TAIKAN By Kyle Stewart

Kyle’s work references the collective nostalgia of pop culture with a counter culture approach. Influences include vintage t-shirts, utilitarian hand printed signs, and international film posters. Kyle's body of work is the feeling of waking up from a nap, in the early evening, disoriented and sweaty. We had the chance to sit down and learn more about the artist's background and influences, learn more below...


Give us a little back story. What built you into the artist you are today?

I grew up playing competitive sports. Hockey, baseball, etc. It wasn’t until I got a skateboard around the age of 8 where I got sucked into that world. The artwork, clothes, music, and such. I really had no knowledge or understanding of art until I started reading Transworld and Thrasher. I can thank the culture of skateboarding for my interest in art. I then scraped through high school, then college, then university where I eventually won my year’s medal and haven’t had a ‘real’ full time job since.



Do you have a formal background in drawing or other forms of art? Did you take any classes?

After high school I applied to a ton of programs. I figured I’d just go into a trade like carpentry as that’s in my family. On a whim I went to college for a general arts program. I fell in love immediately and used those two years to put a portfolio together to get into the Ontario College of Art and Design University for illustration. I don’t think school is particularly necessary, I can think of a ton of self taught artists I admire. But I NEEDED that structure, deadlines, practice, mentorship, environment, etc.



You recently moved to the East Coast. How has that transition been?
I’m born and raised in Hamilton, ON. I was lucky enough to move out to Vancouver for a year in 2017/18. Things didn’t work out unfortunately and moved back to Hamilton. Though that timing was great. Found an affordable apartment, studio, got a job teaching at OCADU. Things worked out but I miss the West Coast everyday.


What projects have you been working lately?

My background is in illustration. I enjoy doing t shirts for bands, record covers, posters, that sort of thing. But I’ve been trying to just make work for myself lately. More gallery/studio stuff. My friend Paul Allard and I started a DIY gallery in the garage of a bar Farside. That’s a new passion I’m enthusiastic about lately.



Where are you finding inspiration for your work these days?
Growing up a huge fan of The Simpsons, I love seeing pop culture referenced in pop culture. I am never not listening to music, a podcast, watching tv, a film, or reading. I devour pop culture and its always regurgitated into my works. 


Tell us about your creative process. Where does it all start?

My creative process is consuming media and pop culture. Writing everything down. I carry two sketchbooks with me for different reasons. My style is always evolving and adapting. I just create and go with my gut. 



Tell us about your collaborative work.
In terms of working with Taikan? It was fun talking about the process. The incredible roster of artist’s involved and how unique each piece would be. I was a little intimidated. The idea was just to go overboard with references. This bleeds into that, you don’t notice something at first til someone else points it out. It was a ton of fun when you work with a group that gives you full creative control and encourages it. 


What goals do you have for the next year?

I have a bucket list of jobs or things I want to do as an artist and if anyone can reach out and help make them real I wouldn’t hate that.


Check out the custom curated Spotify playlist made by Kyle, and find him on Instagram: @kylestew.art


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