Jeremy Kyle is a 23-year-old illustrator and graphic designer from Auckland, New Zealand. His passion for mixing watercolor, ink and vivid led him to discover his unique style, one that is memorable and fascinating, and which he defines as “a strange paradox between being careful and chaotic”.
Jeremy has graduated three art schools, has had his work featured on The Hobbit’s official twitter profile and is now making a living doing what he loves, while also lecturing and running art workshops. Read below what is quite an inspirational interview!
Look for creatives who inspire you, observe why their works are successful, take notice of how they use the design principals and elements in their work
You are in your early twenties. It’s a very young age for an artist, and yet you have found your own style, one that would be quite easy to recognize, for someone who is familiar with your work. How long have you worked in order to come up with this style?
I am a 23 year old illustrator / Graphic Designer and have only been out of university one year, but it has taken the majority of my school and university life to find my creative niche.
What would you advise young artists to do, in order to discover their own style, too?
First of all consider carefully what medium you appreciate the most. It is very important that you are enthusiastic about the media so that you work from a place of passion and not striving; for me it was watercolor.
Look for creatives who inspire you, observe why their works are successful, take notice of how they use the design principals and elements in their work. Create a mood board to show which parts you like and why. Start experimenting with those techniques, mixing them up as you see what works and what doesn’t as you explore hybridizing techniques in your development towards your own style.
One of your illustrations, from the “The Hobbit” series you created (the one with Bilbo Baggins holding the Ring) got featured on the movie’s official twitter account. What is the story there, how did you decide to illustrate characters and places from the film? And how did it feel to be acknowledged for it? It was during the late half of 2013 that I was applying to get work at Weta Workshop (editor’s note: Weta Workshop is a special effects and prop company based in Miramar, New Zealand, producing effects for television and film). After submitting my portfolio and setting myself up on their weta people site I decided to go the extra mile and create a small series of illustrations and try to actively grab their attention. Unfortunately they didn’t employ me, but they did show their appreciation for my work and later publicly tweeted my illustrations out on the official hobbit sites, which was both humbling and amazing to be showcased to the fans world wide, I definitely wont forget that.
Is that something you would advise illustrators who are looking for a job in particular to do, try and get the client’s attention through their art? Yes, I would highly recommend to go the extra mile and create additional pieces of work and try to actively grab their attention. This is the kind of thing that will make you stand out amongst the crowd, showing the client that you take the role seriously, and that your work is note worthy. Are you planning on doing any more Hobbit inspired illustrations in the future? I am considering doing another two or three illustrations in the future. If I do it will more than likely happen after the last Hobbit movie comes out at the end of this year.
Where did you study art?
I studied at Auckland university campuses Unitec, Yoobee Design School (formally Natcoll), and Whitecliffe, school of design and visual arts.
I noticed you mostly use traditional methods for your artwork. Why is that? Some people argue that digital tools allow you to achieve the same complexity of effects, or even higher, plus “you don’t have to wait for the paint to dry”, as many say 🙂 Why do you stick to traditional?
Unlike digital work, I guess I really like the organic feel that comes with using more traditional methods as well as the risk that comes with using the wet media. You can easily screw it up due to the delicate nature of watercolor giving each illustration a more precious feeling.
I also blow on my media through small bursts of my breath against the water to manipulate the direction I want the watercolor to go
What are the tools you use for your art?
The materials I generally stick to are: (reeves) Watercolor, Colorex Ink, 0.2 – 0.7 Mechanical Pencil, Stephens Vivids, Faber-Castell color pencils, Waterproof Ink pens. 300-600gsm Watercolor Paper.
I know that many aspiring illustrators admire your work and wish they could have access deeper into the process. What is your typical work process, how do you combine the layers to obtain this combination?
My process depends on what I am illustrating. But generally it goes something like this :
Photo shoot > Pencil Line work > Watercolor > Drying > Pencil definition > Watercolor > Inks > Drying > Pen Line work > Vivid.
