Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Kelly Howlett
Global Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
AP Shop URL: http://www.zazzle.com/kellyhowlett
Kelly Howlett began selling her artworkon the internet when she was 19 years old.Her work now resides in Australia, Canada,England, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand,Scotland, Slovenia, and all over theUnited States. She has exhibited at conventions and galleries in Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and San Diego. Her work has appeared in several art books, comics, and anthologies. She has self published two sketchbooks: She Said and Substrate.
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start?
KH: I guess I’ve been making and selling art for almost 15 years now. I didn’t always want to be an artist. I wanted to be a lawyer for a while, then a writer, then a white-hat hacker. I think I got caught up in drawing my D&D characters and reading comic books. I’m a dork first, then an artist. Art was a way to fund trips to comic conventions.
AP: Where do you currently live and work and how does this influence your work?
KH: I’m currently living in my hometown again, which I’ll admit is a bit too quiet for my tastes, but when I was living in New York, I never got anything done. I hate to trade inspiration for productivity, but rent is too damn high.
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training?
KH: Initially, I went to a private liberal arts college for an art degree. It’s a Catholic school, my teachers were nuns, and we weren’t allowed to have nude models. (And no boys!) We used to have a saying that you weren’t officially an art major until Sister Andre made you cry. I recently went back to school to finish my BFA in Art Education to get teaching certification. I’ve been working on a few education projects, trying to work on things to remind people why art programs deserve their funding. It takes away from my time creating art, but I’m deeply interested in using comics to promote literacy and expanding “art” class to visual studies including design, psychology, rhetoric, and semiotics. I’m nerdy like that.
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio etc.. and how it effects your work?
KH: I have the most beautiful IKEA desk and happy little rolling cabinets of drawers. I love my workspace. I don’t usually like working any place other than home, but there are limitations. A friend of mine has a fume hood set up in his spare bedroom, so we can finally cast resin in winter. Having friends around makes things more fun.
AP: What are some of your favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date?
KH:My favorite show was the Heavy Metal Magazine show I was in at Echo Gallery in Chicago. Kevin Eastman was painting for an audience and it’s also where I met my friend Uko Smith, who was also in the exhibit. Eye Candy From Strangers (Brand Studio Press) is one of the more beautiful books I’ve been published in. Alberto Ruiz had talked about doing another, and so please bug him to make that happen.
AP: What is your medium of choice?
KH:Acrylics by far. You can eat them and you probably won’t die.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
KH:Sister Andre once told me not to confuse spontaneity with lack of muscle control. I’m not the most technical drafts-person, but I don’t think photo-realism would aid in what I’m trying to do. I’m most interested in people, and I like to play with expression. The typography adds yet another layer, suggesting thoughts of the subject or a narrator. I like the organic look of the handwriting, and there’s sort of a manic quality to my penmanship.
AP: Who are some of the artists that have inspired you and or your work?
KH:I have a lot of comic book artist influences: Jim Lee, Jae Lee, David Mack, Guy Davis, Kent Williams. There are quite a few other artists that I absolutely adore: Audrey Kawasaki, Camilla d’Errico, Stella Im Hultberg, Glenn Arthur, Joshua Petker, Christopher Shy, Erik Jones, Jim Mahfood, and Silvia Ji. Jim Lee’s X-men books got me hooked on art, but David Mack really influenced me more than any other artist. I often show his work to classes and hear the response, “I didn’t know comics could look like that.” He made me want to be a painter.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years?
KH: I’m really excited about a class I’m about to take in sculpture. I’ve always wanted to make concrete sculptures, and I’ll even get to cast iron. As far as my painting goes, I’ve been working with resins and encaustic paints. I’m feeling less of an obligation to make my originals reproduce well. In publishing, you always consider how something is going to look in print, but I’m really drawn to working with translucent layers and gloss. Glitter is going to scan like blips of a corrupted file or like someone got dirt on the print; in person, glitter and gloss can make a piece glow. Of course, I will still make work for print, but I’m finding myself wanting to do more digitally for that.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2011?
KH:I have a sketchbook in the Art House Co-op’s traveling “The Sketchbook Project” show. This weekend it’s in Chicago, and I think there’s a stop in Florida left in the tour. After that, it’ll be on permanent display at the Brooklyn Art Library. If you miss the tour this year, I’ll be in next year’s as well. I’m also in a show at Chicago’s Gallery Provocateur, which specializes in sci-fi, fantasy, comic-art, illustration, and the female form. The show is called “The Resurrection of Beauty” and it runs from July 16 to September 30, 2011. I’m also teaching several classes at a non-profit community art center in Green Bay called The ARTgarage. There’s also a group trying to get regular live art happenings going in the city, and I will probably be crashing a few of those before the end of the year. I post everything that’s going on at http://facebook.com/kellyhowlettart
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
KH:Mornings are always spent handling email and listening to talk radio. Then I tend to do the education/writing stuff and end the day with making art. I used to spend all night painting and go to bed at 6 a.m. Lately, I’ve been a bit more social, but I still spend an obscene amount of time on the internet. I like having structure and schedules, but I have to have breaks. Traveling is a must.
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.