When he’s not writing and playing music, the artist picks up the paint (and spackle… and architectural blueprints) and focuses his creative energy on the canvas
Off the Record is a new interview series exploring the creative endeavors that our favorite artists are pursuing outside of their music, the results of which don’t end up ON a record, so… (get it?!).
We’re kicking things off with Keith Kelly—frontman of one of our absolute favorite Brooklyn bands, Jelly Kelly—who specializes in mixed-media abstract expressionism and whose bold, joyful and texture-packed pieces we want to buy and hang on every one of our walls (and probably should, since we’re spending ~99% of our time within them these days).
Over email—and, we imagine, in between playing and painting—Keith answered our questions about inspiration, process and the overlap and feedback between these two particular passions.
How would you describe your art—the style and process—and what materials do you use?
The style of art that I make is mixed-media abstract expressionism.
The current series I’ve been working on mostly for the past two years is called “Forces Of Burst.” This series focuses on the synergetic struggle between modern architecture and nature, especially here in NYC. I use architectural blueprints of existing structures and collage them into the background. Over that I use spackle, acrylic paint and watercolors to bury and cover them with layers. In the foreground I have flowers moving forward out of the layers, fighting their way through the plans and architecture.
Where do you work?
I have two studios at the moment, one which is used primarily for music and the second is a second bedroom in my apartment that I mostly use, which is fine for these sizes ( 5ft x 4ft or 4ft x 5ft).
For bigger pieces, I have to use the other space, but I really like working out of my home. Especially for the strange hours I tend to keep. I love working on art and music at night. I’ll go from 12 am until 5 am sometimes. It’s really peaceful and quiet and my brain seems to be a lot more focused at those times, especially in a city like NY when it’s finally quiet.
Where do you find your inspiration?
NY is a huge catalyst in most of my art, painting or music. You kind of can’t help it. There’s so much stimulation of every aspect constantly. With this series, it most certainly reflects the constant battle between preservation and construction in NY, as frustrating as that is to witness on a daily basis.
Does your visual art influence your music? What about vice versa?
With me, most genres of art are all intertwined. In most aspects they all influence each other, whether it’s writing, music, painting, dance, etc. A lot of the time when I’m writing music, I’ll switch to painting just to switch gears. When I’m painting, I’m always listening to vinyls or trying to find new music. So the influences are circular, each sort of pushing and moving the other.
Do you have a favorite piece?
Picking a favorite piece is really hard. My childhood house burned down about 10 years ago and I lost most of my paintings from when I was growing up. I started painting very early in life, about 7 or 8, and I’d say those would all be my favorite pieces. I would love to see all the transitions and phases of learning. I had a lot of encouragement from teachers and family and also happened to have a mentor that was a neighbor who just so happened to have the same last name of mine who also just happened to paint all of the Kiss and Dio record covers back in the day. That was pretty cool. His name was Ken Kelly and he helped me a lot.
Feature photo provided by the artist; others stolen from Instagram.
++ If you’re a musician with other creative passions and pursuits, drop us a line. We’d love to show you love <3