“My artwork is an intricate part of my information processing. It’s a reflection of what I am thinking about and not what I actually think in most cases. I also make art that is whimsical and fun just for the fun of it because fun is good, and balance is important.”
**Click HERE for a video of Kelly’s art!
Q & A by Gillian Sheehan
Q: What inspires your art?
A: My inspirations are vast. I am inspired by everything I see, hear, and think about. Occasionally, just something that someone says will spawn an image in its entirety in my head, while other times I plan and plot an idea for months.
Q: Did you know as a kid that you wanted to become an artist?
A: I knew as young as four that I wanted to be an artist, but I also wanted to marry Mickey Mouse back then.
Q: How did you develop your unique style?
A: My style is really about half a dozen styles and techniques all smashed together. I like to work with really loose vibrant paint and super tight pen and ink. The different styles developed individually as I learned about different mediums and techniques, and then slowly I blended them over time.
Q: You mention on your website that you have imagined a universe with its own mythology for your Freak Doody Heads. How would you sum up this fantasy world?
A: The Freak Doody Heads are Chimera hybrid creatures that have combinations of features reminiscent of bugs, flowers, animals, aliens, and even odder, quite a few of them have what seem to be human like toes. They must communicate via mental telepathy since most of them don’t have mouths. A friend once hypothesized that they may have come about as the result of nuclear fallout, but we will probably never know for sure. They just happen when I pick up a piece of clay, but they don’t tell me anything. They seem to be very gentle and loving creatures despite the fact that they are radioactive mutants.
Q: What is the difference between a Freak Doody Head and a Dunny?
A: Freak Doody Heads are polymer clay creatures that I started making in 1996 after someone gave me some clay to play with while recovering from a skydiving accident. Dunnys are designer vinyl toys that come out in blind boxes and are highly collectable. I customize and paint them to create one-of-a-kind originals. I started customizing Dunnys and other vinyl toys a decade after the Freak Doody Heads.
Q: How does your life experience as a skydiver impact your art?
A: I was very actively skydiving when I went back to college to finish my art degree, so most of my art assignments from then and for the following decade involved imagery inspired by skydiving. I was a skydiver, parachute packer, and videographer for competitive teams for 13 years, and I was on an airport almost every day. Since then, it has impacted my life in immense ways because skydiving taught me to focus, to have courage, and to take chances while also assessing and minimizing the risk beforehand. It also taught me how to be a good teammate and that life is very, very short. I think that the insight, passion, and love of life that skydiving brought out in me are still there even though I don’t jump any more, and that might translate through my art.
Q: Where can someone purchase your art?
A: I’m proud to say that my art can be found in Commonwheel Artist Co-op in Manitou Springs, and Colorado Creative Co-op in Colorado Springs. I also have a fun little display in The Poppy Seed in Manitou Springs, and I have art available online in my Etsy shop and in the Commonwheel online store.
Q: Are there any upcoming events in which your art will be showcased?
A: I plan on being in the Commonwheel Group Booth during the annual Labor Day Festival that we put on every year.
Q: Do you have any art guilty pleasures?
A: I love creating pen and inks using pointillism. I really enjoy just dotting the heck out of an image that I’ve worked out of an idea and to see it teased up out of the page through placement of those tiny dots. Unfortunately, that kind of art piece takes a long time for me to draft because I’m compelled to make them overly complex, and I don’t enjoy the drafting part at all.
Q: Can you expand on why and how you incorporate conspiracy into your artwork?
A: Making art about conspiracies has been a way for me to process and deal with information. It’s also been a way to engage viewers in a very roundabout way about things that are scary or taboo without actually saying anything because images and symbols have immense power. Before conspiracies I studied mythology, philosophy, and theology for fun. I like to know what people think in general, so it was a pretty natural path. Various conspiracy theories have taken off and expanded through pop culture in the past decade, and in a sense conspiracy itself has become our modern pop mythology.
I’ve incorporated conspiracies via symbols, metaphor and innuendo into some of my art. The first conspiracies that show up in my art are about 9/11, propaganda and mind control, and investigator Danny Casolaro’s Octopus, (which still shows up in my art frequently). In late 2009 and 2010, a lot of my art had Masonic and the All Seeing Eye of the infamous Illuminati that pop culture has embraced so firmly since then. I’ve been updating my website and have added a section for Conspiracy Inspired Art where I’ll be adding influences for each piece in the coming weeks. In 2010, I created a Conspiracy ABC’s sketchbook for The Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook project that’s also on my website.