Artist Interview with Kim Myatt
There are worlds within us: histories and legends handed down by our families, worldviews shaped by the media, and hegemonic notions that we try to overthrow. Our own little spheres that cast shadow and light wherever we think best. Every day our worlds spin, things get darker or slower, while others speed up and are almost blinding with light. It’s a wonder that we’re all not a little mad. In our cover, our model is shaping her worlds. She holds universes in her hands. She’s playing god; capable of both giving life and taking it away, restarting with fresh clay.
If she is a god, then Kim Myatt can only be her creator. Like their creations, Kim is surrounded by myths and stories that influence their art. A quick tour of Kim’s website or twitter and you’ll see the moody, gorgeously textured stories wrought into being. Kim takes much of their inspiration from their hometown in Wales, where it’s standard to be surrounded by history and legend. If you sneak through Kim’s website, you’ll find juicy hints to supernatural horrors that could be lurking in Kim’s shadow.
I have spent a lot of my life experiencing what one might call “paranormal” events so these things play a large part in my life and I am not surprised elements from these things pop into my work in overt and not so overt forms.
Along with the supernatural, nature is also a feature in Kim’s art. Nature surrounds and consumes the characters in their drawings. The branches reach out like fingers, the waters close in like tar. Nature and legends go hand-in-hand. What is Red Riding Hood without the woods? Kim has been attuned to myths and legends, using those themes to shape their art.
Myths, folklore and legend are interesting things, because they speak in archetypes, metaphors and symbolism. These are widely recognisable even today within ourselves and our lives and I think that’s why we, as human beings, are drawn to these stories–for what is modern sci-fi, fantasy and horror media but modern mythologies?
As much as we enjoy picturing Kim painting alongside windswept moors, with a trusty dog and a well-mustachioed doctor concerned over vapours, Kim is quintessentially a modern artist. Along with working with digital media, Kim has excelled at social media, utilizing both Twitter and Patreon to showcase their work. Along with keeping an up to date online presence, Kim works on a variety of projects and recently joined other artists in participating in Inktober–a month where artists complete one sketch a day. The key of the event, much like NaNoWriMo, is the creation of accountability.
Sometimes these challenges can push you to create interesting work that perhaps you haven’t previously thought of, or they can give you a nice structure to work around when you’re feeling a bit of creative block.
Accountability isn’t always a friend to sanity, and Kim is cognizant of that. They’re the first to tell you to find your productive sweet spot and stick to it, “I much prefer challenges with much longer deadlines like Month of Fear where I can produce work across a week rather than get something out everyday.” Kim works best with long term planning and commitment, often planning months of Patreon posts at a time.
Kim creates entire worlds within their artwork, drawing inspiration from myths, local legends and, occasionally, their own life. Through art, Kim tells stories and draws people together.
Terence McKenna spoke of artists being like shaman, guiding people and allowing them to see something about themselves through the artistic visions that are shared and honestly that’s just like real magic to me.
We hope you’ll add some richness to your life by checking out Kim’s work via the following links:
Kim Myatt Q & A
Standard interview question: where are you from, how did you start drawing?
I’m from a little fishing town in Wales in the UK and I started drawing as every kid starts drawing, really. My creativity was always, thankfully, encouraged and my family harbours a number of artists so I was in good company and exposed to a lot of classical art early on. I remember becoming fascinated with animals and dinosaurs at a young age and they inhabited most of my drawings.
What are some of your biggest artistic influences (both visual/non-visual artists, like writers and musicians)
As I said in the last question, I was exposed pretty early on to classical paintings and was often taken to art galleries, so I developed a massive visual library of all sorts of historical artists while still very young. When I was a teenager I discovered HIM (a Finnish band) and Anne Rice books and became wrapped up in a lot of dark romantic imagery. Around that time I also discovered the artists Brian Froud and Brom and they soon became true loves of mine. I started exploring ghosts, vampires and other horror-genre classics, mainly because they frightened me as a child and that fear turned into a sort of obsession as I grew older.
These days I can find inspiration in most things and like to draw a lot from my walks in the country side, but those formative years still hold true at the core of my work.
Are there any personal elements (like family history or personal stories) that you try to incorporate into your artwork?
I’m not sure I consciously try to incorporate anything specific, but my tendency towards spookier, darker things slips in unnoticed most of the time. I have spent a lot of my life experiencing what one might call “paranormal” events so these things play a large part in my life and I am not surprised elements from these things pop into my work in overt and not so overt forms.
I also grew up in a moody, rural landscape steeped in a lot of folklore, so these things are in my blood and bones as much as it might creep into my work.
On your Patreon you mentioned briefly (and mysteriously) that you grew up in a small town where a lot of strange stuff happened. Umm..you can’t leave us wondering., tell us more!
Ah yes, my aforementioned small fishing town. It lies on the coast of Wales, deep into the countryside and is surrounded by ruins of ancient dwellings and mysterious burial chambers of long-gone people. It’s an odd little place with many strange and unusual happenings. One such tale is of the “bleeding trees”, a stand of yew that inhabit a very old cemetery in another nearby village that ooze what looks sickeningly like human blood from their severed limbs. The “blood” never staunches and has been flowing and dripping from the trees all the years I’ve been going to see them. There are many tales as to why this might happen from a wronged prince of the region, a hanged monk or from the very dead that surround its roots, but which one is true is up to us.
Another, more contemporary one, is that of a woman somewhere around the 1950s who left her beloved ten-year-old son alone in the house one night and completely vanished. She was a single mother who would never have abandoned her child, but yet she just disappeared. The boy found the front door standing wide open in the morning and he waited three days for her to return until a neighbour noticed that something was amiss. She may have stepped out into the quiet quey-side street because she heard a noise, or maybe she threw herself into the water mere feet from her door… but either way, it was never solved. That tale is not well-known, but the little boy grew up to be a husband to one of my mother’s work friends, so I heard the story that way.
