Don’t let his username fool you. This man is far from a clueless gunpla builder!
Kyle was an artist that I had been wanting to interview for a while now and I was ecstatic when he agreed to it. He is just a beacon of information and everyday wisdom. This interview was refreshing and peculiarly endearing. We ended up spending about three hours just going with the flow of the whole thing. We actually spent three hours doing this interview and it was the best time!
(No drywall was harmed in the making of this interview.)
Q: Where are you from and how does that affect your work?
I was born in New Hampshire, grew up in Florida, and currently reside in northwest Indiana outside of Chicago. My upbringing does not influence my art whatsoever. I grew up in a very poor neighborhood. It was pretty generic. In terms of influence on art, not so much.
(This is where we got to discussing heritage.)
So I’m a child of immigrant parents, kind of. My mom was born in the US but she was predominantly raised in Switzerland. Even though she’s an American native she’s European through and through. She was raised ninety percent of her life in Europe before moving back to the United States so she doesn’t have an American way of life. My dad grew up in Great Britain. Art in my house, I mean my mom did art occasionally, but it wasn’t later on in my life that I learned about it.
My dad’s a musician, he can’t draw for the sake of him. He plays bass. Growing up I had more musical influence in my life than I did artistic influence, yet I was heavily involved with art. I took art classes in school. I doodled on my notebooks. I used to copy different comic books and images I saw. I was flipping through old artwork that I have and I have a picture of wing Gundam doing a little stance with his plasma cannon. I forgot I drew that.
What I used to do was I’d have the HG’s I built, and I would take the cover art and try to draw it. So I would like one of the Ultron Gundam and one of wing Gundam and stuff like that. I used to draw a lot of spawn. Spawn used to be a huge comic book character that I used to be heavily fascinated with and I draw a lot of it. I don’t do a lot of traditional art now, I wish I did more. Most of my art now is in scale modeling.
Q: Tell me about your favorite medium.
So again back to me having a long-standing relationship with traditional art. Pen and ink and watercolor are my favorites. For some reason, I just loved how it came together, and again because I drew a lot of spawn, kind of dark-themed stuff. Pen and ink were great for that. Watercolor was just great because I could experiment with the fluidity of how the medium worked. Acrylic is a very heavy medium. It was weight. Watercolor is very light you can build up and I think it’s cool.
Q: What tools are crucial to you?
It depends on what I’m doing because I think every tool is as valuable as the next. The nippers I use are tweezers the hobby blades to the glue. Am I painting a figure? The paintbrush is most critical. Or am I heavily modifying a kit? Then my measuring tools are the most critical because I’m making repetitive designs or I’m making things that are strict and refined because of robots. Measuring is key.
If I have 10mm of space I build something that fits into that ten milliliters of space. Or four by eight mm square I got to make sure everything fits in there and I’m using dimensions that are proportionate to that. So, my measuring tools are the most critical.
The tool works in the environment in which it’s being used. I can have a tool that doesn’t work well in ninety-nine percent of the other shit I’m doing but in that one percent? Fucking phenomenal. It’s very reliant on what I’m doing. Every tool has a purpose. You use a tool for what it’s intended for.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
That’s a tough one because there’s so much stuff that I’ve come across where I’m like “Oh my god, that looks great!” or “Oh, I love that!”. It gets me in the feels or makes me think. I can list websites where I find inspiration but most of the time, I come across things that aren’t even part of my normal feed and I’m like “That’s pretty cool” and I’m like I want to pull some of that into what I’m doing.
That’s the problem! I have too much inspiration, so I have too many references, and too much shit that I want to do and I never get around to doing any of it. Crap, I have fifteen folders on Pinterest that are all saved based on different things I’d like to do.
I don’t consider myself a very artistic individual, but I love looking at art.
(Kyle rambles incoming. I love these!)
How I view and handle art is not typical of a typical artist. I work from a very logical standpoint. If it exists in this day and age whether it’s art or mechanical systems or a building, something like that, I pull from that. Okay, that’s how I reference it. All the art I created as a kid was based on something I copied, like spawn. I’d find an image in the comic book and I would draw that. If you’d asked me to draw it all by myself, I probably couldn’t do it. That’s been a skill set I’ve been trying to work on for many years.
