Interview with Digital Artist and Designer Kyle Kemink

Kyle is a 23-year-old graphic designer, photographer and digital artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Having studied at The Open Window, followed by a two-year stint at Grid Worldwide, Kyle lost his job during the 2020 pandemic. Since then he's been freelancing full time and creating from home.

Read on for insights into the process behind Kyle's distinct graphic style. We also discussed the insecurities, messiness, misconceptions, tools, influences, and mental health in the creative process.

How would you explain creativity to a 5-year-old?

Creativity is looking at the world and understanding what it could be.

Why do you think creative thinking is important?

Creative thinking allows people to solve problems in ways unique to their understanding of what the problem is.

What's your favourite misconception about the creative process?

I feel like not enough people grasp the fact that you don't have to be sad to create work that feels that way, or angry to make work that feels angry. The idea that brokenness makes you stronger is becoming an all too common theme in the creative world but it's an ego ideal that never gives the people who truly need to heal a chance to do it.

Describe your creative process

I'd describe my creative process as somewhere between chaotic free creation and methodical curation. I pretty much start every project in a frenzy of research until I fully understand the problem I'm trying to solve.

If it's a purely visual brief I'll start by looking at hundreds of references, and then refining them into groups that represent different solutions to the brief. From there I usually just pick apart each of the references for why they work and what I like about them until I have a better understanding of the approach.

When I finally start designing I'll start with a blank artboard and just build as much as I possibly can until I run out of ideas. I find it's really important for me to take in visual references but then to distance myself from them and create just from memory.

Where do you get your best ideas?

Most of the time I get my best ideas just before I go to sleep, mostly in the sleep-deprived hours of 2-3am just sitting in my home office and doing something that has nothing to do with creating.

What do you do when the ideas stop coming?