Briefly describe the work that you do.
I work in a multimedia collage format. My work is largely composed of old re-purposed newspapers, but can also include other elements such as spray paint, oil paint, electrical wire, book pages, pamphlets and anything else that may come my way.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I never set out to be an artist by trade, but when I was younger I was amazed my grandfather’s drawing skills, and tried to emulate his styles in my own drawings. As I grew older, I became interested in comic books and the different artistic styles they presented. I filled many sketchbooks when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t until I was at college that people began to ask me to make art work for them based of the few pieces I had already made.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I suppose that growing up with a dad who is a janitor and would frequently save and re-use old pieces of furniture and electronics as a kid, I was predisposed to reusing the things that came across my path as well. I quickly realized that oil paints and other art supplies could be quite expensive, and began to wonder if there was a way around the high cost and sometimes low return of being an artist. After I had collaged my whole bedroom wall as a teen, and then had to take it down to move to college, I realized that I could recreate the same effect on canvas and take it with me.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
The conceptual concerns and topics covered in my work focus on major social and political issues inside the United states, and as such are directly influenced by the media I have chosen to use. While a painter can go out and buy or mix any color he or she would like, my work is guided by what is printed and readily available to me in major media sources. Needing red, means I need to source out pictures of fires or flames, which can be difficult due to the high cost of printing in red ink as opposed to black. The topics themselves are as diverse as our country’s issues: Oil Spills, Murder, Financial Crises and so on, but not all pieces will have a political focus.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
I am motivated by the desire to be more than just another person in this world who goes to work every day and goes out on the weekends. There has to be something more than simply filling a role. That’s where creativity comes in, and allows me to express ideas, feelings and concerns that I would never be able to tackle from a “normal” point of view at an everyday nine to five job. I also really enjoy creating my own works, and am sad when I have to see them leave my studio. I create the pieces for myself based on what I see out of the images I use. If people choose not to like it that’s ok with me, but when someone wants to take a piece home with them, that’s an added bonus.
Influences: I am attracted to and enjoy making larger pieces and collage work, in part, thanks to the work of James Rosenquist who makes gigantic, sometimes hundreds of feet long, oil paintings based on collages which he lays out in his studio or sketch book. The political side of it really comes from society as a whole and the influence of pop culture. Although, I would be lying if I said I didn’t draw some influence from Shepard Fairey & The Obey campaign.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
Other interests aside from art include listening to, collecting and cataloging music & attending live concerts
About Kyle Van Heck
If all stories have a beginning and an ending, you will find me somewhere in the middle, constantly creating the role of the lead character who will allow the others to see who they truly are inside. Our world has become overrun with images and information, all of it passing before our eyes which can only absorb the smallest fraction of data, process it, and delete it in order to make room for so…mething else. However, within the overflow of information that we have created and which we now live, there is ample opportunity for education, transformation and realization. In reality, things are never as they seem, nor as we intended them to be.
The mediums in which I create my work, were never intended to be used as such, yet almost as soon as newspapers were printed they were being used for purposes other than that which was intended. Not only does this process re-purpose old material, but it takes original images or pieces of images intended to make a certain message and turns them upside-down or into something else entirely, creating a message built out of small pieces of pop culture than says something infinitely larger as a whole. Still even seen as a whole, the process by which my art is created allows the individual to break down the piece into its original components and draw further meaning from their own point of view. In the end what is created is a work of art with a specific message that can still be interpreted in as many different ways as there are people who view it.
Through the use of news paper as a medium and the addition of other materials such as oil paints, spray paints, old books, electrical wire, plastics, children’s toys, and other recycled, re-purposed or reused materials, it is possible not only to create art, but further to create something out of that with was once rendered as nothing. Order from chaos, a puzzle from the pieces, a message from the fragment, a key to the cipher…
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.