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vol 5 - issue 12 (aug 2003) :: untapped
UNTAPPED TALENT: KIKI MACLEAN
interview by insane wayne chinsang
guest appearance by debbie

IT SEEMS AS IF KIKI MACLEAN HAS DONE A BIT OF EVERYTHING: CONCERT LIGHTING AND STAGE DESIGN, COMPUTER PROGRAMMING, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND ILLUSTRATION. AND NOW, JUST DAYS BEFORE SHEíS ABOUT TO TAKE ON HER NEWEST TASK-- MARRIAGE-- SHE DABBLES IN THE WORLD OF INTERVIEWS WITH INSANE WAYNE CHINSANG.

Wayne: Let me make sure the recorder is working. (pauses) Alright. So, what are you doing later?

Kiki: (laughs) Later today? Working.

W: (laughs) Okay. So, tell me about art. How did you get into it?

K: Well, my momís an artist, so I got into it very young. Instead of having markers and stuff, we had acrylics.

W: Really? Wow. What kind of art does your mom do?

K: Sheís a ceramic sculptress. Her latest stuff is--

Debbie: (from the other room) Why is my door closed? Oh! Because someone stole my tobacco!

K: (laughs)

W: Shut up! Weíre in the middle of an interview, and sheís nervous.

D: (walking into the room and starting to molest Wayne) You are the biggest ass.

W: Get away from me!

K: (laughs)

W: Dude, weíre taping. Youíre taking up vital tape space with this crap.

D: I can rub you while you talk. Go ahead.

K: (laughs) Will this all be transcribed in the interview?

W: Probably, actually.

K: (laughs)

W: Okay, so, you grew up with art. But how did you decide to go to art school? Was it the typical ďIím the best artist at my high school so Iíll pursue artĒ type of thing?

K: No. I wasnít the best artist at my high school. It was more of a popularity contest; whoever wanted to kiss the art teacherís ass and stay after school all the time. Actually, I was in theatre.

W: Really?

K: Not acting. I did lighting and set stuff. And I originally went to college for set lighting and design.

W: Where did you go?

K: I went to Kent for a year, and then Ohio State for a year. But it was really cliquey. People would smoke cigarettes out of those long plastic holders, and theyíd wear boas to class.

W: (laughs) So, after that, what did you do?

K: Well, I switched my major a million times. I actually took on a computer programming major for a semester. But I was a girl, and I wasnít Asian. (laughs) So, it didnít really work out. And then I switched to photography. But then Ohio State cancelled its photography program.

W: Really? I didnít know that.

K: Well, the color machine broke. So they werenít going to offer color classes, because they were building a stadium, and no longer had money for such things. So thatís how I ended up at the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD). And that was just horribly expensive. I remember finals week once, I ate popcorn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to save money for photo paper. And after Photo 3 they told us that we should really have a medium format camera. And even used ones were super expensive. So that couldnít happen.

W: So you decided not to do photo, and then you started drawing?

K: No. Thatís when I got back into theatre type stuff. I got a job as a lighting technician with a sound production company here in town, and I started doing production for concerts.

W: You did that for how long?

K: Four years. And then, when my 25th birthday hit, I was like, ďWhat am I doing?Ē I was doing mostly monitors for big concerts, and it was great fun. But it wasnít something that I was,.. you know. Like, my mom would say, ďCan you see yourself doing this when youíre 40?Ē And it finally dawned on me that I couldnít. So thatís when I decided to go back.

W: So you decided to go back to CCAD?

K: Yeah.

W: But it had to be just as expensive, if not more.

K: Yeah. But I decided that I couldnít do photo. I couldnít afford the equipment and the supplies. So I picked illustration, because it wasnít as useless as fine arts.

D: (laughs)

W: (laughs)

K: I figured if it was commercial art, Iíd have more of a chance of getting a job. But I soon found out that was a lie.

W: So, youíve only really been drawing and painting for two years?

K: A little over two.

W: Wow. Before then you just dabbled in it?

K: Well, I took all the art classes in high school. But it was always just because of my mom.

W: More just fucking around?

