New American Paintings/Blog


Q&A: Kim Deakins by openstudiospress
October 29, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: Competitions, Q&A | Tags: ,

Me Eat, 2009 | Ink on paper, 36 x 55 inches

Earlier this summer we caught up with Kim Deakins, who was last included in the 2009 MFA Annual. With the 2010 MFA competition nearing the deadline (October 31! Apply online!), we’re revisiting her exciting work—and her laughably rad and ever-growing band name list.  —Evan J. Garza

CURRENT MFA CANDIDATES: Apply online through October 31! Juror: Randi Hopkins, Associate Curator, Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA)


Featured in Editions #76 and #87 of New American Paintings, Kim Deakins loves the bizarre. Her work features a slew of colorful and odd subjects, and her website features a random (and equally amazing) list of fake band names, like Touch Hole, Funeral Hook-up, and Browned Grief. For these and many other reasons, we wanted to know more.

EJG: How was the Band Name List on your website created?
The band name page is an ongoing joke—with myself. I love music, all types, and often entertain the idea of being in a super hip electro-pop band like Gang Gang Dance or Hot Chip, but instead I decided to concentrate on making art and tattooing, which I’m very, very happy with… I like to place the genre with the name, for example, Tammy Toon and the Lipstick Duo would, ideally, be an all chick rockabilly band, and Lazer Braids would involve small Asian women… The nature of the Band Name List and the nature of art are one in the same in that they both share unlimited possibilities.

EJG: What are you working on in your studio right now?
Right now I am working on a series of small ink drawings for a two person show at Anchor Tattoo and Gallery featuring David Hale and myself. I’ve been apprenticing under Dustin Hill for a few months now so naturally the tattoo aesthetic and my own style are merging, but I have managed to hang on to the most important things in my work—unabated color choices and bizarre subject matter—but most importantly enjoying what I’m making. I am also in the process of moving into a new studio so I can’t wait to start making new work there.

The Rainbow Thief | Ink on paper, 48 x 36 inches

EJG: How do you work in your studio?
Well, I am very messy and disorganized. I usually can’t find the materials I need to make the work, but somehow it happens. I also treat my stuff horribly. I used to be kind of bummed about my studio practice, but I eventually gave in and just let things happen, which is exactly how the work is made. It always begins with the idea of an image. If I can visualize the beginnings of an image, then that’s all I need. Kind of like a seed idea. Then I will sketch until I’m happy and either draw right on to the paper or if it’s a more complicated image, project the drawing.

I reference the Internet for images because it’s fast. I draw everything on the surface very lightly with a pencil. I used to draw directly on the surface with black ink and brush or nib, but when the imagery and compositions became more complicated I switched to planning things out, but minimally. I have realized over the years that I work best with a fair mixture planning and intuition. Though I enjoy the latter more, it doesn’t always produce the best results. The beginning image is the meat of the entire piece. Everything else [is] along for the ride. After the first image is on the paper I start filling in the lines with colored ink. The process is identical to a coloring book. Once I get started the painting begins to inform itself. I will usually work on larger drawings for a month or so smaller ones with take a couple of days.

EJG: Tell me about your painting, The Rainbow Thief.
The story is the struggle of this multifaceted creature and the sloth-monsters battling for what they want: power, honor, tradition, loyalty. I was looking at many artistic references when I made that piece, pre and post-war Japanese wood cuts, Tibetan Buddhist art and myth, Kabuki on YouTube, Koren live action plays, Hindu shadow puppet shows. I have always thought of The Rainbow Thief as a kind of self portrait. I am half Korean and half American mutt, so I’ve enjoyed experiencing both of these very different worlds. Naturally my art has become a direct reflection.

Images courtesy the artist.

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