Studio Tours : Kyle Platts

Studio Tours : Kyle Platts

Here at Lazy Oaf HQ we're a sucker for dark humour, thats why reigning king of all things gory Kyle Platts has captured our hearts, and spleens. Kyle's meticulous eye for gross out satire with heaps of sinister subtexts would have even Beavis & Butthead drooling. With commisions from the likes of Vice, The New York Times, and the V&A under his belt it was about time we paid the illustrator a visit. We blabber about bad habits, cynicism and school book scribbling...

What inspired you to first pick up a pencil? The very first drawing I can remember was in reception school, I had to make an angel to place on top of a Christmas tree, but it had fangs and was so evil looking. From then on any project at school, I would rush to the end of the real work and scribble an accompanying illustration. Have you always been character driven? Yeah, that’s why history was always great, my exercise book was full of eccentric guys like Julius Caeser, except I’d probably doodle him getting stabbed a billion times. Tell us about your studio space… So I share a space with twin sisters who run a jewellery label, theres a real mixture of influences and our workstation is quite organised, with new assistants running in and out all the time. But working with fellow creative’s is great, we kind of motivate each other to pull more late nighters and now i eat really well, not just sandwiches every day. Your work has quite a macabre tone to it, what inspires your aesthetic? Its just ingrained in the little kid within me! Somehow the most disturbing things are the most funny things. Someone was telling me the other day how humour and laughter all go back to an aggression, a primitive instinct where laughing is to chastise your enemy. It kind of reverts back to that, laughing at danger, I’m a Neanderthal.

Who were your cartoon heroes growing up?

Well Garfield is everyone’s cartoon hero, I have stickers of him all over my sketchbooks, but personally for me its Ren and Stimpy. I think it was really brave of Nickelodeon to have commissioned John Kay, when they were so violent and crude. There was nothing else so sinister at the time on a children’s network. As a young kid I think that’s what you respect, not being patronised.

Do you think cartoons today still have that risqué undertone?

Well with Spongebob you can kind of see an imprint from Ren and Stimpy , but I think it strikes a good balance. Its gross out, and kind of psychotropic, but also really innocent.

Where do you think comic art can go next as a format?

Definitely more digital, which is obviously the most obvious thing to say, but recently I’ve seen more demand for comics as gifs which is cool, and online editorials asking for accompanying animations.

Does the freelancing life come naturally to you?

Well I did a few jobs back in Sheffield before I moved to London to study illustration, and quickly realised I wasn’t cut out for the 9-5 grind. When I finally got onto a course at Camberwell Arts College I was a bit older, but if it had worked out when I was eighteen I probably wouldn’t have been so focused. I even did a two year fashion diploma first because I still didn’t realise illustration was a viable career!  I would collect funny bed quilts covered in nineties wrestlers and rejig them into a jacket.

So if Illustration hadn’t worked out, what else could you see yourself doing?

It’s a weird one, but I’d probably stay in the petrol station back in Sheffield. I was running the whole show! I would listen to my own music, eat all the out of date stale food, draw on the counter whenever I wanted. It was a great set up.

Did any of the locals on the forecourt inspire your characters?

Yeah there were loads of funny regulars, there was this one wino who would come in every day without fail for beer. He would insist on giving me cigarettes even though I didn’t smoke, and then we’d share a six-pack. He told me one time he was a grave robber, then gave me a ring that he insisted was stolen from a dead body. I just gave it to a mate ‘cos I was too freaked out.

What are you enjoying drawing most these days?

I definitely go through phases, I’ll have little favourites that ultimately get incorporated into commercial jobs. Looking back, the character traits and odd doodles sort of track time for me really. At the moment its walking trousers, with the butt as a mouth. Yeah decapitated legs are flavour of the week.

Which piece of work to date are you most proud of?

Probably the books, the first one ‘Megaskull’ was published only 6 months after I graduated which was insane! Back in the days of Blogger I ran a weekly online comic strip just to keep my drawing skills from stagnating, which No Brow Press noticed and helped collate into a collection of short stories. The next year they came at me with the idea ‘Festival Frenzy’ to coincide with Glastonbury. It was perfect for me, I basically got to design loads of little mental characters. It’s kind of like a screwed up Where’s Wally print. Each panel is a separate drawing, then I scan them in and colour on photoshop.

Which other creatives are you currently into?

My main people I’ve got to mention not just because they're my friends, but because they're sick illustrators are Sam Taylor, Tom Slater, and the insane 3D art of Jack Sachs, but also Lucas Dillon who’s a sculpture artist but probably also a better illustrator then I am!

What do you appreciate in other people’s art?

It’s hard to articulate to be honest, but I basically draw what I want to see! So by accident they end up being similar to me I guess. I’ve always loved James Jarvis, a lot of it has to do with the content and associations. He did a lot of board graphics when I was younger so he has that skate community kudos.

What is your dream project?

Animation is what I always say, its the natural progression. I would love to see my characters come to life, there’s only so much you can achieve in 2D. This whole other level of comedy comes with movement, but i've just got to commit, I mean Spongebob was 7 years work!

What other exciting stuff have you got lined up ?

My birthday ! Oh and i’m currently involved with loads of mural work at Converse Cons Progect, and I just illustrated The Pitchfork Review cover.


For more of Kyles gruesome adventures follow his Twitter & Instagram or check out his website. Shop the featured styles below, bucket hat coming soon !