Words from Kyle Kesterson

When did you decide art was where life was taking you?
A conscious decision? I’m not sure I ever made one with that intention. It’s been more of a series of experiences, in retrospect, that showed me the path I was on and where I should be headed. Near the beginning, I chose ‘graphic design’ at a small tech college because that sounded the most interesting and I was forced to choose something after dropping out of high school. I then chose Illustration at Cornish College of the Arts, mostly because I wanted to learn how to materialize my ideas for my own endeavors, but was terrified of doing it for money, since I was lead to believe that my soul would be sucked dry if I exploited my ideas and/or abilities. Ever seen Kenna’s “Hellbent” video?! haha
Define the word “doodle”.
To draw without ego, I suppose. Most of my doodling sessions consist of only making a single mark or shape on a piece of paper and just SEEING what develops. That leads to what I like to call “intricadoodle”. I doodle object A, then I’ll doodle object B (both positive shapes) and using the negative space between objects A and B will see the positive shape that is to become object C. It’s all about power by association and is completely organic.
Where is the best spot on a Friday night in Seattle?
Up until last week, I would’ve said Tini Biggs – awesome martini bar. However my good friend is no longer bartending there, nor hookin’ a guy up, so… I’ll have to get back to you on that!
Do you have any upcoming projects you are stoked on?
Absolutely! I’ve been working at Funko (toy company) on a line called “Nodniks” (nodniknation.com). We started developing them back in October and was a completely new line for us. It’s our 2 cents on the art vinyl circuit. We use characters from our major licenses and work to illustrate them around 1 of 2 body shapes. We also have blanks to sell and a place for people to share what they’ve created.
Another project I’ve been working on is this fresh new print boutique called “Early Morning” (earlymorning.us). What started out as doing a wall mural / installation for their retail space, turned into me becoming one of the designers helping get the shop going and working at the design bar. The beast behind the shop is a CMYK + white apparel silkscreen printer that uses water based inks that prints full spectrum color designs/images on shirts. It’s an incredibly unique business model and the quality is amazing (same machine that Ed Hardy and Diesel uses for I believe). You can expect plenty of apparel to be coming from me in the future… haha
What has been your most “fun” project to date?
Well personally, I’m an analog, hands on type of guy (despite working almost entirely digitally during my 9-5)… and when I was working for Urban Influence Design Studios a few years ago, I built a 60+ building cardboard city. Each building was fabricated from textures and elements, then branded, then constructed. You have to see it in person to grasp the magnitude. We got to create our own world with tons of tongue-in-cheek throw backs, as well as inside jokes and things we think about. Unfortunately the project got scrapped after about 4 months, about a week away from completion. It was hard to accept, but was ultimately the smartest decision on their part. The Nodniks pretty much ties with the buildings though. I made a New Year’s resolution 2 years ago that I wanted to make a manufactured toy. That was before I had heard about Funko. … funny how life makes paths for you after you postulate something.
Which X-men film is your favorite and why?
Probably X-Men 2 because my brother-in-law worked on it and I’m generally biased to the stuff he works on. That’s right, I liked the Eric Bana ‘Hulk’ better than Norton’s! 😀
As a toy designer: what has been your favorite finished piece?
Probably the Spider-Man Nodnik because it took like 15+ rounds with our factory to get it right. It was the first major test in the line and had been the most complex. I think I heard it was like 18 pad-print molds just to get the web pattern on the head to line up… either way, we were incredibly happy with the results and it put our mind to ease about the possibility of the line.
You work with a whole variety of materials: what do you feel most comfortable with?
With traditional drawing, I can handle Prisma markers really well and know the whole color library off the top of my head. I usually identify colors in life that I see based on their named pallet.
My favorite media though is cut vinyl. I loooove cut vinyl. I’ve done really intricate, 8-16 layer, cut vinyl illustrations. Some I’ve used a plotter, others I’ll cut by hand. I have hundreds of rolls of every color and type of vinyl and sometimes just get really into a project. I used to work at a sign shop and would spend hours on end, just weeding out the insides of letters. You can really get lost in the therapy of it. A mix of cut vinyl and “fun” projects, would definitely be my Tapeworms. I might post that project some day..
As for my every day medium, Adobe Illustrator is where it’s at. I can end up with 4-500 gradients in a single rendered character illustration. Working at Funko, I’ve gotten pretty quick at flipping out a decent rendered character. My version of Rayola took a little over an hour.
What gets you going on Monday morning?
Nothing. I just wait for Tuesday.
Sandwich or Burrito?
Quizno’s Torpedo – Honey Bacon Club (with Ranch added to everything else)
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