What most people like to dispose of, or sometimes even use as fuel for their winter fires, becomes great art in the hands of certain Kyle Bean. The 23-year old from the UK (who for obvious reasons we will now refer to with the greatest respect as Mr. Bean) blew us away with his Selfridges Wonder Window Installation, his funny cardboard phone series and the music manuscript covered instruments. Intrigued by what drives the young man we decided to find out how his intense relationship with cardboard came to be.
Where do you work?
I work from home in a small studio. Usually it is perfectly adequate, but sometimes, if I am working on a big project I hire a larger space for a few weeks.
Are you patient?
I think in some respects I have to be patient, although not as much as you might think. I get quite frustrated sometimes, for instance if something takes me longer to make than I thought it would, but then I just have to remind myself to enjoy the process.
What do you need to create something like Selfridges Wonder Windows and how long did it take you?
The Selfridges job was actually all completed within 3 weeks from start to finish. There were 5 windows in total, two of which were heavily craft-based. My time was spent both making the models as well as art directing structural engineers and other prop makers. The great thing about that project was just how much freedom I had. They basically just said that I could treat the windows like an exhibition space. The tools I mostly use to create such a piece are scalpels with plenty of sharp blades, various adhesives and paper stocks.
Do you do all the work by yourself or do you have helping hands?
It depends on the scale of the project. I often do my own small editorial commissions for which I work alone. However, for bigger projects such as window displays I have a select few friends who work with me.
Who inspires you, what artists do you admire?
I have always had a fascination with artists who seem to cross boundaries between art and science. I recently discovered the work of Fritz Kahn who spent his life creating extraordinary images, which draw parallels between nature and machines. Kinetic sculptures really inspire me and I have also always loved the mathematical drawings of M.C. Escher.
Do you listen to music when you create?
Yes. It’s nice to have something playing in the background.
Can you tell me about the cardboard phones, what’s that all about?
I am really interested in our consumer relationship with technology. I find it fascinating how we constantly upgrade our gadgets all of the time. It has become expected that we buy a new phone every year. With this project I just wanted to illustrate how fast this technology has evolved in such a short period of time. The Russian doll concept came about after observing the size difference between all of the phones over the last 25 years.
How far are you with your personal project ‘stick insects’ and what inspired you to do that?
I am a bit obsessed with visual metaphors and puns and I find that it is a nice way of expressing new ideas and exploring materials. I have an old encyclopaedia of insects, which has detailed line drawings of all the various species, all lined up like specimens. It’s a little creepy but amazing! When I saw the page with the stick insects it made me imagine what insects would actually look like if they were made from sticks. I then began experimenting with using matchsticks as a material and eventually I starting making the ‘stick insects’ series. So far I have made 3 insects and they are box framed. You can see photos of them on my website now. I plan to continue making them so that I build a collection of different insects.
Why do you like cardboard so much?
Paper and cardboard are extremely versatile materials and have a wonderful quality when sculpted and photographed. You also don’t need any fancy equipment to work with it – In my case just lots of sharp blades, a ruler and some imagination.
Do you have any projects coming up?
I am currently working on another big window display for a fashion brand and have just finished a couple of small editorial jobs. I have plans for another personal project, but it requires a lot of preparation so I’m taking my time with that one.
More about Kyle here.