David Paul Kay is a talented artist who has made a long journey. He’s traveled from the former Republic of Georgia to Oklahoma to New York City. Needless to say, he has an interesting story to tell. His cool work http://www.davidpaulkay.com/ tells part of the story, but I chatted with him to get the rest. I think you’ll find him very interesting …
“… I care more about who looks at my work in centuries from now. Fame doesn't matter, destiny does …”
MICHAEL: Hello David, Your work is really cool. It has this edgy, graphic, urban kind of vibe. There's something about it that makes me think it could/should be viral. Viral in the sense that I think you wouldn't mind if the entire city were covered in your art like graffiti. I don't know. Am I making sense?
DAVID: Hello Michael. Thank you. I'm glad this is how you see my work. And yes you are making sense, absolutely. I always say, anything is an inspiration and anywhere is a gallery, so I wouldn’t be opposed to covering the entire city with art. Perhaps that's the big plan, the big picture.
MICHAEL: You seem to like using black, white and gray. What is it with those colors or shades?
DAVID: Black and white, everything and nothing. It is my signature style, my language, my code. It's a collision of negative and positive spaces. There is black, there is white and there is everything in-between left for your imagination when you look at my work. My work, just like everything that exists or has ever existed, is simply complicated.
MICHAEL: You seem to operate somewhat like a graffiti artist. No secrecy or tagging and your work isn’t graffiti, but there seems to be something there. Maybe it's the edgy vibe. What do you think?
DAVID: The term “Graffiti” has a different meaning to me. Art is art. Where it's placed and how is the variable. Last year, I traveled to Brazil and I saw some great art on the walls out in some of the poorest neighborhoods. The scale of it defines the label others might put on it, but to me, no matter if it's a wall on a massive building or a tiny piece of paper out of my sketchbook, it's a playground.
Art comes first, labels follow. Hating is a great example. He tagged the subway and got arrested often though no matter where it was created, it was museum quality work. We shall create and let the time decide what it is we have created.
MICHAEL: Do you ever create murals simply because you choose to do so OR are they usually commissions? Murals are a large undertaking, no?
DAVID: Both, but my favorite ones are the ones I have created because I was inspired to. There are the ones that pay and there are the ones that matter.
MICHAEL: Believe me, I understand. You're also involved in fashion. How does that work? Are you licensing out your images or what? Why fashion too?
DAVID: I have not yet gone beyond one of a kind pieces when it comes to fashion, though it's coming. Fashion collaborations are my favorite because I think fashion is to the human body what architecture is to planet earth.
MICHAEL: You're from the former Republic of Georgia? Wow. What was your childhood like? Do you come from an artistic family?
DAVID: My mother was a member of the Communist Party. She is now retired. My father who died when I was two, was an engineer. No one in my family had anything to do with art. I was born in the Soviet Union, my birth certificate is Soviet. Growing up, I witnessed a collapse of that nonsense system and lived through years of civil wars, right in the middle of it. It was not fun but it taught me a lot.
MICHAEL: Under what circumstances did you come to America? Also, when did you become an artist?
DAVID: First I came here as a student and graduated from a small high school in Oklahoma. I have been back since then several times on business trips, though in 2008, I moved here for good. I always made art, but not until moving to New York City did it become serious.
MICHAEL: Oklahoma? Nothing against Oklahoma, but how did that happen?
DAVID: It was a government-funded, exchange program. You have to pass lots of exams and only if and after you are selected, you find out where they are sending you.
MICHAEL: What do you think about the immigration crisis happening all over the world? I know you're not a diplomat or immigration attorney, but I bet you have an interesting take on it. No?
DAVID: Every cause has a reason. Even though I'm a big politics junkie, I try my best to distance myself from the news. There is hate, it has always been there and it will always be. Unfortunately, what we believe in is what takes us apart.
This has always been going on, but now the awareness has been increased to a critical level because of the technological boom. We know about it even before it happens. Therefore, we have a stronger opinion about who does what where and who we want to be affiliated with. This leads to profiling and discrimination and that's as horrible as terror itself.
MICHAEL: What was your first encounter with art? Why did you become an artist? Artists have hard lives. Shouldn't you go to law school or learn computer coding so you can have a stable career?
DAVID: I don't think becoming an artist is a choice. You either are or you aren't, though pushing to dare and follow up and get serious with it is a risk you take. I enjoy it. It's everything to me. I am, therefore I make. And I see the future, I see the development and progress in what I have to make and what I have to say.
MICHAEL: Do you feel that you have to live in New York to succeed as an artist? Also, what do you think about the contemporary art world and art market? Do you understand how they operate? Do you feel like you're part of those worlds?
DAVID: Within the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about what the art world is and how it operates, though I'm not fixated on pushing myself into it. Paint it and they will come.
So far, this has been the right approach. I'm grateful that at this early stage of my career I'm already represented not only here, but in Europe and the Middle East. But again, I care more about who looks at my work in centuries from now. Fame doesn't matter, destiny does.
MICHAEL: Finally David, You've already taken quite a journey in your life. How have you managed to do this? Lots of people spend their entire lives in one town. What's driving you to explore the way you seem to be doing?
DAVID: Well, the way I see it is that nothing has happened yet. I didn't have to do anything about it, things just happen the way they do. I think there is a lot more to come. I have always explored and observed. I'm that guy who always wants to know why we are the way we are and why we do things the way we do. Answers are often interesting and inspiring.
MICHAEL: Thanks David. Cool chat. I love your work and I hope you'll stay in touch.
DAVID: Thank you Michael. The pleasure is all mine.
Check out David Paul Kay at http://www.davidpaulkay.com/.