EE: What was is it like growing up in Perth, one of the most isolated cities in the world, and what keeps you there?
KHO: Good – my family travelled a lot so I spent 7 years of my early life in the Solomon Islands and also sometime in Amsterdam. I live in the most isolated city in the world with an airport. The world is one day away from every Australian city.
EE: Do you have a studio? Where do you work from?
KHO: I have a studio in the middle of the city. I love it, I ride my bike everyday and get to spend the day painting, drawing and drinking coffee. When I’m travelling I work from my friends studios.
EE: What path led you to becoming an artist?
KHO: It has been a really natural path for me. I never sat down and thought ‘I’m going to be an artist’ it’s just something I have always done. If I had to do something else during the day to pay bills I would paint all night. Now I’m in a position where I feel lucky I get to travel around the world for projects and go to the studio all day everyday. That said I feel like I work way harder as an artist than I ever did in my other jobs.
EE: How has your artwork developed over the years?
KHO: As a kid I used to only be interested in drawing and not really painting or other mediums. It’s all I did for about 20 years. Then I moved into experimenting with lots of different mediums and techniques. Acrylic and aerosol and more recently more tangible materials – I’m interested in consistently evolving and learning over a lifetime.
EE: You recently won an award for the Children’s book you illustrated. Tell us about the book, did you enjoy the process of illustrating a publication? How long did it take? Would you do it again?
KHO: The book is called Ten Tiny Things and was written by Meg McKinlay. I was approached by Fremantle Press to see if I would be interested in working on a children’s book. I really enjoyed the project, it was nice to work on something different and learn about a new process. I hand-painted every page of the book – I wanted it look like a person made it and not a computer. It took a month to paint, which was really exhausting! I was painting one page a day, 30 paintings in total. I’ve just started working on my next book, which I have both written and illustrated. It’s called ‘A Small Island in a Gigantic Sea’ and should be in bookstores September 2014 in Australia and NZ. I’m taking more time to paint this one so I don’t become a total art hermit.
EE: You do a lot of public artworks including murals and site specific installations? How important are these projects to you?
KHO: I love the studio because it’s quite, focused and passive. I love public works because the scale is such a huge shift from gallery works. It’s way more physical and you get to interact with the audience, it feels real. I think public artwork (commissioned or non-commissioned) is extremely important as it creates dialogue and energy across every demographic.
EE: You have had a lot going on this year including multiple exhibitions and global travel. What have been your major highlights for you professionally this year, or in recent memory?
KHO: My second solo exhibition with Turner galleries in February was a great start to the year, the space is amazing and it was great to show new works I had been working on for the previous 12 months. My wife and I travelled to NYC and Europe for 3 months during May, June and July for some public art projects, a solo show in Amsterdam and some filming projects. As a side project to all of the official projects we put together our first public visual diary, which was limited to 200 copies – a 96 page photographic journal of the trip. Personally it was really great to make together and we want to print a visual diary every year now until we die. Public art wise: I was commissioned by DMG architects to create the artwork for a massive 6m x 40m stainless screen that wraps the entire base of a new 8 storey building. It’s my largest artwork to date and was an amazing project to work on.
EE: Does travelling influence your art making?
KHO: I feel like I learn so much every time I travel It’s really inspiring to experience new places and meet new people.
EE: You were not home in Australia when you made the artwork for the quilt covers? Where were you? What was your creative process for creating the artwork? Was it challenging to create artwork that would suit the printing process?
KHO: I was staying at my friend’s summerhouse on the edge of the black forest just outside of Berlin. He built it from recycling materials from abandoned factories. I had been painting a lot of walls and abandoned spaces and was ready to work on some drawings. I wanted the final print to look like it had been hand drawn on each quilt individually. Screen printing is great for this as the process is still very hands on and creates a different feel to digital prints. A small group of us stayed at the summerhouse for a week, we cooked on an open fire every night, went exploring during the day and I made the drawings for the quilt in the afternoons. It was a great week. Sounds romantic when I write it down but I forgot to mention there was a heavily pregnant horse in the field next to the house and the screams during the night where pretty terrifying. That’s a bad job. Being a pregnant horse.
EE: How would you describe your quilt cover designs you created for East Editions?
KHO: Hand drawn icons about growth, nature and discovery.
EE: Had you done any screen printing before this project?
KHO: No, I have worked on t-shirts and clothes in the past but I have never actually printed the work myself and gone through the process. I really enjoyed it and would love to do more. It was great to screen every piece of material that is now in the East Editions collection.
EE: What was the most satisfying and enjoyable part of the product making process and why?
KHO: Working in the printing studio with the ideal setup was great – The massive screen for the full repeat design was ambitious! I had never seen a screen that large, and it was a learning curve to work on a screen that needed 2 people to pull.
EE: Will you sleep in your own quilt covers and pillows?
KHO: Yeah! Seems weird to say that. I’m really happy with the product!
EE: What kind of dreams would one have sleeping in a Kyle Hughes-Odgers quilt cover?
KHO: Super relaxing sprinkled with strange imagination.
EE: When you are not painting, drawing, taking photos or playing basketball, what are you doing?
KHO: I like riding my bike really fast. I like riding really late at night because it feels way faster.
EE: What are your plans for 2014? Any exciting projects or exhibitions?
KHO: My next children’s book will be launched and I have a solo show in L.A. A few group shows around the place and some more aeroplanes and walls.
EE: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
KHO: I love vanilla vanilla cupcakes and doom metal.
EE: Why does your website say ‘Drink water’?
KHO: You have to stay hydrated. Also everyone’s obsessed with alcohol. Water is pretty great.
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