We are so excited to have Kevin Hooyman as our Artist of the Month! We hit Kevin up with some questions about his life, his art, and his apocalypse theories….enjoy!
Where do you live and what’s it like?
I’m just moving back to New York after five years up in Providence. New York seems cool these days but I’ve only been here a few weeks so I don’t have a great description for you. A big empty room with boxes in Red Hook. Psyched to be down here again! I started to really like Providence over the last couple of years but it can sometimes seem a little dark. We lived down at the south end of the city by Cranston surrounded by a good dose of mental illness, poverty and violence. I’m a dad now and that kind of thing started to look worse and worse. But, man, I’m going to miss that coast! And so many good people. And having a house and yard! And that sort of beat up stuck in time feel of Rhode Island. Its a place like no other.
What is your art studio and working environment like? When do you typically clock in?
I was working in our home up in Providence and really loved it. I had a room up front to myself and it was really easy to duck in and out, mixing studio life and childcare. And I finally put together a sort of ‘professional’ drawing set-up with a drafting table and an adjustable stool. I was messing up my left shoulder leaning on my arm all day over these flat desks and kitchen tables. I can still draw on a couch or wherever for short periods but now I’m hooked on my set-up. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out.
Time-wise I grab whatever I can when I’m not taking care of my son. (1.5 years old) That’s a change. I used to work nights. I love the late night. My favorite drawing hours were always 12-4am. Kind of a magic time that seems like its yours alone. It’s perfect for getting lost in your work. I also like staying up until I am so tired that I wanted to collapse. I like drawing in that state, fading away into exhaustion. Its like a trance. Its liberating.
When did you start making art? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I did. Always know I mean. I was drawing from the start. My parents were pretty supportive. Everyone was. I won a contest at the department store when I was maybe five. I couldn’t believe it. I got free markers.
Most of your drawings are set in the forest. Why is this setting the right one for your work?
I almost want to say that I draw all that nature simply because it’s the thing that’s easiest for me to draw. It’s the thing that I’m most practiced at and that comes most naturally. I can really whip out a forest. And I really enjoy drawing them. Its not unlike the joy shown by the late Bob Ross. I used to watch him as a kid getting all psyched about inventing plants and spots for trees or rocks or streams. That kind of thing is really fun. I wonder how he first got into it. Why wasn’t Bob painting people and buildings?
I’m just guessing at what turned me that way, but maybe it was growing up out in Washington (state) with a lot of nature around me. Maybe it sort of seeped into me and now its coming out. We used to hike and camp all the time. We were always in the woods. In high school the woods were the place to be. To drink or smoke pot or just fuck around. We used to do this thing we called “darkwalk” where we would go out on old logging roads and drink beers walking in the pitch black. True black. Those forests out there are so dense above you and there are always clouds to block star/moon light so people would tumble into ditches and walk into bushes and that was the fun of it. Sometimes I think I am drawing that. Some version of me and my high-school buddies walking in the night. That feels like life to me.
Some of those nature themes really started to get into my drawings when I was living in upstate New York around 2005. When I first moved there, I genuinely believed there was something very powerful about nature and I felt very moved by it. You could say I had an awakening, in a way, to nature appreciation. I was amazed by watching it around me. It really affected me and some of my drawings were very directly talking about that experience. Nature was like God to me. I still believe that to some degree. But I think my work is a little less of a nature tribute than it used to be. What else is there to say really. Its amazing.
We first encountered your art through your comics. Do you work differently when making stuff for a book versus making a drawing? Do they feed each other?
Yeah, I’m deep in a comics phase these days. I’ve really only drawn comics for about a year now. I’ve been doing a monthly 32 page book that started last May. Its cool. I feel like I’ve always sort of wanted something like that. Some deadline that requires me to produce! There’s not much time to edit or second guess. I just draw and print and draw again. Its great.
I still draw a lot of ‘sketchbook’ kind of work that I never print. Just free-drawing on a blank page or messing around with watercolors. Whatever feels like the most fun. I suppose that’s the fine art end of things for now. I started putting those up on Tumbler so they get a chance to live a little.
They definitely feeds the comics. A lot of the characters and writing come out of those free-draw pages.
