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Conversations with Kevin Maloof

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Maloof.

Hi Kevin, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles and my love for art definitely started at a very young age. I was always drawing or making things growing up but I don’t think I thought about it seriously until late high school. I was fortunate enough to go to a school with a fine arts program and during my junior year in 2013, I decided to opt out of taking Trigonometry and enrolled in an art class instead. A class that seemingly accelerated my early love for art and metamorphosed it into what was now an obsessive passion that I wanted to push further. I started making a ton of art with the new techniques and mediums I was introduced to and some of my work was even selected to be showcased at the Cathedral in Downtown LA. Looking back, I think taking that class was definitely the catalyst toward me wanting to pursue art as a career. As my love and interest grew, I wanted to learn more so I ended up quitting my job at a local sandwich shop and reached out to a family friend who was a professional artist. I landed an interning gig at his studio and worked there for about a year, making me fall in love with art as a practice. Being able to see how he ran his studio, interacted with clients, and created his work was an abundant amount of knowledge that I was soaking up like a sponge, plotting on how I could apply it to my own practice in the future. After high school, I went to community college for a year and transferred to the University of Southern California where I majored in Fine Arts with an emphasis on Design. The plan, if any, was to graduate and get a job as a graphic designer and work on my paintings on the side. But after graduating in 2018 and being rejected by about 15 companies, I decided to pursue my art full time and dive headfirst into this wild artistic journey. I’ve been building steady commission work and expanding my collector base since.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There’s definitely been some bumps in the road but I think that’s inevitable with any passion worth pursuing. I feel like the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome is the internal battle with myself. I’m somewhat of an impatient perfectionist when it comes to my art, and in a world filled with such talented people, it can be easy to get caught up and compare yourself to others-ultimately perpetuating feelings of self-doubt. But in those moments, I try to shift my perspective and find solace in the fact that I’m in the adolescent stages of building something I find has immense value and meaning. And that motivates me a lot. I’m fully aware of the challenges my artistic pursuit comes with. Whether it be the characterization of the “starving artist” or trying to uniquely stand out in a crowd that millions of others are also pursuing. As unsettling as those can be, I’m just as much attracted to them because it provides me with a challenge to overcome. It fuels me to continue on with my artistic path so I can achieve the level of success I’ve always envisioned for myself. I really believe that with consistent hard work, any goal is attainable- even one as lofty as being a successful artist. I also have a really solid support system of family and friends that continue to encourage and push me forward during the bumpiest of roads, which is something I’m extremely grateful for.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m primarily a painter specializing in realism-based acrylic paintings. But I also do murals, sculpture, production design, and music as well. I’m probably best known for my paintings of sports athletes and people who inspire me and have an impact on society and popular culture as a whole. But one of my favorite parts of being an artist is that I’m constantly growing and evolving. As I’ve gotten older a lot of my interests, thoughts, and perspectives have changed which ultimately has an effect on the work I’m creating. I do feel like I’m still trying to find my place as an artist and how I can visually communicate my truest self. And similar to the changes I’ve experienced in my own life internally and externally, I find myself experimenting with different forms of art in order to convey that. I’ve been really into making abstract paintings lately, which is complete shift from the type of realism-based work I’ve always gravitated toward. There’s a certain aura within abstract that has the ability to resonate with a viewer on a different level. One that sometimes cannot be explained with words but rather a feeling and emotion. I also love the creation process of it. The fluidity and spontaneity of painting with no plan is a nice change of pace. I’m fascinated with the juxtaposition of things so I try to make that an emblematic theme of my work as well. Not necessarily to focus specifically on the contrasting qualities, but to embrace the clash of opposites and have them work together in an aesthetically cohesive way. I think that represents myself as a person and artist. I strive to be as dynamic as possible, constantly embracing a wide variety of hobbies, music, and interests. I don’t want to be put in a box and I feel like a lot of the work I’m making now represents that.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I think ultimately you have to put yourself out there and be really persistent, as uncomfortable that may be. As an artist, it can be easy to just get lost in the process of creating. But I’ve realized it’s just as important, if not more important, to network and talk with others within the industry. A lot of my mentors have come from me reaching out, sometimes an annoying amount of times, and just asking questions and being genuinely curious. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does a lot of great conversations, relationships, and opportunities can come from that.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Aaron Han

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