Kevin Mischler, West Hollywood CA
Sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why.
Legendary. Through my art, I strive to capture legendary personalities who inspire their audiences. I hope my legendary illustrations can inspire my audience as well.
Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been interested in art. Whether it be a crayon or pencils, I was always drawing, drawing, drawing. While most kids preferred to run around outside and play sports, I always wanted to be inside drawing my pictures. By the time I was in high school, I knew in my heart that I was going to be an artist as drawing always brought me peace, a feeling of serenity. At the age of 16, I was selected to attend the Governor’s School of Art at Trenton State College in New Jersey which was a program that consisted of 25 kids from different artistic mediums. After high school, I attended the Art Institute of Ft Lauderdale on a full scholarship majoring in fashion illustration. I then moved to New York City and began studying menswear design at Fashion Institute of Technology. The fashion illustration emphasis started me on a career path with jobs at the top fashion brands in New York (Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Nautica) and I sort of lost my way with illustration. It wasn’t until many years later when the allure of the fashion industry had completely worn off that I picked up a pencil and it was as if I was magically transported back to that peaceful time of my life. What a relief! Just when I hit a major crossroad, art found me again and gave my life purpose. I will never lose my path again.
What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?
My medium of choice is graphite pencils. I love black and white imagery as I think it creates a sense of timelessness. I also find this medium challenging as you can’t make many mistakes, you can only erase so much so it really teaches you to focus on my skills.
Is there any particular experience, person, place or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.
Music and entertainers have always inspired me. I love music and playing it really puts me in a mood to draw. I’ve always been a huge music fan and I love going to concerts to see almost anybody really. I grew up watching Cher and Donny & Marie on TV and in my teen years, it was all about Madonna and Culture Club so music has always been a defining influence on my life. I’ve always been attracted to big personalities so larger than life icons like Diana Ross, Freddie Mercury and David Bowie have affected me greatly. I feel that by drawing people who’ve inspired me, I’m giving back to them by paying them homage.
What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it?
There’s nothing like watching people react to your work. When someone looks at something you’ve created and they smile, that’s the ultimate high. I also love it when people stare at my work for a long time, almost as if they’re getting “lost” in it or connecting to it in a deeper way. I love the process of creating a piece and then sitting back and observing people as I show my work. I hope people feel inspired by how well I’ve captured a face using just pencils but I also hope I tap into the shared experience of how a particular icon has affected all of us at various points in our lives.
What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?
You never know where opportunities are going to come from so try and take advantage of any places to present your work, you never know who’s going to be in the audience that might give you your next opportunity. People want to connect with your art but they also want to connect with the artist behind the work so you need to work on your people skills. Not everyone is going to react positively to your work but try not to take it personally. My little mantras that keep me going are; listen to your gut, never take no for an answer, follow your passion and never give up on your dreams. I think if you follow those mantras, you can never go wrong. And try not to be your own worst critic! I’m still working on that one.