When I was getting back into figure drawing, I wanted to learn how to do the form. Proportions and stuff like that. Just build a barebones figure because I can’t do it by myself. Same thing when I’m building a gunpla or modifying certain kits. Very rarely are these original ideas. I like this design, so I’ll implement it here. Or I like how this makes it a little bit different because it just doesn’t work perfectly for it. Now it’s what I want. I have to take from something that already exists.
I can’t pull from my head as certain builders can. I may have thoughts It’s always been a challenge for me. It’s a reason I didn’t put as much effort into art because it was a frustration I ran into. I can’t take it out of my head and put it out there. I have to live in the world of what exists already. I don’t have that innate ability and it’s a shortfall I have that keeps me from calling myself an artist. I’m a replicator. I’m a creator of things but I’m not an artist.
Q: What motivates you to create? What burns you out?
Many great artists are driven by the desire to bring thought and impact; they don’t just want to paint a pretty picture. They want to paint something that makes people go “Oh shit”. They can think whatever they think but the art forces them to think, and I think that’s a motivating factor for many artists whether it’s scale modeling, traditional, music, or anything like that. They want people to feel. Feel good. Feel sad. Feel deep thoughts whatever. Feel.
Q: How do you define success as an artist?
A successful artist for many artists is not “I have riches or fame”. If that’s what they get out of it they tend to break away and lose that driving force. A successful artist, or at least how I define it, is someone who has caused some effect on other people. Made them think and feel. The art caused people to respond and to question.
Did they get what they were accomplishing with their pieces? I think one of my few scale model creations that I actually would consider one form of art is my most recent cerulean project. That I felt I could call myself an artist. I created that off an image I drew while bored at work and thought “oh that’s a cool idea! I like this ‘. It was one of those rare moments I was feeling artsy.
Q: Does art help you in other areas of your life? Such as mental health or work? I know we’ve talked about art and the helpful impact it had on veterans before.
We did an episode of the podcast about mental health with the.salty.robot. That was cathartic for me because I got a chance to talk about certain things, I had to do in the past that many people didn’t know before that. There’s a stigma about suicide and all that. It’s not that I didn’t want to tell people. It’s a moment in my life I’m glad it played out, but it was nice to get it out there because the purpose behind the episode was to talk about the things we’ve dealt with personally. Personally, laying it all out makes people see it and makes you more relatable. It’s hard to be there for other people suffering helps to understand.
If you talk to someone who’s suffered, you tend to lay it out because they’re not going to judge you or give you some bullshit answer. They’ve been there too.
In terms of mental health, art has been a double edge sword for me, or at least from the standpoint of social media. It’s very therapeutic and I mentioned I did art therapy in college because I was going through a lot of shit just like the transition of life from the military and where I was mentally when dealing with certain events that had happened before. It was great to have that. I met some great people and got back into art which was something I wasn’t practicing as regularly at the time. It had been some years since I had done some form of art. It was very good to get back into and I feel like art can be very therapeutic if you allow it to be, but it can also be very stressful if you allow it to be. That’s the double edge sword of it.
There are times when I make something and I’m super proud of it and then I put it out on the internet. I’m proud of it and I want people to see it. It’s a little discouraging when people are like “yeah it’s cool” or you don’t get any response.
It’s like a kid looking for evaluation. We’re human, we’re gonna want that. We’re going to want people to bounce off our high energy. It can kill your mood.
When I set out to do or create something I have a goal in mind, and I achieve it and I’m like “Oh that’s cool I did it. Or I don’t have a goal and I stumble in this adventurous way through making something great. I like those better than the ones with executed plans that were successful.
Q: How do you develop your art skills?
(If you’ve watched the Julio interview, we joked about this saying!)
I mean practice. Deliberate practice. My dad used to say this “practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect”. If you’re drawing the wrong image over and over again, you’re building bad habits. You have to understand the core base of what that shape is and build up on it. You have to build on fundamental knowledge of anything you do before you can start dabbling with other stuff.
The same thing for me. I had to take a step back. I can copy an image and be relatively spot-on, but could I draw it myself? Fuck no because I had no understanding of fundamentals when it comes to figuring out drawing. So, when I got back into drawing again I was like you know what? Let’s learn the fundamentals because if I want to be able to draw my images and get satisfaction from knowing I can create my art I have to know the fundamentals. I think to develop your skills you need to understand why and how something gets to where it is. If you don’t understand the whys and the hows and the fundamentals you’re never going to create amazing art. It’s like building a house from sand, you can’t do that. Gotta build it on a firm solid foundation. That’s how you build your art skills.
