Artist Interview – Brad Kunkle

This week we’re excited to feature painter Brad Kunkle whose work has been featured in Lapham’s Quarterly, Arroyo Literary Review, and on the cover of American Art Collector. Kunkle’s paintings are instantly recognizable yet never redundant, featuring both gold and silver leaf in his ethereal figurative portraits. He is represented by one of our favorite galleries, Arcadia, which sadly has left NYC, but be sure to stop in if you’re in the Los Angeles area.

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1) How do you motivate yourself?  

BK: Well, if I stop painting, I know I’ll eventually run out of money….so that’s pretty motivating.  Jk….sort of….but really, I get depressed when I don’t paint.  This is a very real way of realizing that making art is such a part of me that I NEED to do it for my own well-being.  I love it.  It’s my meditation and my connection to something deeper about being human than all the daily digital theater.  It’s the moment that I take to attempt plug in to unknown forces.

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2)  How do you structure your time?

BK: I try to keep a regular work schedule….like a 10-7.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but I try.  I used to paint from 3pm-1am….but that didn’t allow me to have a social life.  I feel very guilty if I don’t have a brush in my hand because I’m not painting…not “working”….right?  I was talking with an artist I really admire recently, Andrew Sendor.  We met for a drink in the evening and I asked him if he had painted all day.  He chuckled and said something like….”painting has very little to do with actually having a brush in your hand.”….not verbatim..but I loved that sentiment.  It’s so true.  Emails are hard.  I try to set an alarm and answer as many as I can in the first hour of the day.  Keeping a calendar is very important.  I spin out of control if I don’t have one.

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3) What do you listen to when you work?

BK: I’m listening to David Bazan’s album “Care” as I write this.  Really like his stuff.  I listen to a lot of songs on repeat when I work.  Latest repeat-worthy song is a cover by Thom Yorke called All For The Best.

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4) Who are three artists that inspire you?

BK: James Turrell, Inka Essenhigh, Zoey Frank

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5) What’s the best piece(s) of advice you have been given?

BK: Always measure twice, then cut.

You have to do what’s best for yourself, to be happy, before you can expect to be happy with someone else.

(I think both of those can be applied to being an artist too)

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6) Describe an object or tool related to your work that you love.

BK: I have this crappy old brush (I’m sure you hear this a lot)—but mine is really special.  It’s an angle brush that is soft on the ends but has something dried in it that’s clear and keeps the brush rigid near the ferrule.  I have no idea how it got that way…it’s that old…but it’s perfect for brushing the back of the patent gold and silver leaf sheets for application.

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7) An anonymous patron has donated $100K for you to build your dream studio, what would it look like and where would it be?

BK: I actually have explored this in upstate New York….and well….let’s say I’ll take the donation, then take out a building loan on top of that to get my studio haha….it would be concrete and glass, black burnt cedar siding, north facing wall is all glass (sliding doors that open onto a patio), 15 foot ceilings, one long sloping roofline, skylights all over with light diffusing glass, white walls and concrete floor.  Nothing inside except a modern white desk, canvases on the walls, my painting cart, and a cabinet full of gold and silver leaf.

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You can find Brad’s instagram @bradrkunkle

And online here

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