K: Yeah. Like Iíd make Christmas presents for people every year. So I was always painting and sculpting, but not seriously.

W: So when you decided to go back and get into drawing and painting, did you start off realistic? Because your stuff now is so abstract. It usually takes people so long to get past the stigma of drawing classes: still lifes, models, etc. But after two years, you seem to have been able to abstract already; you have your own style.

K: Well, hereís what happened with figure drawing. I had to go back and take freshman figure drawing because I failed the first time. And they want you to nail anatomy with all of these muscle overlays, and they would just nail me on proportion and stuff like that all the time. And I guess I could have done it, but I just wasnít interested in it. I always just looked at it as reference. I thought that if you wanted to make something look exactly like what was sitting there, then just take a picture. But once I got past that class, once I got to know the teachers, and once my work became more consistent, they let me go. So my work got weirder, and nobody said anything. And figure drawing class ended up being one of my favorite classes.

W: So what would you say your art is influenced by? Not just other artists, but anything.

K: Well, I do lots of research. Like, the image search on google.com is a lifesaver. I print out pages of pictures. I have to look at something to work. It could come from my head, I guess. But I like looking at things. Like, Iím working on something now, a picture of a toad with a human head and feet. So I went and looked those up, printed them out, and then pieced them together. I canít imagine how things were before the Internet. It will be 11PM and Iíll think, ďOh. I need a picture of a shoe.Ē So I just go over to the computer, type it up, and I get thousands of pictures of shoes. But before the Internet, Iíd have to go to the library and look through a ton of books.

W: What artists influence you?

K: I like Lucian Freud. Not so much his style; more his theories on art. He has this quote that talks about how the artistís mind is a filter. How you see something, it goes into your brain, something happens to it, and it comes out as art. And he also said to not focus too much on photographic references, because when a painting is hanging on a wall, youíre not going to have the reference there in the same room with it. I like Frida Kahlo a lot, too. I know the movie just came out, and now sheís all popular. But, as a female, I like her a lot. And I like Picassoís art, but I hate him as a person. Because he was a racist and sexist bigot. And I like Gustav Klimt because of the excessive patterning. I donít know why, but painting little squares and shapes is very therapeutic.

W: I can see all of those references in your work. What non-visual stuff do you pull from? Like music or life experiences?

K: Well, in my last semester I got into doing more political commentary stuff. And I didnít think Iíd like it at first, because I didnít think it really went with my style. But Iíve done a portrait of Bush, and another one of Ari Fleischer. And those turned out really well, I think.

W: What types of mediums do you work in?

K: All my color work is oil paint. And everything in black and white is usually a #2 pencil.

W: What sizes do you prefer to work in? Larger?

K: No. Smaller. When I do illustrations for freelance, they have to fit on a scanner bed. So those end up being within nine by twelve inches. Itís just easier to do it small, so you can avoid piecing things together.

W: So what kind of freelance do you have lined up? I know you met a guy that wanted to purchase a piece you actually did for the paper, right?

K: Yeah. I sold that to him, and itís supposedly hanging on the wall in his office. Iím going to be in a show for the Northern Ohio Illustrators Society. Itís a group show at the Dead Horse Gallery in Cleveland throughout August. Thatís what the toad piece is for. And Iím doing some work for the city of Upper Arlington for their Labor Day Arts Festival. Iím doing the activity book for kids.

W: Thatís cool.

K: Yeah. (laughs)

W: No, Iím serious. See, I know that you just graduated, and Debbie and I were just talking about how most people that graduate from art school get so burned out on art, that they never do it again. So at least youíre still working on stuff.

K: Yeah. They get a random job and fall away. See, Iím trying not to be lazy. Iím still trying to get up early and work all day, even though I donít have to. Because once you start sitting on the couch and watching TV, it gets harder and harder. So Iím still painting and drawing. I had a teacher ask me once what I did in my free time, and I told her that I painted and drew. Thatís what I like to do, so why would I do anything else?

W: Right. Thatís a good answer. Most people would answer, ďI play video games.Ē

K: Yeah. We sold our Playstation. We had one, but,.. you know, you canít just play video games for 20 minutes. It turns into an all-day event. So we sold it.

