Jeremiah Kille on Elephants, Color & his studio soundtrack
I can have a plan of attack, but when I'm in the studio and I get into the zone things just happen without really knowing it.
How did you get started?
I got into art through surfboard building; I started airbrushing and that led to being a little more creative in general. When I was getting out of college I thought about doing a numbers of things: firefighting, nursing, or even getting a geology degree, but my wife at the time encouraged me to get an art degree instead. At that point I'd never even picked up a paintbrush, other than working on surfboards and drawing as a kid. But she just said, “I think you'd be good at it, and you’ll be happy doing it.”
What motivates you to create?
I think we all have different gifts or talents and everybody has something that they are really good or gifted at, so I feel like I've hit on what I'm supposed to be doing. I bounce around between geometric and these elephant landscapes that are a bit more narrative.
You do have very clear themes that you return to and shapes that you return to. What is it about the elephant?
There's something about the elephants that make me keep coming back to them. They are pretty incredible creatures; I love that they are intelligent and social. They are strong but also peaceful, and I can relate to that. A lot of the things that the elephant represents for me are finality, community, family. In a way they kind of comfort me.
How is color important in your work?
I tend to be really drawn to work that's a little more understated in every way: palate, subject matter, content. I'm attracted to a lot of things, but in terms of what I want to be surrounded with in my house or living space, it's things that are very subtle, and very calming. A lot of my work is simple but there's something very bold about it. I'll put bright colors, yellows and pinks in there with natural colors that are more subdued or neutral.
I definitely come back to certain colors, the turquoise and reds are what I'm really drawn to. It's interesting because I don't necessarily want to create really colorful work in a cerebral sense, but sometimes it just happens without knowing it. I think that's what's cool about art, in a way it just ends up flowing out of me. I can have a plan of attack, but when I'm in the studio and I get into the zone things just happen without really knowing it. It works on a subconscious level.
What is your studio soundtrack?
It depends. I do listen to a lot of music that's kind of melancholy, but if I'm on a deadline I'll listen to something a bit more upbeat. I've been listening to a lot of female singer/songwriters, also Bob Dylan and White Buffalo. Sylvan Esso, has also been on rotation lately, I love her work.
I've also been into a podcast called Mysterious Universe. My girlfriend put me on to that. It's about all the supernatural, magic stuff out there that we may never really be able to know everything about.
Any advice for young or aspiring artists?
The beautiful thing about art is you don't need much. You don't need to buy tons of expensive canvases, you can just sit with a pad and doodle or draw and it's that simple. But there is making art as a passion, and then there's doing it as a career, which is very different. One thing that I did, and still seek out, are people who are a bit farther down the road in terms of their careers as working artists. Many of them have been really cool about just letting me hang out in their studio to observe and ask questions. And I try to make myself available to students and young artists as much as possible in the same way.
Who should we be following on instagram?
Check out Joram Roukes; he's a guy from the Netherlands that lives in LA now. I think these days there is so much content available on the phone, it's really easy and accessible to look at and follow new artists and art blogs. Everyday over coffee I'm checking out other artists and discovering amazing work.
What do you do to reset or unwind?
I've been trying to get up early in the morning to watch the sunrise. I went out to Yosemite for Thanksgiving and have been wanting to get back into rock-climbing again. So as we get through winter and into spring, I'll hopefully be able to get my kids out doing that with me. There’s a lot of really beautiful greenspace around here in Santa Cruz, so I've just been trying to get out of the studio. Even when I have deadlines and there's always a reason to not leave, I've found that I'm a little more productive and in a better headspace if I can just get out and walk around in nature for an hour or so every day.
For more on Jeremiah, check out his website.