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This week I am featuring another one of my favorite artists, Rachel Kokko. I truly admire her work with both fascination and, if I am being honest, a sprinkle of envy. Her work is in my mind, what every artist strives for. She combines painting, storytelling and wit at an incomparable level. When looking at a piece by Rachel Kokko I find my eyes circling the painting for secrets and hidden jokes. My mind jumps back and forth between internally complementing her skill and trying to get my fill of cuteness. Looking at a Rachel Kokko piece is just like staring at my bunny Oliver. I just can't grasp the cuteness "How can this be that cute?". Any woman knows this feeling. You look at a baby anything and you almost can't stand it.

Rachel was discovered by our Art Director, Ian Ruz. The first piece I saw of hers was while I looking over his shoulder. All I saw was eyes and a smile, but even now, every single time I look the sample of "The Lookout", that we have her in the office, I laugh out loud. I know Ian feels the same. We adore it. When I first met Rachel she was both serious and silly - just like her art. She is a professional and she takes her craft as seriously as she takes silliness. She studied Illustration at the Art Center College and worked for over 10 years as a finish artist. She is also a member of gallery 1988. Her work is the escilaon of illustration. She has mastered storytelling in single images. Last Friday Rachel struck out on her own and we here at Kess are eagerly awaiting her next move, her next painting rather. We are so proud to have her work among our collection. Her witty responses are below. You need to read them. 

KIH: What is your first memory as an artist?

RK: I grew up watching my mother work in almost every art form imaginable. From ceramic and polymer clay sculpture, stained glass, fashion, toy design, handmade jewelry and quilting, she did everything except paint. It was her that pushed me to pursue my talent as an artist, to strive to be original, and where I was mostly influenced by art and its endless possibilities.

 

KIH: What is your creative process?

RK: What is your creative process? My painting process always begins one of two ways: either I love a drawing from my sketchbook so much that I turn it into a painting, or I come up with a witty concept and design characters to fit the narrative. If I'm painting something with my original, more rendered and realistic style, I will sketch out the entire painting on a piece of paper, prep my canvas with paper texture, and sketch the shapes on top before I paint. If it's in my more recent style, I will loosely paint the background with a palette knife, tear individual shapes out of butcher paper that will puzzle-piece together to form my baby animals, and then glaze with thin acrylic on top to shade it down.

 

KIH: What was your first medium? 

RK: pen and ink

 

KIH: What is your favorite medium?

RK: acrylic & paper

 

KIH: What is your current favorite color? 

RK: lavender

 

KIH: What common threads do you find in your work?

RK: If I'm painting something with my original, more rendered and realistic style, I will sketch out the entire painting on a piece of paper, prep my canvas with paper texture, and sketch the shapes on top before I paint. If it's in my more recent style, I will loosely paint the background with a palette knife, tear individual shapes out of butcher paper that will puzzle-piece together to form my baby animals, and then glaze with thin acrylic on top to shade it down. Usually, I love to paint subject matter with a narrative, ideally something satirical or completely absurd, obscene, or sadistic.

 

KIH: Tell us about a recent show?

RK: Recently, I have become obsessed with the "adorably cute." My plan is to paint every baby animal I can think of and design a series for children. After I showed my paintings at my first show, I was hooked. It was a group show in Los Angeles called Vivisect Playset. The theme was animals personified, right up my alley. I sold all 3 pieces during the preview before the show even opened. It was a great boost of confidence and I knew this is what I was meant to do.

 

KIH: Where do you do most of your work?

RK: I have a studio set up in my loft with lots of natural light that's great for painting.