W: Nice. So, where do you want your stuff to go? A more commercial route, or more gallery shows?

K: Iíd like to keep doing both. Theyíre not that different. A painting could be in a magazine, or hung on a wall. Iíve never really seen the difference. An illustration is just a fine art piece that got printed somewhere.

D: Yeah. Word up.

W: I think there is a big stigma that goes along with fine art work.

D: The smell of the artist?

W: (laughs) Yeah.

K: And even the way the school was set up. The fine artists are in a separate building with separate teachers--

W: No one interacts with anyone else.

K: No. Itís so separate. And then people get out, but they still have that mentality. I just paint and draw. And if someone buys it, they can put it in a magazine or hang it on their wall. I donít care.

D: Since youíve bounced back and forth to different majors, did you hang out with different people?

K: The first time I was at CCAD I didnít really hang out with a lot of people from school. I had a couple of friends that were fine artists, but we didnít really get caught up in the CCAD scene. And I still had a lot of friends from OSU.

W: But you commuted. You never lived on campus.

K: Yeah. I never lived in the dorm.

W: Thatís good. I mean, itís good to be within that community, too. But itís good see that there is more out there than that two block radius.

K: Iím glad I skipped the dorm.

D: You missed out on all those diseases.

K: And no sleep. How did anyone get anything done in there?

W: They didnít. (laughs) At least I didnít.

D: (to Wayne) You got something done there. It wasnít work though. Asshole.

W: Shut it. (to Kiki) So, do you want to talk about ...50 Eggs?

K: Ah, yes. The CCAD newspaper.

W: So why donít you tell us about how youíre not at CCAD anymore, but youíre now working on their newspaper.

K: Well, one of the things that I thought was sad about CCAD is that they had an entire school of artists, but no publication for student opinions, or for a chance to have student work in print. So we figured that there needed to be a publication for people to put this stuff in. A place for people to voice their opinions, print their comics, etc. And this kid named Steve started it up by himself at first. Heíd go to the public library, Xerox stuff, and staple it together. And then a few more of us got involved, and we went to the school to get funding. And the school thought it was a great idea, so theyíre going to start funding it in the fall.

W: Thatís cool. I think itís a noble cause. But, obviously, Iím biased.

D: (laughs)

K: (laughs) Well, the school has promised free and total artistic expression.

D: (laughs)

K: But weíre responsible for any trouble we start.

W: Thatís bullshit, though. If they pay for it, itís theirs. And theyíre responsible for it.

K: Yeah. But weíre also a group of people that want to put stuff out there in an intelligent manner, and not just complain and yell.

D: Hey!

K: Not you guys. (laughs)

W: So plug the whole name so our readers know about it.

K: Nobody Can Eat 50 Eggs. Itís loosely based on a quote from Cool Hand Luke.

W: So, whatís next?

K: The big wedding.

W: Ah, yeah. Gettiní hitched.

K: Yeah. So thatís taking up a big block of time.

W: Iíd say.

K: Iím just trying to make as much work as I can.

W: Okay. Last question. What is it?

K: Oh, I know! The dog thing. Wait, I brought research.

[KIKI PULLS A PIECE OF PAPER OUT OF HER BAG.]

K: Here. I looked it up and found a diagram.

W: (laughs)

K: And dogs do, in fact, have lips.

[THE DIAGRAM IS OF A DOG HEAD, WITH AN ARROW POINTING TO ITS MOUTH. IT IS LABELED ďLIPSĒ.]

W: Hell yeah. Where did you find this?

K: On a dog website. I typed in ďdog anatomyĒ, and up popped that picture of a dogís head.

W: Kick ass, dude.

K: Well, I knew they had to be there, because what else would you call the things that cover the teeth?

W: Some people say theyíre jowls.

K: Jowls? I thought jowls were the things on the side.

W: Thatís what I thought, too. So, any last shout-outs to your homies?

K: I donít have homies.

W: Aww.

K: Oh,.. my mom. Go, Diane.

VISIT KIKI HERE.


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