The Block

Interviews — 3 months ago

Community Focus: Kyle Platts

Since we started Everpress, we’ve heard all kinds of reasons that our community choose to run T-shirt campaigns with us; from launching a brand, to finding a new medium for their existing work, to helping get the word out about what they do. Now, increasingly, we’re seeing more and more creators use Everpress as an additional income stream to help support their practice. 

 

It’s one of the most urgent issues facing creatives today, but in the culture industries talking about money and profit is still often taboo. That’s why we’ve launched our Community Focus series, which sees us speak to four different members of our community to find out why they run campaigns, and to better understand the impact their campaign profits can have on their ability to do what they do best.

 

This time, illustrator Kyle Platts discusses his own trajectory, the fashion industry, why he designs T-shirts and how he makes Everpress work for him. 

Words
Everpress Team
Photography
Dean Martindale
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Kyle Platts, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

For Kyle Platts, it all started with the first South Park episode in 1997 – “It really made me want to start drawing characters and trying to make people laugh with them,” he told us. It wasn’t until he started studying a fashion BTEC as a teenager, though, that he discovered that illustration was a possible career. “I enjoyed drawing much more than making clothes,” he said. “My tutor said I should just study illustration and I was like, “What’s that? I actually didn’t know back then that you could just draw pictures for a living.” He ended up on Camberwell’s BA Illustration course, and since graduating back in 2011 he’s become one of the best in the industry, with his instantly-recognisable cartoonish visuals a firm favourite here at Everpress and beyond. For Kyle’s insights, in his own words, read on. 

ON THE JUMP FROM IN-HOUSE TO FREELANCE

When I graduated from Camberwell College of Arts my future was uncertain. I wanted to be an illustrator but I wasn’t sure I could get enough work, so I started interning in a design studio. It was a program for young people at Tate and I worked in the studio helping to design posters and flyers. This in-house prospect seemed more secure to me than freelance life, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. However, after six months I realised that I just had to take the risk and be an illustrator.

With an Everpress campaign, I’m making something with no boundaries or brand guidelines

ON THE FAST-FASHION INDUSTRY

Our shopping habits are really under the microscope right now, and for good reason. I think fast-fashion is at risk of getting worse, people are buying stuff now just take wear in one post on social media. But at the same time I know a lot of people who are really conscious about making things last and choosing carefully what they buy and where from. There are many movements now that are successfully getting the message across, but unfortunately I can’t see global consumer habits changing anytime soon. I think people are going to have to put a lot more pressure on brands to make adequate progress in sustainability.

Illustration courtesy of Kyle Platts

Despite the sustainability issues we are facing, I don’t think we need to look like the cast of The Walking Dead. I still enjoy fashion and occasionally have my Jared Leto looking at the Gucci jacket moments, but I’ve slowed right down in that department. I don’t buy clothes that often, and when I do they are built to last, second hand, or something an independent designer has created. Also, I am familiar with how fast the feeling of buying an impulse item wears off, I engage with fashion more carefully now.

ON WHY HE STARTED SELLING T-SHIRTS

There is a unique challenge in creating an illustration for a T-shirt graphic, and I think that is what got me interested and keeps me interested in making shirts. The truth is, just because you like an image, it doesn’t mean it’s going to look good on a shirt, this is especially true with illustration. I find it incredibly hard to design a shirt that I could actually imagine myself wearing, and that’s the challenge.

The money I get from campaigns funds a mini sabbatical

ON HOW HIS CAMPAIGNS SUPPORT WHAT HE DOES

The money I get from these Everpress campaigns essentially funds a mini sabbatical. When I’m working on commercial jobs I’m required to answer a brief based on the style that I am known for. It’s safe and reliable, they know what they are getting. Those are not the moments in which I develop creatively, because I can’t take any risks. When I create an Everpress campaign I’m making something with no boundaries or brand guidelines. That’s why the shirts are often more experimental and might not even look like the work that people are familiar with, but in the long run these experiments are important for creative development.

Kyle Platts’ sketchbook, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

ON SEEING PEOPLE IN HIS T-SHIRTS

Me and my friend Sam Taylor screen-printed shirts at Camberwell and it blew my mind when I saw people wearing them. It just made me feel like my work might actually have a place in the world, and I suppose it still gives me that feeling. I often see my work online but to see people wearing it out IRL is still a trip. I’ve even had someone tell me that an X-Factor contestant was wearing my shirt while they performed, I thought that was kind of funny.

Kyle Platts, photographed by Dean Martindale (@deanmartindale)

Take your time finding your style

SOME WORDS OF ADVICE…

Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, you’ve got to be an actual nerd. You have to be the type of person that can sit and work on one image day and night and not get distracted. Working that hard has to be something that you naturally enjoy, if it feels like a job in the beginning then maybe try something else. Also take your time finding your style, I know it seems like something that you need to establish immediately but once you get known for something it’s hard to shake it off.

Read More: Our series has seen us speak to Joey YuDavid Vujanić and Murkage Dave, so be sure to check out the other interviews. And you can shop Kyle’s Rotten Dot Com tee here.