Kash is a painter from Ohio and currently based out of Southern Indiana. He utilizes imagery pulled from popular culture, graffiti, Abstract Expressionism, and 90's nostalgia that are heavily recognizable with the intention of connecting with a wide swath of viewers. Self taught, and having been practicing art on his own for his entire life, he is working to create commercial art for everyone.
Five-Dots: How long have you been in this studio?
Kash: I’ve been here about six months.
F-D: Do you also reside here?
Kash: Yeah, it has it’s benefits. If I have an idea, I’m like, “Boom!” I can come down here and get to work, versus having to drive to the studio.
F-D: Did you have an idea for how you wanted to lay out the space or did it develop organically?
Kash: It developed organically. I try to display things to so that I can look at them together and see if an idea is working.
F-D: Working in a garage is opportune because you essentially have a white sheet: it’s just a square space that’s empty, devoid of anything else. How do you utilize the garage studio space as opposed to another room in the house?
Kash: I originally was in an apartment and just worked out of my space there. Once I moved in here, I was working out of one of the bedrooms. After graduating I moved in here and it was an adjustment. I felt like I could breathe. There’s definitely more room than a bedroom or in an apartment, so it’s been good to me so far. That being said, I do eventually want a bigger space.
F-D: Has the location of the studio: it being in your house, or the region, affected your practice?
Kash: Yeah, it definitely has. Louisville has grown rapidly. I think that all of the Muhammad Ali pieces that I’ve done, I think 3 pieces, all sold. Coming here from Ohio and embracing the Louisville spirit, seeing how much people embrace him, and seeing how much he meant to Louisville and the world has been, and probably always will be, a staple of my work-- he’s a big influence.
F-D: Can you describe a typical day for yourself?
Kash: I work third shift, but I’m an early bird. On my days off I get up at 6:30 or seven, go the gym and get to work. My start time varies, maybe around 9, and I’ll work for 4-5 hours a day unless I have a commission or a big project I’m working on, in which case it may be more. It just depends on what I’m working on. That’s my thing lately: just get into a routine. I want to make sure I’m always working on something. Working third shift keeps my days open, which is nice.
F-D: How would you describe your subject matter of the content of your work?
Kash: I think I work with influentality and relatability. I use recognizable things; images that make the work relatable to a lot of people.
F-D: Obviously recognizability is something that’s really important to you, so do you think you’re working to create an image that’s recognizable for the audience, or are you wanting the audience to recognize that it’s something that you made because it's recognizable?
Kash: A little bit of both. Partially I want it to be something that’s important to me, but at the same time I want people to see it and know what it is, versus an abstraction. I like doing the mixed media pieces, but the paintings that I make for myself tend to be abstract. They’re texturally similar in a way, but the process is completely different.
F-D: How so?
Kash: I use different kinds of paints when I work in abstraction. I’ll use house paint, so it’ll be a little different. It’ll have a different feel and have a different physical texture. I like to mess with textures a little bit.
F-D: What kind of media do you work with?
Kash: Typically just acrylics. I used to do a lot with oil paints, but for the most part, just acrylics. Sometimes I use spray adhesives, but I mostly stick to Mod Podge for the collage work.
F-D: Can you tell us about your process and how it has evolved?
Kash: When I begin a mixed-media piece I’ll just start by putting down marks and then I’ll begin tagging it. I’ll just pick some words that I normally use, or words that describe the tie in with the subject matter of the piece, and just put it everywhere. I also have stencils that I use. I basically just build up a lot of texture and color.
F-D: What is your tag? Or do you just have specific words you use?
Kash: I like to use “dream” a lot because I’m a big dreamer.
F-D: What other text do you use?
Kash: Just some cliche things: “dream,” “believe,” “inspire.” It really depends on the subject and how it ties into the tag and the subject matter.
F-D: Do you work with any narratives, plot, or any progressing ideas within your subject?
Kash: Oh yeah, definitely. As I mentioned before, the dollar sign. I try to pull from things that I feel a sense of nostalgia for: Mario Kart, Batman, Looney Tunes, Space Jam.
F-D: Do you consider your work to be autobiographical and does personal history make its way into your work?
Kash: Not especially. I just kind of want to make it pleasing to the eye versus something that’ll make you think. Unless I’m working on a commissioned piece or have a concept in mind, I just want to keep things visually light and fun.
F-D: What influences outside of the visual arts inspire and impact your approach to making work?
Kash: Seeing other artists that are where I want to be or seeing someone in life become successful. I have people I look up to: plenty of artists on Instagram, graffiti artists, Warhol, Banksy. My stenciling inspiration came from Banksy, who’s obviously a stencil king.
F-D: Outside of people who are successful within the arts community, what sort of things are motivating to you?
Kash: Definitely pop culture. Honestly, everyday life is really inspiring and motivating. We’re all the same at the end of the day; we get up, get to wherever or whatever it is. . . we’re all just working. Life motivates you to be better. We grind until we enjoy it or until it pays off.
F-D: What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process and how do you make it work for you?
Kash: Just having the freedom to be able to work when I want and how I want has been beneficial-- to have the freedom to come down here if I get an idea. I can just come down and get to work, so the accessibility of having a readily available space is nice.
F-D: How does your family feel about you having a studio out here?
Kash: They’re extremely supportive. Whatever I’ve done, they’ve stood by me.
F-D: Do you see your work relating to any current movement or direction in art or culture?
Kash: I want to get down to Miami. I’m trying to get down to Miami Basel in the next few years.
F-D: Which other artists might be your work be in conversation with?
Kash: There’s a guy named Mr. Brainwash, he has work in galleries and does graffiti. His paint splatters, the tagging, and the textures are similar to my work. As far as my abstract work, I’m also a huge fan Marlon Watson. He does a lot of graffiti, too.
F-D: When asked, what do you tell people you do for a living?
Kash: I’m an aspiring entrepreneur and artist because I do more than art. I mean, it’s a business, too. I’m all parts of it.
F-D: Do you have a motto or creed?
Kash: Dream big. You have to have that dream first, then just write it down and go for it. I’m not sure if this is a motto, but “If it can get painted on, I’ll paint it.”
F-D: What risks have you taken in your work or for your work?
Kash: I wouldn’t say I’ve taken any risks yet, but I do have some pieces in mind that will ruffle a few feathers that have to do with government and racial issues. As an artist, just like the media, just like rappers, just like people in power. . . they have a responsibility and a platform to share their ideas. Images are powerful and as artists, we can visualize and ruffle some feathers in a good way. People don’t always like to hear the truth, though.
F-D: Words of wisdom?
Kash: Just grind and don’t stop. You have to be consistent. The only way to get better is consistency.
F-D: Is there something you’re currently or working on or excited about starting that you can tell us about?
Kash: I’ve got some commissioned pieces and I’m doing a big Mike Tyson piece I’m working on. I’m also working on a piece that is sort of a commentary on the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m actually not big on the movement because I feel like it adds to the divide. I don’t think it helps because at the end of the day, you see black people marching and even though it’s for a good cause, I think all lives matter and want to advocate for all minorities, so this piece will touch on that philosophy.