I really enjoy the bright, in-your-face color and pattern combinations that artist and designer Kris (IRSKIY) S. uses throughout his illustrations, paintings, and collaborative projects with other artists. Check out this great interview and be sure to hit the links at the bottom for more!

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First, can you introduce yourself? Where are you from, and where are you based now?

My name is IRSKIY and I’m a digital illustrator currently living and working in Fenton, Michigan. I make architecture and 1980s inspired art. I’m originally from Jakarta, Indonesia.

When did you first know that you wanted to make art?

I met a friend in 2007, who was and still is a notorious graffiti writer in Jakarta and he introduced me to graffiti and street art. I saw works from amazing artists such as El Mac, Revok, Saber, MQ, Atlas, 123 Klan and Nsane5. It blew my mind and really sparked my interest in visual art. I then started doing graffiti for a little bit until I went to the States for work. I didn’t start making art or become a professional artist until recently when I switched career in January 2017. It was a tough decision but I just felt I had to do it. It has been six months of continuous struggle but I love and enjoy every moment of it.

What has your art education been like, formally and/or informally?

I never went to an actual art school, though I took few design courses in the past. Most of my art education has been from books, internet, gallery shows and artist friends. Youtube is my best friend :)

Your work has a very bold, bright, graphic quality that reminds me of the 1980s and 90s. Can you tell me a bit more about it?

I love everything about the 1980s era. Its music, fashion, aesthetics, culture. However it didn't really trigger me to make 1980s art until I heard the famous and timeless Taylor Dayne’s version of ‘Tell It To My Heart’ song on Youtube. It was a part of DJ Yoda’s ‘How To Cut and Paste: 80’s Edition’ mixtape. That started it all. I remember listening to it for days on constant repeat, I was so into it. It took me back to the 80s, I felt as if I was living in that era. Nostalgia. The song itself have so much energy and positive vibe that it made me want to just splash buckets of neon paint all over the wall haha. Neon makes me happy and that’s what I want people to feel when they look at my art.

So I owe it to Taylor Dayne; if you come across this interview, I wanted you to know that you “started” my career haha.

What is your process like?

I rarely sketch or prepare for my pieces. I just start. I don’t even use a color palette. I open Photoshop and Illustrator and just work, of course, while listening to 80s songs. I like to be spontaneous, because this way, I’d be less predictable and repetitive. If you notice, my work looks different from piece to piece. That’s how I like it. Different and wild.

Most of my artwork takes between 15 to 30 minutes to make, while others may take several days, especially when I’m collaborating with other artists that have a completely different style and medium than myself. In this case, I would take my time and focus on how to incorporate our styles while at the same time trying to make it look good.  

What challenges you or pushes you to keep experimenting with your media?

I love print and the way it feels when I touch it. Most of my prints are on coldpress watercolor paper. I think the texture and weight works best in delivering vibrant colors. I like experimenting with different types of paper and printing methods. I’ve only done Giclees so far but would definitely try screenprint and riso in the future. Variety is good and I learn new things that way.

What is your studio like?

I work in a garage that I’m sharing with a friend of mine who's a car mechanic. I had someone built a 8x8 feet of drywall with wheels and handles attached that helps me with painting and hanging my canvas on. It works really well and it’s great to have especially when your space is limited. I had to be creative and think outside of the box haha.

What do you think is the most challenging or daunting part of pursuing an artistic practice, whether creatively or professionally? What do you do to get through it?

Creatively, it’s figuring out what to do or make next. Professionally, getting your work out there is challenging especially if you’re a nobody like me. Getting your work seen by the right people and getting them to admire it, inquire about it, and finally buy it, that’s hard. You have to hustle every day and not quit. It takes time but you’ll get there. I just believe in myself that I can do it, and (hopefully) I will :)

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

My favorite quote is from my mother, “Work hard and never quit." I know it’s generic but it’s coming from my mum so it’s special :)

What do you want to learn more about, or challenge yourself to master, in regard to your practice?

I want to start doing large scale works in a completely different medium than what I’m doing right now. I’d like to do a massive 10x10 feet collage sculpture and installations. That would really push my boundaries and get me out of my comfort zone which I need to be doing constantly anyways to go to the next level.

What do you need most, or value most, as an artist?

I think having an open mindset and persistence is key to reaching your goals and executing your vision as an artist. I started my career from scratch. Didn’t know anyone in the industry and faced a ton of rejections. I stood my ground anyway and kept on going because I believe in myself and I want it that bad. On the other hand, you also have to be creative and keep coming up with new exciting works to keep your audience interested.

What are you working on right now?

There are several things I’m working on at the moment. First is my online magazine, IRSKIYMAG. It’s a personal project  where I showcase talented artists with distinctive style in different mediums such as paintings, mixed media, printmaking, installations and so on. I’ve published two volumes of Collage Series and they’re available at www.irskiymag.com. Second is doing collaboration work with other artists and printing out the results onto a book which hopefully will be done soon.

Anything else you would like to add?

I thank God for all the blessings I get, family and friends, fellow artists and everyone who have supported and believed in me since day one. I’d also like to thank Kate Mothes for this wonderful interview. You’re opening opportunities for so many artists and that’s really amazing. I respect and appreciate what you do. You’re an inspiration :)

Find more at irskiy.com and on Instagram @irskiy!

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