Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Canvas Chat: Meet Kyle Willis

Here's my next interview, its of professional Artist
Kyle Willis. I met him through the group Local Artists Coming Together on Facebook. His work is detailed and the photo realism is amazing.

Tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I like craft beer, heavy metal, and long walks to the mailbox. Seriously though… I’m 34. I’ve lived most of my life in Florida. I am self-taught artist who wasted twelve years in the hospitality industry; waiting tables and tending bar by day, drinking and snorting my earnings each night. I was the kid in grade school who had a backpack full of doodles on scrap paper instead of homework and textbooks. I’m your typical average dorkfish: coffee lover, sucker for a good comic book, daydreamer extraordinaire.

What is "Creativity" to you?

Creativity? Creativity isn’t something you can put into a single sentence. It starts with the capability for abstract thought. Looking at a pile of junk on a neighbor’s curb and saying to yourself “I can make something out of that!” or looking at someone’s face and instead of seeing their contours as they are, you see an image of their face as  your pen strokes would create it. For me, it’s seeing a good episode of Dexter and finding myself overcome with the desire to create, or hearing a certain song and knowing what I’m going to work on next.

What role do you think an artist have in society?

Artists are in place to decorate the fabric of society. They create their fun, serious, abstract and bizarre creations and inspire, amuse and frighten everyone else.

Tell us about your art style?

Once upon a time I drew from my surroundings and crafted quite bizarre surrealism illustrations. Recent days find me illustrating portraits of humans and animals with a ballpoint pen. It’s realism, going on hyper. I’m always learning new things and exploring different avenues. Right now I’m playing around with color and highlighter.

Do you have any creative rituals or routines you do before you get started working on something?

I drink a LOT of coffee. I either watch a movie on Netflix on my computer or I hit play on my randomized playlist.

Do you have any sort of creative muse?

I have many muses, from music and television to the love of a beautiful woman and even money. Different things inspire me at different times.

Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

I realized that if I didn’t do something with my art I was going to wake up one day and be a could-have-been alcoholic waiter or bartender somewhere, completely robbed of my ambition and without a dream. So I hung up my Outback Steakhouse uniform, tossed my flair pins in the garbage, and set out to be a professional crafty sumbitch.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a professional artist?

Honestly, the tone in my mother’s voice when she hears of my adventures. If I call her with the news that I’ve been published, or gotten a letter from the mayor, she gets all excited and I feel like a little kid again.

Do have a favorite piece that you've made that holds special meaning to you?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. I mean they are all my babies and they all have my love in their strokes.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Well the most poignant is bringing tears to the eyes of a client. Especially with depictions of their children. Being published is pretty cool. The craziest thing I’ve ever experienced, however, was a couple of months ago at Art Walk. I left my setup to go say hello to the other artists in town when I was hailed by a familiar face. It was a client who had bought multiple poster sized prints of mine in the past. He called me over and his lady friend lifted up her shirt and one of my illustrations, a mash up of the legendary Nintendo game Duck Hunt” and the movie poster for The Boondock Saints, was tattooed across her side. It was HUGE. I was shocked, to say the least. When the initial high wore off, I was flattered.

What is your dream project?

I have a ton. I guess that in the grand scheme of things, the most impressive project I could ever produce would be a gorgeous life to look back upon with an arsenal of collaborative efforts, multiple media projects, fairs, shows, openings, bazaars and publications; a life replete with creation and a contagious infection of positive energy.

Do you have any advice to give the many aspiring artists out there?

Create. Practice. Be your only competition and constantly outdo yourself.

Tell us some about your shop "Not Just a Pen?"

I came up with the name “Not Just A Pen a few years ago. I was writing for WEMERGE Magazine, Imagine Magazine and SoTattooed alongside my illustrating. I wrote AND drew with a ballpoint pen, but it was so much more than that. Hence, not JUST a pen. I actually looked it up to see that the dot com domain was available, which it was. I took a couple of weeks to save up some cash to pay ahead for a couple years of hosting and site security, etc. In that two week period, the Pilot Pen Company actually pulled the rug out from under me, purchasing the domain and using it for some nonsensical link page. Tricky part is I was already hooked on the name, so I settled for the dot net instead. Needless to say, I don’t endorse Pilot pens.

Where can we find your work?

Google + 

 All works shared in this piece have been shared with permission of the Artist Kyle Willis.  




  1. Thanks for your interest in my work. I appreciate you writing this up. Keep being awesome!

  2. Very interesting article and interview. Look forward to seeing some more work by Kyle and by your community Sorianna.

  3. Love the answer to the "Dream Project"... Dream big!!!!

  4. Kyle Willis is an awesome artist! I have been following his work for years! He never ceases to amaze me...always coming up with something unusual and different. His work has evolved over the years...but I know he has only just begun. Watch out're in for a great ride! Stay tuned because you won't want to miss his next work...and his next...and his next!

  5. Kyle Does Great Work, And To Now Of Read This Interview and learned more of where he comes from and dreams for is inspiring, Keep It Up Bro

  6. Kyle Willis is a great artist and a wonderful man. I have the pleasure of owning one of his original pieces (something done just for me). The key, though, is a personality that is dynamic as well as talented. Meet the man, do business with him and you will find dedication, ability and a sense of community and humor that exceed your expectations! Can't say enough...