Alex Kiesling

“Don’t settle down on your art and say it’s perfect. All art can go a step further.”

Hello, Alex!
How would you describe yourself – who is Alex Kiesling?

I think of myself as a very typical illustrator as I was the only art kid in a small town of Wisconsin. Everyone in my family are talented mathematicians, engineers, and scientists; while I struggled in a school setting. I drew in the corner of my paper all the time and cheated on homework assignments, and in a way was a bad student. Fortunately, I had teachers and parents that recognized my differences from other kids and were very positive in my pursuit in art. I later graduated from The Rhode Island School of Design in 2016 with a bachelors in Illustration, and now I’m a wandering soul not sure what to do with life.

Could you tell us a little about your background in animation/illustration?
My first truly self-rewarding art piece was when I discovered one-point perspective as a little kid. I drew a train traveling through a tunnel and it felt so real. My drawing came to life and throughout the years I’ve looked for that self-reward in art.

In college, I had no idea what I was doing with illustration. I was always so inspired by the people around me that I just tried to copy their art style. Problem was that it looked half-ass because it wasn’t how my mind worked. It wasn’t until the year after college and I was away from other artists that I discovered my own self-expression, but even now I’m not set on my art. I really hope that my art will evolve because if it doesn’t, then I’ll know I wasn’t learning from own work.

As far as animation, I don’t think of myself as an animator. It’s fun to do but I don’t always have the patience for it.

What was the strangest way someone described your work?
I don’t have too many strange comments about my work, but I have had strange comments towards me as an artist. An illustrator icon I’ve admired started to follow me back on Instagram. She messaged me saying ‘I think we should be lovers. What say you? I just mean, your work is great. Thank you for contributing to my visual quality of life.”

It made me giddy. To that person… I hope you’re not reading this.

What is the most enjoying part of animation?
Seeing it come to life. It takes awhile to do but it is extremely self-rewarding.

Can the creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
OH! Hard question. I think it’s both. Everyone can be creative, but it comes quicker to others; therefore it’s import to study and practice. Also, don’t settle down on your art and say it’s perfect. All art can go a step further.

What other illustrators/animators are you digging these days?
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 are inspiring designers and illustrators in every field. If they bring something new and creative to the table…I’m there.

Who are some of your artistic influences?
Same people as before, although I also love Katsuhiro Otomo (the creator behind Akira). As far as ‘what’ inspires me, it has gotta be toys/games like Playmobil, Animal Crossing, and plush animals.

What’s your dream project?
To see my art come to life in a film or graphic novel! I also want to create an awesome video game as a lead visual designer.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever done?
I explored Instagram’s limited interface to tell a story.I used the 3 horizontal panels to show a full image of a cute caterpillar, but if you click on the panels and flip through the slideshow, it tells a story of cannibalism. It was satisfying because I have yet to find someone who has had the same idea.

Is there anything in your life that you can’t live without?
I had a dream where I was traveling to space. I would be in orbit by myself for 2 years, but right when the rocket took off I remembered I forgot my tablet at home. It was a nightmare!

The emotions felt so real that I knew in real life I would go crazy if I had no art supplies to express my thoughts.

Do you have a daily routine or anything specific you find yourself coming back to regularly when working?
I like to get to work 30 minutes before everyone else so I can sit in silence with a cup of coffee and watch youtube videos. I need that time to wake up and have time for myself.

Do you have any self-imposed rules that you live by?
Always improve myself as an artist and as a human being. I’m one of those people who can accidentally say something arrogant. Years later, I will suddenly think about it and then my body cringes up out of embarrassment. Otherwise, I would say don’t live a ‘normal’ mediocre life.

What are your top five songs on your playlist?
The Ecstasy of Gold by Ennio Morricone
Since I Left You by the Avalanches
White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane
DyE by Fantasy
Telegraph by Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark

What’s life like for you in Brooklyn?
Other than the cost of groceries and rent, it’s amazing. Majority of my friends moved to Brooklyn after college so we occasionally go out to a bar, or hang out in a studio. There’s also amazing restaurants on every block so I’m never bored of the variety of food.

If any readers find themselves in your town… Please give us your top tips!
If you are around New York City: Eat ‘The Bee Sting’ at Roberta’s, party on a friend’s rooftop, go to strand books for an amazing selection of art books, or just get lost in the city. There’s something cool around every corner.

Finally, is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do?
I’m so fresh in the professional world that I haven’t done enough interviews to say! Maybe…
‘If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?’
‘If you could experience anything over again from childhood, what would it be?’
‘What do you daydream about’
‘If there was an apocalypse, what terrible things would you do to stay alive?’

Thank you!

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