Artist and sculptor Kyle Kirwan hails from Southern California and, since 2008, he has worked as a designer toy creator. His staple series is titled “The Mudcat Chronicles” and, despite only having been started in 2010, it has gained a massive fan following; mostly through social media. Kyle and his fiancé are currently living in an RV and touring North America while creating new artistic figurines. Recently, Kyle discussed his career as an artist and design toy maker.
Meagan Meehan (MM) for Entertainment Vine: How did you get drawn into the world of comic art and designer toys?
Kyle Kirwan (KK): When I was a kid I wanted to be a comic artist, but it was impressed upon that it wasn’t practical so I never actively pursued it. I always created things, and I could sort of pull off painting and fine art without being lectured about responsibility so I rode that wave for a bit. I think it was easier for people around me then to accept fine art as a legitimate and grown up activity versus comic and cartoons and toys and such. I don’t think anyone ever had anything other than my best interests at heart; people just didn’t want me to starve. I decided to move to New York to go after the fine art stuff, but New York’s fine art scene and I didn’t get along. It took a few years but I started to pull away from it more as it became less fulfilling. I found Kidrobot one day wandering SoHo and fell headfirst into designer toys. The art-toy world really inspired me to have the confidence to make the kind of work I wanted to make instead of being concerned with what would be deemed important and be welcomed into Chelsea’s Gallery scene. It took a bit to really find my own voice again but when I did it kind of turned out to be what was always there, the things that I loved as a kid, the telling and sharing of stories, comics, cartoons, the flat-out enjoyment of something.
MM: Growing up, what kinds of media and art influenced you?
KK: Cartoons, toys, comic books. I read a lot. It seems like I watched a lot of TV but I think more so I just got quality TV time in because I was definitely an outside kid. I grew up in the foothills of Southern California in some pretty sparsely populated areas so I had the run of the place. I don’t think I wore shoes until I was nine or ten. I grew up during the height of “HeMan” and “Transformers.” I was really into the TMNT figures at a time when I probably should have been into girls. I’d say my biggest influence is probably the eighties. Can that be my answer? Yeah, the eighties!
MM: You have created an elaborate fantasy world where most of the creatures you design reside. How would you describe this world?
KK: Elaborate is a good word. It doesn’t really break the mold as far as fantasy worlds go. It’s got magic and steampunk technology, political intrigue, multiple kingdoms and environments. It’s got an eons long history and an active pantheon of gods. My favorite places are The Quick which is a hundred-mile band encompassing the entire world where the laws of reality rarely apply and The Shallow Seas where the sea is ten feet deep at most.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for this world and its creatures? For instance, are you hoping to shop it around as a comic or a virtual game?
KK: The lofty end goal of all this is an animated series. It’s likely that a comic will come before that though. As with all animated projects I’m sure an entire media empire will accompany it and I will sit upon its throne and rule over it. Haha. Mostly though I just want to tell this story. I think animation would work best for that but as long as the story gets out in some form or another I think I’ll be satisfied.
MM: How did you go about getting your work shown?
KK: I just kept working and going to shows, interacting with people in the scene, producing work I liked, going to conventions, shops, trying hard to not be shy about my own work. It’s really important to support your local galleries and shops and be as involved as possible.
MM: You are currently living in an RV and touring the United States. How has this impacted you creatively? Has anyone location been particularly enticing?
KK: I think the traveling constantly is really great stimulus; my brain is constantly being bombarded with new things. Yellowstone was particularly beautiful, but we also once saw the most amazing sunset from a Walmart parking lot in suburban Pennsylvania. It’s hard to pinpoint one particular area above any other as there’s usually something great everywhere you go. I think I’m always most excited about where we are heading next.
MM: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving being an artist?
KK: Sounds cheesy but when my little brother was like nine he drew a picture of a bunch of superheroes he made up and sent them to me. They were named like Claw and Radman and silly names but he just wanted to draw stuff to connect with me because I drew stuff. That was my favorite.
MM: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
KK: Do what you love, define what success means to you early on, learning to live on a shoestring budget really frees up resources and allows you to make decisions easier. Make friends. I know I said it earlier, but support your local galleries. Go to art shows, meet artists and talk to them. Become a fixture. Get involved.
MM: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
KK: I’m pretty excited about DCon coming up in November and Five Points Fest next May. I have some cool projects planned, some larger figures that I’m excited to make. Plus I’m finally going to get a human sculpt out into the world so everyone will be able to appreciate the scale of my pieces now! Wooo! I love scale.
* * * * *
To learn more about Kyle Kirwan, visit his official website www.kylekirwan.com or follow him on Instagram via @kylekirwan