Artists in Residence: Kyle Sauter
Born in Alaska and raised in Vermont, Kyle Sauter first brought his stunning artistic vision to snowboarding via graphic design positions at Rome Snowboards and then at Burton, his art decorating boards, bindings, softgoods, and more. Kyle’s aesthetic—complex and high contrast, with ample parts fantasy and future, technology and nature—is rooted deeply in his penchant for metal music, though he is equally adept at playful illustrations, like a series of dogs on bikes he did a few years back. To put it simply, his ability is wide-ranging with engaging attention to detail. Currently, Kyle resides in Seattle where he is a freelance illustrator and designer. He is a devoted screenprinter and often plays with the thoughtful use of different kinds of inks (see: Kyle’s Psychedelic Cosmonaut Bear print, below). Most recently, he has collaborated with 10 Barrel Brewing on art for Hella Big Air, as well as a poster for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign–additions to his canon of posters that includes shows of iconic bands ranging from Phish to GWAR.
Where do you live: Seattle, WA
Home mountain: The Summit at Snoqualmie
Preferred medium(s): I generally work with a combination of traditional and digital mediums. I’ll start with pencil sketches and ink, then scan everything into the computer to be cleaned up and colored. I also have a digital drawing tablet (a Wacom Cintiq) and I’ve been experimenting with a fully digital workflow. It makes revisions way faster, which is key for client work, but it’s hard to truly replicate the feel of pen on paper. Most of my personal work is screen printed, so once I’m happy with a design, I’ll burn screens and print at home in my basement studio.
One tool of your craft that you cannot do without: I go through a lot of non-photo blue pencils. The real answer is probably my iMac, though.
Favorite subject matter (in general and/or currently): Nature is a subject that I find myself returning to over and over—animals, plant life, organic shapes, atmosphere. It’s really beautiful up here in the PNW and I’m always inspired when I get out hiking or mountain biking. I also grew up being really into Dungeons & Dragons, J.R.R. Tolkien novels, and comic books, which all made a lasting impression that informs my work.
Do you listen to music or anything when you make art? If so, what: I listen almost exclusively to metal, especially while working. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Uada, Sargeist, and Wiegedood. Skeletonwitch is always a favorite. If I’m screen printing or in a stage of a project that is really monotonous and repetitive, I’ll occasionally listen to podcasts or audiobooks, but usually anything with a lot of spoken word is too much of a distraction.
Advice on how to get over a creative block: For me, creativity has a sense of momentum. If I get to a place where I’m stuck, it doesn’t work to stress out and overthink things. The best way to get back in the flow is to just draw something low-pressure and easy. Once I’m actually working it’s easier to keep the creative energy going and transfer it to something else. I think it’s also important to give your subconscious time to work things out. Taking a break to go for a run or giving myself a night to sleep on a problem lets my brain work on it in the background. I can’t count how many times I’ve stayed up late spinning my wheels on something, only to wake up the next morning and immediately find the solution.
Artists that influence/inspire your work: There are so many—Frank Frazetta, Bernie Wrightson, Moebius, John Dyer Baizley, and Ken Taylor are a few just off the top of my head. There are a ton of amazing artists that I follow on Instagram, too. I’m super inspired by the vast talent out there.
Any cool collabs, work, galleries, projects, etc. that you’ve done (or that you’re working on currently) that you’d like to share: I ended 2019 with screen printed works on display in two local Seattle shops: Back Alley Bicycles and Statix. It was a great chance to show and premier a ton of screen-printed posters that I’d worked on the previous summer and fall. Another highlight was a poster I did for the Phish shows in Maine last summer—I’m really proud of how that turned out. I took a bit of a break on personal work this winter so I could spend some solid time snowboarding, but one big winter highlight was getting to work with 10 Barrel Brewing again, designing the poster art for the Hella Big Air contest series.
Where can people purchase your art: Kylesauter.com
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