The colour palette you normally use is fairly muted. When you use colour it seems to be intentional and leaning toward a somber aesthetics. For our artwork, the colours are so vibrant, did that feel like much of a departure for you?
I do like adding the occasional shot of bright colour, even if it just peeks through as textural elements. But, using a lot of colour was a bit different for me when working on our commission! I think it worked well though!
On your Patreon you provide narrated videos of your illustrations process. Has adding the video element to your drawing process changed how you work at all.
Yes, it has, to some extent. My process tends to become a lot less experimental when I feel the ‘all seeing eye’ on me while I work. That’s part of the reason why I don’t tend to record the earlier processes of my painting, because I need to be experimenting and problem-solving in that early stage and if I feel constricted it makes my initial ideas much worse. Aside from that the other way it alters my drawing process is that I obviously have a lot less time to draw – editing, narrating and rendering videos all takes time and energy and while I’m doing that, I’m not drawing!
You mentioned that you generally work digitally but occasionally veer into Traditional Media. What do you like best of both processes? How do they differ in approach?
When I work digitally I can mess about with my paintings a lot more. You can’t break a digital painting. So my work tends to be a lot more confident. Traditionally I usually only work in graphite and while I can get some good work out of it, I don’t enjoy it as much because I can’t just change massive parts of the image if I notice something is off or I feel the image would be better served if something big was changed.
You post regularly to your Patreon, how difficult it is to keep up with new content?
It certainly adds a lot of accountability to my work.I HAVE to get stuff to my Patrons, so I can’t just say “I don’t feel like it” for a whole month. It’s good in that way, because it keeps me working, but I have had to work out a schedule which eases off the stress and anxiety I tend to be prone to. I have found that working at least a month ahead of schedule really frees up my mind and allows me to work without feeling pressure, and if I get some RSI or need rest (like right now, when my shoulder is injured) I can take some time off without panicking about it.
While you do have the occasional piece of fan art (The Dark tv series, Mass Effect: Andromedia), it’s still very individualized and could easily exist separate from the fandom. What is your background with fanart (if any)?
I like to look at a lot of fan art of things I enjoy, but honestly I have barely dipped my toes into it myself, aside from the few I have uploaded.
A lot of my work is fan art, in a way, because I am often influenced and inspired by the things I love and want to inject something of it into my work. It might not be that I draw the characters fully, but an essence will be there. I guess that’s MOST art though, right?
Mythology seems to be a big inspiration for your drawings. What are some of your favourite mythic figures to draw? How do you incorporate mythic elements into your art?
Myths, folklore and legend are interesting things, because they speak in archetypes, metaphors and symbolism. These are widely recognisable even today within ourselves and our lives and I think that’s why we, as human beings, are drawn to these stories – for what is modern sci-fi, fantasy and horror media but modern mythologies? Drawing inspiration from these old stories we can re-interpret them into our own narratives and that’s what I find enjoyable about them.
I really can’t pick a favourite mythology, they’re all so interesting and I find it fascinating how the stories parallel each other even when they’re from totally different cultures. Some of my favourite stories are ghost stories, though, and I have a particular fascination with the classic British haunted tale.
How does doing challenges like Inkoctober affect your work? Is it easier to create new illustrations during the month or afterward?
Honestly, I kind of hated Inktober. It didn’t jive well with my anxious brain. I much prefer challenges with much longer deadlines like Month of Fear where I can produce work across a week rather than get something out everyday.
Sometimes these challenges can push you to create interesting work that perhaps you haven’t previously thought of, or they can give you a nice structure to work around when you’re feeling a bit of creative block. Personally, though, I think some folks take things like Inktober far too seriously and put too much pressure on themselves to finish the whole thing, so my advice for doing these challenges would be to just have fun and relax, there’s no point doing it if you’re just going to stress yourself into oblivion about it.
For online artists, curating an audience is almost as important as curating an aesthetic — how do you represent your work online? Where do you try to promote your work?
I usually promote my work on Twitter and Instagram – occasionally I’ll go to DeviantART or Artstation, but they’re lacking the community aspect that they used to have (DeviantART used to have, anyway). I like to represent my work as professionally as I can with a little bit of personal life thrown in.
My favourite part of uploading, though, is sharing my work with people – it is such a wonderful feeling to know I have touched, moved or inspired someone and I feel like I’ve done a good job, then. Terence McKenna spoke of artists being like shaman, guiding people and allowing them to see something about themselves through the artistic visions that are shared and honestly that’s just like real magic to me.
What would be your dream project to work on?
My dream project would be something I made for myself. I’ve never really had a ‘dream client’, although I did have some vague ponderings in my teenage years about working on Vampire the Masquerade, I think the idea of the job is always more appealing than the actual work. No, for me, the work needs to be self-directed and self-realised. One day I’d really like to write and illustrate my own book (or several) and just be able to support myself one to one with my fans and patrons, the people who really care about what I make rather than being a hired gun.
Last question! Do you have anything to promote to our readers?
The only things I can promote are my Patreon (patreon.com/ysvyri) where I interact one-on-one with the folks who support my work, give behind the scenes videos and digital downloads. And my mailing list located on my website (ysvyri.com) where fans can stay in the know about all updates, work for sale, interesting projects and all that good stuff in a lovely, non-spammy way delivered directly to your email inbox so you don’t miss it in the hailstorm of social media.
Speaking of social media if anyone DOES want to follow me there, they can find me on Twitter and Instagram both using the handle @ysvyri