Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews
The wonderful thing about looking at Tom Kidd’s work is that you feel that he is portraying the world that he somehow actually inhabits...a world that many wish they inhabited. His book, Kiddography, is available from Paper Tiger. You should also stop by his brand new blog, also titled Kiddography.
What is your favorite painting you did in the past year?
I recently put three of the paintings I liked most from this year back on my easel and I’ve been reworking them. So far I successfully ruined one (but I may be able to un-ruin it), I left one a third changed and the other really doesn’t look that different — yet. It’s all for the sake of science or caprice. I seem to be looking for new ways to paint or to have a deeper understanding nature by alternately studying it and then painting it from memory and back. It’s possible that I’m more interested in problem solving even if I have to create them myself than finding a working formula. Your question, that I haven’t answered, has given me an idea though, I’ll put up the work I’ve done in the past year on my website with all their permutations and let other people judge them for me. I’m already cringing at the anticipated comment “I liked it before you made the changes.”
The activity I like the most is making things. I’m not as fond of copying things but I do enjoy working from nature. The process I like most is pretty simple, I study all the aspects of the visual world, work out through observation the properties that make the world look the way it does, memorize and mentally catalog details and then apply all of that information into pictures of things that I’ve never seen but that I’d like to see. This is the essence of science fiction. My favorite thing to do by far is to use my imagination fully. I’m not asked to often enough. That’s the main reason, among many others, that I created “Gnemo: Airships, Adventure, Exploration.” My hope with this book is to give myself a number of challenges. I’ve written into it difficult things to resolve easily with an illustration. Right now Gnemo is still all mine, I’m the boss but I have offers. The dream job will always be the one you’ve given yourself. Although I’ve had a few assigned to me that were fairly dreamy.
Speaking of illustration, in our present world with many types of moving pictures full of story, sound and fury, the simple still picture has to have more life than ever. Like the few words of the poet an illustration has to say more with less. I’ve always loved the idea of communicating with pictures. Narrative art is the greatest art. It’s always had the most affect on me so I naturally gravitate towards it in my work. Some people see it as less sophisticated but that doesn’t bother me. It’s not good to be blinded by the need to appear sophisticated however other might perceive you.
Painting you wished you painted?
The first paintings I remember being in awe of were by Chesley Bonestell. I was four or five when I first saw them. They were in a set of encyclopedias that my parents bought when my brother was born. One was of Saturn as seen from its satellite Titan. I’d never thought of viewing the universe from that perspective. My view was earthbound. Here, the artist had traveled 800 hundred million miles to paint a picture. This artist had imagination and his paintings sparked mine. I’ve done few astronomical paintings but I’ve taken with me the feeling I got from Bonestell’s paintings. If I can do pictures that open up someone else’s imagination, make paintings that evoke a sense of awe, I’ll have done well. That is the key purpose of the fantasy illustrator – elicit a strong emotion and hint at some mysterious tale that fires up the mind. If I’m allowed to reach for the stars like Bonestell, I hope my work will inspire some young person to future greatness. That’s my intention with Gnemo, if not just yet, with some paintings in the works.
Most embarrassing illustration related moment?
When I decided to do a book of my art I wanted it to lay bare my art and my life without pretension. Now that it’s published, much of it makes me blush. I still wake up in the middle of the night mortified by my own words. Nothing in the world causes me sustained embarrassment more than I do. I should learn to stay quiet.
Your biggest influences?
Speaking of staying quiet here’s my controversial opinions: It seems to me that the illustrators of the 10’s through the 50’s broke a mold, especially the Brandywine School. Before that, with the exception of the Pre-Raphaelites and a few turn-of-the-century painters, paintings were pretty stodgy (not bad, just stodgy and I’m only talking about how paint was handled). I even think a lot of the work of European impressionists missed its intended mark. American impressionists got it right and American illustrators took a freer and more subtle form of painting to its highest potential by making it narrative. When I stand in front of those original paintings, as I did at a recent show of the Kelly Collection, they affect me profoundly more than any other paintings. I also think that the 19th Century artist’s view of the future, especially in respect to the melding of technology and architecture, to be a much more beautiful and appealing future than ours. It’s time we change our present course. All of my reasoning here is based on my emotional reaction to this work and therefore isn’t reasoning at all. No logical argument will change my mind.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Thumbnails: 30 Second Interviews