Kyle Mensing (Misguided Comic Artist, Occasional Musician, and Writer)
My name is Kyle and I like to create things. This desire has recently manifested itself in a bunch of comic-like pieces that I post over at www.departmentofpropaganda.tumblr.com. My goal is to create minimal yet moving, abstract yet clear story lines that play to my aesthetic sense. This can also read, I try to create coherent things that don’t look weird when combined with my primitive style. Basically, I like to make things and I have started sharing them with the interwebs. Also, I like to cook, read, and drink beer. Sometimes all at once.
How did you get started as an artist?
Wait, who called me a what? I started creating as a kid. I love doodling, drawing, making a racket, fabricating stories, building, just making in general. I don’t know if I consider myself an artist though, maybe just a creator. Though creator sounds more powerful. As far as my current path, I wanted to get into comic art and one day, out of nowhere, had a fully realized mental picture for my Le Gash comic. It is, as the say, all downhill from there.
What about your art do you feel is unique and special?
My aesthetic sensibility is what sets me apart, in my opinion. I don’t know if there is anyone else creating pieces that look the way mine do. I could be totally wrong about that, I don’t claim to see everything everyone creates. But I think the “voice” of my comics, for lack of a better term, is special.
What do you wish you knew (as an artist) years ago that you wish someone told you?
Perfection is overrated. And boring.
Describe your process of creating a piece.
My process is to think up a general idea, wait for the art to materialize in my head, and then try to turn that mental image into reality. The only automated part of my art process at this point is the five panel layout. I got tired of measuring and drawing it over and over again so I created a template to print it on the card stock, then I draw everything else. I have no problem with digital creation, I just really like creating everything I can by hand. It’s relaxing. Most of my recent work has been sticking to the phobia theme and focusing on two characters that were created as the catalog grew. I am currently working on a piece that is a departure and will hopefully become an extended storyline. Simply, I start with words or an idea and think up the art to compliment it. I usually go with whatever idea hits first.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve done?
The piece I am currently working on. I always love whatever piece I am working on the most, though the feeling may not last past completion. I believe it is due to the possibilities that surround an unfinished work. I rarely go back and look at old works of mine, I keep looking towards what I can create next. I love the process of creating and the act of finishing and sharing a piece is relatively new for me. I have always been great at starting a creative project but never following through. If I have to pick one piece that I have posted already it would be Le Gash because it is the one that started this whole journey.
What part of the creative process is most fun for you? Why?
The act of creating. At least for music and comics. I tried my hand at film but I agree with Hitchcock, actually making the movie is the most boring part, the process of thinking everything up is the best. Once I can see the film in my head, creating it just seems cumbersome. I love watching as something is translated from my head into the real world and I get to say I created it.
Where do your ideas come from?
I wish I knew. A lot of times they seem to come from nowhere. I typically think up a general idea or theme for a comic and then wait for inspiration to hit. This can happen quite quickly or stretch out over many days. One of the quickest was probably the Speed comic. My first thought upon learning about the fear of speed was, naturally, the movie Speed, thus the bus. I don’t think I have ever thought of an idea for art and tried to force it into a theme, I pick the theme first and wait for the art to hit me. Maybe the stork brings them?
Who are some other artists who inspire you?
Richard McGuire is a big one due to his adherence to minimalism and the way he boils things down to the necessities to the point where they start to become abstract. This is the direction I want to see my work progress in. I want to be able to tell a story but deal in abstracts, have things remain clear without having to create explicit representations of the storyline. Chris Ware is a growing influence on me. I am very early in my exposure to him but I am really intrigued by his work. I also really like Graeme McNee for his minimalistic approach. There are many other web comic creators and artists I find inspiring but these three are probably the best microcosm to the developments I would like to make.
I am also indebted to the awesome cartoons I grew up with in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Nickelodeon used to be king. And it would be a crime to not mention Bill Watterson. Calvin & Hobbes is my all time favorite comic and I don’t think that will change.
What’s your power animal? Why?!
Flamingo. Because it is tall, cool, and hot…pink. Also, they can stand on one leg for really long periods of time. You can also decorate your yard with them, at least plastic versions of them. If you know the Queen of Hearts you can use flamingos as croquet mallets. It is also fun to call them manflingos. So, yeah, flamingo. Wait, power animal? Oh…. Oh well.
Do you have a favorite quote? Tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” - Pablo Picasso
There is no need to reinvent the wheel. And the remix is an original work, no matter what the legal system currently says. It is so easy to immobilize creativity by trying to come up with that thing that has never been done before, the quest for the avant-garde. Honestly, it is probably almost impossible at this point to create something that has never been seen or heard before and is entirely unique unto itself. There is one thing that I can guarantee though, nothing has been told from your perspective if you haven’t been the one telling it. It is you that makes your art unique. Stop trying to create something from a vacuum and just create you. Steal if you have to, just do it well.
Give our audience some advice about living a creative life.
If you love it, do it. Also, don’t delude yourself into thinking that creativity can only be funneled through the mediums typically regarded as art. Anyone can be creative in any field. Nearly every task involves problem solving, that act of solving the problem is the act of creating a solution. Adhering to stereotypes of creativity or believing that there is a certain formula or set of criteria that must be met is the wrong way to live a creative life. Find what you enjoy creating and create it. Whether it is spreadsheets (guilty) or high-concept recycled sculpture, go for it. Listen to Nike and Just Do It.
Disclaimer: I work a full time job unrelated to my creative pursuits, am married, have three pets, and just bought a house. Most of my time is not devoted to my creative passions, but my creative mindset is applied to nearly all of my waking time.
Work © Kyle Mensing // tumblr / twitter
Nonsense Society did a great piece on me. Thanks!