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vol 5 - issue 11 (jul 2003) :: untapped
UNTAPPED TALENT: KEVIN CORNELL
interview by vinnie baggadonuts

WALT DISNEY MAY HAVE BEEN A CROSS-DRESSING NAZI PEDOPHILE, BUT HE SURE KNEW HOW TO TURN SOME HALF-ASSED DOODLE OF A RODENT INTO AN EMPIRICAL SOURCE OF ENDLESS INCOME. OF COURSE, HEíS VERY DEAD, AND CANíT REALLY ENJOY ALL THAT FILTHY LUCRE. KEVIN CORNELL, HOWEVER, IS NOT DEAD. NOR IS HE A CROSS-DRESSING NAZI PEDOPHILE. AND ONCE YOUíVE SEEN HIS WORK, YOUíLL HOPE THAT HIS MULTI-FACETED RENAISSANCE MAN APPROACH TO THE VISUAL AND COMMERCIAL ARTS WILL MAKE HIM RICHER THAN DICK CHENEY A LA HALIBURTON.

Vinnie: So, let's start with an obvious question: have you been the subject of many great interviews?

Kevin: Well, I was on Jerry Springer four times. So, no.

V: Is there an E! True Hollywood Story or VH1: Behind The Music about you? Because, if there isn't, there should be.

K: As it stands, I don't think I've been on either of them. Which is surprising, because I dated Angela Lansbury for so long!

V: Where were you born?

K: I was born on Long Island, but we didn't stay there long. I did most of my growing up in Pennsylvania, fighting the Amish.

V: How long did it take you to realize you were a man with a creative mission?

K: When the time came for me to make a living, and I realized I had no other redeemable skills, art was the obvious choice.

V: When did you discover that Santa Claus was gay?

K: Well, technically, I didn't discover that. Richard Turgeon did. He's always destroying Christmas fantasies for good little boys and girls around the world!

V: Would you say that that film is more of a documentary than a tragic comedy?

K: It's definitely not a documentary. The characters are all facsimiles of the real thing. The main character was actually just a drawing. We purchased a motion capture suit that we then placed on a cardboard cutout of the main character, which we pushed around the studio.

V: I found out about you through your sketchbook website. What made you decide to post that for all the world to see?

K: Well, I had seen a few sites out there that posted pages from their sketchbooks, and I figured I could do that, too. My friend, Jason Santa Maria, actually planted the seed, if I remember correctly.

V: Was the work in the book completely spontaneous in its creation, or was some of it done as entertainment for the site; like the ďgirls who mugged you and used it as a diaryĒ thing?

K: Well, it was always spontaneous. That's the beauty of any proper sketchbook-- it's where the idea is born. People around me always enjoyed reading the sketchbook, and a great deal of things were drawn with the knowledge that people would see it. What I tried not to do was let that censor me, and I think I was pretty successful at that.

V: I have a few artist friends who don't carry sketchbooks. I feel that's a sign of your passion committing suicide. Have you always carried one?

K: Actually, no. I always had books to draw in, but they usually sat at home. This was the first book I could carry around and immediately put down my ideas. It's a lot harder to fill a sketchbook if you just sit down with the intention of filling it, especially since drawing is usually (for me) a reaction to an experience.

V: Now, most of the sketchbook is amazing. But the super-amazing page, for me, is page 88. It struck me that you've got skills like Michelangelo. Wait-- I don't think this is a question. Mostly, itís just me flattering you. Sorry.

K: Ha, ha! Thanks. I'd actually like to have skills like Picasso. He got so much ass.

V: Oh-- now I remember what I was getting at with that last question that wasn't a question: Why are you so damn good? I mean, that "Life Drawing" section made me feel like an artistic chump!

K: Thanks! It took a lot of practice for me to get my skills to a presentable place. Some genetic luck of the draw, and good teachers along the way help, too.

V: Important art question: How many of your animated shorts start out in your sketchbook?

K: Well, before I got the sketchbook, none. After it? All of them.

V: Now, I dabbled in animation briefly, because Chuck Jones and Tex Avery were creative heroes of mine. Unfortunately, it was not my cup of mead. Whose work made you realize you needed to pursue art more?

K: Well, I couldn't say. I think what happens after years of watching movies and animations, all those snippets of things you saw and liked, it makes a mutant style that you begin to pursue. So, in truth, Iíll just play it safe and say I've ripped off everyone.

V: What kind of stuff are you looking at now?

K: Lately, Iíve been reading Dan Clowes and Chris Ware stuff. Iíd really like to put together a graphic novel.

V: How many of your initial ideas are approved by your clients, and how much do they change?

K: Well, client changes are inevitable. I would say about 15-30% of a project's initial direction changes due to enhancement/redirection of the message, or the client being uncomfortable with how the brand is reflected. All in all, thatís not such a bad percentage. And self-promotional projects tend to have even less finger-dipping.

V: Aside from the fact that they usually pay you, do you ever dream of feeding clients to a polar bear?

K: All my polar bear feeding fantasies are limited to farm livestock and varmints.

V: Was Earthlink cool with how you described the project you did for them? Did they really want you to draw them as "sexy, virile men"?

K: Well, they actually wanted "sexy, virile comets". And I DELIVERED! You know what I'm saying? High-five!

V: What does your father, Alan Thicke, think of Earthlink wanting you to draw sexy, virile men?

K: He was pretty mad. He threatened to kick me and Boner out of my apartment over the garage. Itís cool, though. I could move in with my sister, and live with the Olsen twins.

V: So, you're fucking brilliant in a variety of different media. You don't seem to feel the need to focus on one thing, which I commend you on. Is there an all-encompassing goal with all of the work you do? Is it leading up to one big Earth-shattering, mind-altering project you haven't let anyone else in on, but can feed us the exclusive here?

K: Thanks. (blushes) I like jumping around in different media. If I have something to say, I try and find the most effective method for saying it. If anything, the all-encompassing goal is just to learn as much as possible, and make every project a good one. Otherwise, it wasnít worth doing. As for an Earth-shattering, mind-altering project? Iím trying to build a rocket ship, like Wallace and Gromit.

V: Do dogs have lips?

K: Yes. How else could they whistle?

V: So, can we be friends? Tell you what? If you say "yes", you can use your reply to this question to promote some of your forthcoming projects. Deal?

K: Deal. We should hang out in my tree house. Itís awesome!

VISIT KEVIN HERE, OR JUMP RIGHT TO HIS AMAZING SKETCHBOOK HERE.


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