IN THE STUDIO WITH:

KYLE BEAN

London based artist Kyle Bean is known for his conceptual set designs and images. From playful stop-motion animations to inventive, often handcrafted set designs, installations and visionary photographic shoots, Kyle has worked for a massive client list that includes Selfridges, Louis Vuitton, Moncler and Wallpaper, to name a few. We sat down for an interview with Kyle — to talk about life, art and his work process!

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First off, how are you doing?

Pretty well thanks. Like most people, this past year has been a period of adjustment to new ways of working. I have been doing a lot more personal growth and working alone this year. It has forced me to develop skills that I may have otherwise relied on others for.


From directing, conceptualising, shooting and set designing — you are a multidisciplinary artist! How did you start in the industry and how did it all come together?

I guess it started straight after I graduated when practitioners and design blogs saw my work and liked it but didn't really know how to categorise it. Some viewed my work as products, others as conceptual illustrations, others as installations. That questioning of things has only accelerated throughout my career, so luckily for me it means I get to work across a broad spectrum of disciplines from set design, through to video production and image making.

You've created so many works that are an inspiration to artists around the world. Which projects are your favourite and why?

The projects which excite me most are the ones where I can say they came from a very pure idea to try something new out. My piece 'What Came First?' Was one of the first projects where I just experimented making something until I could get it right. I guess I was driven to make it work because the concept made me laugh so much! My recent 'Mixed Media Meals' project which I created during lockdown has also been a great way for me to experiment and use my time to create a series which I can expand upon. In terms of commissioned work, my series 'In Anxious Anticipation' that I made with photographer Aaron Tilley is one of my favourite still life projects because of the reaction it seems to provoke. My all time favourite commission was for Selfridges where I got to design a series of window installations based on the simple idea of 'transformation'. It was a truly amazing moment to see my sketches come to life as a big installation on the busiest street in Europe!

Which projects would you say were the most challenging?

There are technically challenging projects, like my recent work for LEGO where I directed a live action video all shot in-camera with a carefully choreographed team of hand models and puppeteers. In some ways, the fact that I wanted everything to be shot in-camera meant that I made it more challenging than it needed to be. However, I really enjoy working on these types of projects with a team of talented artists and then be able to say that it has all been crafted for real.

How do you start each project? Can you walk us through the process?

I always like to start by making sure I'm clear on a brief. I hate the idea that I could be missing some vital piece of information that could influence the whole project. I like to start sketching ideas as early as possible as its the best way to gage if I'm aligned with the person commissioning me. I usually create quite detailed sketches which reflect my intentions for any build or image. Once the sketches are approved, only then do I start making anything physical.


Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you keep a notebook to journal things that trigger or inspire you?

I wish I could say I have a very organised system of sketchbooks and notebooks, but truthfully this is not the case. Most of my ideas are sketches out on scraps of paper before I then draw them up more neatly in Illustrator and Photoshop. I do keep my projects organised in digital folders of course, but nothing more exciting than that! I have a good book collection which I like to keep accessible for colour inspiration and to remind myself of my favourite artists and themes that interest me.

What is the most valuable thing you've learned in the industry?

Don't undervalue creative work.


Who has had a significant influence on your work?

Aside from my Secondary School Art teacher who was really the first person who accelerated my interest in art and design, I find myself regularly inspired by artists who seem to straddle different art forms. Alexander Calder with his mobile sculptures is one of my favourites.


What advice do you have for aspiring visual artists?

It sounds obvious but try to stay true to yourself and your interests. If you do this, you are more likely to have a longer more fulfilling time doing the work that you love.

Finally, what do you do when you're not working?

My biggest pastimes are cooking, walks in nature and film. I have really missed going to the cinema this year as I found it to be one of the best ways to switch off from social media and just focus. I hope that cinemas manage to find a way back once it's safe to visit again.


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