Born a son of New Mexico, Kevin Vigil is a multi-faceted artist based out of the Los Angeles, California area. Originally developing his love for art in high school, Vigil eventually went on to aggressively pursue his studies at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida. After refining his natural skill and technique, Vigil was determined to share his love and creativity across all boundaries, becoming a fanatic of painting during a range of live music events. His emotional representations of different non-physical, surrealistic wonderlands have been featured in a plethora of festivals across the country and beyond. Vigil is a vibrant member of our forever expanding community.
Kevin has stated that the majority of his paintings, “start out as abstract smudges that I eventually morph into a vision that the music manifests. Capturing the combined energy from the crowd and music makes my art what it is. I don’t necessarily paint my paintings, I’m just a medium used to transpose the image from the universe, to the canvas, to share with y’all.” We here at Appalachian Jamwich could not be happier to share an intimate look into this constantly changing, multi-dimensional artist that personally has been an inspiration of mine for quite some time. We hope that you enjoy Kevin Vigils’ visions just as much as we do.
1. Kevin, I personally have seen you painting at both the Rootwire Music & Arts Festival, the Barefoot Festival, and then digitally discovered pieces painted at the festival Wakarusa. At which festivals do you personally feel the most creative, raw energy?
Well, creative energy is always around when the music is playing so it really depends on the people around. That being said the smaller festivals tend to bring the true soldiers of the music scene together and celebrate what we all love the most: MUSIC! Festivals like Rootwire and Aura are two of my favorite small festivals to paint at.
2. Describe to us the idea behind two of my personal favorite paintings of yours’. The first, which I witnessed in process of being painted, was painted at Rootwire. This piece was painted in between the musical sets of Eumatic, Zoogma, and the great hosts Papadosio. This painting amazingly expresses, to me, the relationship of vibrations, frequency, and energy with the piano player in relation to the music he is playing at hand. Please describe your vision behind the piece.
This is a painting that started out as a portrait of Eumatic’s keyboard player, Ashton Kleeman, then progressed into something else. That something else was the essence of the music embodied by the figure of a keyboard player. Having that in mind, I didn’t necessarily think the features of his physical body were important. What was important was the bass and the movement!
3. The other, which was painted during the Wakarusa 2011 festival, consists of numerous melting faces and assumed collective bodies of the Wakarusa beings of that year. The piece was painted during the musical sets of The Werks, Umphrey’s McGee, and Papadosio. Please describe your personal ideal behind this emphatically emotional painting.
“The Totem Pole of Time” is what I’ve started to call it. It’s so funny because a lot of the time I don’t even know what I’m painting, it seems to just flow through me as if I’m some sort of medium used to project images from the universe. In this particular painting I really feel an ancestral connection, hence the faces stacked like a totem and the eyes in between every head. The eye being the symbol of the collected knowledge being passed on from generation to generation.
4. Your style is very explosive and emotional, vibrant yet personal. Can you feel on an intimate basis the love of your followers? Do you connect personally, individually with them?
Always! That’s my favorite part about bringing my easel and a canvas to the party! I always connect with whoever is dancing around me and they always love it. I’ve meet friends all across the country painting at these shows and I always run into them again in the future at another show along the way. Nothing better than friends forever!
5. Although I realize it may be hard to explain, try and describe your state of mind as you go into a painting, during, and once the piece is completed.
I like to imagine the beginning of a painting as if it is a boxing match, but the boxer is somewhere in my head jogging in place telling himself that he’s gonna kick the shit out of this painting. The goal is to make something really sweet that harmonizes with whatever else is going on. So i’ll start smudgen some colors around to the beat of the music and making something fun. That’s when I see something in it and that’s when the painting takes a turn towards its destination. But the craziest thing about getting to the destination is that there are so many ways to get there and I’m one of those people that likes to explore, instead of taking the recommended route. Every time I do a painting I try and paint something new and go at it a little differently.
6. How do different states of altered or higher consciousness, the cosmos at large, reflect within your paintings and yourself?
7. Kevin, you went to Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida. How far did Ringling give you your basis of knowledge on how paint has natural fluidity characteristically and the incorporation of design?