At the end of the day my focus is always on the consistent application of my media harnessing the same energy throughout; spontaneous line work and loose splatters (I also blow on my media through small bursts of my breath against the water to manipulate the direction I want the watercolor to go). I always pay attention to the color contrasts, and especially the light.
Do you feel inspired by other artists? Who, in particular?
There are a number of creative’s who have inspired me over the years, a few of them would be Marion Bolonesi, Rus Mills, Alexis Marcou, and Carne Griffiths.
I’ve found that the pressure comes about not because of whom the client is, but by the complexity of the subject and the time given to create
You are an entrepreneur, as well as a freelancer. How do you make a living out of illustration, what are your streams of income?
At the moment my main source of income is through commissions & contract work in illustration and graphic design. I also make money through lecturing and running workshops in graphic design and illustration in schools and colleges in New Zealand and in Australia. Additionally I generate income through sales of limited edition prints, (soon to be t-shirts, iphone, ipad, and laptop skins and more).
In your portfolio, there are a few illustrations of well-known brands like Dior, Ford, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Air Jordan (Nike). Were those commissions you did for them? And of so, is working with major clients any different than doing smaller commissions, in terms of pressure, communication process, expectations…?
Unfortunately not. I have only have done work for Dior thus far; but I have been privileged to have my work showcased to the heads of company at Calvin Klein. Additionally I am happy to say I’ve more fashion illustrations on the way this year.
In short it feels very good to have done work for a couple of big brands, it definitely puts more credibility to your name making you stand out and taken more seriously as a creative in the industry. For me I’ve found that the pressure comes about not because of whom the client is, but by the complexity of the subject and the time given to create. If I’m given only short notice then the pressure is on!
Is there a brand you secretly hope to work with, sometime in the future?
I dream of working with a few big brands in the coming future, but one of would definitely be The All Blacks (New Zealand Rugby), being a huge supporter of my national team / sport and also because I have grown up playing the sport myself.
How do you spend your free time?
Maintaing my social media sites, drinking coffee, playing hockey, doing photography, gym, video games and hang out with friends.
You took part, at some point, in a campaign where you had to live on only $2.25 a day, for 5 days. Why did you decide to get involved and what was it like? What should we learn from it?
It all started with my sister having recently returned from a YWAM mission to Papa New Guinea where she was involved in outreach and humanitarian work. Through her story she convinced me to get involved with her and sign up to Live Below the Line only living on $2.25 a day to raise awareness surrounding sex trafficking. I must say it was an enlightening experience as to how little these people live on in these poverty stricken countries, by the end of it and I was very hungry to say the least. While doing live below the line I was inspired to create an illustrative window into the unseen terrors of sex slavery to help generate awareness around sex trafficking.
Believe in yourself. Put aside self doubt, surround yourself with like minded people who will encourage you to push on
Have you had any mentors? And if so, what have they taught you? How important is having mentors, in a career like yours?
Yes, it is very important to surround yourself with people who are like-minded and really believe in you, use this as fuel for persevering in your work; believing for, and attempting things you didn’t think possible. I’ve had a number of amazing mentors, particularly my teachers: Leah Morgan, Kimberley Thomas (Marsden), Jason Hyland, Sue Jowsey, William Bardebes and a really amazing creative named Cath Sanvictores. They have all in one way or another equipped me conceptually and technically both on and off the computer. It is through this collective knowledge that i’ve been propelled into my work.
What do you feel like you haven’t done yet, but dream of doing in the future, professionally?
Getting long term contract work with New Zealand Sports, Music and Fashion companies. Also further teaching, running workshops and holding exhibitions internationally.
Any advice for aspiring illustrators?
Believe in yourself. Put aside self doubt, surround yourself with like minded people who will encourage you to push on. Even the most ordinary creative can achieve amazing things if you persevere!