Mindzai Featured Artist Series - Mr.Melty
This month we sat down with Mr.Melty to discuss inspiration, process, and whats in store for the future.
Q: Kevin, AKA Mr. Melty, how did you get your start as an artist?
A: It kind of runs in the family. My dad was a lawyer for most of my life growing up, but now that he’s retiring, he’s started to get back into it. So we’re bonding over art again and keeping that family creativity going.
Q: Is there a specific setting or ritual that you have before you start creating or before you sit down to work on a piece?
A: I mean, I definitely smoke some weed and turn on some jams. So that’s kind of my go-to everyday mode. Lately, I’ve been smoking more CBD herb than THC during the daytime because I like to smoke a lot.
Q: For me, I find that weed almost makes the colors richer. Do I sound crazy saying that, or do you vibe with that?
A: No, not at all! Getting a little high keeps you more in tune with what you want to envision and how it becomes a reality. It’s a lot of the visual aspect of the art.
Q: So since you said “envision,” that brings me to my next question, then, do you envision a piece before you create it, or do you envision the piece while you are creating it?
A: So there are two main parts to my art: illustration and painting. Whenever I do illustration for a client, it is very deliberate, with many blueprints, sketches, and reference photos. But I also do like the flowy aspect of making art. So whenever I make a painting, I like to start with lots of abstract swirls and do a lot of swishing paint around, and I’m seeing what I see in it and then make that more of a reality. So I go all across the board, from planning something out deliberately to winging it and having fun and getting lost in the sauce.
Q: Is there any kind of technical process when you’re starting with a blank page until you get to the finished piece, and if so, what specific mediums are your personal favorites, from illustration all the way to painting?
A: With my illustrations, though they do typically end up being done digitally, I usually like to start them out with a pencil sketch. I feel like doing that versus starting straight on my tablet, gives me that immediacy of creativity a little better than going in right away digitally. I take my pencil sketch, scan it, then send it to my tablet and start to fine-tune that drawing a little more. So there’s a loose sketch process to a tight sketch, and then digitally recreating it and making it tight and clean.
Q: You said it does heavily influence your art, do you find that weed has a more significant factor in the sketching process or the painting process?
A: I think it’s definitely the sketching process. I feel like weed is the most helpful when I’m conjuring up these images out of thin air. I mean, I’ll sit there, and get really high and think of ideas and kind of get into a dreamlike state almost.
Q: Do you ever, and I apologize if this is a stereotypical question, but do you ever dabble with the more psychedelic stuff? Of course, I’m asking this because your stuff does strike me as very psychedelic.
A: Yeah absolutely, I used to be really into psychedelics. I mean I still am, but I’m very touchy with them these days because I feel like I’ve had those times in my life when I’d eat a lot of acid. I don’t feel like I need to go there anymore for that. I still like micro dosing on mushrooms, and I do like to smoke DMT. DMT is fantastic because it’s only 15 minutes as opposed to a full-on commitment of a trip on acid, which is about 6 hours. So yes, psychedelics have heavily influenced my art, but I don’t take them every time I create.
Q: The old hippies say that psychedelics open a door in your mind. I guess if you open the door enough, it kind of stays open. Do you think that you have an easier time accessing that other side of your mind already without needing to do it all of the time?
A: I 100% agree with that, the doors of perception are open, and I am psychedelically staying.
Q: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of being a full-time artist?
A: I think the most challenging aspect is having to keep the creativity turned on constantly. There are times when you don’t strike gold, and you kind of have to fuss with it a little bit more. It really comes down to not getting burnt out, and being able to pump out solid work.
Q: Do you think that what makes that aspect so particularly challenging is feeling like you have to put on this show with your art?
A: There is a certain amount of pressure there, especially with illustration and concert posters, you know people want the best thing you can possibly create that’s very unique and different. So you have this pressure to create something new and amazing that’s always there. It’s definitely a struggle. That’s one of the things smoking weed helps with; the mind is endless and nothing happens the same way twice. So smoking weed kind of opens that gateway a little bit to see things anew.
Q: What about the process do you think is the most rewarding?
A: Oh man! Turning in a project feels pretty damn good. Also, I think the moments of creating the detail and making the magic happen is pretty exciting too. There’s a moment with art where a certain stroke of a particular color makes that shit look the way it should and that moment is magic to me whenever that happens. I feel like a sorcerer or a wizard whenever I can make things appear the way that they should from thin air.
Q: Have you ever had it happen where you felt particularly wizardly or amazing about a project but it didn’t hit, in terms of popularity the way that you would’ve expected? Has that ever happened to you, or are you pretty good about disconnecting those two?
A: I’m pretty good about disconnecting those two. I mean, at the end of the day other people are gonna think what they think about stuff. Ultimately, the whole idea is to create art for yourself and get paid as a happenstance. BUT I do love it when people love it too. There are pieces I’ve created that have been amazing that people didn’t dig and I’ll look at Taylor and say “Damn, I thought people would’ve liked that more!” or “I thought I would’ve sold that piece.” But I don’t get hurt by it.
Q: How long, total, have you been doing the art you’re doing now?A: I’ve been doing the art I’m doing now for about 15 years. It’s taken a little bit of a turnover the last 10 years, but I haven’t had another job for 15 years.
Q: That’s sick, so you’re a FULL time full-time artist?
A: Yep, FULL TIME. It’s been that way for a while now, which is amazing, and I’m so blessed to have the life that I do.
Q: Are there any specific things you turn to for inspiration?
A: life in general is my inspiration. I like to travel, and I feel really invigorated when I come back from my travels. I feel very inspired whenever I travel, and I think that’s a fundamental tool for me. Getting time to really explore is super valuable. Another source of inspiration for me is music. Music is almost fuel for creativity; music stokes my creative fire.
Q: Can you give me some of your favorites? Music that you turn on and think, “this is it, this is gonna get the motion moving.”
A: I love jam bands. I like house music. I like bluegrass. I am all across the board when it comes to music, to tell you the truth. Like I love Sturgill Simpson, I love GRiZ, I like Mark Farina, I love listening to a Tribe Called Quest, I love People Under the Stairs, STS9, but I also like funk a lot. The Grateful Dead is probably my favorite. I know that’s a lot!
Q: If you could study under or collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
A: I would like to study under some of these bigger artists right now that have larger studios, and generally have a staff. Like Okuda or Felipe Pantone because they have a real organization going on, and that’s the business side of me that wants to understand how big projects work. Then the classical side of me loves western landscapes, and Mark Maggioriis a huge inspiration for that. I think he would be phenomenal just to watch. Those are three that have their shit together you know? I’d love to see just how the back end of that operates.
Q: I know you’re based out of Albuquerque, did you grow up there? Do you think that influences your love of western landscape?
A: I did, my family’s from New Mexico. I spent a lot of time in Taos, Roswell, and Colorado. So I definitely have this inner cowboy in me. Just a little psychedelic
Q: So what advice would you give aspiring artists out there who are looking to make their start?
A: Don’t ever stop! I think there’s a lot that can be learned when drawing from life as often as you can. Study the greats as well. There’s a whole boatload of knowledge out there, and a lot of people don’t utilize it as much as they should. Surrounding yourself with people who are better than you is important too. One thing I learned that I wished someone would’ve taught me sooner is that you can’t do everything by yourself. The moment you let go of your inner control freak, and let people take the reins with things other people can do that still allow you to remain true to your artistic vision, let them do it.
Q: Do you have any last comments or notes that you’d like to say that maybe I didn’t ask?
A: Tell everyone to be a good person, and be excellent to each other!