What is inspiring you these days?
Comics and comic artists. I pulled out my old Marvel collection and even started collecting a little again. I love these artists who clocked in every day and kicked this stuff out, page after page, book after book. There is incredible skill in what they were doing. Really inspiring.
Last good film you saw?
HER is the only film I’ve seen since my son was born. I saw it over the holidays. Its tough to find that movie time with the little one. I’d rather draw. For a while I had cable TV where I was working and I listened to TCM. I like those classics. You can follow everything without ever looking up. HER was good too. I completely liked it.
Can you describe your artistic process a little?
Its taken a while to really figure this out but, in the end, its pretty simple. When I get time I just sit down and draw. I just try to get the pen moving and keep my head down. If I have a comic I’m working on its nice cause I can jump right in where I left off or, if I’m starting fresh I have a folder called ‘just ideas’. Sometimes I try to warm up a bit sketchbook-style. Or mess around with paints. Whatever feels right. I just try not to get stuck. Keep it moving and see what happens.
Do you have any favorite quotes or mottos?
Nothing that I go around saying or write on my wall or anything. My old studio mate used to have RELAX painted on the wall. That was more for him than me but it’s pretty good advice. In high school my favorite piece of wisdom was ‘what Peter says about Paul says a lot more about Peter than it does about Paul.’ I like that too. Always good to remember. Makes you smarter if you can keep that in mind.
If you could have any superpower what would it be?
Heal like wolverine. I’m sick of my damn aging body with all its little aches and pains.
What is your favorite spot in the world right now?
Man. I would love to get into some sun about now. Maybe I gotta get down to Florida. I can’t think of a favorite spot. I usually really love my home and feel pretty rattled to be in a temp living setup since August. I’m a nester I think.
Where do you feel at home?
Maybe six winters ago I lived in a renovated chicken coop that was 8’x8′. I hung thick wool blankets over the windows to keep in the heat and there were times I imagined I was on a small space capsule. There were only those 64 feet of space for me to exist in. But I had a stereo and a desk and really was as happy as ever. Just got lost in my world of drawing. I loved disappearing into that place.
What are you currently working on?
Well, moving. But as soon as I can draw again I’ll try to whip out that Feb issue of my comic (Conditions on the Ground) and then maybe take a break at 10 issues. I’ve got a small publisher who wants to do a book anthology of those which I’m super excited about. I’m going to do a full color book with another small press this spring but I don’t really have it plotted out beyond having ordered some of the same paper the marvel guys draw on (with the blue lines for layout). I almost can’t wait!
Do you envision a positive future or do you think we are all fucked? apocalypse theories?
Well, I mean, I guess we’re kinda fucked. Endless growth just isn’t possible in a finite space and it doesn’t really look like we’re headed for some utopian future where we can work it all out. But I guess we still gotta try. And it usually makes sense to be positive. There are certainly many positive things that will come with the future. I’m sure of it. If only because it makes it easier to live in the present, I think we should hold out hope. Who knows, maybe it will all be great!
What is your spirit animal?
Klaus, my dog. We’re spirit buddies. He’s been my best bud through some tough times and I his.
What astrological sign are you? do you relate to it? if yes, how?
Libra. I feel like I hardly care. But who knows? Maybe I should pay more attention.
Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
I’m excited about some of the new alternative comic artists too. I went to CAB in the fall and maybe my two favorites there were Lisa Hanawalt and Simon Hanselmann. So much humor in both of their work and I am always grateful for someone making an effort to make me laugh. Its generous. Thanks guys!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Shit, I don’t know about 10 years but I have goals I’m moving towards. I want to not be doing my own distribution anymore. Or printing really. So, yeah, have a publisher who wants to put out the stuff I’m making. It would be cool to make a little money with it but almost no one does in comics. (and there’s something I appreciate about that too. Its such a cool scene.) If, in ten years I am still doing what I’m doing now, I’ll be happy. My son will be 12 and I can draw all day while he’s at school! That sounds great to me right now!
What would be your last meal before execution?
Potato chips. Chocolate chip cookies. Glass of milk. Maybe some beer. I love coffee but who wants to be all charged up for an execution. Fog myself up a bit with a little beer I think!