J: “So if you wanna introduce yourself.”

K: “My name is Kyle Platts, I’m from Sheffield living in London. I’m 28 years old and I studied at Camberwell College of Arts.”

J: “Okay, what did you study?”

K: “Illustration. I walked away with a 2:1 in BA Illustration, not that anyone gives a shit. I was talking to my friends the other day about it and some people can’t even remember what they got at university, it doesn’t matter.”

J: “Yeah, as long as you’ve got the degree no one really cares.”

J: “So things typically start from somewhere, would you say you come from a creative background?”

K: “Well not really, my mum, my granddad, my auntie and other people in my family were good at drawing and stuff but no one in my family has pursued a creative career. So I’m the first in my family, but they’re all super encouraging and they just get it.”

J: “But it was something that was always in the background growing up right?”

K: “Yeah I mean my mum would draw just for the fun of it, like portraits and stuff and I’d always be well impressed by how good she was at drawing.”

kyle2
J: “Three words to describe a typical day for you?”

K: “Drawing, biscuits, table tennis.

J: “Nice, table tennis.”

K: “Yeah did you see the table in there?” (Kyle points to the connecting room behind me). “That’s what we do on our lunch breaks here, smash biscuits and play table tennis.”

J: “Sounds chilled. Do you remember the first thing you ever painted or drew?”

K: “I remember the things that I would draw, so what I became obsessed with early on was drawing cars. I was just well into drawing cars. I remember my granddad taught me how to draw a 3D box, do you remember that simple drawing exercise? And from that box that’s how learned to draw cars in 3D. So I remember that being the first time I was like ‘Shit! I can actually draw well good!’ Like now when you’re drawing you have a little breakthrough and you’re like, ah sick this is really gonna change everything.”

J: “Yeah, those little sparks.”

K: “Yeah, exactly.”

J: “So you’re from Sheffield, now based in London. What are your favourite London spots?”

K: “Favourite spots in London? I lived in Peckham for a while and Peckham library has always been my favourite spot to be in, to skate in, but just to be there and hang out especially in summer. Also my mate has a coffee shop in Camberwell called ‘Daily Goods’. Usually on like a Sunday morning or something when I used to live round the corner from there in Camberwell, it would be a case of meeting up with other freelancers in the area for a coffee, that kind of thing.”

kyle11

J: “Who has influenced you through the years as you were developing your own style?”

K: “James Jarvis when I was younger, he did all the Heroin graphics when I was skating early on. So there was influence there in terms of seeing people can make a living from making that kind of graphic artwork, even now he’s still killing it. Other influences outside of illustration like Philip Guston, it changes all the time. More recently it’s been things like Spot the Dog, like Spot the Dog is my current influence, just the aesthetics of Spot the Dog are what I’m really into at the minute. Aesthetics with very simple colour palettes, I used to work with a lot of detail when I had more time on my hands. Im more interested now in making images look good not by over embellishing them but really considering like composition, line placement, line weight, colours, considering more before I actually put pen to paper.”

J: “Have you got any tips for up and coming creatives?”

K: “Yeah, whatever you do its just all social media, I know its the easy answer but its so true. I feel like I’ve maybe been one of the first wavers to really benefit from it, like not needing an agent or anything. There’s still a place for agents definitely, but generally its much more of a democratic system now like who gets work. Like if enough people like it, it’ll get shared, it’ll get recognised, it doesn’t depend on one group of people anymore. But in terms of using it properly, consistency is super important, like posting everyday. I always find that clients always prefer to see creatives busy. They’re more likely to invest in that person, even if you’re creating your own projects, to be seen to be active is better.”

J: “What are the highs and lows of being a freelance illustrator?”

K: “Highs, definitely travelling. Its something I’m trying to make the most of more, within the last year I went to Australia for a month just to see if I could take my laptop and just do it wherever. I didn’t have any problems with it, I managed to get just as much work done over there as I would do sat here. I’m planning on going to Asia in a couple of months, so that’s the advantage of being freelance. Lows, obviously there’s the risk that one day you might not get as much work anymore, you might have a dry few months that’s the nature of being freelance. But then again nothing’s secure the way I see it, you can have a job and be on the payroll but you know that company might go bust or you might get laid off you know, nothing is secure. Also the social thing, you’ve got to surround yourself with people, there was a time I just drew in my bedroom by myself which isn’t very healthy. Like here I’m in a studio with two other mates that live here and we just sit and listen to music and talk all day and shit. It’s great. Surrounding yourself with people is important.”

J: “What fuels your work?”

K: “Thats interesting. Just like trying to be better all the time, just not being complacent. I might finish a project and be like I’m really happy with the way that came out, but the next week I might be like I would’ve done that differently. So its really just the need to keep developing.”

J: “What’s been the highlight of your career so far?”

K: “I’ve done a few projects which have like enabled me to travel. I got sent to Barcelona last year to paint some Volkswagen vans, and that was some campaign for this Spanish brand Pull & Bear. That was a bit of a spin being paid to go there and getting picked up at the airport and staying in a hotel to go and paint stuff. Similar things, like earlier last year I went and painted for BE STREET, the festival. Those are the moments where you get sent somewhere, to another part of the world and see people appreciate what you do in a different culture, that’s really gratifying.”

kyle9

J: “This probably goes back to the table tennis thing, but what do you do when you’re not illustrating?”

K: “Skating, when I can. Yeah, and going on skate trips. Last year I went on a couple, we went to Barcelona for a few days and we went to New York as well for two weeks. Those trips are pretty important to me as well.”

J: “Just like down time?”

K: “I wouldn’t call it down time, pretty exhausting haha. You need to live your life, when it comes to what goes into your work its informed by the life you’re living, so if you don’t ever get out there and do it all your work is gonna be pretty uninspired.”

J: “Good point. Final question, whats next?”

K: Animation. I’m working with a really good animator called Andy Baker, and we’ve just finished a project for It’s Nice That for Channel 4 called Random Acts. We did that at the end of last year and I’m so happy with it, basically they’re just waiting to get the show together so they can broadcast it. That’s my first real animation project and I’m hoping to push that, I’m working with a production company also called Strange Beast who work with advertising in live action and animation. So I’m hoping to push animation and work on music videos and viral campaigns and that kind of stuff, it’s just a new avenue for me. I’ve been working in 2D for years and now I’ve got this opportunity to write narratives for animation, it’s like a new world for me.”

You can view more of Kyle’s work on his website.
Follow him @kyleplatts.
Interview and Photography by Junior Adesanya