’re an artist and would liketo be a part of BLA! or our Artist in Residence program, send us an email.