Kyle Bean is a London-based artist who creates handcrafted designs, tactile illustrations, and playful, concept-driven imagery and animations for a variety of editorial and commercial projects. His work is usually characterized by a whimsical and meticulous reappropriation of everyday materials and handcrafted techniques. We’re so delighted that Kyle joined us for a special edition of 4 Questions 4 to talk about his typographic work, his design work generally, and more.
1. How did you originally get interested in art and design?
As far as I remember, I have always been interested in creative things. I suppose it stems back to my childhood, when I would spend hours of the day either building something out of Legos—or, indeed, out of cardboard boxes and toilet rolls! I did a lot of drawing as a child, too, and because I often struggled with more academic subjects, this became something my teachers and peers encouraged me to develop outside of school. By the time I finished school I was very determined to pursue some kind of creative career. I just didn’t know what it would be at that point.
2. Which of your projects are you most proud of thus far in your career, and why?
There are a few I could pick out as highlights in my career.
The first was probably in 2011, when I designed and produced a set of window displays for Selfridges on the theme of ’Transformation.’ It was an amazing experience, but also kind of terrifying. I was only a couple of years out of university at this point, and so I was quite inexperienced at navigating such a large-scale project. Luckily the project cametogether fairly smoothly, and was a success. I had a lot of brilliant feedback, and having the windows on display for a whole summer got me a lot of exposure, which led to more exciting projects.
A small personal project of mine which I am very proud of is my chicken and egg sculpture ‘What Came First?’ It was an idea I had for a long time but it wasn’t until I actually started to experiment with eggshells that things came together. I like visual play on words and this piece started a new direction in my work where I started experimenting and integrating materials in a more conceptual way into my work. It led to some very interesting editorial projects and has defined a lot of my work over the last few years.
Finally, recently I worked on a series called ‘In Anxious Anticipation.’ This was a still life series for Kinfolk Magazine that I worked on in collaboration with photographer and friend Aaron Tilley. The series showcases a series of objects and set pieces where there is an underlying tension that something is about to happen. In one image we see a rock about to swing over a set of matches like they are about to be set alight. Our aim was to create a set of images that really create a reaction in the viewer. I’m very proud of the project as it set a slightly more abstract and conceptual direction for my work that seems to have resonated with the design community.
3. Does working with letterforms present any specific challenges or opportunities?
Some of the projects I have worked on have involved making some physical typography. I enjoy working with letterforms and particularly like doing something unexpected with them by making them out of everyday objects or constructing little model worlds with them. Of course, using objects and materials presents its own set of unique challenges. Keeping everything legible and yet with enough character is always a balancing act for me. Times when I have worked with typography have tended to lead on to some interesting projects though. A cover artwork I worked on for the Guardian for example led to some very interesting typographic work for Google. I think for me its important to experiment and with typography every now and then as its often a great way to communicate ideas—but still, for me, in a tactile way.
4. Describe your dream project.
I think my dream project would be something where I can produce work across a series of platforms.I am very lucky in that over the last 6 years I have worked in quite a few creative disciplines, from editorial illustration to window installations and stop-frame animations. My ideal project would be one where I can develop an idea to work across all of these platforms. That diversity appeals to me.