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JOHN KAYE for Artillery


image image
image John Kaye for Artillery

Upon commencing the gathering of my ‘background information’ on John Kaye, a swift google search found my eyes perusing photos of a NSW Greens Member of Parliament and various 1970’s club soccer players adorned with what I’d call ‘well-founded’ moustaches. The search couldn’t be further from the truth about this ‘clean-shaven’ young-gun currently making some big moves in illustration.

With styles rooted solidly in the streets, John Kaye has found his artistic feet somewhere on the spectrum between graffiti and tattoo flash. While this might seem an odd place to be for some, Kaye connects the two with finesse by blending imagery involving train-yards, striking girls and the thoughts and emotions of a wild boy who undeniably refutes the arm of authority. His personal style oozes from every pen stroke, and one can’t deny the fact that this kid has a severe technical knowledge of every medium he gets his dirty little hands on.

Born sometime in the 90’s this sprouter spent most of his years on the sunny Gold Coast, eventually Kaye decided that the glitz and glam of Surfers Paradise was no longer a constructive place for him to pursue his craft. So, like many others he packed his brush and followed the paint-fumes south to where the streets are alleys, the walls are dirty and the coffee is good. Melbourne.
I took five with John recently (well I didn’t but lets just say I did, email is a great invention) so that you can get to know just a little bit more about the man and his creations.

So you left the Gold Coast for Melbourne, give us the quick back-story. What finally made you shift?

I had some good fun on the Gold Coast, it had its ups and downs that’s for sure but it treated me well mostly, it was just time to get out while I still could.

What do you miss most about the Gold Coast?

Schoolies, Indy, and getting beaten up all the time.

When did you start writing?

I was scribbling from a really young age but started taking it more seriously around 2005.

Who had the most creative influence on your style throughout your developmental years?

When I was really young I was into skateboarding. I remember being obsessed with collecting pictures of different board graphics and trying to copy characters and fonts off different album covers from bands I was into at the time. Once I actually started painting and drawing all the time I was lucky enough to have some close mates that helped me out along the way.

It would seem that you are a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to art. Which medium do you prefer the most?

I have always enjoyed using spray paint when I can; otherwise I really just like using black ink for drawings.

Do you think style is a reflection of the individual or just something you pick up along the way?

I think my work is always a reflection of how I feel, or my experiences at the time in some way or another. My stuff always changes depending on my moods at the time, where I’m at and what I have been doing with myself. When I’m in a shit mood my paintings tend to turn out aggressive, if I’m feeling sexy they’re usually paintings of rigs I want to date and so on.

What are your opinions on this whole street art movement thing that’s happening at the moment?

I don’t know very much about it to be honest; but the few street artists I do see around always seem to have hot girlfriends and expensive cameras, so they must be doing something right.

Some of your style is reminiscent of traditional American sailor tattoos, ever thought of picking up the tattoo gun?

It has crossed my mind in the past, but I think with tattooing there is heaps of hard work and dedication involved, and that’s not something I want to commit to at the moment. I’m enjoying my flexible timetable way too much for the time being.

Have you travelled much? Do you think that travelling has a positive effect on your work?

I haven’t really spent longer then a few months in one spot over the last few years. Travelling around has definitely had a positive effect on my work, but it’s also really easy to get caught up in the filth that comes with it. It’s all too easy to slip into the vortex and not do anything “productive” for extended periods of time. However when I do get the chance to stay put for a little while I really appreciate my time and those little breaks to focus are what keep me motivated.

What has Mr. Kaye got planned for 2013?

I’m working flat out at the moment on a few projects but will be wrapping it up again in the next few weeks. I was recently given an eviction notice from the place i have been staying at and then found out my studio is being demolished and turned into some corporate office buildings next month. So i have taken it as a sign to grab my bag, sell my belongings for whatever i can, and fuck off overseas somewhere again for the summer.


Instagram: @killjohnkaye

Published: 05 April 2013
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Proof that the youth are revolting.

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