Ringling really boosted my skills as far as figure painting, landscapes, color theory, concept, and a general understanding of what make a piece of work good. But having all that in focus I really lost track of what brought me there, my creativity. Glad I found it.
8. How did you personally get into the process of psychedelic/spiritualized art forms? Explain the “Ju-Ju” you have.
I think it just came about all by itself through all the things that have inspired me through my life like music, album art, going to museums seeing Salvador Dalis’ and Van Goghs’ in person. Art in general is psychedelic, people just don’t realize it. We’re just now tapping into a deeper realm.
I think you nailed it.
10. Environmentally, do you have a preference towards studio painting or live painting? Please describe why.
I just like to paint anytime I can, so whether it be in a studio or out on a field with all my party people, I’m happy. Granted I get a lot more done in public than in my studio. You’d think I’d have more distractions out at a show, but surprisingly I have more distractions at home. So I guess I prefer painting at a show, then taking it back to the studio to touch it up.
11. What have been the most enjoyable sets for you to paint to?
Papadosio for life. Thievery Corporation. Trey Band. Further. Bonobo, Bluetech.
12. Which musical artists would you like to creatively express yourself within that you’ve yet to?
13. What personally motivates you to paint? What real life experiences have made an impact on you as an artist?
Living the life I want to live. When I was in high school, I was nowhere near the creative path, in fact I’d had thoughts of becoming a lawyer or some shit like that, but then one day I got busted with 35 grams of mushrooms at school, got the boot, got sent to a different school. Since I already had all of my high school credits I had so many hours in the day to fill, so I took a bunch of art classes. Since I had a whole day of art classes, the school just gave me my own room to be creative. So that’s what I did for my last semester of senior year and that’s when I decided I can’t do anything else with my life other than create art and do what makes me and others around me HAPPY!
14. In beginning your process, do you under paint with raw umber, use ink Micron pens, or skip under-drawing all together?
Nope, just dive right in with paint.
I love oil paint, that’s my fave. But I also love sculpting with found objects and making little creatures out of stereos and random mechanical parts.
16. Which of the many mediums are more of a trial, but worth the challenge?
Oil paints. They’re messy, you have to use turpentine or mineral spirits. I’ve probably eaten tons of it and won’t be surprised if I have lead poisoning and am crossing my fingers that I don’t, BUT I love that vibrant color and you can’t get it with acrylics. I need to be more careful. And if any of you out there are using oils, don’t make peanut butter sandwiches while you paint.
17. How long have you been creating all forms of art?
Well every kid makes drawings and stuff, but I got seriously into art my senior year of high school.
18. What was the first piece, in which you told yourself how truly proud you were of that specific creation?
Maybe some pineapple I drew in high school.
19. Kevin, you are originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Has the Southwestern Native tradition within art had an influence on you?
Most definitely. After living in Florida and California and traveling all over the country, New Mexico seems like a different country. It is my home so all the traditions are in my blood.
This is most definitely a self-portrait. Open for interpretation.
21. Have you ever had a classic style art gallery exhibition, or are you not interested in displaying your expressions in that type of forum?
I’ve had four solo shows and have had quite a turn out every time and hope to continue doing so. It’s important to show the work outside of the festival grounds and bring back to society what you learn in the amazing community of festivals.
22. Have you ever considered commercial promotion, like Mark Ecko or Sheppard Fairey have, or does freelance artistry fit you better as an artist so you have a more complete control?
23. The most fascinating projection of art, in general, is the forward progression in which it naturally takes. What direction is the future of the Kevin Vigil experience traveling in?
I will always be on a never ending quest for happiness and becoming a master of love. I’m 25 and I have A LONG WAY TO GO!!!!!! I hope to see myself doing more freelance art, more gallery shows, more live painting, and organizing a live painter’s guild to do things up right! I love everything about our Jam community, the whole world needs to follow our example of art, love and music! Shine on you crazy diamonds and share what you love!
We thank everyone who supports all of the artists and mediums within our community. This is of upmost importance so that they have the means to keep producing the images and emotions that capture our hearts, souls, and imaginations. To dig deeper into this complex artists, please visit the workings of Kevin Vigil through:
Or at any live shows or gallery exhibitions in the near future 🙂 Peace, Love & Respect