Interviews Kevin Love

One of the most adept writer in South Africa’s graffiti movement is Kevin Love, a unique talent with a wildly diverse body of work. His use of mediums stretch as far as his vivid imagination does; from walls and canvas to skateboards, stickers, drawings, wood cut-outs and sculpture — The content is bold and fascinating, colourful and elaborate, with a myriad of themes influenced by skateboarding and tattoo culture. We spoke to him before his upcoming exhibition, “Everything I Do” to find out more about him, his work and his love for his friends…

Johannesburg, 2013

Please introduce yourself.

I’m an original artist that creates art from my mind. I’m visiting the planet to farm love.

You have a particularly unique and fascinating artistic style. I can see a range of influences. What in particularly gets your heart pumping? What do you like and what influence your work?

I am influenced by life. I’m disappointed when someone says that my style reminds them of someone else because I work hard to keep my style mine.

Canvas, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013
Johannesburg, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Rekso
Drawing, 2013

How has your art evolved over the years? And do your current interests affect the work you produce or does the work take on a life of its own?

The love I have for my friends and family gets my heart pumping. I‘ve become more focused as time goes by, and the realisation of how little time is left makes me want to get more shit done.

You’re a long-standing artist. Take me back to the early days…

I started tagging in ’92 which was a different world to the present. All the police weren’t as slack as they are today, and if you were caught painting you were lucky to just get jacked by the cops! We were running on trips (hallucinogens) which helped being awake for 3am tags.

Early sketches, late 90s
Early sketches, late 90s
Early sketches, late 90s

You use a lot of dot work in both your illustration and street works. Tell me about this process and how you developed this technique?

The technique that will end up killing me one day? It’s like a crack habit for me.

Did you study art?

Yeah, I studied art but dropped out when I realised that you can’t expect to be original when everyone is taught the same thing.

Your mixed-media canvas work is very special. The culmination of ideas and painting techniques and the strong final image is incredible. Tell me about your process and what goes into the making of these intricate pieces?

It’s a kind of visual poem that takes you two months to write. I recycle a lot of shit that I find along the way.

Glass frame, 2013
Found object, 2012
Johannesburg, 2014 w/ Jestr
Found object, c. 2014
Drawing
Johannesburg, 2014

Tell me about your upcoming exhibition.

It’s a one-night-only exhibition that includes new and old works. I like my art to do the ‘talking’ so come check it out!

You have exhibited other bodies of work that feature canvas, sculpture, drawings and murals. Is there anything you’d like to work on next or have planned to do for this new show?

I’m going to try float with four swords in my mouth for this exhibition.

You have invited some friends along for the ride. Tell me about this and the importance of collaboration.

It is more because we are friends than we are all artists. Rasty is a god and he has the skills to prove it. Jestr is the nicest guy you will ever meet, but when it comes to his art he doesn’t joke around. Rekso has more hidden skills than a ninja at night. Veronika is more talented than Michael Angelo on coke in a dress. The best friends a man can have, I love them lots!

Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Rekso
Turtle ‘chuck’, Johannesburg, c. 2012
Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Rekso
Skateboard deck
Sticker
Sculpture for City of Gold exhibition, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Rasty & Myza420

Do you have any particular meaning behind your work?

Lots of meaning, but that is a long story.

Does your approach to art-making change when working in the gallery and when working on the street?

It’s all the same to me, just less snobs on the street.

Your graffiti often features an amalgamation of animals and human-like figures. How does this interest you? And how do you fathom these beings?

Years of ‘trips’ and ‘token’, but I’m clean now. Hahahaha.

Love glove
Johannesburg, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013
Drawing, 2013
Johannesburg, 2014
Drawing
Johannesburg, 2014 w/ Jestr

Do you get any reaction to your work on the street?

I’ve had the church people paint over two of my ‘multi-animals’ – anything you don’t understand “is the devils work”. The rest give me lots of love.

How do you feel about the current art world? Do you try to fit in or create your own path? Does it affect you or do you not really think about this?

My own path is the only way I know. I’m not a big fan of the fine art fashion world; I just focus on my shit. I guess they will understand what I’m doing when I’m gone.

Is there anything that excites you in South Africa and the graffiti scene at the moment?

I’m stoked to see how good everybody is getting and how many writers there are now.

Are there any misconceptions about your work that bother you? Do you get annoyed when people refer to your work as street art?

I don’t like to be labelled in general, but let them say what they will as long as I’m painting. Opinion is a false sense of intelligence.

Johannesburg, 2013
Acrylic and marker
Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Rekso & Jace (Reunion Island)
Montana Just Writing My Name jam, 2014
Drawing
Johannesburg, 2013

Any plans or goals for 2015 that you are willing to share?

Maybe an exhibition in Cape Town, it’s been a long time coming. Lots of big things to come next year!

If you could go back in time what would you change?

I would go back to the beginning and make animals talk and humans mute!

City of Gold Festival, Johannesburg, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013
Wall heater
Johannesburg, 2013 w/ Jestr
Drawing
Drawing
Johannesburg, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013
Stickers, 2014
Johannesburg, 2013
Johannesburg, 2013
Johannesburg, 2013
Skateboard
Johannesburg, 2012 w/ Rasty, Veronika & Rekso
Johannesburg, 2014

Photographs by Kevin Love (Portrait by Rekso)

>> More info about his upcoming show HERE.

© Copyright 2014, Graffiti South Africa™.
Graffiti South Africa™ thanks Kevin Love for this interview.
First published on 1 December 2014.