1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
Hi there! My name is Alex Kiesling. I was born in Wisconsin and moved to Rhode Island to study illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design. After my bachelors, I moved to Brooklyn where I currently work as the main illustrator at a children’s app company.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I like to draw simple shaped characters with googly eyes and add smiley faces. A lot of times my art may look child friendly but I enjoy juxtaposing mature undertones that can add another layer to the art.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
Digital is great because I can paint something that might take hours or days to do by other methods. Illustrating digitally is 95% of my work, but at times I like to switch to traditional mediums when I feel inspired. If I get the studio space, I will be doing a lot more oil paintings with the same 3D aesthetic.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Thinking of a concept is hard. A lot of times I make random shapes in illustrator until I start to see something I like. Other times, long walks with good music put me in the right mindset for creative thinking. When I have an idea, I use illustrator to create the shapes/forms that become the finalized composition. This allows me to create perfect shapes that are unachievable in other painting programs. I then bring it into Photoshop, magic wand, and soft shade selections with a ‘dissolve’ brush. I separate the layers by light starting from shadows on the bottom and work my way up to specular highlights on the top most layer.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
Toys! Specifically Playmobil, building blocks, and stuffed animals. Also the surreal content in the movies Akira and Paprika have been a large source of inspiration. As far as artists go I enjoy a breadth from Cinema 4D animators to contemporary illustration painters. I’m always fond of animators like Julian Glander, Jach Sachs, & Eran Hilleli. I gain inspiration from painters like Chris Buzelli, Nicolas Dehghani, & Mike Lee. I don’t limit myself to any genre of art as there is inspiring designers and illustrators in every field. If they bring something new and creative to the table…I’m there.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
I need some way to show and record my thoughts. It puzzles me when other people don’t express potentially good ideas. Every person has at least one important thought to be heard yet most people just let it go to waste as a lost memory. Drawing is my best teacher. Most of the time my art doesn’t express my concept or vision fully but all of my art triggers a new idea to learn from may it be from aesthetic process to conceptual thinking.
7. Where did you study?
Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Probably an art director or lead illustrator for future animation projects. I’m still unsure what I want in life still.
9. What about in ten?
Same thing just 20 lbs heavier. Hopefully also getting paid to work with creative freedom.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
To keeping learning. I never stop learning and it makes me happy that I gain something from every illustration I make. If my artwork looks the same in ten years, then I’ll know I haven’t been paying attention.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I love German and Indian food. A good bratwurst with sauerkraut or a good plate of Biriyani always makes me happy. I also eat a lot of cheese but it’s too expensive in the US to eat it all the time.
12. Favourite book?
I’m a huge graphic novel fan so I read whatever has pictures in it. Right now I’m in the process of reading Nausicaa and Akira. I also love Alan Moore’s work, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Hobbit.
13. Favourite genre of music?
At work I listen to a lot of Simpsonswave, Lo-fi hip hop, or anything vaporwave. It’s just good background music without being too distracting.
14. What are your hobbies?
I’m a huge cocktail enthusiast so I like to occasionally go out and splurge on a nice bottle of gin and try to make something fancy. I also enjoying motorcycle riding in the summer when I go home to see my family.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Art has always been my life and it’s hard to imagine life without it. I think no matter what, my path will always lead back to some sort of creative field. Maybe cooking, bartending, or trying to make a living producing music.