I, myself, am constantly still practicing because it takes a long time especially when you’re trying to learn all these new things.
Pick one thing. Understand it. Learn it. Study it. Practice it. Once you have a good familiarization then build it by adding new things. Don’t ever overwhelm yourself with too much shit or you’re never going to learn anything.
(Kyle tangent part 2: Electric Boogaloo)
So, a lot of people want to claim to be experts because they’ve been doing something for a long time. Time does not equal skill especially when you’ve been doing it wrong the entire fucking time. I remember I was working in a pet store in the fish section, and I gave a guy a female angel fish. I gave him a female angel fish. A couple of hours later he came back very disgruntled and incredibly angry requesting a return because I did not give him a female angel fish. I told him no; you got a female angel fish. I got my manager because I did my part. It’s up to the manager now. The manager came in and said, “No, he gave you a female angel fish”.
He’s like “I’ve been breeding fish for fifteen years. I know this isn’t a female angel fish”. We look in a book and there’s a picture of a female angel fish identical to the one I gave him.
He was fifteen years into this and had the wrong information. Time doesn’t equal skill. If you’ve been doing it wrong the entire time you’ve been practicing bad habits. People tell you when you’re learning or building a skill that even masters still go back and study their art. You can be doing something wrong and not realize it or find out there’s a more efficient way of doing it.
Q: Do you have a network of other artists, and how do they support you?
The boys! I talk to these guys every day and we share our work, and things we come across. We’re constantly sharing funny videos too. When we get into the heat of a project, we talk about our thought process and where we’re going with it. Constant feedback. Those guys have been a support network for me in terms of getting things out of my head and working through things. Especially since all of them have their skill set too. If I have an issue about how I want to come about constructing or using a certain thing, in the case of the Cerulean project, she’s sitting in a bed of resin, so I talked to Brian about it. Julios got his background where I can go “hey, what about this angle?” because he has an eye for things like Pabz. We build off of that.
The core group of guys they’ve been a very big support. We all lean on each other when dealing with life too.
Q: Do you have tips for other artists looking to connect with their local hobby scene?
This is a bit of advice for people. I’m an introverted individual. I come off as an extrovert because of my zany wacky energy during recordings but realistically I’m going to have to chill for a week and not talk to anyone. You have to get out of your comfort zone in terms of finding a group. You can find online communities too. Discords for gunpla and other art groups. If you go into a room with a topic, then you’re guaranteed to find someone who has the same interests.
Q: How has your style changed over time?
That’s a tough one because I don’t think I have a style yet. I’m working on that. I think I’m getting close to figuring out what my style is. I don’t think I have a true style yet. I find so many things interesting it’s hard to nail a style. I’ll have different themes for things I would want to do.
If you study the things I like and the art I’ve created you can at least know what I’m going to like. I’m that easy to read.
Q: Is there a specific environment or material that’s crucial to your work?
No, as long as I have space that’s all that matters. I can build in the kitchen. My office. I can create anywhere as long as I’m comfortable and have space to spread out don’t like to be constricted and have everything close to me. I have priorities based on what’s closest to me. There’s no real environment that fosters art creation for me I just need to be comfortable and spacious.
Q: Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Cool artists, I guess. I don’t have names on a Rolodex. A) I’m bad at names. B) I just grab images and I don’t know who the artist is half the time.
Q: What do you listen to when working?
I tend to not listen to podcasts when I’m working. I listen to them when I’m driving. When I’m modeling, I listen to music. Sometimes it’s like dubstep, EDM, rock and roll but it’s always epic movie soundtracks. It ramps me up and I feed off that energy.
One of the reasons why I don’t go on live streams is that I want to listen to epic music. I’ll watch the recap. I want to listen to epic music when I’m working.
Q: What’s your favorite woodworking/power tool?
This is going to seem a little lame but it’s the table saw!
In woodworking, you can get a lot done with very few tools. A table saw is amazing. There are a few reasons why it’s my favorite. It took me a while to get on. I can do repeated cuts. I can set the size and run as many boards as I want. As long as you have your order of operation and building process set up for it you can use a table saw effectively.
Find Kyle at:
What do you think? Drop a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear it.
Have a snowy Monday everyone!
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