Kyle Platts: informed by bad skin, hotrods and dead people.

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You can find Kyle Platts in a little corner of Camberwell, listening to Radio 6 and drawing all day. When he’s not doing that you’ll find him skateboarding or, more recently, playing ping pong.  His drawings are informed by bad skin, hotrods and dead people. Kyle pays insane attention to detail, so when you see his work it’s hard to believe it’s hand drawn; the execution is so immaculate that they all look like prints. I had a quick chat with him about his work and the exhibition he’s putting on soon.

When did you get into illustration?

When I was a kid I just always liked drawing. I would get told off in school for drawing too much. I’d try to finish the work as quickly as possible so that I could do drawings alongside the text. A lot of the time the teacher would write in red pen “you’re not supposed to do drawings” or “this is inappropriate”. And that’s probably because a lot of the drawings included people getting their heads chopped off or getting impaled on pikes and that. I didn’t realise you could make a living from illustration for years and years; when I had my careers interview in Year 11 I told them I wanted to be a cartoonist but they said it’s not really a viable career.  They tried to steer me towards the steel mines, just because I’m from Sheffield I suppose, which is a total stereotype of anyone leaving school in Sheffield. So then for a while I just hung about and worked in shops and eventually did an Art Foundation and realised you could specialise in Illustration. At the time I was really into illustrators like Paddy Jones and Kate Moross that were at Camberwell and that’s why I decided to apply to Camberwell and only there.

I have to draw everyday otherwise I get bummed out. I feel like if I haven’t drawn all day, or haven’t got anything to draw for any projects, I should still draw people from magazines or observation. I can’t enjoy anything if I don’t, I can’t sit down and watch TV, I feel like I haven’t earned it or something. It just makes me feel good, I feel like I’ve achieved something.

What medium do you like using?

I’ve only used one pen my whole life, and probably always will. I got a Rotring Pen as a gift from my best friend’s mum when I was moving to London nearly 3 years ago. It’s 0.25 nib, refillable and it just goes forever and ever. I’ll probably just keep drawing with it until I die. I like to screen-print my drawings, I don’t usually use colour when I draw so when I screen-print it’s a chance to experiment with vibrant colours. I also like painting and photography, but I see photography as more of a hobby, I don’t take it very seriously. I enjoy using a point and shoot Nikon 100, 35mm, because the photos have a unique hue and colouration to them.

What do you like drawing?

I’m only really interested in drawing people with bad skin and dead people. I’d say I like drawing people more then objects, but when I draw objects I like to give them lots of detail. I’ve just drawn a series of cars, the idea behind that series was that each car was modified to the extreme, with a particular exaggerated feature – so one has loads of spikes, one has loads of exhausts. I’m into drawing robots at the moment as well; really human looking robots, like cyborgs with a bit of their artificial flesh coming off so you can see all the detail underneath. I do lots of comics too; when I’m doing comics I try to satire everyday life. There’s nothing funnier then real life sometimes, so I just make notes of stuff that happen to me or I’ve seen on the street and make a comic about it. I like to take the smallest thing that’s happened and exaggerate it.

Which illustrators are you into now?

I’m really into illustrators I know, I prefer to follow my friends blogs rather then look at people’s polished websites or go through volumes of illustration magazines. I just really like finding up and coming people because there’s something really exciting about it, and accessible. I regularly swap prints with my friends and love going to zine-fairs to swap work – I like putting other people’s work on my wall. I’ve got a lot of work on my wall from the members of Comic Assault, that’s a collective I’m a part of. Comic Assault was the brainchild of Charlie Cameron, and we produce comics and put on shows. In the past we’ve collaborated with other collectives, such as Clinic, where we did live drawing alongside their poetry.

You’ve got your own show next week, where did the idea for that come from?

I thought of a bunch of ideas first that were shit, I was thinking I don’t want it to be just a run of the mill Illustration show – here’s some drawings, have a look at them. I wanted it to be something interactive that would engage people. The show’s called Obverse, the concept is to explore unique mark making through the comparison between duplicate and original. Each contributing illustrator has submitted original work, and tried to duplicate the work of one of their contemporaries. The show promises to be an interesting experiment but will also be an opportunity to see some great work from up and coming illustrators from London, Brighton and Berlin.

Do you think it’s going to be a challenge for the illustrators?

Yeah, some of them have surprised me though with how good their copies are. They’re generally finding it quite strange because they’ve all got set styles. Matt Hay said it was really weird drawing like his partner Will Flawn, he said he was concentrating so much at one point that he got a bit dizzy and couldn’t figure out which was his and which was Will’s and what was going on, I think he had a total meltdown.

words Lisa Finch.


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