Friday, 9 March 2012

Since graduating just two years ago, Kyle Bean has clocked up a client list that includes Peugeot, BBC, Diesel, Wallpaper*, Selfridges and the Design Museum, among others. We caught up with the endlessly inventive Brighton-based designer to talk materials, train journeys, and stop frame animation…

You studied illustration at university but work mainly in 3D now – how did that shift come about?
I always liked making things. As a kid growing up I was surrounded by Lego, and was always making little models. I knew I wanted to go to university and study a creative course but was torn between product design and illustration. I think what swung it for me was coming to the open day at Brighton and seeing how diverse and ideas-led the illustration course was. There were people doing animation, people doing more sculptural things, using the various facilities at the university. It wasn’t until my second year that I had the epiphany that I can make things but in the context of illustration.

You often use quite mad materials – from eggshells to pencil shavings. Which has been the most fun?
I wouldn’t say the eggshells one was fun, if I’m honest – it was a very unforgiving material to use! You say it’s mad, but what I’m doing is using very everyday materials, stuff that we’re all familiar with – so you can see an image I’ve made and absolutely get what the material is. I like it if people can instantly connect like that, because with so much that we see, we don’t know what it’s made of. Recently I’ve been enjoying using wood in my work. I did this project for Computer Arts where I made a smartphone from different woods and that was really satisfying. I used to love using workshops at school.

Where do you normally work?
I have a room in my home in Brighton that I use as my studio. My agent in London has a large space so if I’m doing a project and need to be in London working on it, I’ll work there. With the wooden phone, I’ve got a friend who’s a carpenter and we worked at his workshop to do it. I commute a lot and I find that hour in the morning on the train is an important time for me to be thinking about ideas. There’s something about being on a train where you’re forced to relax –you’re staring out of a window, or perhaps reading a book, but it just gives you that downtime.

How do you balance your own projects with commercial work?
I find the more personal work I do, the more interesting commissioned work I get. I get bored quickly and I want to try new things out so I use my personal work as a release. I’m usually thinking of little ideas for personal projects while I’m working on paid jobs.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing young designers at the moment?
 Certainly in terms of editorial, there is less money now. I have to be aware when I’m working on editorial jobs that I can’t have massive expenses for all my material costs. It’s also a shifting industry. I’m often asked to animate my work now. With the iPad and things like that, a lot of publishing is moving that way so, from an illustration point of view, if you’re able to learn how to animate as well it would probably be beneficial.

This article originally appeared on IdeasMag.

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