A great part of artistry is invention. For artist Kyle Bean, this notion plays an integral role in the development of his highly conceptual designs. Based out of Brighton, the UK native invests a lot of time getting to the roots of an idea before bringing it to life in a carefully chosen medium. His designs are clean, sharp and most of his pieces contain more creativity and thought than many can muster in a life time.
Having been noticed by the likes of Wallpaper* and Time Magazine, Kyle Bean keeps himself a busy being with freelance work – whilst still saving time for his own personal creative outlets. He utilises a number of different art forms that are not only appealing to look at but are also thought provoking. His conceptual design piece, “What Came First?” is a satirical look at the age old dilemma of ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ . This is a great example of what sets Kyle’s work apart from the rest; his ideas truly make you think when you look at them, and his designs are distinctly present. The simplicity that is conveyed through his familiar mediums, allows the complexity of his concepts to announce themselves clearly, or reveal themselves slowly.
The forward looking Bean pushes his conceptual work right to the edge, at times it would seem that he is almost predicting the future… and in some cases he has. His piece “The Future of Book” was created just before the release of the first Kindle. Bean’s creations tamper with our understanding of reality. In a way, after looking at the images and sculptures he’s produced you begin to question whether your own perception of reality is in fact intact or whether you’re so far off base you need to be examined. Kyle’s ability to take the norm and turn it into something completely foreign is a true gift. His pencil shaving portraits are proof of exactly this. Carefully manoeuvring the specifically shaped shavings, he creates astoundingly intricate portraiture. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. All of Bean’s work is incredibly intricate and painstakingly perfect in its construction.
Kyle Bean is definitely one of the most innovative and original designers gracing the pages of our favourite publications and senses at the moment. Kyle’s youth can only act in his favour as his brilliance can only go forward from here. New projects and constantly blooming ideas are always on the horizon for Kyle, all we can hope to do is keep up with him and see how far he is capable of pushing the boundaries of design.
Words: Katherine Cameron.
Your art is highly conceptual; what is the process you go through to birth an idea?
I always like to start with an idea before deciding on aesthetic. My process varies and a lot comes down to how much input the client has in the project. For example, some projects have been very open (such as my Selfridges windows) and so I was able to come up with an idea that I set about executing. With some projects the idea is already set by the client. Personal work is important to me in order to keep expressing my thoughts and ideas as much as possible.
How do you decide which materials you’re going to use on different projects? Is it kind of this-goes-with-that or is it completely different every time?
As much as possible I like to use materials which feel appropriate to the particular project. I have a fondness for the everyday/humdrum materials as they convey a familiarity which I think people respond to. It’s nice when people can see the textures and instantly understand what was used to create it. It also tends to add a level of humour to some of my work (such as my ‘What Came First?’ chicken/egg sculpture. I use paper a lot in my work too as it is so versatile and seems to work well for a variety of projects.
When you started your artistic studies, did you think you would end up at this physical end of the spectrum? Were you always attuned to constructional designs?
I was always torn between perusing product design or illustration as a career path as I have always loved making things. In the end I studied illustration because I wanted to create images to communicate my ideas. Yet somehow my interest in product design seems very apparent in my work now I think. I started properly working in this physical way during my second year of university when I created ‘The Future of Book’ book/laptop hybrid. I made this just before the first Kindle was released.
How much of your time does your art take up? What else do you do as a young artist?
It varies from project to project. For example, some editorial jobs can take me a day or two to execute and photograph, whereas a window display may take several weeks. I recently worked on a stop frame animation for Peugeot which took 2 months, even with a big team of people.
I love going to my local cinema, the ‘Duke of Yorks’ as much as possible. It is apparently the oldest cinema in the UK. I just love the experience and character of the place.
What was your reaction when you started getting some pretty big names interested in your artwork ? (Time, Wallpaper* Selfridges etc)
I was initially very shocked, but tried to say focused on the job at hand and treat it like any other project. My first ever commission out of university was for Liberty for an in-store display also for New York Times for an editorial piece. I’m just so grateful that these clients started approaching me. I admit that I did very little to promote myself apart from having a website so it did take me by surprise.
Is anyone else in your family an artistic prodigy or are you a bit of a black sheep? (In the best possible way, obviously)
I suppose you could say that I am a bit of a black sheep in my family, although my mum does have some very creative ideas and loves decorating her home. I always tell he she should explore her artistic side more!
For a designer/artist of your calibre, you’re quite young. Has there been a fast maturing process for you? Or was it more gradual, something that occurred over a number of years.
In some ways I have always been very driven. Even before I started working in this way, I used to work hard. I was also very naive though at university. I have certainly matured in terms of learning how to deal with my finances and generally communicating with clients in a professional manner, but I’m still a big child at heart!
Your stop motion work is truly amazing (I particularly love the washing day one- trust me, I’m pretty sure that’s how my socks go missing) coming from someone who has attempted some pitiful stop motion- how do you maintain the patience for such detailed works?
I have not worked a huge amount in stop motion but it is certainly something I would like to do more. My recent work for Peugeot with Joseph Mann has made me really want to explore it again. The problem is that in order to do stop frame properly you do need to invest a lot of time and planning to do it. I do love the aesthetic it gives though. I think the time consuming nature of stop frame is quite therapeutic at times, but I agree it requires a lot of patience!
What has been the most time consuming work for you?
Peugeot was my longest project. Followed by my Selfridge’s windows and Design Museum pop up card. I’m very pleased with both of those. I don’t think length of project always gives best results though. Some of my best ideas have been executed in a couple of days such as my ‘pencil shaving portraits’ for Wallpaper*
In your eyes, what is the craziest project you’ve taken on?
My ‘What Came First?’ chicken sculpture was pretty mad.
What are you hoping for from Saint Nick next Chrissy?
I’m saving up for a new camera!